Dmitrievna Polenova

Russia • 1850−1898

Biography and information

Elena Dmitrievna Polenova (November 27, 1850, St. Petersburg - November 19, 1898, Moscow) - Russian artist, graphic artist, aquarellist, painter, sister of the artist Vasily Polenov.

Features of the artist Elena Polenova: Elena Polenova was not only a wonderful artist, but also a master of decorative design, as well as a teacher and educator. She became almost the first female illustrator of children's literature in Russia, having introduced the so-called art into this area of art. "National-romantic" modern style.

Famous works of artist Elena Polenova: "Yellow flowers", "Winter", "Chicory", "Backwater in Abramtsevo", illustrations for the book "War of Mushrooms".

Elena Polenova was the fourth, youngest child in the family of the state chancellor, historian, researcher of Russian chronicles and bibliographer Dmitry Vasilyevich Polenov and his wife Maria Alekseevna, amateur artist and children's writer. My father worked with children in history, his mother instilled a love of beauty. When Elena was 9 years old, an art teacher was invited for the children, then a student at the Academy of Arts, Pavel Chistyakov... The girl made great progress, but she could not continue her education at the Academy of Arts - women were not accepted there. As a result, she opted for the drawing school of the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, where she entered at the age of 14, and studied for three years with the famous portrait painter Ivan Kramskoy. Polenova did not leave her beloved teacher Chistyakov, occasionally practicing privately with him.

At the age of 19, Elena Polenova arrived in Paris and entered the studio. Charle chaplaineHe praised her abilities, but noted that the young artist lacked technical skills. Polenova herself later complained about the lack of an opportunity to get a thorough education, noting: “What the school gives, which was completed on time, is terribly short for me”.

In 1877, the Russian-Turkish war began, and Elena went to see her sister Vera in Kiev, where she studied at medical courses and worked in a hospital, caring for the wounded. Here she met her first and only love - a doctor, a professor at Kiev University Alexei Sergeyevich Shklyarevsky. The marriage did not take place - the Polenova family was against it. Having survived a personal drama, Elena Dmitrievna decided to devote herself to art.

Since 1878, she continued her studies at once in two classes of the School of the Society for the Promotion of Arts - watercolor and ceramic. Her efforts were crowned with great success - Polenova was awarded a small, and then a large silver medal for ceramics, and retired money was allocated for a trip to Paris. Of course, Elena used this exceptional opportunity: she studied in the Paris ceramic workshop of Russian artists, as well as from French masters. Returning home, she organized a majolica class at OPH where she taught painting on porcelain.

In 1882, after the death of her father and sister, Elena Polenova, together with her mother, moved to Moscow to live with her brother, Vasily Polenov - by that time already known artist, who had his own students. The brother's wife, Natalya Vasilyevna, introduced her to her relative - the wife of Savva Mamontov, Elizaveta Grigorievna. In the Mamontovs' house, Elena Polenova took heart, her creative nature was able to prevail over longing for unfulfilled love. The artist entered the famous "Abramtsevo circle" Savva Mamontov, uniting famous artists, musicians and theatrical figures. She worked a lot - wrote watercolor landscapes, designed costumes for performances, studied Russian folklore, traveled a lot around the villages, collecting and sketching decorative objects of Russian folk life, and also wrote down folk tales.

Together with his wife Savva Mamontov, Elizaveta Grigorievna, Polenova in 1885 took part in the organization of workshops for the training of peasants in traditional Russian crafts. Elena Dmitrievna headed the carpentry-carving workshop, and the pedagogical skills obtained earlier at the Higher Courses for Women helped her in this (in 1875 Polenova received a diploma of a home teacher).

From 1889 to 1893, the artist created more than a hundred unique sketches of furniture and utensils. She painted porcelain plates, created sketches for embroidery and wallpaper, ornaments for icons. In 1890, Elizaveta Mamontov together with her husband's sister, Maria Yakunchikova, opened the “Shop of Russian Products” in Petrovka, Moscow, where Abramtsevo furniture and interior items were sold. For the country house of Maria Yakunchikova Elena Polenova, sketches of interior design and furniture with wonderful ornaments of fantastic vegetation were created - this project subsequently glorified the name of the artist in the English press.

Remembered Alexander Benois“Polenova earned herself the eternal gratitude of the Russian society by the fact that she, the first of Russian artists, drew attention to the most artistic area in life - to the children's world, to his strange, deeply poetic fiction. She, gentle, sensitive and truly kind person, penetrated into this secluded, so we have abandoned children's world, divined his peculiar aesthetics, all infected with the captivating "madness" of children's fantasy. "

In 1889, the publishing house R.Yu.Tile published the book “War of Mushrooms”, for which Elena Polenova fully developed the entire layout, including the font, ornamental inserts and illustrations. She created the illustrations for the fairy tales “Father Frost”, “The Wolf and the Fox”, “Ivan the Fool”, “The Hut on Chicken Legs”. After the death of the artist, in 1906, the publishing house “Grossman and Knebel” published “Russian folk tales and jokes. Retelling for children and illustrated by E.D. Polenovoy.

The tragic accident interrupted the life of Elena Polenova in the prime of her life: in the spring of 1896 she fell from a cart overturned on a steep descent and suffered a head injury. Elena Dmitrievna was seriously ill and two years later, on November 19, 1898, she died. She was only 47 years old.

After the death of Elena Polenova, her projects were recognized in the crafts section of the Russian pavilion at the Paris World Exhibition in 1900. As Alexander Benois wrote, “From her [Polenova] the whole artistic and industrial activity of the zemstvos went, she was inspired by the Abramtsevo pottery workshop, the Stroganov School, the carpet production of Ms. Choglova; she was the main inspiration of other artists: Yakunchikova, Malyutina, Davydova, Roerich, Korovin, Golovina and Bilibin".

The name of Elena Dmitrievny Polenova for a long time remained in the shadow of her famous brother. Her personal exhibition was held in 2012 at the Tretyakov Gallery, for the first time since 1903, returning to the general public the work of a remarkable Russian artist, designer and illustrator. Many of her works are kept in the V.Polenov Museum-Reserve and the Abramtsevo Museum-Reserve.