Yakovlevich Bilibin

Russia • 1876−1942

Biography and information

The son of a naval doctor, the descendant of an ancient family, I. Y. Bilibin and intended to become a lawyer and graduated from the law faculty of St. Petersburg University (1896-1900). But simultaneously, he studied at the Drawing school of the OPH, in the workshop of A. Ashbe in Munich, in the school of M. K. Tenisheva Ilya Repin.


Already performing the first work for the magazine (1899) and became the following year a member of the Association "World of art", he continued teaching as a volunteer in the Studio of I. E. Repin at the Academy.


Fame brought Bilibin illustrations of Russian folk tales published for children: "the frog Princess" (1901), "Vasilisa the Beautiful" (1902), "Marya Morevna" (1903). They were followed by illustrations to other fairy tales, epics, and fairy tales of A. S. Pushkin, dominated by the illustrations of the "Volga" (1904) and "the Tale of the Golden Cockerel" (1910).


Russian fairytale theme, the artist has dedicated all his work, are seriously prepared: traveled extensively in Russia, especially in the North, studied with interest the Russian folk and decorative art. Before Bilibin developed his own graphic style, based on carefully drawn and detailed patterned contour drawing, colored with watercolors. This style is called "Bilibino", became popular and spawned many imitations. The artist himself suffered from his illustrations for fairy tales in historical and industrial graphics (postcards, posters, calendars, etc.), as well as in a political cartoon, which was engaged in the first Russian revolution. Its the same he used in his theatrical works, especially Bilibin prefer to enjoy the scenery for plays on the themes of Russian fairy tales or Russian antiquity. However, his first job in the theatre was the scenery for the medieval miracle "Pageant on Teofile" (1907). Then he designed the Opera "the Golden Cockerel" (1909) and Sadko (1914) N. A. rim-sky-Korsakov's "Ruslan and Ludmila" M. I. Glinka (1913) and became a recognized theatre artist.


In the midst of the revolutionary events of autumn 1917 Bilibin left Petrograd for the Crimea, where he owned a plot of land, and in early 1920 he managed to get to Egypt. He lived first in Cairo, then in Alexandria where he designed ballet productions for the company of Anna Pavlova, made sketches of murals for the Orthodox Church.


In 1925 he moved to Paris, where he worked intensively, issued 10 performances, among which the greatest popularity was gained of the Opera "the Tale of Tsar Saltan" (1929) and "the Legend about city of Kitezh and Fevronia leve" (1934) N. Rimsky-Korsakov, "Prince Igor" A. Borodin, "Boris Godunov" by M. Mussorgsky (both 1930), and illustrated folk tales, including French.


In 1936 Bilibin returned to Russia and was well received. He got the position of Professor graphic Studio at IZHSA in Leningrad in 1939 he became a doctor of art history. At the same time the artist designed the performances of "the Tale of Tsar Saltan" (1937) and "Commander Suvorov" (1939), performed illustrations for the novel A. N. Tolstoy "Peter I" (1937) and "the Song about merchant Kalashnikov" by Mikhail Lermontov (1939).

In the first winter of the siege in Leningrad Bilibin died of starvation.

(1876, in Tarkhovka, St. Petersburg province – 1942, Leningrad)


Russian Soviet painter, master book graphics and theatrical and decorative art, watercolorist, and teacher.


After graduating at the insistence of his father law faculty of St. Petersburg University in 1895 – 1898, he studied at the Drawing school of the society with J. Tsionglinskogo, then in Munich under A. ažbe. In the fall of 1898 he began his studies in the Studio of M. Tenisheva in St. Petersburg. From 1900 to 1904 was a volunteer at the Academy of arts of I. E. Repin.


While training at the Academy on the instructions of the Russian Museum were collected in the Northern provinces of Russia works of applied art and folklore, the illustration of which became his life's work. Bilibin illustration style combines techniques drawn like Russian folk, and modern French and Japanese art, in his later work was influenced by old Russian painting. For the perfection of the line Bilibin received from brethren in the craft the nickname "Ivan – firm hand."


Since 1900, the artist has participated in exhibitions Association "World of art", in 1916 was elected its Chairman. In 1904 he designed theatrical productions, including Sergey Diaghilev.


In 1917 he executed a drawing of the new symbol of Russia on the basis of which was created the seal of the Provisional government, the images on banknotes and other official papers.


After the October revolution emigrated first to the Crimea, then to Egypt. In 20-ies – 30-ies he lived in Paris and Prague. In 1936 he returned home. He taught drawing

at the Leningrad Institute of painting, sculpture and architecture. Repin, worked

in the theater. Died in the blockade.



1. Leikind O. L., D. Y. Severyukhin artists of the Russian emigration (1917 – 1941). Biographical dictionary. Saint-Petersburg. 1994

2. Avtonomova N. B., Dudakov V. A., and others (authors and compilers). Masters of the "Union of Russian artists". The 100th anniversary of the Association. Paintings and drawings from the collection of the Pushkin Museum

them. A. S. Pushkin and private collections of Moscow. Moscow. 2003

3. Kruglov P., Petinova E., Karpova E., and others (authors and compilers). Symbolism in Russia. Saint-Petersburg. 1996

4. V. Dudakov, M. Kashuro Russian art. Private collection. Directory. Moscow. 2006

5. Sarabianov, D. V. et al. (the authors of the TSA. articles). Russian theater and decorative art 1880 – 1930. Catalogue of the exhibition from the collection of Nikita and Nina Lobanov-Rostovsky. Moscow. 1988

6. Titova, L. O. (author). Artists circle "World of art". Catalogue of the exhibition from private collections of St. Petersburg. Saint-Petersburg. 1997

7. Walsenburg, O. E. etc. bio-bibliographic dictionary. Vol. 1. Saint-Petersburg. 2002. S. 397

8. Pivovarova N. (ed. VST. articles), etc. Russian theatre: 1824 – 1941. Moscow. 2006

9. Lebedeva T. A., Pogodin V. S. masterpieces of the Museum collections. Yaroslavl. Album. Moscow. 2005. P. 40

10. Gankina E. Z. Russian artists of children's books. Moscow. 1963. P. 51 – 52

11. B. V. Veimarn, etc. the History of art of the peoples of the USSR. Vol. 6. Moscow. 1981

12. Isaev, Y. V., Levichev, I. V., etc. the Treasures of the House of Voloshin. Album. Simferopol. SONATAS. 2005

13. Kazarinova N. etc. (the authors of the TSA. articles). Masterpieces of Museum collections. Perm. Album. Moscow. School watercolors. 2007

14. Golynets and S. V. (author). Ivan Bilibin. Album. Leningrad. Aurora. 1988

15. Boult, E. J., Lobanov-Rostovsky N. D. The artists of the Russian theater 1880 – 1930.

Catalog-reason. Moscow. Art. 1994

16. Petrov V. (author VST. article). Fifty years of Leningrad book graphic. Catalogue of the exhibition. Leningrad. Artist of the RSFSR. 1969

17. Radloff N. Modern graphics and drawing // Apollo. Vol.6. Saint-Petersburg. Golike and Vilborg. 1913

18. S. V. Golynets, Ivan Yakovlevich Bilibin. Article. Letters. Memories of the artist. Leningrad. Artist of the RSFSR. 1970

19. Makowski, S. K. Silhouettes of Russian artists. Moscow. Republic. 1999

20. Kozyrev N. (by the TSA. article). Drawing and watercolours in Russia. Of the twentieth century. Timing. Saint-Petersburg. 2008

21. Soloviev V. D. (the author). Russian artists XVIII – XX centuries. Reference. Dnepropetrovsk. Thresholds. 1996