Zinaida Serebriakova: 21 facts about her life and art

At the dressing table, 1909

Zinaida Serebriakova (1884-1967) – one of the most famous Russian artists. Consisted in the association “Mir iskusstva”. And I personally do not like the portrait as a genre, but her portraits have conquered my heart forever.

1. The artist was modest and unsociable child suffering from ilnesses.

2. The girl was born in a truly talented and creative family: her great-great-grandfather was an Italian composer, great-grandfather and grandfather – architects, uncles – artists, architects and theorists of art, father – a sculptor. And almost everyone became outstanding in his work.

3. In her teenage years, her love for Russia “in its rustic, peasant, genuinely popular image and being” flashed in her, which forever remained in her heart.

4. In 1905, Zinaida married a cousin Boris Serebriakov.

5. She was inspired by the works of Renoir, but especially Degas and Venetsianov.

6. She did not accept the latest trends in art and even criticized them. Even Cezanne, she considered “helpless” in the drawing.

7. For “Serebriakova’s” landscapes, the significance of the embodied motif, generality, compositional thinking, aspiration to balance and logical construction is characteristic.

8. The artist was impressed by the motive of the plowed or green field leaving to the horizon, endless distances and the autumn or autumn sky covering them.

9. The most famous self-portrait of the artist “At the dressing table” (1909) is a kind of protection and the border between themselves and the viewer. She depicts not herself, but her reflection in the mirror. The work is distinguished simultaneously by the liveliness and “stoppage” of time.

10. Serebriakova is one of the first Russian painters of the XX century who revived the tradition of depicting a naked female body in ” an independent aesthetic meaning.”

11. Serebriakova does not embellish her models, but draws them as they are, paying special attention to their merits.

12. One can often notice in the women’s portraits the features of Serebriakova herself.

13. For Serebriakova, peasants are as free people, engaged in the same labor as she and her relatives.

14. Zinaida Serebriakova was essentially self-taught and achieved recognition, thanks to the inherent nature of talent and hard work.

15. Throughout her life, Serebriakova is surrounded by separation from relatives (the husband was constantly on business trips throughout Russia, and in 1924 the artist was forced to emigrate without returning to her beloved Russia) and their death: 1886 – father, 1898 – grandfather, 1917 – model Polya Molchanova, to whom  Zinaida was sincerely attached; 1919 – the husband, 1933 – mother.

16. She repeatedly received an invitation from the Academy of Arts to take the place of professor, but life circumstances did not allow her to accept it every time.

17. While working on portraits, Serebriakova did portraits of the same model several times.

18. Often portraits were written during one session from 30 minutes to 2-3 hours.

19. Serebriakova was very shy to work on the streets of cities, therefore the Parisian landscapes were made mainly in the park of the Tuileries and in the Luxembourg garden. She has almost no Petersburg landscapes.

20. In 1930-50-s because of the ilnesses the artist rarely left the house, so she worked mostly on still life. For them, she was not looking for unusual items, she was approached by the most ordinary things: household utensils, vegetables.

21. In 1928 and 1932, she spent one and a half months in Morocco. The trip was paid by the patron of art the Baron Jean de Brouwer, with the proviso that he will take back several of the works she created in Morocco.

Source in the russian language:
  1. Alla Rusakova “Zinaida Serebriakova 1884-1967”, 2006. — 376 p.

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