Vasiliy Nikolaevich Nechitaylov

Written by Радостин Русев
Vasiliy Nikolaevich Nechitaylov Vasiliy Nikolaevich Nechitaylov

July 29 (August 11), 1886–August 12, 1980

Russian artist, writer, folklorist and translator, ‘first wave’ immigrant to Bulgaria, France and Italy.


Born on July 29 (August 11), 1886, in the village of Bobrikovo, Luhansk Oblast, the Ukraine, into the large family of a teacher in a church school. Only his first seven years passed in his native village, after which his family moved to Rostov-on-Don, where he was believed to have been born until recently. He studied fine arts – first in Moscow and then at the Art Academy in St Petersburg.

His first and only book, Иран. Легенды и миниатюры [Iran. Legends and Miniatures] (1919), contains Persian legends and legends collected during his military service on the Persian Front during the First World War.

Of his poems, the earliest known of which is О, Грузия, прощай [Oh Georgia, Farewell…] written in 1914, very little is preserved.

After the collapse of the White Movement, he immigrated to Bulgaria via Constantinople in 1920.

He was a high-school teacher in the small town of Tran, where he collected, wrote down and translated oral folk art. He prepared for publication the collection Песни южных славян [Songs of South Slavs], almost completed by the end of 1923 (with a foreword by Evgeny Chirikov), which remained unpublished. Some of the processed several hundred folk songs from Southwestern Bulgaria (about two hundred of them, dictated to him only by the seventy-year-old grandmother Glavanovska of Tran), however, were printed in Prague, in two of the most prestigious Russian emigrant magazines, Ruskaya mysl and Volya Rossiy.

Twenty folk songs contains the publication in Ruskaya mysl (1922, Book IV) entitled Songs of the South Slavs: Гиацинт и роза [The hyacinth and the rose]; Раз пошла в виноградник Мария [Once went to the vineyard Maria]; Стано-Яно, ты – красное яблоко [Stano-Yano, a red apple as you are]; Царь и сокол [The king and the falcon]; Воскликнула девица, в цветнике гуляя [Exclaimed the maiden, walking in the flowerbed]; Отчего так Белиград белеет? [Why is Beligrad so white?]; Петрице, милая Петрице! [Petritse, dear Petritse!]; Донка и пастух [Donka and the shepherd]; Гей ты красавица-девица [Hey, you, beautiful maiden]; Всю ночь ходил, – добычи не было [All night I went, there was no gain]; Во Будиме-граде – бой великий [In the city of Buda – a great battle]; Страстной любовью горю я [I burn with passionate love]; Ангелина речку переходит [Angelina crosses the river]; Гей, ты красавица, гей ты чудесная [Hey, you beauty, hay, you wonderful]; Дойна-девица город строила [Doyna the maiden, a city was building]; Девица, да молодец об заклад побилис [A maiden with a lad are arguing with an obligation to pay a loss]; Девица и соловей [A virgin and a nightingale]; Монах и дева [Monk and maiden]; Соловей [Nightingale]; Яна [She].

The other 12 folk song were published in Volya Rossiy in 1925 (Issue IV and Issue IX – X). The publications were entitled Народные песни балканских славян [Folk Songs of the Balkan Slavs] and Старо-болгарские песни [Old Bulgarian Songs], respectively.

The first publication included the following folk songs: Если б знал ты, мой милый, да ведал [If you knew, my dear, you should have known]; Пейчин-войвода [Peychin Voevode]; Уж как пал гуман в селе, во поле [Oh, how the fog fell in the village, in the field]; Перстень [Ring]; Молодая моя девица [My young maiden]; Инче воевода [Inchе Voevode]; Раде и Яна [Rade and Yana]; Гюрга-русалка [Mermaid Gyurga]; Царь и царица [King and queen]; and the second one: Сивый сокол [Grey Falcon]; Милош и чума [Milos and the plague]; and Юнак Богдан [Bogdan the Valiant Man].

