Viktor Vasnetsov. Portrait of Mark Antokolsky. 1883

Mark Antokolsky was born in Wilno (today Vilnius). He studied at the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts (1862–1868) and then in the Berlin Academy of Arts (1868).

He was a sculptor, honorary member of the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux Arts, Paris (1888) and the Akademie der Kunste, Berlin (1890), full member of the Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg (1893). Antokolsky was a participant of the Abramtsevo Colony since the very beginning (1878). He gave sculpture lessons to Savva Mamontov.

Antokolsky created the sculpture "Christ before the People" (1873–1876) that was placed in the Mamontovs' house in Moscow (now in the State Tretyakov Gallery), the sculptural portrait of Savva Mamontov (1875, the location is unknown).

He was also the author of the relief "Head of John the Baptist" in the Abramtsevo Church (1880s). Antokolsky lived abroad but visited Abramtsevo and carried on correspondence with Savva and Yelizaveta Mamontov.