Self-Portrait 1914

Zinaida Evgenievna Serebryakova: biography, creativity

Zinaida Serebryakova, At Breakfast, 1914
At Breakfast, 1914

The paintings of Zinaida Serebryakova are so recognizable that they cannot be confused with the works of other masters. The artist did not receive a canonical art education, but this did not prevent her from earning the recognition of fans.

Zinaida Serebryakova lived a difficult life. But she never betrayed art. Like an anchor, it kept her on the surface during the storms of life, of which the artist fell a lot. Charming children’s and lyrical female portraits, monumental works on a peasant theme, as well as touching landscapes of Zinaida Evgenievna have forever become an important part of Russian culture.

Self-Portrait 1914
Self-Portrait 1914

Biography of Zinaida Serebryakova

Zinaida Serebryakova was released on December 10 (November 28, old style), 1884. The birthplace of the future artist is the family estate Neskuchnoye, which was located in the Kursk province of the Belgorod district. The girl became the sixth and last child in a creative family.

After the death of the head of the family this happened when Zinaida was not even two years old the family returned to St. Petersburg. The widow and children settled in the house of their father, Nikolai Ludovikovich Benois. A creative atmosphere reigned in the house: everyone drew something, discussed art over tea. It was in this atmosphere that the future artist was formed.

In the mountains. Switzerland, 1914
In the mountains. Switzerland, 1914

Zinaida Evgenievna grew up in the same way as many of her contemporaries from noble families. She studied diligently at the Kolomna gymnasium, which she graduated in 1900, visited exhibitions and theaters with her mother, and spent the summer at family dachas. But almost from infancy, Serebryakova began to draw and devoted all her free time to this occupation.

The girl continued her further studies with Osip Emmanuilovich Braz. The young artist attended his studio for two years from 1903 to 1905. In parallel, she visited the Hermitage almost every day, where she copied paintings by old masters.

Peasant woman with ferment, 1914
Peasant woman with ferment, 1914

After a long break, the family again spent every summer in the family estate Neskuchny.

Here Zinaida met Boris Serebryakov. He was a cousin of the young artist. This fact did not prevent the cousin and sister from falling in love with each other. Marriage between such close relatives was a huge problem it required special permission. Zinaida and Boris even thought to accept Lutheranism, but the matter was unexpectedly settled. The lovers got married.

Zinaida Serebryakova. Portrait of M.E. Solntseva, the artist's sister, 1914
Portrait of M.E. Solntseva, the artist’s sister, 1914

In the fall of 1905, Zinaida Serebryakova leaves with her mother and husband for Paris, where she spends the whole winter. She continues to study painting at the Accademia de la Grande Chaumiere and is expecting her first child. In fact, in Paris, the period of Serebryakova’s apprenticeship ends. When Zinaida Evgenievna turns twenty-five, she is already a mother of two sons and lives exclusively in the interests of the family.

At the same time, the young woman still draws a lot.

A complete surprise for everyone, including the artist’s relatives, was her participation in the VII exhibition of the Union of Russian Artists. In 1910, she shows her famous self-portrait “Behind the Toilet” on it. The painting is highly appreciated by contemporaries and brings fame to Zinaida Serebryakova. After the exhibition, the self-portrait was bought by the Tretyakov Gallery.

Spring in Crimea, 1914
Spring in Crimea, 1914

The revolution turned the life of the Serebryakovs upside down. Not boring was ruined and burned, and in 1919 the artist’s husband died of typhus. Zinaida Evgenievna first moved to Kharkov, and then to Petrograd. The family is on the brink of survival. In the hope of providing her with a tolerable existence, Serebryakova leaves for Paris, leaving her four children in Russia. Alas, in the 1920s, Zinaida Evgenievna was destined to reunite only with her son Alexander and daughter Catherine. The eldest son Eugene and the middle daughter Tatyana were able to see their mother only in the 60s of the last century.

Harvest, 1915
Harvest, 1915
The most famous paintings

Artines Zinaida Serebryakova amaze with their sincerity and strict purity. It is no coincidence that her works are compared with the masterpieces of Botticelli. The most famous of her works:

  1. “Girl with a candle. Self-portrait “(1911). A light work that reveals the inner world of the artist. The picture is kept at this time in the State Russian Museum of the city of St. Petersburg
  2. “Behind the toilet. Self-portrait “(1909). The painting that made the artist famous. The Harvest (1915). Peasant women from Neskuchny posed for the canvas. For the first time, the work was presented to the public under the title “Peasant Women in the Field”.
  3. At Breakfast (1914). In the picture, the artist captured her family. Zhenya, who is 8 years old, is drinking from a glass at the far end of the table. In the foreground are seven-year-old Alexander and three-year-old Tatiana. Catherine at that moment was not even a year old, so she did not get on the canvas.
  4. Sleeping Girl on a Red Blanket (1923). The painting, presumably, depicts the artist’s youngest daughter, Catherine. The work was written when the author was barely making ends meet. At Sotheby’s in 2015, the work was sold for 5 898 615.
  5. “Bath” (1913). This is the first large painting by Serebryakova its size is 135×174 cm. It was first presented at the exhibition “World of Art” in the winter of 1913.
Peasant Woman Shoeing, 1915
Peasant Woman Shoeing, 1915

The work of Zinaida Serebryakova gave Russian art an infinite amount. And what a pity that this contribution was appreciated after the death of the artist.

Zinaida Serebryakova, Sleeping peasant woman, 1917
Sleeping peasant woman, 1917
Zinaida Serebryakova, The village of Neskuchnoye, Kursk province, 1916
The village of Neskuchnoye, Kursk province, 1916
Zinaida Serebryakova, Peasant woman (with a yoke), 1917
Peasant woman (with a yoke), 1917
Zinaida Serebryakova, Fields in Neskuchny, 1916
Fields in Neskuchny, 1916