Zinaida Serebriakova was born on the estate of Neskuchnoye near Kharkov, actual Ukraine. She belonged to the Benois family, one of the most refined and artistic families of the ancient Russian Empire.
She graduated from the gymnasium (the equivalent to high school) in 1900, the same year she entered in the art school founded by the Princess Maria Tenisheva, where Ilya Repin and Osip Braz were her teachers.
Serebriakova travelled to Italy and Paris to complete her studies, in Paris she studied at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière. And in the year of 1905, she married her first cousin, Boris Serebriakov and took his surname.
Since the beginning of her career she wanted to express her love for nature and for her country showing to the world the beauty of Russian land and people. Most of these works are sketches from nature, even though she was very young at the time, the talent, confidence and boldness of her style were visible.
The public recognition came with her self-portrait At the Dressing Table, this painting was exhibited for the first time in a large exhibition organized by the Union Russian Artists in 1910. Following the success of this painting came other portraits as the portrait of the artist’s mother N. Lanceray (1912, Russian Museum). These portraits are considered completely mature works.
Between the years 1914 and 1917 she painted a series on the theme of Russian rural life, the work of peasants and the countryside which was so dear to her. A good examples of this period are her paintings of peasants, in these works Serebriakova revealed her talent as a monumental artist.
During the revolution her life changed completely, her husband died and she was left without any income, responsible for her four children and sick mother. The family suffered from hunger and she needed to give up oil painting in favour of less expensive techniques as charcoal and pencil.
She did not switch to the futurist style that was so popular among her contemporaries, nor paint portraits of commissars. She worked making drawings of the exhibitions at the Kharkov Archaeological Museum. And after the October revolution her work focused on the theatre life.
1924 she went to Paris where she received the commission to a large decorative mural, after finishing the work she tried to return to Soviet Union (where her four children and her mother were), but she was not allowed to return and she only could bring to Paris her younger children. She had to wait many years to see again her older children again.
Zinaida Serebriakova died on this day un 1967, at the age of 82. She’s buried in Paris at the Russian cemetery at Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois.
- Serebriakova went on to become a railroad engineer.
- Her works were exhibited in the Soviet Union in 1966.
- Although she sent about 200 of her works to Soviet Union, most of her works remains in France until today.