Victor Borisov-Musatov, Spring Sun

Victor Borisov-Musatov – a mysterious singer of silence and noble estates

lady in blue dress 1905
lady in blue dress 1905

Victor Elpidiforovich Borisov-Musatov (born April 2, 1870 – died October 26, 1905) is a Russian painter of the 19th-20th centuries, whose work is permeated with subtle lyricism, associated with dreams, light sadness and tenderness. A short biography of Viktor Borisov-Musatov is not so rich in events, but his paintings, imbued with a thirst for beauty, still give great aesthetic pleasure to true connoisseurs of art.

autumn mood 1899
autumn mood 1899

Biography of Viktor Borisov-Musatov

Victor Borisov-Musatov is a native of the Volga region. He was born on April 2, 1870 in a Saratov family of burghers, his parents in the recent past were serfs. Being very young, the boy injured his back when falling, which caused him to grow a hump over time. Despite this, the child grew up kind, sociable, at the same time he loved to dream alone. Grandfather Boris played an important role in the upbringing of the future painter; his name later became the basis of a double sonorous surname.

Small Tree Sun
Small Tree Sun

Viktor Borisov-Musatov from a young age began to show interest in fine art. At the local school, where the boy was sent in 1884, he was not “friends” with the exact sciences, but drawing lessons were excellent. Teachers recommended the young talent to develop abilities, in 1890 the young man became a student at the school of painting, sculpture and architecture in Moscow.

In parallel, Victor attended the Academy of Arts in the northern capital as an auditor. He wanted to stay in this city, but his health could not withstand the Petersburg climate. A student exposition was held in Moscow in 1894, where Borisov-Musatov exhibited a number of his works.

flowers in may 1894
flowers in may 1894

The work “Flowers in May” interested Princess Elizabeth Feodorovna.

At the expense of the proceeds, the painter visited the Crimea, the Caucasus: local landscapes became the theme of his sketches. Since 1895, Viktor Borisov-Musatov lived in the capital of France, studied there in the studio of the painter Fernand Cormon, learned the techniques of classical technique and admired the masterpieces of Parisian museums.

In 1898, experiencing financial difficulties, the artist came to Russia, starting a fruitful period of his work. On his canvases, the image of the famous “Musatov girl”, gentle and dreamy, appeared.


Victor Borisov-Musatov created a number of works dedicated to the life of Russian noblemen of the 18th century. He drew inspiration by visiting in 1901-1902. Saratov estates: Zubrilovka, Sleptsovka, Vvedenskoye. Old estates and parks appeared on the works of the painter as nostalgia for the era, which, in front of the author’s eyes, was dissolving in the past.

In 1903, Viktor Elpidiforovich settled in Podolsk.

Victor Borisov-Musatov, girl in the sunlight (study) 1897
girl in the sunlight (study) 1897

Here he continued to create, but the works of the painter at home were not popular, they were little exhibited. But in Europe he was appreciated, the master was even elected a member of the National Society of Fine Arts of France. Due to the trauma he received in childhood, the artist was not in good health. He died at a young age on October 26, 1905 and found his eternal refuge in Tarusa, where he lived for the last months.

Victor Borisov-Musatov, on the terrace 1903
on the terrace 1903

The most famous paintings by Viktor Borisov-Musatov

The artist’s work is deeply lyrical, his works embodied his dreams of beauty. Among the famous paintings by Viktor Borisov-Musatov, the following are worth noting:

  • “Boy with a Dog” (1895) – the image of a child, despite the frozen pose, turned out to be very natural. Being alone with nature, he is completely absorbed in the game.
  • Spring (1901) – the author very subtly conveys the state of nature. The picture literally breathes with freshness, lightness, light.
  • “Pond” (1902) – images of heroines Borisov-Musatov drew from his sister and bride. But the main thing here is not the portrait resemblance, but the inner poetry, the complementarity of the characters and the landscape. So, the skirt of one of the girls in shape repeats the silhouette of the pond.
  • “Ghosts” (1903) – the work is filled with an atmosphere of quiet sadness, there is no border between reality and vision. It seems that at any moment the human figures and the estate will melt into thin air.
  • “Emerald Necklace” (1903-1904) – the name of the picture means an allegorical adornment of girls, symbolizing eternal femininity. In the palette of the work, the artist chose his favorite blue-green shades.
  • “Requiem” (1905) – Borisov-Musatov created the work under the impression of the death of his friend’s wife Nadezhda Stanyukevich. Although the translucent female figures represent sadness and grief, the painting is painted in light colors.

Despite the short, quickly faded life, the master’s work left its mark on the fine arts. His painting can be compared to a quiet and sad dream. Viktor Borisov-Musatov had a rare gift to portray beauty without edification, ideology and cheap sentimentality.

Victor Borisov-Musatov, requiem 1905
requiem 1905
Victor Borisov-Musatov, Spring Sun
Spring Sun
Victor Borisov-Musatov, still life, flowers 1902
still life, flowers 1902
Victor Borisov-Musatov, Tapestry
Victor Borisov-Musatov, the reservoir 1902
the reservoir 1902
Victor Borisov-Musatov. walk at sunset 1903
walk at sunset 1903