Mstislav Dobuzhinsky

Last updated
Portrait of Dobuzhinsky
by Osip Braz M. Dobuschinski.jpg
Portrait of Dobuzhinsky
by Osip Braz

Mstislav Valerianovich Dobuzhinsky or Dobujinsky (Lithuanian : Mstislavas Dobužinskis, August 14, 1875, Novgorod – November 20, 1957, New York City) was a Russian-Lithuanian artist noted for his cityscapes conveying the explosive growth and decay of the early twentieth-century city.

Lithuanian language Language spoken in Lithuania

Lithuanian is a Baltic language spoken in the Baltic region. It is the language of Lithuanians and the official language of Lithuania as well as one of the official languages of the European Union. There are about 2.9 million native Lithuanian speakers in Lithuania and about 200,000 abroad.

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2017 population of 8,622,698 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 20,320,876 people in its 2017 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 23,876,155 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.


Of noble Lithuanian extraction, Dobuzhinsky was born on August 14, 1875 in Novgorod into the family of an army officer. From 1885 to 1887, he attended the Drawing School of the Society for the Promotion of the Artists. Between 1895 and 1899, he read Law at the University of St. Petersburg, simultaneously studying in private studios. After graduating from the University, he was trained from 1899 to 1901 by Anton Ažbe in Munich and Simon Hollósy in Nagybánya (Austria-Hungary). In Munich, he came to be influenced by the Jugendstil. On his return to Russia, he joined the Mir Iskusstva, an artistic circle which idealized the 18th century as the "age of elegance".

Anton Ažbe Slovenian artist

Anton Ažbe was a Slovene realist painter and teacher of painting. Ažbe, crippled since birth and orphaned at the age of 8, learned painting as an apprentice to Janez Wolf and at the Academies in Vienna and Munich. At the age of 30 Ažbe founded his own school of painting in Munich that became a popular attraction for Eastern European students. Ažbe trained the "big four" Slovenian impressionists and a whole generation of Russian painters. Ažbe's training methods were adopted and reused by Russian artists both at home and in emigration.

Munich Capital and most populous city of Bavaria, Germany

Munich is the capital and most populous city of Bavaria, the second most populous German federal state. With a population of around 1.5 million, it is the third-largest city in Germany, after Berlin and Hamburg, as well as the 12th-largest city in the European Union. The city's metropolitan region is home to 6 million people. Straddling the banks of the River Isar north of the Bavarian Alps, it is the seat of the Bavarian administrative region of Upper Bavaria, while being the most densely populated municipality in Germany. Munich is the second-largest city in the Bavarian dialect area, after the Austrian capital of Vienna.

Simon Hollósy Hungarian artist

Simon Hollósy; (2 February 1857, Máramarossziget – 8 May 1918, Técső was a Hungarian painter. He was considered one of the greatest Hungarian representatives of 19th-century Naturalism and Realism.

Dobuzhinsky was distinguished from other miriskusniki by his expressionist manner and keen interest in modern industrial cityscapes. He often painted seedy or tragic scenes from urban life which expressed the nightmarish bleakness and loneliness of modern times. Among his works were also humorous vignettes and sketches with demon-like creatures which seemed to embody the monstrosities of urbanization.

Cityscape art genre

In the visual arts a cityscape is an artistic representation, such as a painting, drawing, print or photograph, of the physical aspects of a city or urban area. It is the urban equivalent of a landscape. Townscape is roughly synonymous with cityscape, though it implies the same difference in urban size and density implicit in the difference between the words city and town. In urban design the terms refer to the configuration of built forms and interstitial space.

Sketch (drawing) quickly executed freehand drawing

A sketch is a rapidly executed freehand drawing that is not usually intended as a finished work. A sketch may serve a number of purposes: it might record something that the artist sees, it might record or develop an idea for later use or it might be used as a quick way of graphically demonstrating an image, idea or principle.

Like other members of the Mir iskusstva, Dobuzhinsky also experimented with scenic design. At first he worked for Constantin Stanislavski at the Moscow Arts Theatre, but later on also contributed sets to several Diaghilev productions. He was renowned as an excellent art teacher; among his young pupils was Vladimir Nabokov, with whom he maintained correspondence for decades.

<i>Mir iskusstva</i>

Mir iskusstva was a Russian magazine and the artistic movement it inspired and embodied, which was a major influence on the Russians who helped revolutionize European art during the first decade of the 20th century. In fact, few Europeans outside Russia actually saw issues of the magazine itself.

