The State Memorial and Natural Preserve "Museum-estate of Leo Tolstoy "Yasnaya Polyana"
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Exhibition “The Polenovs’ Russia. Fairy Tales and Images”
afishaFebruary 20 - March 16, 2015
Krapivna Local History Museum   

February 20, 2015 at 14:00 in the Krapivna Regional Museum the exhibit “The Polenovs’ Russia. Fairy Tales and Images” will open. It combines paintings by two representatives of the famous creative dynasty - Maria and Elena Polenova, the mother and sister of the author of the painting “A Moscow Courtyard,” Vasily Polenov.

The exhibition will be open every day from 9:00 to 17:00.  The cost of admission with a tour will be 30 rubles for discounted categories of tickets and 50 rubles for regular tickets.


The artists’ canvases, from various genres, open the doors onto a fabled and real territory, one that is already far removed from us –- images of old Rus. The works of Maria Polenova are portraits done from costumed models of types of common people from pre-revolutionary Russia. These expressive images are full of spirituality, beauty, and grace. Elena Polenova’s works will be represented by her illustrations to the fairy tales “War of the Mushrooms,” “Sivka-Burka,” “Sivko-Filipko,” and many others.

Vasily Polenov wrote that from his mother he inherited a love of art, but that his descendants would have to judge whether he inherited her talent. Maria Polenova (nee Voeykova, 1816-1895) was a skillful portrait painter and experienced illustrator. She could not get a professional education and attended private art lessons, but thanks to her talent and hard work she reached a high level of accomplishment.


The works of Maria were in keeping with all the requirements set out by the Imperial Academy of Arts for painting in the 19th century and embodied characteristic features of the Russian academic school of painting. At the same time, her works possess a strong individual character.

In her family Maria Polenova was able to create an atmosphere for the development of two remarkable painters – her children Vasily and Elena. They took their first creative steps under their mother’s influence. Elena Polenova (1850-1898) became a researcher and illustrator of Russian folk tales. Some of her ideas for books design were later developed by the artists of the “World of Art” group, and such masters as Ivan Bilibin and Georgy Narbut considered themselves her students and followers.


Elena Polenova studied in the St. Petersburg Drawing School of the Society for the Encouragement of the Arts, where her tutor was Ivan Kramskoy. She visited the studios of the artists Pavel Chistyakov and Charles Chaplin. Having studied ceramics professionally, she quickly achieved major success and was sent to study in Paris. Upon moving to her brother’s in Moscow, Elena was accepted in the Abramtsevo Art Circle, which included Valentin Serov, Konstantin Korovin, Ilya Repin, Viktor Vasnetsov, and Mikhail Vrubel.

Under Vasnetsov’s influence the artist began to work with folklore and dedicated herself to the illustration of folk tales. “I think that to illustrate our Russian folk tales is a very serious undertaking,” she wrote. “I don’t know a single edition for children, where the illustrations convey the poetry and flavor of the ancient Russian way of life . . .”

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