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Submitted on
June 19, 2013
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Ivan Bilibin

Wed Jun 19, 2013, 3:06 AM

Иван Яковлевич Билибин, or for those who can't read the cyrylic alphabet: Ivan Yakovlevich Bilibin, was one of the most important illustrators and stage designers in Eastern Europe of the 20th century.

Ivan Bilibin painted by B. Kustodiev by STelariBilibin (6) by STelari

Education and inspirations

He was born on the 16th of August 1876 (it was Wednesday) in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Before he became a student of the great Ilya Repin, he studied at the Art School of Anton Ažbe in Munich in 1898, so you can see that he gathered quite a good art education.

From 1902 to 1904 he travelled around Russian North. He became fairly inspired by the folklore of these areas, as well as by its architecture; he noted his collected impressions and described them in a monograph entitled Folk Arts of the Russian North. As you can probably notice by his works, he was also influenced by Japanese prints and Art Nouveau.

Bilibin (3) by STelariBilibin (7) by STelari

Illustrations and design

His illustrations to Russian faery tales from 1899 made him famous. The most recognisable pictures from that year are the ones of Vasilisa the Beautiful (one of them you can see next to his portrait painted by Boris Kustodiev at the top and some other below).

Later on, during the Russian Revolution of 1905 he painted revolutionary cartoons. Bilibin also worked as a stage designer for a number of Russian operas and plays, of which the most famous one was The Golden Cockerel produced by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.

Bilibin (5) by STelariBilibin (4) by STelari

10 years of homesickness

Bilibin left Russia when the October Revolution struck and through Egypt he travelled to Paris, where he settled for about 10 years. He missed his homeland, though. In 1936 he decorated the Soviet Embassy and that was too much to bear - he decided to return to Russia, which had already turned to Soviet Russia by then, and his birthplace Saint Petersburg was renamed to Leningrad.

In Leningrad, he accepted an offer to be a lecturer in the Soviet Academy of Arts and he worked there until 1941, when the great Siege of Leningrad started. He didn't survive the deadly 872 days of the siege - Ivan Bilibin died on the 7th of February 1942, 5 months after it started.

Bilibin (2) by STelariBilibin (1) by STelari

Add a Comment:
Arichy Featured By Owner Jun 23, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Russian artist :dummy: 
Beltaneh Featured By Owner Jun 23, 2013
To be honest, I've seen his work before on the Internet, but never know the artist
Also, thanks for letting me kwno this group of traditional art
lintu47 Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
krukof2 Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2013  Professional
Bilibine is one of the Masters . His images are so strong and creative !!! :painter:
One of the best russian artists , with Repine !
It's a great journal to introduce Bilibine to people :clap:
Sieskja Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2013   Traditional Artist
I was sure I knew the fourth picture: I've got a book with some of his illustrations :la:
It's incredible how we feel the slavic atmosphere in his paintings, and as you said, he's pretty handsome ;p
krukof2 Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2013  Professional
vous ici :blush:
DriPoint Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2013   Digital Artist
Great to see a feature on Bilbin, a truly great artist.
I have a book about him which I bought years ago after seeing one of his pictures in a magazine - really inspirational.
RoadZero Featured By Owner Jun 19, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thank you for this feature! Now more people will know of his wonderful style!
coralStriker Featured By Owner Jun 19, 2013
Wow, his pictures are lovely ;v; Elaborate enough to get lost but not too overwhelming. Thanks for taking the time to write this awesome little article!
cacophonycat Featured By Owner Jun 19, 2013  Student Interface Designer
I've always loved his work. It's a very good article, thank you for sharing.
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