Borisov-Musatov - Self-Portrait with Sister
Victor Borisov-Musatov’s career in art came on the threshold of a new century—a complex period, rich in great creative personalities. And like Vrubel, Nesterov, Serov and Levitan, he developed a distinctive, highly original approach to art.
The real beginning of his career can be considered his Self-Portrait with Sister (1898), for which there is no analogy in Russian art. The picture’s composition is unusual—in the center is a pensive young girl in an old-fashioned white dress, while the figure of the artist is partly lopped off by the edge of the canvas. This introduces an element of fortuitousness, recalling the pictures of the Impressionists. The style of painting is new: color and form are generalized— especially in the background landscape, which resembles theatrical scenery. In this picture we see for the first time an expression of Borisov-Musatov’s dream of a perfect, harmonious world; we see his attempt to escape from the disorder of reality into an ideal world of his imagination. This mood, which affected many members of the Russian intelligentsia at the turn of the century, became the leitmotif of Borisov-Musatov’s art.