A Russian Fairytale: The Art and Craft of Elena Polenova
18 November 2014 – 8 February 2015
The first major exhibition outside of Russia to explore the work of the 19th-century painter and designer.
Elena Polenova's career has often been overlooked in favour of that of her older brother; the famed artist Vasily Polenov. However, in recent years her work has begun to receive its due recognition – a major exhibition at the Tretyakov State Gallery in Moscow in 2011 was the first since 1903 – and she has become known as one of the leading figures in the Russian craft revival.
Polenova found success as a furniture designer, developing traditional folk patterns into modern handmade wooden designs. These were produced by local, rural people and then sold in fashionable Moscow boutiques.
But she was also a talented watercolourist, textile designer and illustrator of children’s fairy-tales. As a young woman she studied under Pavel Chistyakov and then Ivan Kramskoi - both accomplished painters in their own right - and she also spent a stint at the studio of Charles Chaplin in Paris between 1869-70.
This display includes examples of Polenova's paintings, furniture and ceramics, as well as her rarely-seen original illustrations.