28.11 (10.12).1884, estate of Neskuchnoye, Belgorod District, Kursk Province (now Kharkov Province, Ukraine) – 19.09.1967, Paris
Painter and graphic artist
The daughter of the sculptor Yevgeny Lanceray, Zinaida Serebriakova lived after her father’s death in 1886 in the house of her grandfather, Alexander Benois, in St Petersburg. Like all the children in the family, she began drawing at a very early age. In 1902–03 she travelled to Italy, to the island of Capri and to Rome. She studied at the studio of Osip Braz from 1903 to 1905, and copied the works of classic artists in the Hermitage. After getting married, she went to Paris in 1905 and attended the Académie de la Grande Chaumière. After her return to Russia in 1906 she lived in St Petersburg and on the estate of Neskuchnoye.
She made her debut in 1910 in the exhibition ‘The Modern Russian Female Portrait’ organised by the editorial board of the journal Apollon. Her self-portrait At the Dressing-Table (1909) was the sensation of the 7th exhibition of the Union of Russian Artists in St Petersburg. The picture was purchased by the Tretyakov Gallery. She was a member of the World of Art (Mir Iskusstva) association from 1911, and took part in its exhibitions in St Petersburg and Moscow. In 1915 she worked on sketches for a panel for the dining hall in the Kazan Station in Moscow. She painted pictures that portrayed an idealised peasant life.
In February she was recommended for the title of Academician of Painting (one of the first women). After her husband’s death and the pillaging of the estate in 1920 she lived in Kharkov, where she worked in the archaeological museum and took part in the first art exhibition by the Kharkov Soviet. She returned to Petrograd in 1920 and painted commissioned portraits and portraits of ballerinas. In 1922 the first monograph devoted to her appeared; it was written by Sergey Ernst and published by Akvilon. She took part in the last World of Art exhibitions in 1922 and 1924.
She left for France in 1924 to arrange an exhibition, and then lived in Paris. She painted portraits and landscapes and travelled a lot. She produced a decorative panel for the house of Baron Jean de Brouwer near Brussels. She took part in exhibitions by Russian and Soviet artists, and in an exhibition by a group of World of Art painters in Paris. In 1929 her works were shown in the Vyborg House of Culture in Leningrad. She was a member of the painting section of the Union of Russian Art Workers in France from 1933. She gained French citizenship in 1947 and became a member of the Union of French Artists. She took part in the exhibition ‘The Benois Family’ in London in 1961. A retrospective exhibition was held in Moscow and Kiev in 1965, and in Leningrad and Novosibirsk in 1966. F.B.