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Name: Natalia Goncharova

Born in: 1881

Country: Russian Empire, USSR

Style: Avant-garde



Natalia Sergeevna Goncharova (Russian: Ната́лья Серге́евна Гончаро́ва; June 4, 1881 – October 17, 1962) was a Russian avant-garde artist, painter, costume designer, writer, illustrator, and set designer. Her great-aunt was Nataliya Nikolaevna Goncharova, wife of the poet Alexander Pushkin.


Goncharova was born in Tula Governorate on the estate of her father, a notable architect and mathematician Sergey Goncharov. In 1891 the family moved to Moscow. In 1901 she entered Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture where she met Mikhail Larionov who was a student of the same art school. Soon they formed a life long relationship.


Larionov and Goncharova were founding members of two important Russian artistic groups Jack of Diamonds (1909–1911) and the more radical Donkey's Tail (1912–1913). The Donkey's Tail was conceived as an intentional break from European art influence and the establishment of an independent Russian school of modern art. However, the influence of Russian Futurism is much in evidence in Goncharova's later paintings. Initially preoccupied with icon painting and the primitivism of ethnic Russian folk-art, Goncharova became famous in Russia for her Futurist work such as The Cyclist and her later Rayonist works. As leaders of the Moscow Futurists, they organised provocative lecture evenings in the same vein as their Italian counterparts. Goncharova was also involved with graphic design—writing and illustrating a book in Futurist style.

Goncharova was a member of the Der Blaue Reiter avant-garde group from its founding in 1911. In 1915, she began to design balletcostumes and sets in Geneva. In 1915 she started work on a series of designs—Six Winged Seraph, Angel', St. Andrew, St. Mark, Nativity, and others—for a ballet commissioned by Sergei Diaghilev to be titled Liturgy. Also involved in the project, for which Igor Stravinsky was invited to compose the score, were Larionov and Léonide Massine, but the ballet never materialized. Goncharova moved to Paris in 1921 where she designed a number of stage sets of Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. She also exhibited at the Salon d'Automne in 1921, and participated regularly at the Salon des Tuileries and the Salon des Indépendants.


Between 1922 and 1926 Goncharova created fashion designs for Marie Cuttoli's shop, Maison Myrbor on the Rue Vincent, Paris. Her richly embroidered and appliquéd dress designs were strongly influenced by Russian folk art, Byzantine mosaic and her work for the Ballets Russes.


Goncharova died in Paris, in 1962.


Her work is held in the Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, the Tate,The Israel Museum


On June 18, 2007, Goncharova's 1909 painting Picking Apples was auctioned at Christie's for $9.8 million, setting a record for any female artist. She is still the most expensive female artist at auction and her work features in Russian art auctions during the bi-annual Russian Art Week in London.


In November 2007, Bluebells, (1909), brought £3.1 million ($6.2 million).


The record was updated a year later, when Goncharova's 1912 still-life The Flowers (formerly part of Guillaume Apollinaire's collection) sold for $10.8 million.