Konstantin (Kosta) Khetagkati (Ossetic: Хетæгкаты Къоста; 15 October [O.S. 3 October] 1859 — 1 April [O.S. 19 March] 1906) was a national poet of the Ossetian people who is generally regarded as the founder of the Ossetic literature. He was also a talented painter and a notable public benefactor. He is often known by the Russian version of his name, Kosta [Levanovich] Khetagurov (Russian: Коста́ (Константин) Лева́нович Хетагу́ров)
Kosta Khetagkati’s house in Nar
Khetagurov was born in the village of Nar in what is now the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania. He studied at the Stavropol Gymnasium from 1871 to 1881, and entered the Saint Petersburg Academy of Arts in 1881, but had to abandon his studies due to financial constraint in 1885. Back in his native Ossetia, he became a prominent poet, whose poems composed in Ossetic quickly spread throughout Ossetian towns and villages in an oral form. He also published a number of poems, stories and articles in the Russian-language newspapers Severny Kavkaz (edited by himself, 1893–1902), and Kazbek. His paintings also gained in notable popularity, one of them depicting Saint Nino, a 4th-century Chrisitan baptizer of the Georgians, was particularly welcomed by the Georgian society.
Due to his criticism of the Imperial Russian government he was twice exiled from his motherland from 1891 to 1896 and again from 1899 to 1902. The last exile significantly shattered the poet's health and deprived him of the ability to continue his creative and social activities. Khetagurov died shortly afterwards in Karachay in 1906.
Although Kosta was partially unschooled, his paintings were still formidable. This allowed Kosta to live for a time from commissions of his skills. To much herald and trumpet there was a great exhibition of his work soon into this period. The exhibition was considered a cultural moment of note in [Vladikavkaz]. There are contemporary accounts that the exhibition was a great coup, both for the reputation and for the funding of Kosta. There are three paintings of especial noteworthiness described in the accounts as the opus of the master: "Children Stone-breakers", "In an Ossetian Hut", "The Zikara Pass". There is an account of the verisimilitude of the painting "St.Nina", which upon display caused crowds to gather round and peer closely.It is said that these assembled throngs asked a custodial worker to let them unto a rope and poke the canvass to assure that it was a flat expanse and not a box with a statue contained. Indeed, the painting is still held in high esteem today. There was then the conundrum in that a paying opportunity presented itself, but only that of the rude painter of theatrical backdrops. This construction of scenes was lucrative but Kosta was displeased that the theaters advertised his presence so widely. He did not wish his name to become associated with that form of painting more crass.