ABOUT THE ARTIST
Igor V. Babailov, Hon.RAA, KStA, MFA(PhD), D.Litt (Hon.Causa),
world-renowned American portrait artist, recipient of the prestigious Ellis Island Medal of Honor (2022), is one of the most sought after portraitists of our times.
Deemed Living Master by his contemporaries, he was selected to paint legacy portraits of three living Presidents of three countries, two living Prime Ministers, members of the noble families and British Royalty, and three living Popes for the Vatican.
His notable commissioned portrait subjects include: President George W. Bush (George W. Bush Presidential Library), U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito (Supreme Court of the United Sates), First Lady Hillary R. Clinton (Clinton Presidential Library), Pope Francis, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope John Paul II, now a Saint (all three for the Vatican), Prince Andrew The Duke of York (Buckingham Palace, London), Prime Minister of Canada Brian Mulroney (Parliament Hill, Ottawa), Prime Minister Jean Chretien (Power Corporation), Nelson Mandela (Presidential Collection, South Africa), Mayor Rudolph Giuliani of New York (Giuliani Partners); Isadore Sharp, Founder & CEO of Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts; Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England; The Honorable Joseph P. Sullivan (Supreme Court of New York), Actor James Gandolfini, Baseball Star Reggie Jackson, Football Stars Boomer Esiason and Tiki Barber, Hockey Star Bobby Hull, Legendary Film Director Akira Kurosawa (commissioned by Kurosawa Productions, Japan), and many other prominent figures for prestigious collections.
In 2009, the new portrait of George Washington by Igor Babailov was officially inducted into George Washington’s Mount Vernon Museum. The same year, U.S. General and later CIA Director, David Petraeus, presented the artist with the Award ‘For Excellence’ for the work on his official legacy portrait (Collection: West Point Museum).
In 2010, Vatican Curator, Roberto Zagnoli, acknowledged Igor Babailov as Maestro when his Vatican portrait of Pope Benedict XVI was selected by the Pope for the Vatican Splendors international museum tour. Babailov was honored to be the only living artist in the exhibition, as his papal portrait hung alongside the works of Michelangelo, Bernini, Giotto and other Masters of the Renaissance.
In 2012, Igor Babailov was elected an Honorary American Academician of Painting into the historically acclaimed Russian Academy of Arts (founded 1757). In recent years, previous recipients of this honor included designer Pierre Cardin, HRH Princess Chantal of France and the American artist, Andrew Wyeth.
In 2015, the TN Senate and House of Representatives passed Resolution No.69 “To recognize Igor Babailov and celebrate his artistic achievements.” This bill was signed into Law by Governor Bill Haslam.
In 2019, Igor Babailov was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by one of the oldest and historic U.S. universities, Cumberland University (founded in 1842).
In 2020, for his life-time achievements and contributions in the arts, Igor Babailov and his family were granted Hereditary Nobility with the official Coat of Arms, by Her Imperial Highness Grand Duchess Maria, Head of The Imperial House of Romanov.
In 2022, he was awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor that ranks as one of the most prestigious awards in America. Recipients of this honor are read into the Congressional Record and include eight U.S. Presidents, several Nobel Prize Laureates, leaders in business, arts, politics, and other.
The ability to create multi-figure murals is traditionally recognized as the highest achievement of the artistic expertise. Besides being a prolific portraitist, Mr. Babailov’s uniqueness as an artist is also evident in his large-scale Old Master-like compositions such as the historical painting, “For God, Gold and Glory”, depicting the arrival of Columbus and his crew in the Americas (permanently featured in the Peruvian Encyclopedia). His multi-figure painting “Be Not Afraid”, the official historic portrait of Pope John Paul II, now a Saint, was commissioned in commemoration of the World Youth Days. It is in the collection of the Vatican Museum and by the personal decree of the late Pope, it is displayed in Castel Gandolfo, the Papal summer residence. His epic painting “MERCY - Our Shared Humanity”, portraying a diverse crowd with many children of various cultural and religious backgrounds, is currently underway and it is dedicated to the timeless issue of ongoing global humanitarian (often man-made) disasters and to its innocent victims, children.
Child prodigy, Igor Babailov began his formal classical art training at the age of nine, the same age as Raphael, studying with leading Masters of traditional painting and drawing. In the span of 16 years (1974-1990), Babailov attained the highest level of fine art education and received his Master of Fine Arts degree (official Ph.D. equivalent in the U.S.) under the Russian Academy of Arts (est.1757), which taught and gave the world many outstanding Masters of portraiture, including Repin, Serov, and the great American artist, Whistler. Babailov’s fine art education especially contributed to his unparalleled skill in academic drawing (or drawing from life), which today is a fundamental challenge for many painters.
Recipient of numerous national and international awards and honors, Babailov is an advocate for timeless values in the academic tradition of portrait painting. He has taught at the Florence Academy of Art in Italy and has been invited to lecture and demonstrate his artistic skills at universities, art venues and private clubs.
Knighted Chevalier of the Order of St. Anne (est.1735), Igor Babailov is a member of the National Arts Club in New York City, member of the Russian Nobility Association in America, and Distinguished Fellow at the Catholic University of America; he is active in charity works, especially those for children’s causes. Vatican awarded him the Pontifical medal of Pope John Paul II and the International Academy of Culture and Art awarded him the Order “For Service to Art” (The Golden Star). He was bestowed with the State title ‘Honored Artist of Udmurtia’ in Russia and recognized as Drawing Master in Canada and Living Master by the Art Renewal Center in the U.S.