14 (16 or 27).02.1878, Polotsk, Vitebsk Province (now in Belarus) – 22.11.1953, New York
Painter, graphic artist
The son of a tailor, from the age of 16 Sorin lived independently in Smolensk, Tula and Orel. He studied painting under Kiriak Kostandi at the Odessa Art School, 1896–99, from where he graduated with a medal and was accepted at the Academy of Art without taking any exams. Studied with Ivan Tvorozhnikov and Vasily Savinsky, and from 1901 in the studio of Ilya Repin. In 1902, while studying, he painted a portrait of Maxim Gorky. He spent a year and a half in Italy and France in 1905–07 and while in Italy, he got to know Eleonora Duse. His graduation work Inspired Minute, which showed the actress in the spirit of Repin’s Parisian Café resulted in the award of the Major Gold Medal in 1907 and a three-year study trip abroad. He travelled in Holland, France and Italy in 1908–10, and took part in the International Exhibition in Rome in 1911, and in the World of Art (Mir iskusstvo) exhibitions in 1913–17. He painted striking portraits of aristocrats and famous figures in the arts.
In Paris from 1920, he became a fashionable portraitist, fulfilling commissions from European nobility and painting the Russian émigré elite and members of ruling houses, including the Duchess of York, the future Queen Elizabeth (as wife of King George VI). He took part in an exhibition of Russian art in London in 1921, and showed his works in the World of Art exhibitions at the Boétie gallery and the Salon d’Automne. He met and became a close friend of Anna Pavlova, painting her portrait, which was acquired by the Musée du Luxembourg. A solo exhibition of his work was held in London in 1923; he was a member of the Salon des Tuileries in 1926–30, and took part in the World of Art exhibition at the galerie Bernheim-Jeune. His album of portraits (S. Sorin. Portraits, avant-propos par André Salmon) was published by the Berlin publisher Ganymed in 1929.
Sorin worked regularly in America after 1923, painting commissioned portraits in the neo-classical style. Solo exhibitions were held in the Wildenstein and Knoedler galleries in New York in 1927–49 and he took part in exhibitions of Russian art in the Brooklyn Museum in 1923, and in 1924 in the Grand Central Palace and the Russian section of the International Exhibition in Pittsburgh.
He settled in the USA after the start of the war from where he supported the USSR and fellow-countrymen who were in difficulty, including financially. He visited Paris after the war and took part in exhibitions. In 1973, in accordance with the artist’s will, some of his works – mainly portraits of important figures in Russian culture – were given to the museums of the USSR. The gift was shown at exhibitions in the Tretyakov Gallery and the Russian Museum in 1974. F.B.