Ilya Ivanovich Mashkov was born on July, 29th, 1881 in Mikhailovskaya-on-Don village near Volgograd (nowadays Uryupinsk District of the Volgograd Region).
His parents were peddlers. When Ilya was yet a pupil of a three-year parish school, he revealed an interest and talent for inventing various mechanical devices and drawing. But at the age of eleven he was already sent to work. At first he served as an errand boy for a fruit seller, and then worked for a merchant, the owner of shops and factories in the town of Borisoglebsk of the Tambov Province. Later Ilya Mashkov recalled: “Day after day from 7 am till 9 pm I had to be on feet. 14 hours! I hated it all”. The only joy for the boy was to copy icons, painting reproductions, popular prints (see Russian lubok) and make commercial posters. The boy ordered a box of oil paints from a newspaper ad. However, when the art teacher of the Borisoglebsky man's grammar school asked him if he wanted to study drawing, the boy enquired: “Does one learn it?”
In 1890 he entered the Moscow school of painting, sculpturing and architecture, where he studied under V. Serov, K. Korovin, and A. Vasnetsov. As a student Mashkov showed his eccentric character and finally was expelled from the school.
In his student years the artist traveled a lot and visited a number of countries of the Western Europe, as well as Turkey and Egypt.
He adjoined the Russian fauvist artists. In 1910 he took an active part in organization of the first exhibition of Bubnovy Valet and was the member of this famous association of artists and participated in all the later exhibitions. “We wanted our paintings to be mighty, satiated with plentiful colors” - Mashkov said about the purpose of Bubnovy Valet.
Apart from that Ilya Mashkov actively participated in the renewed association of Mir Iskusstva (Realm of Art).
Mashkov’s main genre was still-life, but he also resorted to landscape and portraiture. ...