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Valentin Serov
 
 

Self-portrait, 1880s
 
 
Valentin Alexandrovich Serov (Russian: Валенти́н Алекса́ндрович Серо́в; 19 January 1865 – 5 December 1911) was a Russian painter, and one of the premier portrait artists of his era.

Life and work
Youth and education

Serov was born in Saint Petersburg, son of the Russian composer Alexander Serov, and his wife Valentina Bergman, a composer of German-Jewish[1] background. In his childhood he studied in Paris and Moscow under Ilya Repin and in the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts (1880–1885) under Pavel Chistyakov. Serov's early creativity was sparked by the realistic art of Repin and strict pedagogical system of Chistyakov. Further influences on Serov were the old master paintings he viewed in the museums of Russia and Western Europe, friendships with Mikhail Vrubel and (later) Konstantin Korovin, and the creative atmosphere of the Abramtsevo Colony, to which he was closely connected.

Early works
The greatest works of Serov's early period were portraits: The Girl with Peaches (1887), and The Girl Covered by the Sun (1888), both in the Tretyakov Gallery. In these paintings Serov concentrated on spontaneity of perception of the model and nature. In the development of light and color, the complex harmony of reflections, the sense of atmospheric saturation, and the fresh picturesque perception of the world, there appeared the features of early Russian impressionism.

Portraiture and success
From 1890 on, the portrait became the basic genre in Serov's art. It was in this field that his early style would become apparent, the paintings notable for the psychologically pointed characteristics of his subjects. Serov's favorite models were actors, artists, and writers (Konstantin Korovin, 1891, Isaac Levitan, 1893, Nikolai Leskov, 1894, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, 1898, - all in the Tretyakov gallery).

Initially abstaining from the polychromatic, brightly colored painting style of the 1880s, Serov often preferred a dominant scale of black-grey or brown tones. Impressionistic features appeared sometimes in composite construction of a portrait, or to capture a sense of spontaneous movement. As in the work of his contemporaries John Singer Sargent and Anders Zorn, the impressionism is not doctrinaire, but derives as much from the study of Hals and Velázquez as from modern theory. Receiving wide popularity, in 1894 Serov joined with the Peredvizhniki (The Itinerants), and took on important commissions, among them portraits of grand duke Pavel Alexandrovich, (1897, Tretyakov Gallery), S.M. Botkin, 1899, and F.F. Yusupova, 1903 as well as Princess Olga Orlova (these in the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg). In these truthful, compositionally skillful, and picturesque executions in the grand manner, Serov consistently used linear-rhythmic drawing coupled with decorative color combinations.

At the same time, he developed a contrasting direction: he frequently produced intimate, heartfelt, chamber portraits, mainly of children and women. In portraits of children Serov aspired to capture pose and gesture, to reveal and emphasize a spontaneity of internal movement, sincere cleanliness and clearness of attitude of the child (Children, 1899, Russian Museum; Mika Morozov, 1901, Tretyakov gallery). Serov frequently called upon various graphic techniques - watercolors, pastels, lithographs and so forth. Figures in Serov's portraits gradually became more and more graphically refined and economical, particularly during the late period (Vasily Kachalov, 1908, Tamara Karsavina, 1909; numerous figures from Ivan Krylov's fables, 1895–1911). From 1890 to 1900 Serov produced many landscape compositions on country themes, in which the artistic direction took a romantic turn.

Marriage and family
Serov married Olga Trubnikova in 1887. His wife and his children were the subject of many of his works. Notably, his painting "Children" was of his sons Yura and Sasha.

Late work
During his late period, which began in 1900, Serov was a member of "The World of art", an influential Russian art association and magazine which grew, in part, out of dissatisfaction with the Itinerants movement. At the start of the 20th century, Serov was at a stylistic turning point: features of impressionism disappeared from his work, and his modernistic style developed, but the characteristic truthful and realistic comprehension of the nature of his subjects remained constant. In the early 20th century Serov created heroic portrait images; within the genre of the fashionable portrait, Serov focused on the dramatic depiction of creative artists, writers, actors, and musicians of import: Maxim Gorki's portraits (1904), A.M. Gorki's museum, Moscow; Maria Yermolova (1905), Feodor Chaliapin (charcoal, 1905) - both in the Tretyakov Gallery, and Helena Roerich (1909).

Serov's democratic beliefs were clearly shown during the Revolution from 1905 to 1907: he depicted a number of satirical figures exposing chastisers. A full member of the St.Petersburg Academy of Arts since 1903, in 1905 he resigned as a gesture of protest against the execution of striking workers and their families on 9 January, Bloody Sunday. His late creativity found expression in historical painting (Peter II departure and Empress Elizabeth Petrovna on hunting, 1900, Russian Museum), and depth of comprehension of the historical maintenance of an epoch (Peter I, distemper, 1907, Tretyakov Gallery).

The last years of Serov's life were marked by works on themes from classical mythology. While addressing images from the ancient tradition, Serov endowed classical subject matter with a personal interpretation.

Valentin died in Moscow on 5 December 1911. He is buried at the Novodevichy Cemetery.

Legacy
The best works of Serov are among the greatest of Russian realistic art. He taught in the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture from 1897 to 1909), and among his students were Pavel Kuznetsov, N. N. Sapunov, Martiros Saryan, Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin, N.P. Ulyanov, and Konstantin Yuon.

A minor planet, 3547 Serov, discovered by Soviet astronomer Lyudmila Zhuravlyova in 1978 is named after him.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 
 
 
 


Madame Lvov


Girl with Peaches
(Portrait of Vera Mamontova)
1887


Girl in the Sunlight
(Portrait of Maria Simonovich)
1888


Overgrown Pond. Domotkanovo
1888


October. Domotkanovo
1895


Children
1899


Peter II and Elizabeth Riding with Hounds
1900


Portrait of Ivan Morozov


Alexander Pushkin on a Park Bench


Mika Morozov
1901


By the Window. Portrait of Olga Trubnikova


Portrait of Yekaterina Chokolova


Portrait of Savva Mamontov


Portrait of Praskovya Mamontova
1889


Portrait of the Artist Isaac Levitan


Catherine II Setting out to Hunt with Falcons
1902


Farm Yard in Finland
1902





Portrait of Princess Zinaida Yusupova
1900






Yelena Oliv
1909


Portrait of Fedor Shalyapin
1905


Portrait of Maria Botkina
1905


Portrait of Henrietta Girshman
1906

 
 
 
 



Peter the Great


The Grand Eagle Cup
1910


Peter I in "Mon Plaisir"


Portrait of Henrietta Girshman
1907


Portrait of Ida Rubenstein
1910




Model
1905


The Rape of Europe
1910


Portrait of Princess Orlova





Princess Olga Orlova
1911





Sophia Lukomskaya
1900


Portrait of Sophia Botkina





Prince Felix Yusupov
1903


 

Coronation of Nicholas II of Russia


Portrait of Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovitch






Portrait of Tsar Nicholas





Rimsky-Korsakov


Poster advertising the inauguration of the first "Russian Season" at the Theatre du Chatelet, París
1909





Anna Pavlova in les Sylphides
1909




In the Village


Soldiers, Soldiers Everyone, Where is All Your Glory Gone?





October: Domptkanovo







Portrait of Helena Roerich, 1909

 
 
 

 
 
 
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