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Valentin Serov’s drawings at the Tretyakov Gallery
Magazine issue:#3 2015 (48)
Marking the 150th anniversary of the artist’s birth, the Valentin Serov exhibition distinctly divides the gallery space into two sections - his paintings and drawings. Such a decision is dictated by the unique nature of Serov’s gift, as one of the few Russian artists who excelled equally in these two forms.
Serov's interest in graphic techniques was conditioned not only by his particular talent but also by his sensitivity to the main trends of his era, to Art Nouveau with its tendency towards new non-conditional artistic language, decorative surfaces, expressive lines and silhouettes. The changes in the hierarchy of visual arts and the birth of new forms and genres came about naturally. The period spanning the late 19th and early 20th centuries was marked by a boom in industry in Russia and changes in the world of art that were connected to that process, including the development of publishing, theatre and advertising, as well as large-scale architectural projects for both residential and public buildings. The show features sketches of monumental murals, graphic pieces "with scenes from Russian history" commissioned by publishers, sketches of stage sets, and the famous poster for Sergei Diaghilev's "Ballets Russes". Its gem is the front curtain for the ballet "Scheherazade", the only project realised during Serov's lifetime which reflects his leanings toward monumental forms.
The exhibition not only traces the general evolution of Serov's style but also showcases his ability to grasp the essentials of each of the diverse graphic techniques. His pencil drawings reveal with special clarity the artist's evolution from life-drawing to neat image-signs and an evocative succinctness of message - that search for the "ideal line" to which he devoted the last years of his life. The fluidity and "mercurial essence" of watercolours expose the process of creation of a portrait, reflecting the pace of work typical for an artist who was able to grasp instantaneously his models' likeness and mood. The pastel, traditionally situated between painting and drawing, was used by Serov in a multitude of combinations of these forms, from his early landscapes gravitating towards crayon to oil painting in the portraits of Girshman and Orlova.
Serov not only defined a new direction in the development of graphic art in the 20th century but also set the bar high for evaluating the technical skill of future generations of artists. As Igor Grabar stressed: "Serov believed that the artist ought to be adept in every available medium because nature itself is infinitely diverse and inimitable, just as the artist's mood and feelings differ from one day to another: today he wants to work in one way, tomorrow in another. For this reason he worked with oil paint, watercolours, gouache, tempera, pastel and coloured hard pencils, recommending his students to follow suit."1
Valentin Serov was raised in an artistic household, surrounded by some of the most talented people of the period. He was tutored by Ilya Repin from the age of nine, and created his first life drawings in the course of a friendly competition with already-renowned artists of the Abramtsevo group. As he wrote to Olga Trubnikova on July 13 1884: "...I just finished an Antokolsky, so I'm due for some bragging. There were two of us working on Antokolsky, Vasnetsov and I, and, imagine it, mine is better, stricter, the style is good, and the likeness is all there - if not completely then more likeness than in Vasnetsov's image."2 Even then Serov's works were distinguished by talent and a mastery of the craft.
Images of Serov's mother ("Valentina Serova", 1880, Tretyakov Gallery), the owner of the Abramtsevo estate Savva Mamontov (1879, Russian Museum), and the artist's cousin Maria Simonovich - the future "Girl in the Sunlight" (1879, Tretyakov Gallery) - are distinguished by a Repin-like relaxed "free" style, their lines softly worked on with a delicate stump. Not surprisingly, Repin's gifted student was admitted to the Academy of Fine Arts before he reached the age of 16. Studying under Pavel Chistyakov, he became used to carefully studying forms and relentlessly copying works by the old masters. Many years later, and already an acclaimed artist, he confided to Chistyakov: "I remember you as a teacher and believe you to be the only (in Russia) true teacher of the eternal principles of forms - the only thing worth teaching."3 Portraits of Chistyakov (1881, Tretyakov Gallery) and Yelizaveta Mamontova (1887, Tretyakov Gallery) are distinguished by lines neatly drawn with the sharp strokes of a charcoal black pencil. The artist won acclaim as a superb portraitist not only for his great mastery of the craft but also due to the wonderful ability to identify in his models their distinctive features, to convey their personality with just a few strokes of the brush, pen and pencil. "Sharp eye, sharp pencil,"4 as Leonid Pasternak used to say about him.
