Leonid Shishkin, journalist by profession, began to organise private Russian art exhibitions abroad towards the end of the 1980s. His family owned gallery has grown into a successful business and is well recognised within the Russian and the International Association of Antique and Fine Art Dealers (ICAAD). Equally, as a prominent buyer and seller with Sotheby’s and Christies for over 20 years, Leonid Shishkin has gained a reputation for his expertise in 20th Century Russian art.
The portrait of Leonid Shishkin (on the left) is one of the last works painted by Dmitry Nalbandyan (1906–1993). There is this inscription at the bottom of the painting: "To Shishkin from D.Nalbandyan 1993."
Dmitry Nalbandyan was a so-called first brush of Politburo, and a "court painter" of the Soviet leaders, such as Joseph Stalin and Leonid Brezhnev. Nalbandyan was the only painter to whom Joseph Stalin posed himself for 40 minutes in 1946, whilst the rest of painters made portraits of Stalin from photographs. A self-portrait of Dmitry Nalbandyan has been part of the Uffizi Gallery’s collection in Florence, Italy, since 1982.
Leonid Shishkin was a close friend of Dmitry Nalbandyan during the last 6 years of the artist's life, as well as a researcher of Nalbandyan’s art. Nowadays, Leonid Shishkin is an aknowledged expert (of the International Association of Antique and Art Dealers) of the art of Dmitry Nalbandyan.