Vasily Polenov

Born: 1844, St Petersburg
Died: 1927, Borok (Tula Region)

Painter, graphic artist, theatrical designer, teacher. Brother of the artist Elena Polenova. Studied under Pavel Chistyakov and Fyodor Jordan (1859–60) and Timoleon Carl von Neff (1863–71) at the Imperial Academy of Arts, studying in parallel at the Faculty of Law of St Petersburg University (1868–72). Visited Vienna, Munich, Venice, Florence and Naples as a fellow of the Imperial Academy of Arts (1872–76), spent a long time in Paris, where he attended the first Impressionist exhibitions. Member of the Abramtsevo circle (from 1873), Society of Travelling Art Exhibitions (1891–1903) and the Moscow Fellowship of Artists (from 1893), honorary member of the Moscow Society of Lovers of the Arts (from 1901). Academician (1876), full member of the Imperial Academy of Arts (1893–1905). Fought as a volunteer in the Serbo-Turkish War (1876) and served as a war artist during the Russo-Turkish War (1877–78). Lived and worked in Moscow (from 1878). Travelled to Constantinople, Palestine, Syria and Egypt (1881–82, 1899), worked in Italy (1883–84, 1895), visited Germany (1907, 1910) and Spain, France and Greece (1911). Married the painter Natalia Yakunchikova, elder sister of Maria Yakunchikova (1882). Taught at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture (1882–95, professor from 1892). Designed sets for Savva Mamontov’s Russian Private Opera (from 1885). Opened a museum at his estate of Borok, which was renamed Polenovo (1931). Contributed to exhibitions (from 1869). Contributed to the exhibitions of the Imperial Academy of Arts (1869, 1875), Society of Travelling Art Exhibitions (1879–1918), Moscow Society of Lovers of the Arts (1881–90, 1897–1900), Moscow Fellowship of Artists (1894–1905, 1913–18), World of Art (1899), Pan-Russian Exhibitions in Moscow (1882) and Nizhny Novgorod (1896) and the exhibitions of Russian art in Los Angeles (1925) and Toronto (1925). One-man shows in St Petersburg (1909), Moscow (1910, 1914, 1924, 2007) and Prague (1910, 2010). People’s Artist of the RSFSR (1926).

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