In the 1890s Serov created a special type of genre landscape - lyrical representations of nature in Russia's heartlands, enlivened by the presence of a human being or animals. With his characteristic modesty, or irony, the artist noticed: "After all, I'm something of a landscape artist to boot."5 Most often Serov's source of inspiration was the Derviz family estate at Domotkanovo: it was there that he created his best landscapes, such as "In Winter" (1898, Tretyakov Gallery), "Peasant Woman with a Horse" (1898, Tretyakov Gallery), "Winter Road to Domotkanovo" (1904, Ryazan Art Museum), and "Yearling Colts by a Watering-hole" (1904, Tretyakov Gallery). Russia's simplest, plainest natural settings had a strong appeal for the artist. Masterfully rendering the subtlest gradations of shades of grey and brown, in each image Serov turned an unassuming setting into a veritable feast for the eyes. The artist's attachment to desolate northern landscapes and his ability to see and capture their distinctive allure was revealed in historical compositions like "Peter I" (1907, Tretyakov Gallery) and "Peter I at Work" (1910-1911, Tretyakov Gallery, Russian Museum). Paradoxically, Serov's Odysseus meets Nausicaa under the cool, pearly-grey sky of the Gulf of Finland6.
In Domotkanovo Serov also worked on illustrations for a centenary edition of Pushkin's works, commissioned by Pyotr Konchalovsky. In book design, as in any other art form the artist tackled, impressions from real life played a major role. Thus, working on the watercolour piece "Alexander Pushkin on a Bench" (1899, A.S. Pushkin Museum, Moscow) he used a sketch of the park in Domotkanovo, with Vladimir Derviz posing on a bench (1892-1893, Tretyakov Gallery).
A special section of the exhibition is devoted to Serov's watercolours. Repin had noticed his talent for the medium when Serov was still a student. In the early 1880s "watercolour Sundays" for artists beginning their careers were held in Repin's workshop, and Repin singled out Serov's pieces produced at these Sunday gatherings: "Nice work from Anton! See how he draws! He's got a hell of a talent and tenacity...Anton, and then Vrubel - these are talents, too. So much love and refinement. Chistyakov sowed good seeds and these youths are pure gold!!! I learn from them."7 Serov became especially prolific in watercolour in the late 1890s-1900s, creating a series of portraits of people whose beliefs and interests he shared, like Sergei Botkin (first half of the 1900s, Russian Museum) and Leon Bakst (first half of the 1900s, Russian Museum), as well as Repin (1901, Russian Museum). According to the writer's contemporaries, Serov's portrait of Anton Chekhov (in the Literary Museum), a product of several brief sittings in 1902, is one of the most faithful visual representations. The master's best works include the watercolour "Portrait of Sofia Lukomskaya" (1900, Tretyakov Gallery), where the model's complex psychological make-up appears to portend her tragic future.
Working at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture (MSPSA), where he became the head of a workshop in 1897, Serov created a whole series of female images in watercolour. Uncertain of his teaching capabilities, Serov for quite a long time kept turning down this position. However, his employment at the school ushered in a new era there, as Serov was the first teacher to enlist female sitters. The exhibition features several images of Serov's favourite model, Vera Kalashnikova. Working with her, Serov often found the necessary creative formulas to create his best works; Europa in "The Rape of Europa" (1910) bears a certain likeness to Kalashnikova. Working on Henrietta Girshman's image, Serov also used Kalashnikova as a model to capture the heroine's deportment and turn of the head - the artist did what he could to relieve Girshman, who had commissioned the portrait, from the burden of posing.
