In 1892, Eugene Lanceray entered the Drawing School of the Society for the Encouragement of the Arts in St. Petersburg. From 1895 to 1898, he studied in Paris, at the academies of F. Colarossi and R. Julien, at that period Lanceray travelled in Europe a lot. In 1899, he became a member of the Mir Iskusstva association. In 1907—1908, 1913—1914 Eugene Lanceray was one of the founders of the Starinny Theatre. From 1912 to 1915, he was the artistic director of a porcelain factory and glass engraving workshops in St. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg. In 1914 and 1915, Eugene Lanceray was the war artist-correspondent at the Caucasian front during the First World War. In 1920, he began teaching at the Tbilisi Academy of Arts and Moscow Architectural Institute. From 1927 to 1931, Eugene Lanceray lived and worked in Paris. He also taught at the All-Russian Academy of Arts in Leningrad. Lanceray died in 1946.
Having received his education (Drawing School of the Society for the Encouragement of the Arts, 1892—1896; in Paris under F. Colarossi and R. Julian, 1896-99), he naturally, due to family and friendship ties, became a member of the Mir Iskusstva association and an employee of its magazine. Largely following the collective program of Europeanization of art, Lanceray remained unaffected by the nostalgic retrospectivism characteristic of his circle.
His works in magazines (Mir Iskusstva, Zolotoe Runo, Apollo), in book graphics (“Wreath for Wrangel”, “Tsar’s Hunt in Russia”, both 1902; “Tsarskoe Selo in the reign of Empress Elizabeth Petrovna”, 1910 ) and in scenography (performances of the St. Petersburg Starinny Theatre) affirm the principles of the “new style”; however, in historical stylizations (Petersburg. Near the old Nikolsky market, 1901; Petersburg at the beginning of the 18th century, 1906; Boat of Peter I, 1906; Ships of the time of Peter I, 1911), there is no sorrow about the past, but there is joyful, romantically excited narration, admiring the architectural and naval texture, decorative beauty of St. Petersburg marines.
Satirical drawings in the Zritel, Zhupel, Adskaya Pochta magazines (after the Zhupel was closed, Lanceray took over the publication of the Adskaya Pochta), as well as his participation in the creation of the Calendar of the Russian Revolution (1907, banned immediately after issue) also distinguish the artist from the Mir Iskusstva circle: Lanceray’s satire was too specific, and his political orientation was obvious.
The best pre-revolutionary work of Lanceray are illustrations for Hadji Murat by Leo Tolstoy (the book was published in full in 1918). They as if mark the continuity of his creative biography: despite the Mir Iskusstva-style understanding of the book ensemble and exquisite graphic Peterburg book broadsides, the general decorative and pictorial system of his illustrations anticipates his cycle to Tolstoy’s Cossacks (1917—1936).
Even his everyday circumstances made the Caucasian theme the most important for the artist: he spent three years (1917—1920) in Dagestan, then he lived in Tbilisi for a long time, he worked as a draftsman at the Museum of Ethnography, at the Caucasian Archaeological Institute (he went on ethnographic expeditions), was a professor at the Tbilisi Academy of Arts.
After his move to Moscow (1933), a new stage of his activity began, associated partly with the theatre (Woe from Wit at the Maly Theatre, 1938), but most of all with monumental painting (the restaurant plafonds of the Kazan railway station, the Moscow hotel, the hall of the Bolshoi Theatre). The main motive of the paintings is the festive rejoicing of the peoples of the young country being raised. The gift of a perspectivist and decorative artist and the artist’s organic majesty of the worldview without any rhetoric found their way out in this area.
It is specific that while working on the plafond for the restaurant of the Kazan railway station, Lanceray did not recall his own pre-revolutionary sketches of the same painting — the union of Europe and Asia was depicted allegorically then (Europe on a bull, Asia on a dragon), but now the allegory has been replaced by specific scenes of friendship between peoples. One of the last works by Lanceray was a series of gouaches, Trophies of Russian Weapons (1942). Being an actual response to military events, the series expresses the theme of historical continuity invariably important for the artist.