“An Extraordinary Feeling for Ornament”: Elena Polenova and the Neo-Russian Style in Embroideries and Painted Textile Panels

In: Experiment

This article examines several important designs by Elena Dmitrievna Polenova (1850-1898) for art embroideries and textile panels. These are the least studied of Polenova’s works, but offer new insights into the artist’s role as a leader of the neo-national movement in late nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century Russian art. Linking extant designs with photographs of exhibition displays and unpublished archival sources, including contemporary accounts by the British art journalist Netta Peacock (1864-1938), this project seeks to initiate the important process of identifying and analysing Polenova’s designs within the context of the movement.

  • 6

    Ibid. p. 26.

  • 10

    The tales were first published in 1906in an edition by Iosif Knebel’ (Elena Polenova Russkie narodnye skazki i pribautki pereskazannye dlia detei i illustrirovannye E.D. Polenovoi 3 vols (Moscow: I.N. Knebel’ 1906)). For a modern reproduction of Ivan the Fool and the Firebird see Elena Polenova Why the Bear has no Tail and Other Russian Folk Tales Netta Peacock trans. Louise Hardiman ed. (London: Fontanka 2014) p. 4.

  • 13

    Anthony Netting“Images and Ideas in Russian Peasant Art,” Slavic Review35 1 (March 1976) pp. 48-68.

  • 14

    Alison HiltonRussian Folk Art (Bloomington: Indiana University Press1983) p. 172.

  • 22

    Imogen HartArts and Crafts Objects (Manchester: Manchester University Press2010) p. 12.

  • 25

    Peacock“A Log House Dining Room” pp. 5-6.

  • 27

    Peacock“A Log House Dining Room” p. 2.

  • 29

    Harkness p. 232.

  • 33

    See the photograph in Gramolina p. 99.

  • 34

    Peacock“A Log House Dining Room” p. 2.

  • 38

    John E. Bowlt“Patronage and the Neo-Nationalist Movement: Savva Mamontov and Mariia Tenisheva,” in Russian Art 1875-1975: A Collection of Essays (New York: mss Information Corp. 1976) pp. 21-40.

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