A great contribution to the development of the artistic life of Tula at the end of the XIX century and especially in the 20−30s of the XX century, the artist and teacher V.F. Gilbert. All his talent as an artist-painter, aquarellist, sensitive and intelligent teacher V.F. Gilbert gave the city of Tula, which became his family. V.F. Gilbert was born in Samara in 1874. He received his first drawing lessons with his brothers from his father, who painted well and arrived in Russia in the 60s from England. Having graduated from the Samara gymnasium, V.F. Hilbert in 1894 entered the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, where he studied with the famous artists V.A. Serova, I.I. Levitan, and in recent years was engaged under the guidance of animal painter A.S. Stepanova. Under his influence, V.F. Hilbert is writing a thesis "Herd of horses in the steppe". The work has not survived to the present day, it died during the war years, but from the photo from this canvas one can judge about the skillful construction of the picture, about the ownership of the drawing, about the excellent knowledge of animal anatomy. After graduating from college in 1904 V.F. Hilbert with his family arrives in Tula as a teacher of drawing and sketching in a men’s classical gymnasium and settles on Kaluzhskaya Street (Demonstration Street). He teaches not only at the gymnasium, but also at a vocational school on Demonstration Street, 132, at a railway school, at a handicraft school of the Arms Factory. The students immediately fell in love with the new teacher, who was surprisingly gentle and comradely in charge of teaching. The artist taught students to see nature, to understand the most subtle nuances of her mood, to use light, soft tones in painting.
V.F. Hilbert for his students at a vocational school arranged Sunday drawing classes, which were attended by more than thirty people and they existed for several years. In his spare time, V.F. Gilbert with his students went on sketches in Yasnaya Polyana, Shcheglovskaya promise, on the Oka. On Saturday evenings, friends and students of schools, gymnasiums, and passionate art lovers gathered in the artist’s apartment. Among them were I.D. Schepakin, I.G. Rybakov, MM Mikhailov, D.D. Vyazmov who played a significant role in the artistic life of Tula. Some of them were members of the AHRR (Association of Artists of Revolutionary Russia) created in Tula.
V.F. Hilbert worked a lot and fruitfully in the 900s. He wrote sketches, landscapes, portraits, genre compositions in oil and watercolor. He did illustrations for the famous journal Nature and Hunting, which was published in Moscow, edited by L.P. Sabaneev. At the beginning of XX century V.F. Gilbert works in the publishing house I.D. Sytin. He makes illustrations to the works of A.V. Koltsov, A.S. Pushkin, L.N. Tolstoy.
V.F. Hilbert took an active part in the life of the Tula Art and Crafts School, where he taught art casting, forging from metal, arranged there on Sunday evenings and drawing classes for those who wanted. At the beginning of the 20th century, the artist traveled to Arkhangelsk, Solovki, from where he brought many watercolors, depicting the harsh, poetic nature and architecture of the North. The painting of V.F. Guilbert’s "Moose", exhibited in the Tula Museum of Fine Arts, written in the best traditions of Russian art of the second half of the XIX century. The revolutionary events of V.F. Hilbert took to heart and worked a lot for the new state. He wrote slogans, posters, panels, decorated people’s houses, clubs. In 1919, the artist took an active part in the creation in Tula of the Higher Pedagogical Courses that graduated from art teachers. In the 20s V.F. Hilbert collaborates in illustrated satirical literary and art magazines Vataga, Molot, published in Tula by the Association of Proletarian Creativity (TAPT) as monthly supplements to the newspaper Kommunar. The association united writers, poets, journalists, artists, playwrights of that time and did a great job among the workers and peasants. The drawings, illustrations by V.F. Hilbert to the stories and short stories of S. Dmitriev, V. Startsev, S. Kornev, and others.
The artistic life of Tula at the beginning of the 20th century was lively. Art exhibitions were arranged, of which VF was always an indispensable participant. Gilbert. His last personal exhibition was opened in 1936. Soon he was arrested and shot in 1938 near Tula in the Nikolsky Forest. Works V.F. Gilbert is kept in Tula museums, in private collections, and when you study them, you see the figure of an outstanding, intelligent, kind person, a talented painter, whose whole life and work put him in the ranks of the older generation of Russian artists.