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Victor
Elpidiforovich Borisov-Musatov

Russia 
1870−1905
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Charming shy hunchback, he was not with the Wanderers, not with academics, not with avant-gardists. Cleanliness and beauty, dreams, inexplicable sadness and tenderness - Russian artist Viktor Borisov-Musatov is associated with such moods. Poet Andrei Bely called him "The finest and gentle hunchback"and was right. To depict the beautiful without cheap sentimentality, very tactfully and subtly, without any morality or edification, not to express ideas, but to show beauty without falling into vulgarity is a rare gift. Borisov-Musatov had them.

“How nice and beautiful!” - I want to say, looking at his most tender canvases. By the way, how can you say that? Well, what a "gentle canvas"? It is impossible! But I really want to talk about Borisov-Musatov.

Biography of Borisov-Musatov: childhood

The artist’s grandfather, Boris Musatov, was a serf under the Saratov landowner Shakhmatovo. After the abolition of serfdom, his father entered as a valet to serve old Shakhmatov — he lived in the capitals with him, he was in Paris. He married a pretty Dunyasha - by the way, the daughter of the owner of a painting and binding workshop. Soon he learned to be an accountant, he worked on the railway.

During the first years of the Musatov family life, their four children did not survive, they died almost immediately after birth. And finally a boy was born, who was named Victor - an unusual name for a peasant son. The long-awaited child loved inexpressibly. And what a grief for his parents was when, at the age of three, the boy suddenly lost his vitality, began often crying, became nervous, withdrawn. It turned out that the baby fell badly. He began to grow a hump, the child was naughty and longing. The case brought the family to the doctor using new orthopedic treatment methods. And a miracle happened: joy returned to Vite, the hump stopped growing (although it remained with him until the end of life), and the growth stopped was resumed. Alas, it was not a final recovery, Borisov-Musatov suffered from pain all his life, he developed chronic inflammation of the vertebrae, which turned into bone tuberculosis. But, of course, the intervention of the doctor greatly eased the torment.

The world of dreams and colors

Since childhood, he loved to draw, and even more - to dream. Near the city on the Volga was a small deserted island. To little Vita, he seemed like a paradise. He reached the island, took out paint, painted, dreamed. As a child (and as an adult) he was very shy, but at the same time sweet, charming and quite energetic.
In the Saratov Real School, Viktor was lucky with a drawing teacher. Recently released from the Petersburg Academy of Arts Vasily KonovalovI saw the boy's outstanding talent and gave him his first professional lessons. The Musatov School soon left and began to paint himself — first independently, and in 1870 went to Moscow and entered the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture (MUZhViZ).

Without lingering in Moscow, he goes to the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts and takes lessons from Pavla Chistyakova. By the way, some researchers consider the double surname of the artist a tribute to his grandfather, while others adhere to a simpler version: the father often signed Musatov, Borisov in the documents, meaning Borisov Son. After him, so did Victor himself. In MUZhViZ because of this there was confusion, he was called then Borisov, then Musatov. And he already entered the Academy under the name Borisov-Musatov, and he remained so.

Alas, his poor health and the Petersburg climate were not combined in any way. I had to leave and soon recover at MUZhViZ, where I went to class Polenov.

Success, Paris, a beautiful era and unfulfilled dreams

In 1895, Borisov-Musatov travels a lot: the Crimea, the Caucasus, and then - Paris. Where the money comes from, you ask. The first picture that brought him success was painted in the style of Serov and Korovin and was written beautifully. At least, the Grand Duchess Elizaveta Fyodorovna decided this, giving over the picture "May Flowers"150 rubles - a very high price, and even for student paintings. This allowed the artist to travel the next year. However, the critics did not prevent him from stigmatizing him with the word “decadent” that was popular at that time in his treatment of artists.

In Paris, he spent three years studying in the workshop Cormon. Opening work in the open air, impressionists, post-impressionists and symbolists around, Botticelli, Watteau, Veronese- in the Louvre ... And the main hobby - Pierre Puvis de Chavannes. His Borisov-Musatov considered the greatest artist of our time. He even tried to get a student to him, but he didn’t happen - Puvis de Chavannes was already very old and soon died. The importance of Paris in the works of Borisov-Musatov is difficult to overestimate. Alas, the disease intervened again. He had to go through another operation and return to Saratov.

