Vladimir Favorskii

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Favorskii, Vladimir Andreevich


Born Mar. 2 (14), 1886, in Moscow; died there Dec. 29, 1964. Soviet graphic artist and painter. People’s Artist of the USSR (1963); member of the Academy of Arts of the USSR (1962).

Favorskii trained at K. F. Iuon’s studio in Moscow from 1903 to 1905 and at S. Hollósy’s school in Munich in 1906 and 1907. He also studied in Moscow University’s department of art history from 1907 to 1913. He was a member of the Four Arts society from 1924 to 1928.

In 1907, Favorskii began to concentrate on the technique of wood engraving, primarily for book illustration. The basis of his theory of book design was as follows: A book is a unity of functional (“an instrument for reading”) and aesthetic principles—an integral organism requiring a functional exterior design and an internal design subordinated to the temporal-spatial elements of the literary work. The arrangement of the internal elements, the degree of detail in the characterization of the heroes and situations, and “the specific relationship ... of the object to space” must reveal the author’s style and the basic “features of the world view” of the literary work.

Favorskii’s engravings from 1910 to the mid-1930’s are noted for an emphasis on plasticity and for the exclusive use of black, almost palpable lines. These qualities are evident in the illustrations for A. France’s Les Opinions de M. Jerôme Coignard (1918; published 1963), A. Globa’s Tamar (published 1923), and G. Shtorm’s The Life and Works of Mikhail Lomonosov (published 1934). Also characteristic of Favorskii’s work during this period are stylistic solutions corresponding to the style of the literary work being illustrated (for example, the series of illustrations for the Book of Ruth, published 1925). Favorskii’s illustrations for Pushkin’s The Little House in Kolomna (published 1929) represent ironic-literal transpositions of poetic metaphors. Romantic expressiveness of images characterizes the illustrations for S. D. Spasskii’s New Year’s Eve (published 1932), and the illustrations for Dante’s The New Life (published 1934) are noted for the symbolism of complete sculpturesque forms.

In the mid-1930’s Favorskii turned to a softer stroke, which more effectively conveyed light, movement, and the psychology of the figures. Philosophical depth of imagery and epic and lyrical inspiration are organically combined in the artist’s works of this period. In 1962 the Lenin Prize was awarded to Favorskii’s illustrations for Shakespeare’s Sonnets (published 1948), a collection of Marshak’s translations of Robert Burns (published 1950), and Pushkin’s Boris Godunov (1955, published 1956) and The Little Tragedies (published 1961) and The Tale of Igor’s Campaign (published 1954).

Favorskii also produced a number of engravings that were not designed as book illustrations (for example, October 1917, 1928). He engraved several portraits (for example, F. Dostoevsky, 1929; Pushkin as a Student at the Lyceum, 1935; and the series Great Russian Military Leaders, 1945–47), bookplates, and headpieces. Beginning in 1942, Favorskii produced a number of line engravings, in which he explored the technique’s decorative (the series Samarkand, 1942–44) and publicistic possibilities (For Peace, 1959). He developed a distinctive style of precise and fluid pencil drawing (the series Double Portraits, 1938–61).

In the field of monumental art, Favorskii achieved a synthesis of architecture and painting, understanding the latter to be a rhythmic organization of space swirling about in time (for example, the frescoes in the Museum for the Protection of Mothers and Children, 1933, not preserved; the chiseled drawings for the House of Fashion in Moscow, 1935, not preserved).

Favorskii’s work for the theater is distinguished by the constructive unity of scenic space, clarity of theatrical conventions, and subtlety of pictorial devices (for example, the sets for Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, Second Moscow Art Theater, 1934).

Favorskii greatly influenced Soviet art, particularly graphic art. He was a professor at Vkhutemas-Vkhutein (State Higher Arts and Technical Studios-Higher Art and Technical Institute) from 1920 to 1930, the Printing Institute from 1930 to 1934, the Institute of Fine Arts from 1934 to 1938, and the Institute of Applied and Decorative Arts from 1942 to 1948. His pupils included A. D. Goncharov, A. A. Deineka, Iu. I. Pimenov, and M. I. Pikov.


Rasskazy khudozhnika-gravera. Moscow, 1976.
O khudozhnike, o tvorchestve, o knige. Moscow, 1966.


Khalaminskii, Iu. V. A. Favorskii. Moscow, 1964.
Kniga o Vladimire Favorskom. Moscow, 1967.
Klimov, R. “Zametki o Favorskom.” In the collection Sovetskoe iskusstvoznanie, ’74. Moscow, 1975.
Klimov, R. “Zametki o Favorskom.” In the collection Sovetskoe iskusstovoznanie, ’75. Moscow, 1976.
V. Favorskii. [Collection, Moscow, 1967.]


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.