Thursday, August 10, 2017


One of my happiest art history discoveries came late in life! Natural and modern from way back in the 1900s, here's

Zinaida Serebryakova, oil on canvas, At the Dressing Table (self portrait), 1909.

 Zinaida Serebryakova had a hard life. Although wellborn from an artistic family and happily married to an engineer, he was arrested in the Russian Revolution and promptly died in prison, leaving her with 4 young kids to raise. As in the film and book Dr. Zhivago, her family's apartment was delegated to have many strangers living with her involuntarily. 

 If Serebryakova wanted to make a living in art, she was ordered to follow the (hardhanded kitsch/faux futurist) Social Realism style favored by the Bolsheviks. And wouldn't. She took a mural job in France in 1924, then couldn't re-enter the U.S.S.R. where her children remained with her sick mother. France let her stay but judged her work "lightweight" in subject matter and style, and it did not sell particularly well. She continued painting anyway.

Self Portrait with a scarf, 1911

By 1928 Mother Russia relented to let her two youngest kids come stay with her but forbade the two eldest. She didn't see them again until 1960 and Nikita Krushchev's thaw in the Cold War when her oldest two kids were allowed to go visit her for the first time in 36 years. Her work was exhibited in her homeland, the then Soviet Union to great acclaim in 1966, the year before she died. I consider her the equal of Jean Renoir or Mary Cassatt. 
House of Cards (her four children,) 1919 

 In the meadow, 1912

Self portrait, 1956 ↑   Moor, 1932 →                                  
 Portrait of Boris Serebryakova, 1908 (her husband)

  Moroccan woman wearing a pink dress, 1932

Castellan Valley, 1929

The Crops, 1908

Bee keeping, 1900

1 comment:

Jeanette Rowland said...

So sad and beautiful.

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