Mstislav Valerianovich Dobuzhinsky was a Russian and Lithuanian painter, book graphic artist, theater artist of the late 19th – early 20th centuries. The work of Mstislav Dobuzhinsky gravitated towards the genre of the urban landscape. His paintings were close to symbolism in style.
Mstislav Dobuzhinsky left a huge legacy. His graphic sketches, sketches of scenery and costumes, memories and art research – all speak of an extraordinary thirst for creation.
Biography of Mstislav Dobuzhinsky
Mstislav Valerianovich Dobuzhinsky was born on August 2, 1875 in Novgorod into a family of representatives of an ancient Lithuanian family. With warmth the artist describes his childhood years in his memoirs. Since 1895, Dobuzhinsky studied at the law faculty of St. Petersburg University and was engaged in painting.
Upon completion of his studies, he left for Munich, where for two years he worked in the art studios of Anton Ashbe (Slovenian Anton Ažbe) and Shimon Hollosy (Hungarian Hollósy Simon). There Dobuzhinsky met Igor Grabar and, upon his return to Russia, entered the circle of artists of the World of Art association, whose members conveyed in their works a premonition of the great cataclysms of the 20th century and sought to unravel the mysterious signs of fate. This could not but affect the work of Mstislav Dobuzhinsky. His best paintings of that period were devoted to the charm of the aesthetics and atmosphere of past eras.
Having tremendous experience as a stage designer at the Komissarzhevskaya Theater and at the Moscow Art Theater, Mstislav Dobuzhinsky began in 1914 to design ballet performances. Sergei Diaghilev invited him to Paris to create the scenery. Collaboration with the performing arts opened up many dramatic aspects of life for the artist.
Dobuzhinsky spent the years of revolutionary upheavals and the Civil War in Petrograd.
“Before my eyes, the city was dying a death of extraordinary beauty,” the artist wrote. He tirelessly sketched casual cityscapes, trying to show the inner life of the city. The heavy impressions of the prosaic everyday life of people who were accidentally connected by a common place were reflected in the paintings of that period.
In 1924, Mstislav Dobuzhinsky emigrated to Kaunas, then moved to Latvia, and was intensively involved in the cultural life of the Russian diaspora. Since 1939, Dobuzhinsky has lived and worked in the United States. There he worked as a set designer and studied the history of theater painting.
In the 1950s he was in Europe for a long time. He returned to New York in mid-autumn 1957. A month later, on November 20, 1957, Dobuzhinsky passed away.
The most famous paintings by Mstislav Valerianovich Dobuzhinsky
Mstislav Dobuzhinsky’s paintings have always attracted the attention of art connoisseurs. The most characteristic works of the artist:
- “House in St. Petersburg” (1905) – a lyrical work dedicated to the theme of urbanism. A dilapidated wooden house of the Empire era is an image of tranquility and comfort, supplanted by the stone bulk of a tenement building.
- “Doll” (1905) – the painting symbolizes memories of the old city, childhood, significant events in the past life of a person.
- “A man with glasses. Portrait of Konstantin Aleksandrovich Sunnerberg “(1906) is an image of a Petersburg intellectual at the beginning of the last century, withdrawn, fenced off from social problems. The masterpiece was acquired in 1908 by the Tretyakov Gallery.
- “Glass Street in Vilno” (1906) – the image of a provincial town. The motives of Vilna occupy an important place in the artist’s work.
- “Lion Bridge”. From a series of lithographs “Petersburg in 1921” (1923) – one of the monographs about the former greatness of the city, beloved by the author.
- Illustration for “The Word about Igor’s Campaign” (1951) – a drawing that reflects the power of human freedom and the power of natural elements. By simple means, the artist managed to convey the emotion and dynamics of the work of ancient Russian literature.