Mikhail Vrubel (1856 – 1910) From the biographical information at Olga’s Gallery: Born into the family of a military lawyer, Vrubel first finished the St. Petersburg University (in 1880) to become a lawyer, but the same year entered the Academy of Arts. In his autobiography, written in 1901, Vrubel referred to his Academy years as the happiest in his life as an artist. For that he was indebted to professor Pavel Tchistyakov, who was famous for his method of teaching painting and drawing. Among Tchistyakov’s pupils were such outstanding painters as Vasily Surikov, Viktor Vasnetsov and Vasily Polenov who all thought very highly of their teacher. Vrubel received support from Savva Mamontov, a famous Moscow patron of arts, who invited the artist to work at the pottery shop on his estate in Abramtsevo near Moscow and commissioned him to paint the scenery for his Private Opera in Moscow. Mamontov also built up a clientele commissioning Vrubel to paint decor for mansions. Together with Mamontov and his family Vrubel traveled in Europe. Later on, Vrubel tried himself at various artistic media such as applied art (ceramics, majolica, stained glass), architectural masks, stage set and costume design, and even architecture. His talent proved truly universal. In everything he did, and he could do almost everything, He searched for a lucid beautiful style. This search eventually made Vrubel the true founder of Russian Art Nouveau, a style that partially grew out of Russian neo-romanticism.