Why Elizabeth Merkuryevna Byom was the most famous Russian artist at a turn of the XIX-XX centuries?
In the childhood I liked to consider old photos and cards from a grandmother`s casket. Cards were especially remembered, they were colourful, kind and some very Russian. Generally they were congratulatory, but names of holidays then for me sounded mysteriously and unclear: Christmas, Easter...
It was curious to esteem as congratulated each other at the beginning of the century. Girlfriends on a gymnasium were limited to a standard set of wishes, only often remembered God. And here boyfriends so orated that I did not keep and which - that peredrat when signed cards to schoolmates by March 8. However, then under powerful pressure it was necessary to admit plagiarism and to bring grandmother`s cards in school. Itself did not expect that they will create such furor among my schoolmates.
Since those times I also remembered a surname of the artist drawing them, the benefit it sounded strange and at once was engraved in the memory - Elizabeth Byom. Interest in her creativity appeared much later when out of curiosity took two albums published by it at the end of the 19th century in a reading room. The artist also actually was very talented, widely known in Russia and abroad.
Elizabeth was born in St. Petersburg on February 24, 1843, in an ancient noble family. Her ancestors were natives of the Golden Horde whose surname Indigir at the time of Ivan III was Russified in Endaurov. For the summer the family usually left in a family estate of Bratkovo under Vologda. Here in rural calm the girl excitedly drew, there was so much beautiful and unusual around that “ asked “ on paper. “ I had a love to drawing since the smallest years, - Elizabeth remembered subsequently, - otherwise I do not remember myself how the paper drawing on all pieces which fell of me into hands. In letters to the girlfriends St. Petersburg I constantly put the risunochka of dolls and animals; and this - that also paid attention of the people a little understanding that I should have been engaged seriously in drawing “.
It should be noted that in the second half of the 19th century the attitude towards girls in the advanced noble families changed, and their aspiration to professionally practise music or art even began to be encouraged. Lisa`s parents did not begin to interfere with her desire to study at Drawing school of Society of encouragement of artists to which the girl was admitted when she was 14 years old. At school treated training of future fellows on art seriously, here taught the best teacher - the painter of that time P. Chistyakov, artists I. Kramskoy, L. Primazzi, A. Beydman. Elizabeth studied diligently, having become the fine risovalshchitsa preferring to work with a pencil and a water color. In 1864 she with a medal graduated from school and literally plunged into creativity, the benefit, the financial position of a family allowed to do it without thinking about earnings.
Soon there was also a private life, in 1867 Elizabeth married the talented violinist, the teacher of the St. Petersburg conservatory Ludwig Byom with whom she should live happily all life. Also the success in art came, its works began to win with enviable constancy prizes and awards at various exhibitions. Elizabeth Merkuryevna did not paint big pictures, but her drawings enjoyed invariable popularity. And from the middle of the seventieth years began to work also in equipment of the lithographed silhouette which she actually also created.
In Russia interest in a cut silhouette from black or tinted paper arose in the second half of the 18th century when at court of Catherine II several foreign draftsmen - siluetist worked. Byom did not begin to cut out silhouettes scissors as it was done to her, and drew them on a stone (lithographed) and then did prints. It allowed to try to obtain surprising expressiveness, it was possible to trace the smallest details - stalks of a grass, lace on clothes, wool at animals or curls of hair on the child`s head.
Since 1875 Elizabeth Merkuryevna began to publish the albums of silhouettes enjoying wide popularity. Most often she drew sketches with children who turned out very touching and surprisingly live. It is interesting that venerable artists apprehended its works with undisguised delight. Her teacher Kramskoy wrote: “ And that for perfection there were these silhouettes! In them even expression on small faces chernyshy " was guessed;. Ilya Repin, having presented to the artist the picture, traced on the back of a canvas: “ To Elizabeth Merkuryevne Byom as a sign of my deepest honoring of her talent. It “ black “ I love more than many - many white “.
Painters were echoed by the famous critic Stasov, calling it “ the most gifted of artists “ and noting that “ Bem took on the share the Russian Toy Store “ and in its silhouettes it is expressed “ soul, feeling, thoughts, characters, whims, whims, grace, pranks, lovely inventions “. But the main thing that the opinion of fellows on art coincided with opinion of the audience. In total Byom published 14 albums which were repeatedly republished including abroad. Even in America its books of silhouettes ran into several editions.
By the way, it possesses authorship of one of the first Russian comics. In 1880 there was its book with the unpretentious name “ " Pie; which was bought up, excuse for a tautology as hot pies. In it the consecutive sketches representing the children who decided to bake pie. In the course of preparation “ active participation “ the dog and a cat getting under feet, but to them - that accept, eventually, and the culinary masterpiece dropped by children gets.
In 80 - e years Elizabeth Merkuryevna began to cooperate with publishing houses as the illustrator. Its drawings were published many years in children`s magazines “ Igrushechka “ and “ Baby “. The focus of her interests was wide, she illustrated fairy tales and I. Turgenev`s works, drew pictures for “ Alphabets “ and A. Krylov`s fables. By the way, fables with its drawings are published more than hundred years.
But the widest popularity in Russia brought it cards which she created more than three hundred. Among them were also congratulatory by holidays, and with images of national suits of the people of Russia, and on subjects of the Russian proverbs, and with heroes of works of L. Tolstoy, and with riddles about seasons and just with touching sketches from life of children. Published by many thousands circulations, they dispersed across all Russia. They could be seen also on the smoked wall in a country log hut, and in a small volume of verses under the girl student`s pillow, and in a graceful album of the celebutante.
It would seem, any serious art - silhouettes, illustrations, cards. But at that time, probably, so did not consider. Elizabeth Merkuryevna Byom repeatedly participated in prestigious Russian and international exhibitions (in Paris, Berlin, Munich, Milan, Chicago) and was not left without prizes, including gold medals. The first international “ " gold; it brought from Paris in 1870 from an exhibition of water color drawings and miniatures. And before was “ " silver; from Brussels from the international competition on equipment of a water color and silhouette. It appears, earlier among artists even competitions were held. It is curious that it got prizes not only on art, but also at industrial exhibitions, she did drawings for products of crystal and glass, painted porcelain.
In those days as an undoubted indicator of recognition of the artist served acquisition of its works as Tretyakov. Elizabeth Byom`s water colors were repeatedly bought by Pavel Mikhaylovich, as well as other Russian collectors of painting. They were got for the collections also by members of an imperial family.
Elizabeth Merkuryevna Byom died on July 25, 1914. But memory of the talented artist continues to live, interest in her works does not die away. Behind its cards and albums “ hunt “ collectors. Exhibitions of its works are periodically held, one of the largest was in Moscow a year ago. In 2007 the monograph about life and works of the artist is published. The " clothes collection created based on its works; Lengthways on Petersburg “ recently gained the diploma of the " trade fair; Russian " flax;. And, above all, its modest works introduce kindness which so sometimes is not enough for us in our life.