Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Off to Russia - Self Portraits by Zinaida Yevgenyevna Serebriakova 1884-1967

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Zinaida Yevgenyevna Serebriakova (Russian artist, 1884-1967) Self Portrait at the Dressing Table 1909


Zinaida Yevgenyevna Lanceray Serebriakova was born into a family of artists at the family home Neskuchnoe in the Ukraine. Her father Yevgeni Aleksandrovich Lanceray was a famous sculptor, while her grandfather Nikolai Leontyevich Benois was an academician & chairman of Saint Petersburg Association of Architects & a member of the Russian Academy of Science. Her uncle was Alexandre Nikolayevich Benois, an illustrious artist & the founder of the Mir Iskusstva art group. One of Zinaida's brothers, Nikolay Yevgenyevich Lanceray, was a talented architect, and her other brother, Yevgeny Yevgenyevich Lanceray, had an important place in Russian art as a master of monumental painting & graphic art.


Zinaida Yevgenyevna Serebriakova (Russian artist, 1884-1967) Self Portrait


She studied under Ilya Repin in 1901, and under portrait artist Osip Braz between 1903 & 1905. Between 1902--1903 she traveled through Italy. In 1905, she married her 1st cousin Boris Serebriakov, a railroad engineer.


Zinaida Yevgenyevna Serebriakova (Russian artist, 1884-1967) Serebriakova as Pierrot, self-portrait (1911)


After her marriage, from 1905--1906 she studied at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris. After returning to Russia, she garnered broad public recognition for her self-portrait At the Dressing-Table (1909), first shown at a large exhibition mounted by the Union of Russian Artists in 1910.


Zinaida Yevgenyevna Serebriakova (Russian artist, 1884-1967) Self Portrait


During the revolution in 1917, the family home Neskuchnoe including a huge library & a great number of drawings and canvasses was burned down. In 1919, Zinaida's husband died in her lap of typhus, leaving her alone in charge of 4 small children & her displaced, widowed mother.


Zinaida Yevgenyevna Serebriakova (Russian artist, 1884-1967) Self Portrait with Brush


In 1924, Serebriakova got an order for a large decorative panel & with the help of Uncle Shura moved to Paris, leaving behind her children & mother in Saint Petersburg. Later, she managed to take her son Sasha & daughter Katya across the border, but her children Zhenya & Tatyana had to stay in Russia with their aged grandmother.


Zinaida Yevgenyevna Serebriakova (Russian artist, 1884-1967) Self  Portrait 1921


Exhibitions in France, Belgium, & England followed, while the artist was tormented by the separation from her family & homeland. Until 1940, Zinaida Serebriakova remained a Soviet citizen hoping to reunite with her children staying in Russia. However, during Hitler's occupation of France, she had to choose between a French passport & a concentration camp. So she renounced her Soviet citizenship loosing the connection with her homeland for many years.

Zinaida Yevgenyevna Serebriakova (Russian artist, 1884-1967) Self Portrait with Children


During the Thaw between nations, her daughter Tatyana, who had become a decorative artist in the Moscow Art Academic Theatre got a chance to visit her mother after 36 years of separation. And finally, the elder Serebriakova's paintings were exhibited in Moscow, Kiev, & Leningrad (St. Petersburg).


Zinaida Yevgenyevna Serebriakova (Russian artist, 1884-1967) Self Portrait 1938


The 80-year-old artist was phyically unable to visit the exhibits, yet she could finally feel the acknowledgment of her home country. She passed away in 1967, and was laid to rest in the Russian cemetery of San Genevieve de Bua. Following the artist's will an enormous collection of her works (over 200 canvases) was brought back to Russia.


Zinaida Yevgenyevna Serebriakova (Russian artist, 1884-1967) Self Portrait 1956


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