Having to work from the age of 12,
He started to take evening classes at the Society For Promotion of Artists' School of Painting in 1863. While attending these classes, Vasilev, he met many painters who took care of him.
In 1866, famous landscape painter Ivan Shishkin, fell in love with
Vasilev and Shishkin worked together between July and November 1867, on the island of Vallam. As a result of his friendship with Shishkin, Vasilev was introduced to other famous Russian painters and art collectors.
After painting Thaw in 1871, Vasilev became famous with the Russian royal family ordering a copy. Unfortunately, he was unable to enjoy his fame as he was diagnosed with tuberculosis and had to leave Saint Petersburg for the Crimea.
It took him a long time to get used to his new surroundings and he painted landscapes from the plains of Russia. Eventually he got used to his new surroundings and started painting landscapes of the Crimea.
On October 6, 1873, at the age of 23 Vasilev passed away in Yalta.