For his relatively short stay in Bulgaria, V. Nechitaylov left some other visible traces. In addition to an exhibition at the Sofia Art Gallery, presenting him as an artist, a student of Mikhail Nesterov (1923), several publications of his in the Russian emigrant Svobodnaya rech newspaper cannot go unnoticed, exhibiting his interest in local history, customs and lifestyle, and his search for Bulgarian folklore – the essays Над Янтрой [Above the river Yantra] (No 22, 14 Jan 1922) and В стране идиллий (Очерки Болгарии) [In the country of idylls (Essays on Bulgaria)] (No 29, 4 Feb 1922), as well as the short article Россия в болгарских народных песнях [Russia in Bulgarian folk songs] (No 52, 4 Apr 1922).

He left Bulgaria in 1925 and settled in France. From 1936 until the end of his long life he lived and worked as an artist in Italy. Among his most famous paintings are Pieta (1947), presented in 1950 at the International Exhibition of Religious Art in the Vatican and acquired by Pope Pius XII for the Vatican Museums (today the painting is located in the Holy See Embassy in Costa Rica); Wonderful Hunt (Vocation of the Apostle) (1950–1955, 250 x 350 cm) dedicated to Apostle Andrew the First-Called, and painted specifically for the entrance wall of the Amalfi Cathedral, in the crypt of which the relics of the Apostle rest; Madonna Immakolata (Immaculate Conception or Amalphitan Madonna) (1958) – for the church of Amalfi Seminary; Nativity of Christ (1964, 230 x 370 cm) and Annunciation (1960) – for the Russian Catholic Church of St Anthony in Rome; the multi-figure compositions Arrival of the icon of Our Lady in Positano (1955–1958, 250 x 350 cm) and the Coronation [icon] of the Virgin Mary (1960–1963, 250 x 350 cm) – about the temple in Positano, to mention but a few.

He was also known for his hobby of beekeeping.

Vasiliy Nechitaylov died in Amalfi in 1980.

He deserves great recognition for his search and collecting work related to Bulgarian folklore. Thanks to him and to Russian artists like him, who have immigrated to Bulgaria (Konstantin Balmont, Alexander Mitrofanovich Fyodorov, Andrey Grabar), Bulgarian culture, literature, folklore and art found advocates who, through a language like Russian, presented them to the world.


  • Иран. Легенды и миниатюры. Туапсе, Т.Д. Л.Л. Андрейс и К-о, 1919.
  • Над Янтрой. – Свободная речь, № 22, 14 ян. 1922.
  • В стране идиллий (Очерки Болгарии). – Свободная речь, № 29, 4 фев. 1922.
  • Россия в болгарских народных песнях. – Свободная речь, № 52, 4 апр. 1922.
  • Песни южных славян. – Русская мысль, Прага, 1922, кн IV.
  • Народные песни балканских славян. – Воля России, Прага, 1925, вып. IV.
  • Старо-болгарские песни. – Воля России, Прага, 1925, вып. IX-X.

About Vasiliy Nechitaylov

  • Нечитайлов, Ю., Талалай, М. Русский дон Базилио. Судьба и наследие В. Н. Нечитайлова. Москва, Старая Басманная, 2014, 196 с.
  • Талалай, М. Русский дон Базилио. Художник из Италии Василий Нечитайлов. – Истина и Жизнь, 2004, № 9, 48–51.
  • Талалай, М. „Эрмитаж” в Средиземноморье: Художник Василий Нечитайлов и его окружение. – В: Русское зарубежье. Кн. 3. Санкт Петербург, 2004, 345–348.
  • Талалай, М. Нечитайлов, Василий Николаевич. – В: Католическая энциклопедия. Т. 3. Москва, Научная книга, 2007, 808–809.
  • Нечитайлов, Ю. Нечитайлов Василий Николаевич. (ползван на 29.11.2019)
  • Василий Нечитайлов: дон Базилио с Нахаловки. (ползван на 29.11.2019)

Илюстрации 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 9 и 10 са от книгата „Русский дон Базилио. Судьба и наследие В. Н. Нечитайлова” с любезното съгласие на авторите Ю. Нечитайлов и М. Талалай.



SESDiva ERA.Net RUS Plus Call 2017 – S&T

SESDiva. Project № 156

SESDiva aims at creating a virtual museum of written culture in relation to the social, religious, cultural, and ideological environment and relations between the South and East Slavs throughout the centuries from the 11th to the beginning of the 20th century.

Duration: 2018-2020
Program: ERA.Net RUS Plus Call 2017 ‐ S&T Projects