Viktor Michailowitsch Wasnezow

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Self-portrait, oil on canvas, 1873
Signature of Viktor Vasnetsov

Viktor Vasnetsov ( Russian Виктор Михайлович Васнецов , scientific. Transliteration Viktor Michajlovič Vasnecov ; May 3 . Jul / 15. May  1848 greg. In Vyatka Governorate ; † 23. July 1926 in Moscow ) was a Russian painter . He was best known as a painter of mythological and historical subjects. His younger brother Apollinari Michailowitsch Wasnezow was also a painter.


Born as the son of a country pastor and grandson of an icon painter, he enjoyed a good education. At an early age he became interested in the natural sciences, astronomy and painting . Even in his youth he worked for an icon dealer in his hometown. He also attended a painting course. After graduating, he decided to go to Saint Petersburg to study art there.

In 1867 he entered the St. Petersburg Art Academy . A few years later the Peredwischniki movement emerged , whose members revolted against the indoctrinated teaching methods prevailing there. Vasnetsov made friends with the leader of the Peredwischniki, Ivan Nikolayevich Kramskoi, and with Ilya Repin , another member of this movement.

He received a silver medal from the Academy for his painting entitled Before the People , a picture about the meeting between Jesus and Pontius Pilate .

The Virgin and Child , 1887

In the 1870s, he mainly created engravings depicting contemporary life in Russia. Two of these works - the country bookseller from 1870 and the picture Boy with a Bottle of Vodka from 1872 - received a bronze medal at the London World's Fair in 1874. It was during this time that he began painting genre in oil. Here his paintings were the country singer (1873) and The move to 1876, have gained great respect in the democratically-minded circles of Russian society.

In 1876 Wasnezow accepted Repin's invitation to Paris . Here he got to know classical and contemporary painting as well as different styles. During this time his picture Acrobats was created ; in addition, he exhibited some of his work in the Paris Salon .

Wasnetsov is considered one of the key figures of the Renaissance movement in the Russian art scene. In 1877 he returned to Moscow. In the following years he concentrated his work on the illustrations of Russian fairy tales ; He had brought this suggestion with him from his stay in France . These were supposed to be his most famous works, but were not appreciated during his lifetime. It has often been criticized that his works run counter to the goals of the Peredwischniki. Even such a prominent connoisseur of the works of the Peredwischniki as Pavel Mikhailovich Tretyakov refused to acquire and exhibit his works. In the following years, however, public opinion changed.

In the period from 1884 to 1889 Vasnetsov was commissioned with the production of the frescoes in the Vladimirk Cathedral in Kiev . During this time he made friends with the painter Michail Alexandrowitsch Wrubel , who worked with him on this commissioned work, and during this period he became his teacher. Later he made the monumental painting The Last Judgment for St. George's Cathedral in Gus-Khrustalny .

Wasnezow traveled to Italy in 1885 . Here he worked on stage decorations for the opera The Snow Maiden by Rimsky-Korsakov .

In the following years Wasnezow continued to work as a painter; however, his later works did not get the attention they had in the past. At the turn of the century he refined his style of Russian Renaissance architecture . In 1882 he designed a church in Abramzewo ; supported by Wassili Dmitrijewitsch Polenow . He was also responsible for the design of the Russian Pavilion for the World Exhibition in Paris in 1898.

After the October Revolution , Vasnetsov campaigned for some of the paintings with a religious background (for example that of the painter Alexander Ivanov ) to be moved from the churches to the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow.


His house in Wasnezow-Gasse (former 3rd Troizki-Gasse) in Moscow, which he designed in an “ideal Russian style” in 1894, is now a memorial. In the workshop set up in the upper part of the building, he completed one of his most famous paintings, "The Three Warriors", and created others, including "Tsar Ivan the Terrible" and the seven-part "Poem of the Seven Fairy Tales", which today - in addition to a collection of Russian costumes - is exhibited there.

The asteroid (3586) Vasnetsov was named after him and his brother.

Works (selection)

The three warriors ( Bogatyr ), oil on canvas, 1898


  • Archip Kuindschi (Портрет художника А. И. Куинджи) (1869)
  • The move (С квартиры на квартиру) (1876)
  • Bullying in Paris (Балаганы в Париже) (1877)
  • War Telegram (Военная телеграмма) (1878)
  • Alyonushka (Алёнушка) (1881)
  • The Warrior at the Crossroads (Витязь на распутье) ​​(1882)
  • Portrait of Tatiana A. Mamontova (Портрет Татьяны Анатольевны Мамонтовой) (1884)
  • The Horsemen of the Apocalypse (Воины Апокалипсиса) (1887)
  • Tsar Ivan the Terrible (Царь Иван Васильевич Грозный) (1897)
  • Snegurochka (Снегурочка) (1899)
  • The Last Judgment (1904)
  • Ilya Muromets (1914)
  • Monumental painting The Last Judgment in St. George's Cathedral, Gus-Khrustalny



Individual evidence

  1. Fairy tales with nothing wrong . In: Voice of Russia, May 27, 2014. Retrieved May 28, 2014.
  2. MPC / Minor Planet Circ. 22245

Web links

Commons : Viktor Vasnetsov  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files