Master Erzia

Stephan Erzia, a very popular sculptor, chose his pseudonym after the native ethnic group, the Erzya.

He was born October 27, 1876. In 1893-1897 he lived in Kazan, previously at the joiner's shop, later he worked at P. A. Kovalinski's icon-painting studio in Kazan. That time Erzia decorated churches in the various cities and villages of the Volga area and attended Kazan Art School.

In 1902–1906 he studied at Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, participating in the exhibitions of the School's students. In 1906-1914 he lived in Italy and France. He took part in the exhibitions in Venice and Milan in 1909, in Paris in 1912.

In 1914 he returned to Russia and in 1918 he moved to Yekaterinburg where he created his monumental works of art. In 1921 he moved to Novorossiysk, then to Batumi. In 1926 the Soviet government took a decision to send Stephan Erzia abroad "to spread the knowledge of the Soviet art". He came to Paris again. Again his one-man shows were sponsored followed by positive response in the Western press.

In 1927-1950 he worked in Buenos Aires (Argentina), creating best portraits there. There Erzia developed a project of transforming entire mountains in the Andes into monuments to the heroes of the war for independence. The local authorities approved his plan, but failed to finance its implementation.

While in Argentina, Erzia invented a method of processing some locally grown, extra-hard types of wood: algarrobo and quebracho.