Ivan Bilibin (Иван Яковлевич Билибин) (1876-1942)
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Ivan Bilibin was one of the most influential 20th-century illustrators and stage designers who took part in the Mir iskusstva and contributed to the Ballets Russes. Throughout his career, he was strongly inspired by Slavic folklore.
Ivan Bilibin was born in a suburb of St. Petersburg. He studied under Ilya Repin and furthered his education in Munich. In 1902-1904 Bilibin travelled in the Russian North, where he became fascinated with old wooden architecture and Russian folklore. He published his findings in the monograph Folk Arts of the Russian North in 1904. Another major influence on his art was traditional Japanese prints.
Bilibin gained renown in 1899, when he released his innovative illustrations of Russian fairy tales. During the Russian Revolution of 1905, he executed revolutionary cartoons. The October Revolution, however, proved alien to him. After brief stints in Cairo and Alexandria, he settled in Paris in 1925. There he took to decorating private mansions and Orthodox churches. He still longed for his homeland and, after decorating the Soviet Embassy in 1936, he returned to Soviet Russia. He delivered lectures in the Soviet Academy of Arts until 1941. Bilibin died during the Siege of Leningrad.
Still wondering about an early 20th century Russian painting in your family collection? Contact us…it could be by Ivan Bilibin.