Valentin Serov

Painter, graphic artist, theatrical designer, illustrator, teacher. Born in Moscow (1865). Son of Russian composer Alexander Serov (1820–1871) and German pianist Valentina Bergman (1846–1924). Attended the Karl May Grammar School in St Petersburg (1875–76). Studied under Karl Köpping in Munich (1872–73), Ilya Repin in Paris (1874–75) and Moscow (1878–80) and Pavel Chistyakov at the Imperial Academy of Arts (1880–85). Visited Munich and Holland (1885), Vienna and Italy (1887) and Paris (1889). Married Olga Trubnikova (1889), adopted daughter of his aunt Adelaide Bergman (1844–1933) and uncle Jacob Simonovich (1840–1883) and mother of his sons Alexander (1893), Georgy (1894), Mikhail (1896) and Anton (1901) and daughter Natalia (1908). Member of the Abramtsevo circle (from 1875), Society of Travelling Art Exhibitions (1894), World of Art (1899), Munich Sezession (1899) and the Union of Russian Artists (1903). Designed for theatres in Moscow and St Petersburg (from 1886). Pioneered Russian Impressionism in such works as Girl with Peaches (1887) and Girl Illuminated by the Sun (1888). Painted portraits of famous actors, artists, writers, society ladies, members of the imperial family and the Russian aristocracy (1890–1911). Worked with Konstantin Korovin in northern Russia (1894), illustrated the fables of Ivan Krylov (1895–1911). Taught at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture (1897–1909, resigned in protest at the decision to bar Anna Golubkina from classes). Academician of painting (1898), full member of the Imperial Academy of Arts (1903–05, resigned in protest at Bloody Sunday). Board member of the Tretyakov Gallery (1899–1911). Addressed themes from Russian history (1900–07) and classical mythology (1907–11) after studying ancient ruins in Greece with Léon Bakst (1907). Contributed to Sergei Diaghilev’s Saisons Russes in Paris, designing the sets and costumes with Léon Bakst for Alexander Serov’s opera Judith at the Théâtre du Châtelet (1909), the poster depicting Anna Pavlova in Les Sylphides (1909) and the curtain for Mikhail Fokine’s ballet Schéhérazade (1910). Visited Rome, Paris, Florence and London (1910). Died in Moscow and buried at the Don Monastery (1911), later reburied at the Novodevichy Cemetery. Contributed to exhibitions (from 1886). Contributed to the exhibitions of the Moscow Society of Lovers of the Arts (1886–97), Society of Travelling Art Exhibitions (1890–99), Munich Sezession (1896, 1898, 1899), Exhibition of Russian and Finnish Artists (1898), World of Art (1898–1903, 1906, 1911–13), 36 Artists (1901), Berlin Sezession (1903), Exhibition of Historical Russian Portraits at the Tauride Palace in St Petersburg (1905), Union of Russian Artists (1905–10), Sergei Makovsky Salon (1909), Pan-Russian Exhibition of Industry and Art in Nizhny Novgorod (1896), Exposition Universelle in Paris (1900, grand prix), international exhibitions in Munich (1909), Vienna (1902), Berlin (1903), Venice (1907), Brussels (1910) and Rome (1911), exhibitions of Russian art in Paris (1906, 1910), Berlin (1906) and Vienna (1908) and posthumous one-man show in Moscow and St Petersburg (1914).

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