VASILY POLENOV (1844–1927)


Viktor Vasnetsov. Portrait of Vasily Polenov. 1882

Vasily Polenov was born in St. Petersburg and was the brother of Yelena Polenova. He studied at the St. Petersburg University and the Academy of Arts (1863–1871). As a pensioner of the Academy of Arts he lived and worked in Germany, Italy and France (1872–1876).

Polenov was a painter, a graphic artist, decorative and applied arts designer, a scene-painter, a stage designer, an architect, a composer and a pedagogue. He was a member of the Society of Traveling Art Exhibitions (since 1879), the Union of Russian Artists (since 1903), a full member of the Academy of Arts (1906) and People's Artist of Russia (1926). Polenov was a participant of the Abramtsevo Colony since the very beginning (1878).

Since 1878 he stayed and worked in Abramtsevo for long periods, created pictures and drawings, participated in the amateur performances as a scene-painter, an actor and a stage director, collected items of folk art, worked at the Abramtsevo pottery.

The artist made the project for the Church of the Savior (together with Viktor Vasnetsov, 1881–1882), participated in its construction and designed the interiors, created the images "Christ of Edessa" above the portal and the "Annunciation" for the iconostasis (both in 1882). In 1882, Vasily Polenov got married to Natalya Yakunchikova, a cousin of Yelizaveta Mamontova, in the Abramtsevo Church.

At that time a separate cottage was built specially for the young couple in the Abramtsevo park and it is still called Polenov's Dacha. In 1985–1899 Vasily Polenov designed costumes and sets for the Russian Private Opera of Savva Mamontov. In 1894, the artist worked at the cover of the anniversary edition of the Abramtsevo Colony – "Chronicle of Our Artistic Circle".

The Abramtsevo Museum retains pictures and graphic works of Vasily Polenov as well as decorative articles designed by the artist.


Vasily Polenov. Birches and Brackens. 1873


Vasily Polenov. The Upper Pond in Abramtsevo. Study. 1882