Giorgi “Gigo” Gabashvili (November 9, 1862 – October 28, 1936) was a Georgian painter and educator. His work was particularly influential since he was the first Georgian realistic artist to cover a wide range of subjects, both in oils and watercolor, including portraits, landscapes and scenes of everyday life.
Born in Tbilisi, Georgia (then part of the Russian Empire), Gigo Gabashvili was educated at the academies of St. Petersburg (1886–1888) and Munich (1894–1897).
Returning to his homeland, he made his debut as the first artist to have been honored with a personal exhibition in Tbilisi. From 1900 to 1920, he taught at the art school operated by the Caucasian Society for Promotion of Fine Arts. Gabashvili was one of the founding professors of the Tbilisi State Academy of Arts (1922) and was granted the title of the People’s Artist of the Georgian SSR (1929).
Gabashvili remained a staunch realist and made known his opposition to left-wing art. He died in Tsikhisdziri, Adjara, in 1936.
Gabashvili is best known for his series of vivid portraits of peasants, townsmen, and noblemen (“The Three Townsmen”, 1893; “The Sleeping Khevsur”, 1898; “The Drunk Khevsur”, 1899; “A Kurd”, 1903–1909; “The Three Generals”, 1910; etc.) as well as multifigure scenes from Georgian (“Alaverdoba Festival”, 1899) and Oriental life – many of them based on the sketches of his Central Asian journey in 1894 (“The Bazaar in Samarkand”, 1894–1897; “The Divan-Bey Pool in Bukhara”, 1897; etc.).
Most of his works are now on display at the National Museum of Fine Arts in Tbilisi. His 1895 copy of “The Bazaar in Samarkand,” created at the request of the U.S. diplomat and businessman Charles R. Crane who met him during his travel in the Caucasus, was sold for USD 1.36 million at Sotheby’s in 2006.