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Vera Mukhina – Soviet era Sculptor

vera mukhina sculptor

Vera Mukhina – outstanding sculptor of the XX century


Vera Mukhina was a Soviet sculptor, People’s Artist of the USSR (1943), member of the Academy of Arts of the USSR (1947), winner of five Stalin Prizes (1941, 1943, 1946, 1951, 1952),
Vera was born on June 19, 1889 in Riga (now Latvia) in the wealthy merchant family. Her ancestors lived in Riga after the war of 1812. When the little girl was two years old her mother died from tuberculosis. And father took Vera and her older sister Maria to Feodosia, where they lived from 1892 to 1903. In Feodosia the future artist began drawing and painting. When their father died in 1903, the girls moved to Kursk, where their rich uncles lived. Vera was very talented girl, she played the piano, drew and wrote poetry.
After graduating from school Mukhina moved to Moscow, where she studied painting.

From 1912 to 1914 she lived in Paris and studied at the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere, where French sculptor Antoine Bourdelle was her teacher. Later Vera traveled to Italy, studying Renaissance sculptures and paintings. World War I began. Vera returned to Russia and worked as a nurse.
Her first love was Alexander Vertepov, a Bourdelle’s student. He went to the front and was killed in one of the battles. The girl was very depressed and started to work on the sculpture Pieta (dead soldier and his mourning bride). Alas, it was ruined.
Then Vera fell in love again. She met a young doctor Alexei Zamkov in 1914, just before his departure for the front. Two years later, he returned home and soon they got married. After the revolution, almost all Vera’s friends and relatives emigrated. Her sister married a Frenchman and also left. But Vera and Alexei stayed in Russia. In 1920, Vera gave birth to their son Vsevolod.
mukhina husband

Vera and her husband Alexei Zamkov


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Busts of Mukhina’s husband (left) and son


In 1934, her sculpture “Peasant Woman” (created in 1927) was exhibited at the International Exhibition in Venice. After World War II the bronze “Peasant Woman” became the property of the Vatican Museum in Rome, and for the Tretyakov Gallery Mukhina made a copy of this sculpture.
Peasant Woman Mukhina

Peasant Woman by V. Mukhina


In 1937, Vera became world famous. Her monument “Worker and Collective Farm Girl” was set in Paris at the World Exhibition. In 1939, the monument was installed near the northern entrance to the Exhibition of Economic Achievements in Moscow. In 1947, the sculpture became the emblem of the film studio Mosfilm.
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Worker and Collective Farm Girl by Mukhina


From 1938 to 1939 Vera worked on many sculptures – Internationale, Flame of the Revolution, Sea, Earth, Fertility, and Bread. The last one was the only composition made by herself, others were made after her death.
During World War II Mukhina worked. She finished portraits of Russian dancers – Galina Ulanovaand Maria Semenova.
At the end of the 1940s Mukhina was interested in glass. She invented the symbol of Slavic national character – faceted glass. In 1943, she headed the Art Glass Workshop in besieged Leningrad. They say Vera invented her faceted glass in collaboration with the artist Kazimir Malevich,author of the famous Black Square.
In 1948, Mukhina created vases, made portraits in glass. She was a friend of academician Kachalov, creator of optical glass.
faceted glass mukhina

Faceted glass by V. Mukhina


Her monument to Maxim Gorky appeared in Moscow in 1951.
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Monument to Maxim Gorky


The sculpture We Demand Peace was created in the early 1950s as a protest against the war in Korea.
mukhina we demand peace

We Demand Peace by V. Mukhina


The sculpture “Peace” on the roof of the planetarium in Volgograd was her last one.
mukhina peace

Sculpture Peace by V. Mukhina


Monument to Peter Tchaikovsky was established in 1954 after Mukhina’s death.
mukhina tchiakovsky

Monument to Peter Tchaikovsky


Mukhina was one of the greatest sculptors of the twentieth century, created sculptures – symbols of the Soviet state.
She died on October 6, 1953 in Moscow and was buried at the Novodevichy Cemetery.
mukhina monument

Monument to V. Mukhina in Moscow was made by People’s Artist of the USSR Anikushin and Honored Architect of the RSFSR Hadzhibaronov.

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Nesterov – Portrait of the sculptor Vera Mukhina. 1940

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