Originally from Russia, Nicolai's impressionistic work, including paintings and sculptures, appeared in America for the first time at the International Exhibit of the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh in 1913. In both Western Europe and America, he was greeted with instant acclaim and was called a "Moujik (Russian peasant) in art" and the "Tartar painter."
Among such distinguished contemporaries as Claude Monet, Pisarro, Gaston Latouche, Sisley and John Sargent, he won his first prizes and medals.
Born in 1881 in the village of Kazan, Russia, he was the son of Ivan Alexandrovitch Fechin, an accomplished woodcarver, icon maker and gilder. When the Art School of Kazan, a branch of the celebrated Imperial Academy of Art of St. Petersburg, opened, the promising young artist received a six year scholarship.
Hardships following the Bolshevik Revolution eventually led Fechin to take his wife Alexandra and daughter Eya to the United States in 1923. The family first settled in New York, where he contracted tuberculosis. He moved his family to Taos, where a small community of artists also made their home, and purchased a house in the middle of seven acres adjoining the Indian reservation. His father's influence took over as Fechin spent the next several years handcrafting every viga, corbel, lintel, swinging door and niche. Today the home remains a work of architectural art and is the base for the Taos Art Museum.