His acquaintance with Girshman, the wife of the entrepreneur and patron of arts Vladimir Girshman, began in 1903 and produced a whole series of what might be seen as the most touching female portraits created at that period in Russia. Henrietta was Serov's favourite model. According to Grabar: "Saturnine and unsociable, Valentin Alexandrovich was well disposed to her, appreciating her intelligence, educational and cultural background, simplicity and modesty, the absence of habits typical for rich upstarts, and very attractive appearance."8 Distinguished by the expressiveness of its exquisite lineaments, one of his first portraits of her - a casually drawn gouache piece on cardboard (1904, Tretyakov Gallery) - is an ideal art nouveau image. However, Serov, his own most exacting critic, was dissatisfied with the picture and attempted to destroy it. Vladimir Girshman kept the surviving fragments and, without letting Serov know, had them restored. In 1906 Serov started working on the portrait of Henrietta Girshman in her boudoir, with the artist's sophisticated vision already visible in the watercolour croquis (1906, Tretyakov Gallery). Its multi-layered composition and play on reflections in the mirror evoke Velazquez's celebrated "Las Meninas". The portrait painted in 1907 (Tretyakov Gallery) was called by Grabar one of Serov's best works; however, the artist himself was not totally satisfied and later tackled the image of his favourite model once again. In 1911 Serov produced the famous oval portrait of Henrietta, in which he again used the "visual quotation" technique or, rather, engaged in an artistic dialogue of sorts with the "old masters". Searching for a formula for the new Girshman portrait, he at first looked towards Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, but as he proceeded, his reference points changed: "No longer Ingres - I'm moving, it seems, to none other than Raphael."9 The Girshman portraits mark the beginning of his determined search for a "grand style" based on the accomplishments of the masters of the past, yet responsive to the demands of the new times.
Serov's sensitivity, not so much to the human as the picturesque core of his models, compelled him to look for an original visual idiom for every new composition. Grabar wrote: "Serov every time handles his model differently, in a manner he has never before applied to any other sitter and in a manner he deems most suitable for this particular model."10 This approach is especially clear in the graphic portraits created in the last decade of his life. Yelizaveta Karzinkina's fragile femininity (1905, Nesterov Bashkir Museum of Fine Art) is echoed by soft pastel strokes, the decorative beauty of the image highlighted by the emptiness of the sheet. The portrait of Yelena Oliv (1909, Russian Museum), according to Grabar, is the best of the ovals, with reminiscences of 18th-century art. Each of the pieces produced in 1911 has value and purpose in and by itself. The austere, nearly monochrome image of Sofia Olsufieva warming herself near a stove (1911, Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts) corresponds with the asceticism of this amazing woman, who was one of the Empress's ladies-in-waiting and, at the same time, an art restorer. The compelling image of the extravagant Princess Olga Orlova (1911, Russian Museum) conveys Serov's initial impression of the princess, and was later transformed into her famed gala portrait. Serov's last piece, left unfinished at his death, is the classicist portrait of Polina Shcherbatova (1911, Tretyakov Gallery), a sketch on canvas - in essence, a monumental drawing - that is astonishing for its expressiveness and visual elaborateness. Plying charcoal with confident energetic strokes, the artist revealed his model's distinct statuesque nature. Serov wrote that the portrait "must be as good as Orlova's - this is what the clients want"11. Even the unfinished composition leaves not a shadow of doubt that their wish was fulfilled.
Children's portraits occupy a special place in Serov's legacy. Lyuba and Sonya Guchkov, the Botkin girls, the Kasyanovs - Serov invariably found child models the most endearing. A consummate master of drawing, Serov was able to instantaneously capture and commit to paper the appearance of his restless models. Meanwhile, he continued to work with special enthusiasm, using different techniques and formats and not limiting himself to a single sketch. Thus, there are several surviving drafts of the Botkin children's portrait, including a pencilled sketch (1900, Tretyakov Gallery) and a watercolour (1900, Russian Museum).
