Painting -> Zinaida Serebryakova
Zinaida Evgenyevna Serebryakova (December
10, 1884 - September 19, 1967) is the first Russian woman-painter
Zinaida Serebryakova was born on the estate of Neskuchnoye
near Kharkov (now Ukraine) into one of the most refined and
artistic families of Russia.
He was arrested and murdered in the German
concentration camp Auschwitz.
She belongs to the artistic family of Lansere (sometimes
spelled Lanceray). Her grandfather Nicolai Leontievich Lansere was
architect, chairman of architect's society and member
of Russian Academy of Science. Her uncle Alexandre Benois was a
famous painter, founder of Mir iskusstva art group.
Her father, Yevgeniy Nikolaevich Lansere, was a well-known sculptor,
and her mother, who was Alexandre Benois's sister, was good at drawing.
One of Zinaida's brothers, Nikolai Evgenievich Lansere, was a talented
architect, and her other brother, Yevgeniy Yevgenievich Lansere,
had an important place in Russian and Soviet art as a master of
monumental painting and graphic art. Great Russian
poet Anna Akhmatova and Russian-English actor and writer Peter Ustinov
were also her relatives.
In 1900 she graduated from women's gimnasium and entered the art
school founded by princess Tenisheva. She learnt from Repin (since
1901) and from portrait artist Braz (1903-1905). In 1902-1903 she
traveled to Italy. In 1905-1906 she studied at Academie de La Grande
Chaumiere in Paris.
In 1905 Zinaida Lansere married student (later railroad engineer)
Boris Serebryakov and took his surname.
Ever since her youth Zinaida Serebryakova strove to express her
love of the world and to show its beauty. Her earliest works—Country
Girl (1906, Russian Museum) and Orchard in Bloom (1908, private
collection)—speak eloquently of this search, and of her acute
awareness of the beauty of the Russian land and its people. These
works are etudes done from nature, and though she was young at the
time, her extraordinary talent, confidence and boldness were apparent.
Broad public recognition came with Serebryakova's
self-portrait At the Dressing-Table (1909, Tretyakov Gallery); first
shown at a large exhibition mounted by the Union of Russian Artists
in 1910.The self-portrait was followed by Girl Bathing (1911, Russian
Museum), a portrait of Ye. K, Lansere (1911, private collection)
and a portrait of the artist's mother Yekaterina
Lansere (1912, Russian Museum)—mature works, strict in composition.
She joined the World of Art movement in 1911, but
stood out from the other members of the group because of her preference
for popular themes and because of the harmony, plasticity and generalized
nature of her paintings..
In 1914-1917 Zinaida Serebryakova was in her prime.
During these years she produced a series of pictures on the theme
of Russian rural life, the work of the peasants and the Russian
countryside which was so dear to her heart: Peasants (1914-1915,
Russian Museum), Sleeping Peasant Girl (private collection).
The most important of these works was Bleaching
Cloth (1917, Tretyakov Gallery) which revealed Zinaida Serebryakova's
striking talent as a monumental artist. The figures of the peasant
women, portrayed against the background of the sky, gain majesty
and power by virtue of the low horizon.
When in 1916 Alexander Benois was commissioned
to decorate the Kazan Railway Station(*) in Moscow, he invited Yevgeny
Lansere, Boris Kustodiev, Mstislav Dobuzhinsky and Zinaida Serebryakova
to help him. Serebryakova took on the theme of the Orient: India,
Japan, Turkey and Siam are represented allegorically in the form
of beautiful women. At the same time she began compositions on subjects
from classical mythology, but these remained unfinished.
Zinaida met October Revolution in her family estate of Neskuchnoe.
Suddenly all her life changed. In 1919 died of typhus her husband,
Boris. She was left with her four children and sick mother without
any income. Hunger. All reserves of Neskuchnoe were marauded. She
had to stop oil
paining for less expensive techniques of coal and pencil.
This was the time of her most tragic painting House of Cards showing
all her four orphaned children.
She did not want to switch to popular in the earlier
Soviet art futurist style nor paint the commissar's portraits, but
he found some work in Kharkov Archeological Museum, where she made
pencil drawings of exponents. In December 1920 she moved to Petrograd
to her great father’s apartment. After October Revolution
inhabitants of private apartments were forced to share them with
new inhabitants sent for podselenie. Lansere's family was given
actors of MKhaAT theater. This was the time of her theatric series
In the autumn of 1924 Serebrvakova went to Paris, having received
a commission for a large decorative mural. On finishing this work
she intended to return to Russia, where her mother and two children
remained. But life turned out differently and she was not able to
return to Russia and became separated from all of her beloved children.
Serebryakova's long years away from Russia and
her family were full of nostalgia and brought her neither joy nor
creative satisfaction. She struggled to obtain even small money
to send them back to her children in Russia.
Zinaida Serebryakova traveled a great deal. In
1928 and 1930 she travels to Africa, visiting Morocco and Algeria.
Landscapes of Africa's north astonished her, she paints Atlas mountains,
Arab women, Africans in ethnic clothes. She also paints a cycle
devoted to Britannia's fishermen. The salient feature of her later
landscapes and portraits is the artist's own personality—her
love of beauty, whether in nature or in man. And yet, the most important
thing was missing—the connection with what was near and dear
During Khruschev's Thaw, the Soviet Government
allowed contact with her. In 1960 after 36 years of forced separation
she was visited by her daughter Tatiana (Tata), who became a theatrical
artist working for MKhaAT. In 1966 a large exhibition of Zinaida
Serebryakova's works was mounted in Moscow, Leningrad and Kiev.
She instantly became very popular in Russia, her albums were selling
by the millions and she was compared to Boticelli and Renoir.