Mikhail Vrubel (1856-1910) is one of Russia’s most famous symbolists. Notably, he was popular both at the end of the Empire and during the Soviet era.
Born in Omsk to a Polish father and a Danish mother, Vrubel honed his art skills in the prestigious Imperial Academy of Arts in Saint Petersburg. The origin of his unusual manner should be sought in his detailed study of Late Byzantine and Early Renaissance art.
It is the large painting of Seated Demon (1890) that brought notoriety to Vrubel. Most conservative critics accused him of “wild ugliness”, whereas the art patron Savva Mamontov praised the Demon series as “fascinating symphonies of a genius” and commissioned Vrubel to paint decorations for his private opera and mansions of his friends.
Using Russian fairy tales, he executed some of his most acclaimed pieces, including Pan (1899), The Swan Princess (1900), and Lilacs (1900).