Vassili Dimitrevich Polenov


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Status, price and estimation of the artist Vassili Polenov

Price of a painting: 2,100 – 645,700

Price of a drawing: 270 – 19,300 €.

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Polenov’s classical training

Vassili Polenov was a Russian painter, known in particular for his landscapes. He was born in Saint Petersburg in 1844 and died near Tarousse in 1927.

The artist grew up in a family of humanist intellectuals who loved art. At the age of 16, Polenov began sketching at the instigation of his father, an architect. He then joined the classes of Pavel Tchistiakov, the Russian master of historical painting and portraiture, and in 1863 he entered the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts.

At the Academy, he was awarded the great gold medal for his painting The Resurrection of Jaïre’s Daughter (1871). This distinction was accompanied by a scholarship that enabled him to undertake a trip to Europe. After Italy, Polenov went to France and joined a circle of Russian artists in Montmartre. There he met up with his former Academy companion, Ilia Repine.

The affirmation of a style: the itinerant people and the Abramtsevo circle

Polenov, in search of his own style, makes the most of his European journey to try his hand at all kinds of painting. He finally chose to devote himself to landscapes, as well as genre scenes. Normandy, which he visits with Repine, allows him to devote himself to outdoor painting.

The Russian-Ottoman war prematurely ended his European residency. On his return from the front, he painted numerous sketches of Russian daily life, marked by simplicity and light, such as the illustrious Court in Moscow (1878). His work caught the attention of Vladimir Stassov, who introduced him to itinerant people. This movement, realistic and humanistic, was a reaction to the Imperial Academy. Imbued with contemporary preoccupations, its members militated for greater accessibility to art, wishing to shed light on the true daily life of the Russian people.

At the same time, in the 1880s, he began to frequent the Abramtsevo circle. Savva Mamontov, a wealthy industrialist and patron of the arts to whom he would always remain close, established a veritable incubator for artists in the village of the same name. Polenov deepened his art of landscape painting there, notably by painting on the motif.

Christ and the sinner (1884): the consecration of a career

From the end of the 1860s onwards, Polenov worked on a subject dear to him, already addressed in his work The Resurrection of the Daughter of Jairus: the representation of Christ. To this end, he undertook a trip to the Middle East in 1881. This research led to Christ and the Sinner (dated 1888 after some late retouching), a large-format work that mixes history and landscape painting. Presented to the public in 1887 at the 15th Exhibition of the Ambulances, the work was acquired by Tsar Alexander III. Today it is considered to be the artist’s masterpiece and the culmination of his aesthetic research.

A professor at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture from 1883 to 1895, Polenov also built a House-Museum near the village of Tarusa. After the Revolution, this house became the first national museum and the artist was awarded the honorary title of People’s Artist in 1926, a year before his death.

Recognising Vassili Polenov’s signature

Like many artists, Vassili Polenov did not sign all of his works. However, you will find below an example of the signatures to give you an idea. Variations of these signatures do exist, do not hesitate to contact one of our experts to formally authenticate a signature.

Expertise signature Polenov

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