But he returned to find himself an artist. His themes were defined: ancient manors, dresses with crinolines, dreams of the past. In no case should this be confused with the detailed recreation, which can be observed, for example, with the singer of Russian idealized antiquity Konstantin Makovsky. Borisov-Musatov is not at all fascinated by the historical past, his “past century” is about dreams, searching for the Beautiful Lady, subtlety, grace, dreams, symbolism of love and purity. But the question of what era he writes, the artist replied: "And this, you know, just a beautiful era".

Even in Paris, Borisov-Musatov refused oil and switched to tempera - this is one of the features of his work. All his life he dreamed of monumental paintings. With what enthusiasm he thought about the painting of the town hall of Puvis de Chavanne! As I dreamed to do something similar myself ... In fact, the transition to tempera was an attempt to bring the easel painting closer to the fresco, the tempera allowed to create the illusion of such a mural. Borisov-Musatov was close to fulfilling a dream. In Kropotkinsky lane architect Fedor Sheftel built the mansion Derozhinskaya. He wanted to paint the living room Borisov-Musatov. To this day, sketches for the Seasons are kept in the Tretyakov Gallery (1, 2), which he planned to decorate the walls. But Derozhinsky categorically does not accept his options and refuses his services.

The last three years of his life, the name of Borisov-Musatov sounded loudly enough, but not yet enough to drive away hopeless poverty. Sharpened in the Saratov wilderness, he was, in general, not out of love for wilderness, but because he did not have the means to live in the capitals. In 1904 his personal exhibition was held in Germany with great success. Perhaps, recognition, a way out of the vicious circle of lack of money and such a desirable possibility of monumental paintings were close? But all this is a bit late.

Later Andrei Bely will call him his mastermind. Later, the Blue Rose Society will declare it to be its forerunner. And then, in 1905, a terribly distressed artist, who had invested in work on unnecessary sketches, under the patronage of Polenov, spent his summer with his wife and daughter Marianna at the empty Tsvetayevs' summer residence in Tarusa. In the same autumn morning he died very young. Borisov-Musatov briefly experienced one of his main muses, Nadezhda Stanyukevich.

“Where will I find my beautiful women?” Whose female faces and hands will give life to my dreams? "- asked the artist. However, he knew the answer. Borisov-Musatov all his life experienced a shortage of models. There was nothing for them to pay, the bohemian way of life with attraction of young ladies of easy virtue in this capacity was alien to him. Most of his paintings depict three women: his younger sister Lena, his wife Elena Alexandrova and Nadezhda Stanyukevich are a good friend, the wife of the writer Vladimir Stanyukevich, also a good friend of the artist. However, there were also lesser-known hobbies in his life: "Gobelin"appears Anna Vorotynskaya, in which he hopelessly and unrequitedly fell in love with his youth. He also had a passion for the wife of a friend, the merchant Fyodor Korneev, Olga. Noticing his enthusiasm, Olga accused the artist of hypocrisy. He experienced this gap very hard. But in the end, he still got married? Elena Alexandrova- also an artist, they studied together at MUZhViZ. He made the first offer to her in 1895 and was refused. "In life, I will, of course, always only hopelessly in love"- concluded the artist. However, one of the most famous paintings, "Water"which, moreover, was immediately recognized as a masterpiece and purchased, he wrote in 1902. It was the happiest period in his life. He came to Zubrilovka with his sister and bride. Yes, Elena Alexandrova this time accepted his invitation. In 1904 they were born daughter Marianne, who in the future also became an artist.

Short, quickly faded life. Formally, not the happiest, perhaps: injury, terrible pain, lack of money, rare outbreaks of recognition against the background of constant criticism, so that there, even the beloved woman did not accept the proposal the first time. But looking at the transparent, blue-green highlights of his paintings, at the beautiful women, as if from another world, who descended on his canvases, at surprisingly musical landscapes, the essence of which is poetry and music, and not botany, you realize that he could not subtle, timeless beauty from which the heart aches, not to be happy.

Author: Alain Esaulova

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