Serov continued to study until the last days of his life. "You should have full command of the craft, the nuts and bolts. Then you'll not get lost,"12 he opined. In 19101911 the artist, who enjoyed considerable acclaim in Europe - the Uffizi Gallery had commissioned from him a self-portrait, while his curtain for "Scheherazade" met with wild applause in Paris - joined painters who were only beginning their careers at the Academie Julian and Academie Colarossi in Paris. His purpose was to polish his original style of drawing and bring to perfection the neat "Serov" line. Serov used tracing-paper extensively: having drawn a figure on a semi-transparent sheet, he would put another such sheet over the drawing and, having traced the best lineaments, continue to draw on this new "base". Eager to create maximally generalized forms, the artist arrived at graphic minimalism: "I want to have as little pencil in drawings as possible..."13 The artist used tracing-paper to search for the most expressive visual formulas possible when he created one of his most famous series, the illustrations with images of animals for Ivan Krylov's fables. Offered this assignment by Anatoly Mamontov, Serov began working on it in 1895. Mamontov initially wanted to publish all the fables with an illustration for each, but this idea was not realised. Nevertheless Serov continued to work on the pictures until 1911, and shortly before his death he signed a contract with Joseph Knebel to publish the Krylov fables he had himself selected, under the title "Twelve Pictures of Valentin Serov for Fables of Ivan Krylov".
Serov scored great success with his illustrations on historical themes. In 1899 he was enlisted to design Nikolai Kutepov's "How Russian Tsars and Emperors Hunted. The End of the 17th and the 18th Centuries". This assignment generated not only illustrations but also superb paintings like "Peter II and Princess Elizabeth Hunting with Hounds" (1900, Russian Museum), "Catherine II Setting Out to Hunt with Falcons" (1902, Russian Museum), and "Peter I Hunting with Hounds" (1902, Russian Museum). As always with Serov, each new theme caused him to experiment with forms and techniques. As Abram Efros wrote: "You only have to move to some other continent and immerse yourself in a different reality in order to get from here to his historical paintings... Serov has conjured up a 'baroque Art Nouveau' of sorts."14
The 18th century took a firm hold of Serov's imagination: eager to capture the spirit of the times, he devoted himself to their study, paying special attention to the personality of Peter I. A perpetual seeker of truth, Serov was meticulous in gathering facts about the life of the first Russian Emperor. Peter I's "true self", very different from his previous formal images, developed from a host of details like his death mask, considerable wardrobe, and the settings in which he lived. "You know... he just rose from the bed, having not slept well, feeling sick, green in the face,"15 was how Serov described "Peter I in the Palace of Monplaisir" (19101911, Tretyakov Gallery) to his friends. The artist wanted to depart from the familiar formula of depicting the reformer Tsar. Thus, Serov used to say: "It is unpleasant that he, who never had anything pompous or syrupy about him, was always depicted as an attractive-looking operatic hero. And he was ugly: spindly... walking in long strides too, so that all his companions had to run in order to keep up with him."16
Serov addressed Peter the Great's personality, and historical themes in general, partly because he became close to the "Mir Iskusstva" (World of Art) artists, who were the main proponents of such retrospectivism. But there were other, even stronger ties between Serov and the World of Art movement, namely a shared interest in theatre. Theatre had been a part of Serov's life since his early youth: given his long stays at Abramtsevo, he could hardly have remained indifferent to the art form which was so dear to Savva Mamontov. Together with Vasily Polenov and Mikhail Vrubel, Serov created sets for amateur performances, in which he also took part as an actor. Igor Grabar noticed that Serov "was passionate about the stage and had a remarkable acting talent"17. Involved from the beginning of Diaghilev's "Russian Seasons", Serov was close to the group of people who founded this grandiose project. The artist's close ties to the stage also found an outlet in a series of psychologically nuanced portraits of theatre people, who