Victor Vasnetsov

Born: 1848, Lopyal (Vyatka Province)
Died: 1926, Moscow

Painter, graphic artist, sculptor, applied artist, theatrical designer, decorator, illustrator. Elder brother of Apollinary Vasnetsov, grandfather of Andrei Vasnetov, fifth cousin once removed of Yury Vasnetsov. Born in the village of Lopyal in Vyatka Province (now Kirov Region) in the family of a rural priest called Mikhail Vasnetsov (1848). Moved with his family to the nearby village of Ryabovo (1850). Studied at Vyatka Theological College (1858–62) and Vyatka Theological Seminary (1862–67). Took drawing lessons from Nikolai Chernyshev and helped exiled Polish artist Micha? Elwiro Andriolli to decorate the St Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Vyatka (1860s). Moved to St Petersburg (1867), where he studied under Ivan Kramskoi at the School of Drawing of the Society for the Encouragement of Artists (1867–68) and under Pyotr Basin, Pavel Chistyakov and Vasily Vereschagin at the Imperial Academy of Arts (1868–75). Awarded two minor silver medals (1869) and a major silver medal (1870). Lived and worked in Paris (1876–77), where he spent time with Ilya Repin and Vasily Polenov. Returned to St Petersburg and married Alexandra Ryazantseva in Vyatka (1877). Painted works of Critical Realism (1876–79) and genre scenes inspired by the Russo-Turkish War (1877–78). Joined the Society of Travelling Art Exhibitions (1878) and settled in Moscow (1878). Addressed subjects from Old Russian history and traditional fairytales and epic poems (from 1878). Worked in Akhtyrka (1879–80) and Abramtsevo (1881–85), where he took part in an amateur production of Alexander Ostrovsky’s play The Snow Maiden (1882) and designed the Church of the Holy Mandylion (1881–82) and Hut on Chicken Legs (1883). Painted the Stone Age frieze for the History Museum in Moscow (1883–84). Collaborated with Savva Mamontov’s Russian Private Opera (1885–86), designing the sets and costumes for productions of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Snow Maiden (1885), Alexander Dargomyzhsky’s Rusalka (1885), Gioachino Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia (1885) and Nikolai Krotkov’s The Red Rose (1886). Visited Italy (1885), where he studied Byzantine mosaics and Renaissance painting. Decorated the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood in St Petersburg (1883–1901), St Vladimir’s Cathedral in Kiev (1885–96), St George’s Church in Gus-Khrustalny (1896–1904), Church of St Mary Magdalene in Darmstadt (1899–1901), St Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia (1904–13) and the St Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Warsaw (1906–11). Contributed illustrations to the collected works of Mikhail Lermontov published on the fiftieth anniversary of the poet’s death (1891) and illustrated Alexander Pushkin’s Ballad of Oleg the Seer (1899). Professor of painting (1892), full member of the Imperial Academy of Arts (1893, resigned in 1905), honorary member of the Académie de Reims (1895). Designed his own studio (1891) and townhouse on 3rd Trinity Lane (now Vasnetsov Lane) in Moscow (1893–94), the main facade of the Tretyakov Gallery (1899–1901) and the exterior decor of the Palace of Facets in the Kremlin (1901–03). Awarded the Légion d’honneur (1902). Joined the Union of Russian People (1905) and sculpted the memorial cross on the site of the assassination of Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich in the Kremlin (1905–08). Raised to the rank of the nobility (1912). Designed stamps, posters and picture postcards to raise money for victims of the First World War (1914–15). Founding member of the Society for the Rebirth of Artistic Rus (1915) and Isograph (1917). Designed the budyonovka hat for the Red Army in the style of Old Russian helmets (1918). Died of a myocardial rupture while working on a portrait of Mikhail Nesterov in his studio in Moscow and buried at the former German Cemetery in Lefortovo (1926). Contributed to exhibitions (from 1869). Contributed to the exhibitions of the Imperial Academy of Arts (1869, 1873, 1881), Society of Travelling Art Exhibitions (1874–89, 1897), Paris Salon (1877), Moscow Society of Lovers of the Arts (1891–1909), World of Art (1900), 36 Artists (1902), Union of Russian Artists (1903, 1910, 1914–15, 1922–23), Artists for Comrade Warriors (1914), Pan-Russian Exhibition of Industry and Art in Moscow (1882), Fourth Annual International Exhibition in London (1874, bronze medal), Exposition Universelle in Paris (1900), international exhibitions in Rome (1911) and Malmö (1914), exhibitions of Russian art in the United States and Canada (1924) and one-man shows in St Petersburg (1899, 1903, 1905), Moscow (1904, 1910, 1911–1912, 1927, 1948, 1990–91) and Abramtsevo (1926, 1980).

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