He was born in Pokrovskoye, Moscow Oblast and studied at the Penza Art College from 1898 to 1903 under the well known Peredvizhniki member Konstantin Savitsky. He subsequently studied at the Imperial Academy of Arts from 1903 to 1911 under the battle-painter Franz Alekseevitch Rubo and the most famous of Russian realists, Ilya Repin. For his diploma work he received the academy's highest honor, the Gold Medal. The academy also gave him a scholarship which enabled him to study in Germany, Italy, and France from 1911 to 1912. He would later join the AKhRR, which is unsurprising given his contact with the leaders of the Peredvizhniki movement.