Mikhail Vrubel (March 17, 1856 – April 14, 1910, all n.s.) – a 19th–20th century Russian painter who worked in all genres of art, including painting, graphics, decorative sculpture, and theatrical art. In 1896, Vrubel married the famous singer Nadezhda Zabela-Vrubel whom he regularly painted.
Soviet historian Nina Dmitrieva [ru] compared Vrubel's artistic biography to a three-act drama with prologue and epilogue, while the transition between acts was rapid and unexpected. The "Prologue" refers to his earlier years of studying and choosing a career path. The "first act" peaked in the 1880s when Vrubel was studying at the Imperial Academy of Arts and then moved to Kiev to study Byzantine and Christian art. The "second act" corresponded to the so-called "Moscow period" that started in 1890 with the painting "The Demon Seated" and ended in 1902 with "The Demon Downcast" and the subsequent hospitalization of the artist. The "third act" lasted from 1903 to 1906 when Vrubel was suffering from his mental illness that gradually undermined his physical and intellectual capabilities. For the last four years of his life, already being blind, Vrubel lived only physically.
In 1880–1890, Vrubel's creative aspirations did not find support of the Imperial Academy of Arts and art critics. However, many private collectors and patrons were fascinated with his paintings, including famous maecenas Savva Mamontov, as well as painters and critics who coalesced around the journal "Mir iskusstva". Eventually, Vrubel's works were exhibited at Mir Iskusstva's own art exhibitions and Sergei Diaghilev retrospectives. At the beginning of the 20th century, Vrubel's art became an organic part of the Russian Art Nouveau. On November 28, 1905, he was awarded the title of Academician of Painting for his "fame in the artistic field" – just when Vrubel almost finished his career as an artist.
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