Scenic design creation of theatrical or film scenery

Scenic design is the creation of theatrical, as well as film or television scenery. Scenic designers come from a variety of artistic backgrounds, but in recent years, are mostly trained professionals, holding a B.F.A. or M.F.A. degrees in theater arts. Scenic designers design sets and scenery that aim to support the overall artistic goals of the production.

Vladimir Nabokov Russian-American novelist, lepidopterist, professor

Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov was a Russian-born American novelist, poet, translator and entomologist. His first nine novels were in Russian, but he achieved international prominence after he began writing English prose.

Mstislav Dobuzhinsky, A man with eyeglasses, or The portrait of Konstantin Sunnerberg, 1901-1902, The Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow. K. Sunnerberg by M. Dobuzhinsky.jpg
Mstislav Dobuzhinsky, A man with eyeglasses, or The portrait of Konstantin Sunnerberg, 1901-1902, The Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow.

During the First World War Dobuzhinsky went with Eugene Lanceray to the front lines to sketch. In 1918, he supervised the theatrical workshop at the State Educational Workshops of the Decorative Arts (the former Stieglitz School of the Technical Drawing). In 1920, he took part in the Second Congress of the Communist International. In 1923-24, he went abroad to study developments in European art and to arrange one-man shows. In 1924, Dobuzhinsky followed the advice of Jurgis Baltrusaitis and withdrew to Lithuania. He was naturalized there in 1924 and lived in Kaunas until 1925. Between 1925 and 1929 lived in Paris where he designed sets for Nikita Balieff's The Bat.He returned to Lithuania in 1929. In Lithuania he worked at a state theatre as scenographer and created scenography for 38 plays, besides running a private painting school (1930–1933).He then emigrated to England in 1935, and moved to the United States in 1939 where he stayed for the duration of the war. He spent the last ten years of his life in Europe, occasionally returning to New York for theatrical work. He died in New York on November 20, 1957. His memoirs were published posthumously in Russian.

Eugene Lanceray Russian artist

Yevgeny Yevgenyevich Lansere, also spelled Eugene Lanceray, was a Russian graphic artist, painter, sculptor, mosaicist, and illustrator, associated stylistically with Mir iskusstva.

Kaunas City in Lithuania

Kaunas is the second-largest city in Lithuania and the historical centre of Lithuanian economic, academic, and cultural life. Kaunas was the biggest city and the centre of a county in Trakai Municipality of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania since 1413. In the Russian Empire, it was the capital of the Kaunas Governorate from 1843 to 1915.

A scenographer or production designer, develops the appearance of a stage design, a TV or movie set, a gaming environment, a trade fair exhibition design or a museum experience exhibition design. The term originated in theater. A scenographer works together with the theater director to make the message come through in the best way they think possible, the director having the leading role and responsibility particularly for dramatic aspects - such as casting, acting, and direction - and the scenographer primarily responsible for the visual aspects or "look" of the production - which often includes scenery or sets, lighting, and costumes, and may include projections or other aspects.

Among his later works are series of masterful and dramatic illustrations, notably for Dostoyevsky's White Nights (1923) and Yuri Olesha's Three Fat Men (1925). Dobuzhinsky contributed sets for theatre productions in Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, and Düsseldorf. During World War II, Dobuzhinsky painted imaginary landscapes of the besieged Leningrad.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

He is interned at the Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois Russian Cemetery Departement de l'Essonne, Ile-de-France, France; Plot: grave 3428.


Dobuzhinsky is represented in the following institutions, among others: Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow; The A. A. Bakhrushin Theatre Museum, Moscow; The Russian Museum, St. Petersburg; National Gallery of Armenia, Yerevan; Irbit State Museum of Fine Art, Irbit.

Related Research Articles

Ivan Bilibin Russian illustrator

Ivan Yakovlevich Bilibin was a Russian illustrator and stage designer who took part in the Mir iskusstva, contributed to the Ballets Russes, co-founded the Union of Russian Painters and from 1937 was a member of the Artists' Union of the USSR. Throughout his career, he was inspired by Slavic folklore.

Alexandre Benois Russian artist

Alexandre Nikolayevich Benois was a Russian artist, art critic, historian, preservationist, and founding member of Mir iskusstva, an art movement and magazine. As a designer for the Ballets Russes under Sergei Diaghilev, Benois exerted what is considered a seminal influence on the modern ballet and stage design.

