Viktor Borisov-Musatov


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(1870–1905). Russian symbolist painter. He studied at the Moscow School of Art 1890–1 and 1893–5, the Imperial Academy 1891–3, and in the Parisian studio of Fernand Cormon 1895–8. Familiar with Western developments, he adopted a bright Neo-Impressionist style influenced by the decorative works of Gauguin and Puvis de Chavannes. On his return to Russia in 1898 he concentrated on the depiction of a remote and melancholic dream world populated by introspective female figures in period costume. Typically, as in Portrait of the Artist with his Sister, (1898; St Petersburg, Russian State Mus.) figures are posed in formal gardens, evoking an air of romantic ennui, a nostalgia for a vanished age similar to that of the Symbolist poets Bryusov and Bely with whom he was friendly. Later works in tempera, watercolour, and pastel, such as The Pool (1902; Moscow, Tretyakov Gal.) are similarly static and uneventful, painted in broad, muted tones that accentuate decorative qualities. He was a member of the Union of Russian Artists 1904–5 and exhibited with World of Art in 1906. His work was influential in Russian Symbolist circles, particularly with the Blue Rose group.

From The Oxford Companion to Western Art in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Art.

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