invariably inspired Serov to the creation of images distinguished by sharp characterization. Among such is the portrait of Konstantin Balmont (1905, Tretyakov Gallery), a tapestry of coal-black dynamic hatches which accentuate the nervous character of the poet who loved to shock the public. The pastel portrait of Alexandre Benois' wife Anna Benois (1908, Russian Museum) conveys her cheerful disposition. Benois recalled: "Serov was very appreciative of my wife's 'gaiety'... the sort of jocoseness that has always been her hallmark."18 In 1909-10 he created the images of Diaghilev's ballerinas Tamara Karsavina and Anna Pavlova (both works at the Tretyakov Gallery), which are astonishing for their visual clarity. In 1911 he portrayed Konstantin Stanislavsky (Tretyakov Gallery), his childhood friend with whom he once performed in an amateur production in the Mamontov home: Stanislavsky is looked at from below, as if on the stage, in a slightly elevated position vis-a-vis the viewer. The same technique was used in the monumental portrait of Fyodor Chaliapin (1905, Tretyakov Gallery), as well as in the famous poster featuring Anna Pavlova as La Sylphide (1909, Russian Museum); the latter image caused one of the artist's contemporaries to remark, either with irony or seriously, that in Paris, "Serov's portrait of Pavlova garnered more reviews in the press than Pavlova herself".19
Serov possessed the ability to find in his models a unique trait, pose or gesture, and to highlight, exaggerate it in the image. However, to view such works as caricatures, as many of Serov's contemporaries did, would be not altogether correct. The great artist did not step beyond the boundaries of the genre, resorting to gross exaggeration only in lampoons. The exacting Benois wrote about the humorous sketches Serov created at meetings of the World of Art group: "Those wonderful, hard-hitting caricatures of all of us that he drew! These pictures occupied an entire wall in that side-room leading to the courtyard (in Seryezha's stupendous apartment at Fontanka embankment, 11), which housed the 'editorial board' in the narrow sense, and to which strangers were not allowed. What became of those wonderful pictures [the present whereabouts of the Serov caricatures is unknown - Ed.] which were pinned to the wallpaper?"20 The lampoons of Bakst, Diaghilev and Grabar featured at the show have rarely been displayed, but these images highlight the difference between the caricature character of a cartoon and the consummate expressiveness of a solid image.
A separate section of the exhibition is devoted to Serov's work in theatre. His first major assignment as a stage designer was Alexander Serov's opera "Judith". Following its premiere in 1863 the opera was produced many times by the most prominent companies in St. Petersburg and Moscow, and Serov designed sets for productions at the Mamontov Russian Private Opera House (1898), Mariinsky Theatre (1888 and 1907), and by Diaghilev's impresario company (1909). Over the course of two decades Serov repeatedly set out to study the culture of the Ancient East, re-conceptualizing the style of the sets and individual characteristics of the roles - in particular that of the Assyrian king Holofernes, the role performed by Chaliapin in different productions. The exhibition features sketches for the 1907 production at the Mariinsky Theatre (Tretyakov Gallery, Russian Museum). According to his contemporaries' enthusiastic response, Serov succeeded in conveying the ancient civilization's stern monumentality in his sets, the sketches distinguished by a single subdued colour scheme, poetically characterized by Benois as "the ancient tapestry-like assortment of paints"21.
Other items of interest include the sketch featuring versions of the costume of Holofernes and the make-up for Chaliapin (1907, Bakhrushin Theatre Museum). Serov and Chaliapin succeeded in breathing life into Assyria's stone reliefs, with one critic lavishly praising Chaliapin's performance as Holofernes because the singer, in his opinion, "produced miracles of monumental gestures" and "heaped one sculptural instant on an other"22; however, every pose, every gesture contained a certain meaning, a message suggested by the music, and clarity and simplicity in any case remained the staple of the performance. Several months after the premiere of "Judith" at the Mariinsky Theatre in 1907, Serov was contracted to design the opera in Paris, with Diaghilev adding it to his company's repertoire.
