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Zinaida Serebriakova

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Uploaded on Jan 20, 2011

Zinaida Yevgenyevna Serebriakova (1884 - 1967) was among the first female Russian painters of distinction. She was born on the estate of Neskuchnoye near Kharkov (now Kharkiv, Ukraine) into one of Russia's most refined and artistic families. She belonged to the artistic Benois family. Her grandfather, Nicholas Benois, was a famous architect, chairman of the Society of Architects and member of the Russian Academy of Science. Her uncle, Alexandre Benois, was a famous painter, founder of the Mir iskusstva art group. Her father, Yevgeny Nikolayevich Lanceray, was a well known sculptor, and her mother, who was Alexandre Benois' sister, was good at drawing. 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 and Soviet art as a master of monumental painting and graphic art. The Russian-English actor and writer Peter Ustinov was also related to her.
In 1900 she graduated from a women's gymnasium (equivalent to grammar school or high school), and entered the art school founded by Princess M. K. Tenisheva. She studied under Repin in 1901, and under portrait artist Braz between 1903 and 1905. Between 1902--1903 she spent time in Italy, and from 1905--1906 she studied at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris. In 1905, Zinaida Lanceray married her first cousin, Boris Serebriakov, the son of Evgenyi's sister, and took his surname. Serebriakov went on to become a railroad engineer.
From her youth onwards, Zinaida Serebriakova strove to express her love of the world and to show its beauty. Her earliest works, Country Girl (1906) and Orchard in Bloom (1908), speak eloquently of this search, and of her acute awareness of the beauty of the Russian land and its people. These works are études done from nature, and though she was young at the time, her extraordinary talent, confidence and boldness were apparent.
Broad public recognition came with Serebriakova's self-portrait At the Dressing-Table (1909), first shown at a large exhibition mounted by the Union of Russian Artists in 1910. The self-portrait was followed by Girl Bathing (1911), a portrait of Ye.K. Lanceray (1911), and a portrait of the artist's mother Yekaterina Lanceray (1912), already mature works, strict in composition.
She joined the 'Mir iskusstva movement' in 1911, but stood out from the other members of the group because of her preference for popular themes and because of the harmony, plasticity and generalized nature of her paintings.
In 1914--1917, Zinaida Serebriakova was in her prime. During these years she produced a series of pictures on the theme of Russian rural life, the work of the peasants and the Russian countryside which was so dear to her heart: Peasants (1914--1915), Sleeping Peasant Girl.
The most important of these works was Bleaching Cloth (1917), which revealed Zinaida Serebriakova's striking talent as a monumental artist. The figures of the peasant women, portrayed against the background of the sky, gain majesty and power by virtue of the low horizon.
When in 1916 Alexander Benois was commissioned to decorate the Kazan Railway Station in Moscow, he invited Yevgeny Lanceray, Boris Kustodiev, Mstislav Dobuzhinsky, and Zinaida Serebriakova to help him. Serebriakova took on the theme of the Orient: India, Japan, Turkey, and Siam are represented allegorically in the form of beautiful women. At the same time she began compositions on subjects from classical mythology, but these remained unfinished.
(from Wikipedia)

Musica: Elena Kats-Chernin (1957), 'Eliza's Aria'.

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