19.01.1865 - 05.12.1911
''Because I don't like you.'' Valentin Serov could easily say these words to a client who had been attempting to commission a portrait. No surprising then that the famous painter, who would die suddenly, left his family in a desperate situation after his death. The Moscow artistic community was appalled by the sudden death of Valentin Serov in his prime. Serov went a long way in his short lifetime. At the beginning his potential as an artist was not recognized. One of the masters of the old generation called his early work “Girl in Sunlight” a ‘syphilis’ implanted at the Tretyakov gallery. His other painting, the portrait of Ida Rubinstein, was awarded the epithet of ‘galvanized corpse’ by Ilya Repin. Serov had always been indifferent towards Impressionism, and was never inspired by Renoir or Manet. Yet his "Girl with Peaches" in the eyes of his contemporaries was the last word of the ‘Impressionist art’ as people said at that time. The master’s philosophy, his addiction to light which he formulated in a letter to his wife, were close to that of Impressionism: “In this century, all artists paint something heavy, nothing comforting. I do want to portray the encouraging and I would paint only the encouraging!” Highly self-critical, Valentin Serov sometimes called himself 'boring,' 'sullen,' and even 'spiteful.' Konstantin Korovin, his close friend, described an almost comical scene of such self-flagellation in his memoirs: “Inside himself, the painter has always been at war. The artist in him tries to encourage himself to be active. I liked when Serov angrily muttered at himself 'you horse' and hit himself on his head for not being able to capture the colours. “Oh, what a horse I am!”, he used to say.