From the very beginning of Diaghilev's company in Paris Serov took a most active part in its activities. "In the Russian and French newspapers issued when the 'Ballets Russes' were performing in Paris Serov was not mentioned. But whereas Diaghilev was the heart of the productions, Serov was their soul, and the highest judge of art for everyone,"23 Nina Simonovich-Yefimova wrote. The year 1910 saw the premiere of "Scheherazade" designed by Bakst, and Serov, who was not "given to praising", was so fascinated with the ballet that he wrote admiringly: "So much real beauty has been invested into these dances - the beauty of the dress and background, the beauty of the creatures themselves put into motion by Rimsky-Korsakov's charming music that... you see and feel the closeness of the Orient and recognize a tale from the 'One Thousand and One Nights'."24 Soon Serov signed an agreement with Diaghilev to create a new opening (epigraph) curtain for "Scheherazade" for the following season.
Before setting out to work on this, Serov undertook painstaking research: he attended any event at which he could learn about Oriental art, taking a special interest in Persian miniatures. Looking to them for inspiration, he created several different sketches (1910-1911; Tretyakov Gallery, Russian Museum, Bakhrushin Theatre Museum), some of which are presented at the exhibition. The curtain (now in the Rostropovich-Vishnevskaya collection) was created in Paris at the end of May-early June 1911, in cooperation with Ivan Efimov and Nina Simonovich-Efimova. On January 29 1911 Serov wrote to his wife: "I had two weeks to complete my Persian curtain, and I did. I had to work from eight in the morning till eight in the evening (I have never before worked like that). Messrs, artists - ours, as well as the French, some of them - say the thing came off quite well. A bit on the dry side, but not ignoble, unlike Bakst's sugary splendour."25 Serov was very modest in this evaluation of the public's reaction to his work: the ballet with the new design enjoyed smashing success everywhere it was performed, from the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris to London's Theatre Royal, Covent Garden. Not infrequently, it met with a special round of applause from the public.
Serov's work on "Judith" and "Scheherazade" stemmed in a large part from his longstanding interest in the art of the ancient world. His journey to Greece in 1907 gave a new vector to this fascination with antiquity. As Grabar wrote: "There were three things that the artist found especially gripping: the sea, archaic Hellenic sculpture, and the Acropolis."26 These three elements were imaged in a series of drawings themed on antiquity, in which the artist attempted to combine real-life impressions with images of the past. Working on "Odysseus and Nausicaa" Serov confided that he would want to depict Nausicaa "not the way she's usually represented but the way she really was"27. Exploring the visual options for representing Europa in "The Rape of Europa" (1910; Tretyakov Gallery, Russian Museum, Museum of Avant-Garde Art), he dreamed about "bringing to life" an ancient statue of Kore, lending to it the gestures of a real woman. Working on this theme, Serov appeared to be overcoming the resistance of materials: having tried oil, tempera and watercolour, he opted for the icon-painting technique and created "Kore" (1910, private collection) using a wooden board and egg-based paints. Eager to invent a "modern idiom" for representing the ancient myth, the artist abandoned the traditional picture format in favour of the monumentality of the mural, which conformed with both the ancient originals and the artistic experimentation of the Art Nouveau era. In 1910 Serov was contracted by the Nosov family to create murals for the dining-room in their mansion themed on Ovid's "Metamorphoses", an assignment which would enable the artist to realize his ideas within a real space. As Grabar pointed out, these sketches were distinguished "by the tendency towards simplified lines and forms which was characteristic of the final year of Serov's experimentation"28.
