Mikhail Vrubelʹ (1856–1910) was a Russian painter known for his unusual style, which synthesized elements of native Russian art with Western and Byzantine influences. Born in Omsk to a Polish father and a Russian mother, he moved to Saint Petersburg in 1874 to study law. He abandoned his legal studies and in 1880 entered the Academy of Fine Arts. In a career cut short by mental illness and blindness, Vrubelʹ produced a body of work that included church murals and mosaics, book illustrations, stage sets, watercolors, and oil paintings. He was fascinated by The Demon, the long poem by Mikhail Lermontov, and created numerous images of the devil that are among his best-known paintings. He suffered a nervous breakdown and was placed in an insane asylum, where he lost his vision and eventually died. At his funeral he was eulogized by the great Symbolist poet Aleksandr Blok. This book, by the Russian art critic Aleksandr Pavlovich Ivanov (1876–1940), is an introduction to Vrubelʹ’s life, style, and artistic innovations. First published in 1911, it includes color and black-and-white reproductions of some of Vrubelʹ’s works. At the end is a complete listing of Vrubelʹ’s work, from 1881 to 1906.

Last updated: March 7, 2014