Vasnetsov, Viktor Mikhailovich (1848-1926) by Scholes, Robert

Viktor Mikhailovich Vasnetsov (1848 – 1926) Adapted from the biographical sketch at Son of a village clergyman, Victor Mikhailovich Vasnetsov prepared himself for the same career, but the passionate love for art brought the 19-year-old student of ecclesiastical seminary to St. Petersburg’s Academy of Arts. During his years (1868-75) in the Academy Vasnetsov got a thorough professional training; working mainly with professor Pavel Tchistyakov. Victor Vasnetsov started as a scene painter. In late 1870s, early 1880s Vasnetsov tried himself in historical genre painting, as in After Prince Igor’s Battle with the Polovtsy (1880). He also found a resource for themes in Russian mythology–legends, ballads, and fairy-tales. He was born and grew up in a northern Russian village and almost to the age of 20 lived in an environment where the “folklore outlook” was still alive. He was not only the one of the first artists to turn to the subjects in folklore, but also the first to look for methods and device in national folk art. Thus he became the founder of new style in Russian painting. Vasnetsov was an active member of the Abramtsevo circle (Abramtsevo, the estate of the well-known patron of the arts, Savva Mamontov), which sought to revive national traditions. There he worked on many projects, including the sets and costumes for the production of Alexander Ostrovsky’s lyrical fairy-tale The Snow Maiden and for Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera of the same name, staged at Mamontov’s private Opera in 1885. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries Vasnetsov actively worked in different fields. He produced a number of architectural designs, including those for his own house in Moscow (1894), for a pavilion at the World’s Fair in Paris (1898), and for E. Tsvetkov’s house on the Moskva River (1901-03), as well as designs for decoration of the Great Kremlin Palace (1898), the Faceted Chamber (1901-03), and other buildings in Moscow Kremlin. In 1904 he designed the fa├žade of the Tretyakov Gallery. During the last 20 years of his life Vasnetsov turned to his favorite lyrical subjects inspired by Russian fairy-tales. His painting influenced greatly the development of modernism and symbolism in Russian painting and poetry.

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