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 Mikhail Vrubel

Born:   March 17, 1856
Deceased:   April 14, 1910

Illustrious Russian painter, graphic artist, decorative sculptor, and scenic designer.


Mikhail Vrubel was famous as the author of canvasses, decorative panels, frescos, and book illustrations. He was married to the well-known singer Nadezhda Zabela-Vrubel, whose portraits he repeatedly painted.

Mikhail Aleksandrovich Vrubel was born on March, 5th, 1856 in the city of Omsk. His father was a military officer and so the family often moved. In January 1864 Vrubel's family moved to Saratov where they lived till April, 1867. During that time young Mikhail took art classes from A.S.Godin – a graduate of the Arts Academy and a well-known artist in Saratov.

In 1874 Mikhail Vrubel finished Odessa classical grammar school and at the suit of his father entered the Law Faculty of the St. Petersburg University. Along with that Vrubel attended P.P.Chistyakov’s evening classes in the Academy of Arts. After graduation the artist had to serve the army and then was appointed to the main military court administration.

However, in 1880 Mikhail Vrubel returned to his true calling and became a student of the Russian Academy of Arts. 

He immediately stood out among other art students, because his style often contravened to academic ballast of painting. He revealed his own specific view of classical subjects. Emblematic are Vrubel’s first watercolors "Feasting Romans" and "Presentation to the Temple". In 1884 Mikhail Aleksandrovich went to Kiev at the invitation of Professor A.V. Prakhov. Religious motives became the main theme of his creativity; during that period he painted icons and frescos in the course of restoration of the Kirillovsky Church. His sketches for painting of the Vladimir Cathedral remained unfulfilled, since they seemed non-religious to the church. Kiev period which lasted till 1889 was also marked with the famous Portrait of a Girl against a Persian Carpet painted around 1886.


Mikhail Vrubel’s talent was so impressive, unusual and mystical that some of his acquaintances started suspecting signs of mental affection in him in the 1900s. At the same time the artist’s eyesight worsened dramatically.

The great artist, who presented to the world such stunning works as The Swan Princess (1900) and Demon Seated in a Garden (1890) died on April, 1st, 1910 in St.Petersburg.

Mikhail Vrubel was buried at the Novodevichy Cemetery.

Till this day his works embellish collections of the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg and the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow.

There are Vrubel Streets in Moscow and Voronezh. Monument to the illustrious artist has been set up by the Omsk Museum of Fine Arts.

The art of Mikhail Aleksandrovich Vrubel is one of the most significant and mysterious phenomena of the Russian art of the late 19th century. Great skill, tragic element, heroic spirit and unique decorative gift make Vrubel the artist for all the time. Constantly abiding in his own realm inaccessible to understanding of others, Vrubel managed to recreate his sophisticated world in the images of his unusual art, and those images became some of the major landmarks of Russian culture of the turn of the century.

Tags: Mikhail Vrubel Russian painters    

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