At the age of 15,
Serov entered Academy of Arts in the class of professor Pavel
Tchistykov. There he met his lifelong friend Vladimir Derviz. His first
exhibited works Girl with Peaches. Portrait
of Vera Mamontova. (1887) and Girl
in the Sunlight. Portrait of Maria Simonovich.
a sensation. Critics called them groundbreaking. When he painted them,
Serov was unfamiliar with the works of the French Impressionists,
but these luminous, sunny, splendidly composed portraits are strongly reminiscent of Renoir.
Serov tried himself in different genres: he was a beautiful landscape painter
in a more sensuous and less nostalgic vein than another teacher of his,
Levitan: Pond in Abramtsevo.
(1886), The Overgrown Pond. Domotcanovo.
(1888), Village. (1898), Watermill
in Finland. (1902). Serov’s historical paintings are also of
value and interest: Peter II and Princess
Elizabeth Petrovna Riding to Hounds. (1900),
the Great. (1907).
However, Serov was best recognized for his portraiture, and
was one of the most successful and brilliant portraitist in Russia
in the period 1890-1910. His most famous portraits
are Portrait of the Actress Maria Yermolova.
(1905), Portrait of Henrietta Girshman.
(1907), Portrait of Ida Rubenstein.
(1910), Portrait of Maria Zetlin (1910), Portrait of Princess Olga Orlova.
Serov traveled a lot, participating in exhibitions in Russia and abroad. In 1897-1909, Serov taught at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture. His students noted that Serov was a superb technical master of many painting media. Among his pupils were N.N. Sapunov, M.I. Mashkov, P.V. Kuznetsov, N.P. Krymov, Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin, C.Y. Sudeykin, K.F. Yuon and others. In 1903, he was elected member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts. Serov died in 1911.
Serov by V. Leniashin. Russian Painters of the XIX century. Moscow. 1989.
The Art and Architecture of Russia (Pelican History Art) by George Heard Hamilton. Yale Univ Pr, 1992.
A Dictionary of Russian and Soviet Artists 1420-1970 by John Milner. Antique Collectors' Club, 1993.
Valentin Serov : Portraits of Russia's Silver Age by Elizabeth Valkenier. Northwestern University Press, 2001.
Valentin Serov. 1865 - 1911. Paintings. Graphic Art. by Vladimir Leniashin, Vladimir Kruglov, Yevgenia Petrova, Joseph Kiblitsky. Palace Editions, 2005.