Elena Dmitrievna Polenova

Polenova, Elena Dmitrievna


Born Nov. 15 (27), 1850, in St. Petersburg; died Nov. 7 (19), 1898, in Moscow. Russian painter and graphic artist. Daughter of D. V. Polenov; sister of V. D. Polenov.

E. Polenova studied in St. Petersburg with P. P. Chistiakov and, later, with I. N. Kramskoi (from 1864) at the Drawing School of the Society for the Promotion of the Arts. She also received traning in Paris at the art studio of C. Chaplin in 1869 and 1870. From the early 1880’s she lived mainly in Moscow.

Polenova painted landscapes and genre scenes in the style of the peredvizhniki (the “wanderers”—a progressive art movement). She and E. G. Mamontova organized a workshop of woodcarving and joinery at Abramtsevo. Her collection and study of Russian folk art influenced her many designs for carved furniture and utensils. As an illustrator of Russian folk tales, Polenova influenced many masters of black-and-white book illustration. She abandoned detailed narrative representations in favor of simple, two-dimensional ornamentation, which conformed with the national-romantic variation of art nouveau.


Sakharova, E. E. D. Polenova. Moscow, 1952.