Serge Sudeikin Russian artist

Sergey Yurievich Sudeikin, also known as Serge Soudeikine, was a Russian artist and set-designer associated with the Ballets Russes and the Metropolitan Opera.

Igor Grabar Russian artist

Igor Emmanuilovich Grabar was a Russian post-impressionist painter, publisher, restorer and historian of art. Grabar, descendant of a wealthy Rusyn family, was trained as a painter by Ilya Repin in Saint Petersburg and by Anton Ažbe in Munich. He reached his peak in painting in 1903–1907 and was notable for a peculiar divisionist painting technique bordering on pointillism and his rendition of snow.

Konstantin Yuon Russian painter

Konstantin Fyodorovich Yuon or Juon was a noted Russian painter and theatre designer associated with the Mir Iskusstva. Later, he co-founded the Union of Russian Artists and the Association of Artists of Revolutionary Russia.

Vladimir Baranov-Rossine Russian artist

Wladimir Davidovich Baranoff-Rossine (1888–1944) was a Ukrainian, Russian and French painter of Jewish origin, avant-garde artist (Cubo-Futurism), and inventor.

Heorhiy Narbut Ukrainian painter

Heorhiy Narbut was the most important Ukrainian graphic designer of the twentieth century.

Yury Annenkov Russian artist

Yury Pavlovich Annenkov ; 23 July [O.S. 11 July 1889] 1889 in Petropavlovsk, Akmolinsk Oblast, Russian Empire – 12 July 1974 in Paris, France), was a Russian artist mostly known for his book illustrations and portraits. He also worked for theatre and cinema (design). A member of Mir Iskusstva.

Kaunas State Drama Theatre

The Kaunas State Drama Theatre is the biggest theatre in Kaunas, and one of the oldest functioning theatres in Lithuania. There are six different creative spaces for events in the Kaunas Drama Theatre.

Vladimir Shchuko Russian architect

Vladimir Alekseyevich Shchuko was a Russian architect, member of the Saint Petersburg school of Russian neoclassical revival notable for his giant order apartment buildings "rejecting all trace of the moderne". After the Russian Revolution of 1917 Shchuko gradually embraced modernist ideas, developing his own version of modernized neoclassicism together with his partner Vladimir Gelfreikh. Shchuko and Gelfreikh succeeded through the prewar period of Stalinist architecture with high-profile projects like the Lenin Library, Moscow Metro stations and co-authored the unrealized Palace of Soviets. Shchuko was also a prolific stage designer, author of 43 drama and opera stage sets.

Nikolay Lanceray Russian architect

Nikolay Lanceray was a Russian architect, preservationist, illustrator of books and historian of neoclassical art, biographer of Charles Cameron, Vincenzo Brenna and Andreyan Zakharov. Lanceray was associated with Mir Iskusstva art circle and was a proponent of Russian neoclassical revival school.

Arnold Lakhovsky Russian-Ukrainian artist and sculptor

Arnold Borisovich Lakhovsky also known as Aaron Berkovich) was a painter and sculptor of Ukrainian-Jewish descent, born 27 January [O.S. 15 January] 1880 in Chernobyl, Russian Empire.

Aleksei Ilyich Kravchenko was a Russian painter, illustrator, draughtsman and printmaker. Though Kravchenko first gained recognition as a romantic painter, he was best known during his lifetime as a book illustrator and graphic artist. His post-revolutionary paintings were only exhibited in 1974 at the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. Works such as The Kiss (1929) and Indian Fairytale confirmed him as one of the most dramatic romantic painters and boldest colorists of his generation.

The year 1922 was marked by many events that left an imprint on the history of Soviet and Russian Fine Arts.

The year 1924 was marked by many events that left an imprint on the history of Soviet and Russian Fine Arts.

Nikolay Selivesterovich Khlibko was a Soviet and Russian theatre, cinema actor and artistic director.

Elizaveta Zvantseva artist and art school founder

Elizaveta Nikolaevna Zvantseva was a Russian painter and art instructor who founded "the most progressive art school in pre-1917 Russia". Among alumni of the school were Marc Chagall, Elena Guro, and Margarita Woloschin.

Sergei Lednev-Schukin Russian painter (1875-1961)

Sergei Evgrafovich Lednev-Schukin (1875–1961) was a Russian landscape and impressionist painter