Zinaida Serebriakova: Self Portraits

Self Portrait (1907) by Zinaida Serebriakova

At The Dressing Table (Self Portrait by Zinaida Serebriakova) (1909) (Tretyakov Art Gallery, Moscow)

A viewer like her friend in the World of Art, the painter and critic Alexandre Benois (Aleksandr Benua, 1870-1960), one of its founding fathers, recognized it as a self-portrait and discussed it as such in his review of the seventh exhibit of the Union of Russian Artists in 1910. But Serebriakova never identified it in that way, perhaps (and this is pure speculation) because she knew how radical it was. Here to be sure is the pose we can observe in hundreds of self-portraits, but the mirror is not some abstraction, but the very “real” mirror of her dressing table … It reflects the artist’s bedroom, the objects on the vanity – hairpins, perfume bottles, jewelry, makeup – and the artist herself, shoulder seductively bared, with comb, not brush, in hand. We see not the palette and brushes with which the painter “makes up” her image on the canvas, but the makeup she uses every day to present herself to the world, a clever “baring of the device” of the self-portrait, to borrow Shklovsky’s famous formulation.

Judith Ryan, Alfred Thomas (ed.), Cultures of forgery: making nations, making selves, Routledge, New York, 2003.

Self Portrait by Zinaida Serebriakova (1911). Tula Museum of Fine Arts.

In Pierrot Costume (Self Portrait by Zinaida Serebriakova) (1911) (Odessa Museum of Art)

Self Portrait with Scarf by Zinaida Serebriakova (1911) (Collection of I. S. Silbershtein)

Girl with Candle - Self Portrait by Zinaida Serebriakova (1911) (Russian State Museum, St. Petersburg)

Self Portrait in Red by Zinaida Serebriakova (1921)

Self Portrait with Daughters by Zinaida Serebriakova (1921) (Rybinsk History and Art Museum)

«Автопортрет с дочерьми». Выписаны с легкостью, как по волшебству, только головы матери и двух девочек, прильнувших к ней, улучив момент, когда она в рабочей блузе с кистями в руках сделала паузу в работе, и они предстали на миг в зеркале. Выписаны волосы, лица, глаза, руки – нельзя сказать тщательно, но гладко, с полным впечатлением живых лиц, как у старых мастеров, а одежда обозначена мазками и даже небрежно, как и фон, мол, пусть здесь будет, как ныне пишут, здесь неважно.

Зинаида Серебрякова. Автопортрет с дочерьми. Описание одной картины.“, Феномен, № 2(6) Апрель-июнь 2008 года.

Self Portrait in White Blouse by Zinaida Serebriakova (1922)

Self Portrait in Blue by Zinaida Serebriakova (1922)

Self Portrait by Zinaida Serebriakova (1924) (Kiev State Museum of Russian Art)

Self Portrait by Zinaida Serebriakova (1930)

Self Portrait by Zinaida Serebriakova (1946)

Self Portrait by Zinaida Serebriakova (1956) (Tula Regional Museum of Art)

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