Nikolai Ulyanov

Born: 1875, Yelets (Oryol Province)
Died: 1949, Moscow
Art Nouveau

Painter, graphic artist, theatrical designer, teacher. Born in the family of a rural physician called Pavel Ulyanov in the town of Yelets in Oryol Province (1875). Graduated from parish church school in Yelets (1887) and moved with his family to Moscow (1887), where he studied at an icon-painting studio on Pervaya Meschanskaya Street (1887–88), in the studio of Vasily Meshkov (1888–89) and under Illarion Pryanishnikov, Konstantin Savitsky, Valentin Serov and Nikolai Nevrev at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture (1889–1900). Awarded four minor silver medals (1897–1900) and a major silver medal and the title of non-class artist (1900). Worked as an assistant in Valentin Serov and Konstantin Korovin’s studio (1901–03) and taught at the Elizaveta Zvantseva School of Painting and Drawing (1901–07), Stroganov School of Art and Industry (1915–18), State Free Art Studios (1918–20), Prechistenka Practical Institute (1919–21), VKhUTEMAS (1920–22) and the Moscow Institute of Art (1942–45). Passed through periods of interest in Impressionism and Art Nouveau (1900s), Symbolism (early 1910s) and Cubism, Futurism and abstraction (late 1910s–early 1920s), before returning to Art Nouveau (late 1920s) and Realism (1930s–40s). Painted portraits of Nikolai Ge (1895), Anton Chekhov (1904), Olga Knipper (1907), Konstantin Balmont (1909), Vyacheslav Ivanov (1920), Anna Golubkina (1937), Mikhail Lermontov (1941) and Konstantin Stanislavsky (1947). Worked for theatres in Moscow (from 1904), designing the sets and costumes for performances of Gerhart Hauptmann’s Schluck und Jau, Rachilde’s Le Vendeur de soleil and Maurice Maeterlinck’s Pelléas et Mélisande at the Theatre Studio on Povarskaya (1905), Alexander Griboyedov’s Woe from Wit at the Moscow Art Theatre (1906), Knut Hamsun’s Livets Spil at the Moscow Art Theatre (1907), Molière’s Les Fourberies de Scapin at the Maly Theatre (1918), Hippolyte Stupuy’s Chez Diderot at the Moscow Show Theatre (1919), Alexander Pushkin’s The Miserly Knight at the Theatre on Tverskaya (1922), Jacques Offenbach’s Orphée aux enfers at the Musical Studio of the Moscow Art Theatre (1920–22), Aesop’s The Ass and his Shadow at the Comedy Theatre (1925), Mikhail Bulgakov’s TheDays of the Turbins at the Moscow Art Theatre (1926), Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Cabal of Hypocrites at the Moscow Art Theatre (1935) and Georges Bizet’s Carmen at the Konstantin Stanislavsky Opera Theatre (1935). Visited Estonia (1903) and New Athos in Abkhazia (1904), travelled down the River Volga and River Kama (1906), toured Italy (1907), lived and worked in France (1909), Germany (1912) and Italy (1912). Member of the Union of Russian Artists (1911), World of Art (1913) and Four Arts (1925), founding member of the Trade Union of Artists and Painters of Moscow (1917). Sketched Vladimir Lenin lying in state in the Pillar Hall of the House of the Unions (1924) and worked on the Pushkin in Life cycle of paintings and drawings (1935–49). Evacuated to Nalchik and Tbilisi during the Second World War (1941), lived in Samarkand (1942–43), returned to Moscow (1943). Died in Moscow and buried at the former German Cemetery in Lefortovo (1949). Wrote memoirs published posthumously (1953, 1959). Contributed to exhibitions (from 1890). Contributed to the exhibitions of the Moscow Fellowship of Artists (1902–12), Union of Russian Artists (1903–23), Exhibition of Historical Russian Portraits at the Tauride Palace in St Petersburg (1905), World of Art (1906–21), Wreath-Stephanos (1907), Association of Artists of Revolutionary Russia (1923, 1925), Fire-Colour (1925), Four Arts (1926–29), Esposizione Internazionale in Rome (1911), one-man shows in Dresden (1905) and Moscow (1926, 1929) and posthumous retrospectives in Moscow (1951, 1961, 1965, 1975) and Leningrad (1978). Honoured Artist of the RSFSR (1932), winner of the Stalin Prize (1948), corresponding member of the Academy of Arts of the USSR (1949).

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