Ida Rubinstein, who performed Scheherazade and Cleopatra in the Diaghilev productions, became for Serov the incarnation of this period of ancient history. Neat and expressive, each pose and gesture of the dancer was a discovery for the artist. According to Nikolai Ulyanov, Serov remarked: "Not every day will you find such things. This creature... And what does her gaze rests upon? - On Egypt!"29 The crisply contoured naked figure against a monochrome background resembled an ancient relief, at the same time as being shockingly new. It is symbolic that Rubinstein's portrait, created in oil but essentially a graphic piece, is the final work that the viewer encounters at the Tretyakov Gallery exhibition. It is a condensation of the main narrative threads of the show - large forms and the minimalism of graphic arabesque, decorative mural and poster, an ideal naked model and an expressive portrait capturing the sitter's individuality. In it, as Dmitry Sarabyanov wrote, "the Russian version of Art Nouveau reaches its highest point. One can even say that, in Serov's perfection, it exhausts itself."30
- Grabar, Igor. "Serov, the Drawing Artist". Moscow: 1961. P 46. Hereinafter - G
- "Valentin Serov: Correspondence, Documents, Interviews". Edited and compiled by Zilbershtein, Ilya, and Samkov, Vladimir. Leningrad: Khudozhnik RSFSR (Artist of the Russian Soviet Socialist Federative Republic). In two volumes, 1985, 1989. V. 1. P 34. Hereinafter - Correspondence.
- Correspondence. V. 2. P 151.
- Pasternak, Leonid. "Notes on Art. Correspondence". Moscow: 2013. P 175.
- Grabar, Igor. "Valentin Alexandrovich Serov. His Life and Art". Moscow: 1914. P 82. Hereinafter - Life and Art.
- Serov's daughter Olga wrote: "In Finland, after visiting Greece with Bakst in 1907, my father worked strenuously and one might say joyfully on 'Nausicaa' and 'The Rape of Europa'... In 'Nausicaa'. the sea and the sand are very much like the Gulf of Finland's. Where we were, the sea was quite shallow, not quite real, but in very beautiful tones - greyish and pale blue. Sandbanks were peeping out from under the water here and there. On top of them there were snow-white seagulls, ranged in a single line like beads strung on a cord." (Serova, Olga. "A Memoir". Moscow-Leningrad: 1947. P 118).
- Grabar. P 22.
- "Valentin Serov. Memoirs, Journals, Letters of His Contemporaries". In two volumes. Editors, compilers, and authors of the preface, essays about the memoir-writers, and annotations: Zilbershtein, Ilya, and Samkov, Vladimir. Leningrad: Khudozhnik RSFSR (Artist of the Russian Soviet Socialist Federative Republic), 1971. V. 1. P 531. Hereinafter - Memoirs.
- Grabar. P 29.
- Grabar. P 27.
- Correspondence. V. 2. P 323.
- Dmitriev, Vs. "Valentin Serov". Petrograd: 1916. P 28.
- Memoirs. V 1. P 81.
- Efros, Abram. "Profiles: Essays about Russian Artists". St. Petersburg: Azbuka-klassika, 2007. P 34.
- Memoirs. V 1. P 438.
- Life and Art. P 208.
- Life and Art. P 43.
- Memoirs. V. 1. Pp. 430-431.
- "Artists Working for the Russian Stage. 1880-1930". Collection of Nikita and Nina Lobanov-Rostovsky: catalogue raisonne. Moscow: 1994. P 43.
- Benois, Alexandre. "My Memoirs". 2 volumes. Moscow: 1990. V. 2. Books 4 and 5. P 259.
- Benois, Alexandre. "Artistic Letters. 1908-1917". "Rech" (Speech) newspaper, published in St. Petersburg. V. 1. St. Petersburg: 2006. P 89.
- Quoted from: Pozharskaya, Militsa. "Russian Stage Design in the Late 19th-Early 20th Centuries". P 61.
- Simonovich-Efimova, Nina. "My Memories of Valentin Serov". Leningrad: 1964. P 125.
- Quoted from: Benois, Alexandre. "My Memoirs". 2 volumes. Moscow: 1990. V 2. Books 4 and 5. P 701.
- Correspondence. V. 2. P 268.
- Life and Art. P 229.
- Memoirs. V 1. P 438.
- Grabar. P 27.
- Valentin Serov. 1971. V 2. P 174.
- Sarabyanov, Dmitry. "Valentin Serov". Leningrad: 1987. P 26.