Ever since I can remember I’ve felt drawn to portraits of women. Something about them fascinated me and I found myself making up long and intricate stories to go with them. Who was this women, what had she done right before sitting for the portrait and most importantly, what was it about her that moved someone to dedicate an entire canvas/frame to her image.
Some of my favourite female portraits were painted by the talented, turn-of-the-century Russian artist Zinaida Yevgenyevna Serebriakova (1884-1967). A descendant of an aristocratic, artsy family, Serebriakova lost her fortune (and her dear husband) during the Russian revolution, forcing her into exile in Paris. She spent the rest of her life in near-poverty and her talents were only recognised posthumously. Amazingly, despite all that she went through, her paintings emit a sense of hope and a very simple, un-superficial sense of happiness. There is a wonderful slideshow of her work here: http://www.wikipaintings.org/en/zinaida-serebriakova/
Of all her paintings, my favourite is her self-portrait “At the Dressing Table”.
The painting is bright, fresh and strangely modern considering it was painted over a hundred years ago.
“At the Dressing Table” (1909)
I love the youthful energy the painting emits and the gorgeous little details she choose to include – look at those beautiful bottles, fluffy powder puff and delicate lace details! Where is she going – for a rendezvous with her paramour? I wish I could ask her, don’t you?