Ilya Mashkov was born in 1881 in Mikhailovskaya-on-Don (today’s Ouriopinsk), in the region of Volgograd, into a peasant family. Already in his early age he is fascinated by lubok and primitive paintings that he sees in his village. In 1890 he studies under Valentin Serov and Konstantin Korovin at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture. He travels to Western Europe, Turkey and Egypt. In 1902 he opens his art studio and gives art lessons. He starts exhibiting his work in 1909.
Mashkov creates mostly still-life works, but he also paints portraits and landscapes. His works are considered among the finest examples of Russian neo-Primitivism. In the years 1910-1914 Mashkov is among the organizers of Jack of Diamonds exhibition. “We wanted our paintings to be mighty, satiated with plentiful colors” – he says. His works reveal an exceptional use of colors, which bear the influence of the French and German Fauves and expressionists. In 1916, joins the World of Art group. In 1925, he becomes member of The Painters of Moscow group, and in 1928 he joins the OMKh. Between the years 1919-1929 he teaches at the Second Free Art Workshops in Moscow. Mashkov dies in 1944 in Moscow.