A Russian Fairytale: The Art and Craft of Elena Polenova

18 Nov 2014 – 8 Feb 2015

Event times

Tue – Sun, 11am – 5pm
Closed Mon (except Bank Holidays)

Cost of entry


Watts Gallery

Surrey, United Kingdom


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The first major exhibition outside of Russia to explore the work of the 19th-century painter and designer.


Elena Polenova's career has often been overlooked in favour of that of her older brother; the famed artist Vasily Polenov. However, in recent years her work has begun to receive its due recognition – a major exhibition at the Tretyakov State Gallery in Moscow in 2011 was the first since 1903 – and she has become known as one of the leading figures in the Russian craft revival.

Polenova found success as a furniture designer, developing traditional folk patterns into modern handmade wooden designs. These were produced by local, rural people and then sold in fashionable Moscow boutiques.

But she was also a talented watercolourist, textile designer and illustrator of children’s fairy-tales. As a young woman she studied under Pavel Chistyakov and then Ivan Kramskoi - both accomplished painters in their own right - and she also spent a stint at the studio of Charles Chaplin in Paris between 1869-70.

This display includes examples of Polenova's paintings, furniture and ceramics, as well as her rarely-seen original illustrations.

Exhibiting artists

Elena Polenova


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