Tatyana Mavrina

Buyan Island. Tatyana Mavrina
Buyan Island

Tatyana Mavrina is the creator of mischievous nude, sunny city landscapes and fabulous illustrations for children’s books

Tatyana Alekseevna Mavrina is a Soviet and Russian artist of the 20th century, a talented graphic artist and illustrator of children’s books. The work and biography of Tatyana Mavrina undeservedly ignored the official Soviet catalogs, apparently because of her ardent love for impressionism. But art connoisseurs appreciated the paintings of the bright and atypical Soviet master – her portraits, landscapes and still lifes are kept in the Russian Museum and in the Pushkin Museum. The artist worked in a style close to primitivism, boldly experimented with watercolors, gouache and easel graphics.

Tatyana Mavrina. Church of Elijah the Prophet in Cherkizovo
Church of Elijah the Prophet in Cherkizovo

Biography of Tatyana Mavrina

Tatyana Mavrina was born on December 20, 1900 in Nizhny Novgorod. Her father, Alexei Lebedev, taught, and her mother, a hereditary noblewoman from the Mavrin family, served as the director of the school. During the civil war, the Lebedev family moved to Moscow. In 1922, Tatiana entered VKHUTEMAS, where she was taught the art of drawing by the avant-garde artist Robert Rafailovich Falk. But she worked especially hard in museums, spending long hours in halls dedicated to Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. The artist kept her tender love for Cézanne (Paul Cézanne), Monet (Oscar-Claude Monet), Matisse (Henri Émile Benoît Matisse), Van Gogh (Vincent Willem van Gogh) and Picasso (Pablo Picasso) until the end of her life.

Tatiana Mavrina graduated from high school, joined the community of artists “Thirteen” and began to enthusiastically paint mischievous portraits, landscapes with piercingly sonorous sunlight and languid nudes, in many ways imitating the beloved Frenchmen Matisse and Van Gogh. The model most often was Olga Gildebrandt, one of the members of the Thirteen group. Sadly, the mass audience never saw the nude paintings created by the artist – in the Soviet Union they condemned the explicit genre and did not welcome public demonstrations of the naked body, even on canvas.

Tatyana Mavrina. Church of John the Warrior on Yakimanka
Church of John the Warrior on Yakimanka


In the second half of the 1930s, Tatyana Mavrina plunged into love. Fortunately, her husband, Nikolai Kuzmin, was also an artist, and the spouses were united not only by feelings, but also by common interests and passion for work. During this period, Mavrina was already creating illustrations for children’s books, fencing herself off from the alarming big world with popular prints with wonderful animals and fairy-tale characters.

The war forced me to switch to the surrounding reality and start sketching city landscapes. Once Tatyana Mavrina realized that these beloved Moscow streets, old houses and churches can be destroyed, which means they will disappear forever. And she decided to preserve the look of old Moscow, at least in her drawings. The artist walks a lot and makes pencil sketches in a notebook.

Tatyana Mavrina. Znamenskaya church in Kolobovsky lane
Znamenskaya church in Kolobovsky lane

After the war, Mavrina completely abandoned classical painting, devoting herself to illustrations, graphics and the study of folklore. She travels to cities far from the capital, sketches old buildings of the Moscow region and the architecture of the Golden Ring, gets acquainted with folk art – Khokhloma, Gorodets and Palekh crafts. Later, using the drawings by Tatyana Mavrina, they will study the life of the province. In addition, she not only painted, but also brought with her clay toys, embroidery, spinning wheels, painted trays, carved gingerbread boards, icons, tiles. Mavrina and Kuzmin presented an interesting collection of old utensils to the Russian Museum.

Tatyana Mavrina lived a long and interesting life, without ceasing to draw until the end of her days. According to the stories of close people, she eagerly drove away the guests who brought her flowers in order to immediately get down to work and transfer the beauty of the bouquet to paper. The artist died on August 19, 1996, having outlived her husband for 9 years.

St Basil's Church. Tatyana Mavrina
St Basil’s Church

The most famous paintings of Tatiana

Mavrina The artist created many bright and original works, but she reached the real peak of skill in the design of children’s books, for which she was awarded the International Andersen Prize in 1976. Let’s look again at the most famous paintings and illustrations by Tatyana Mavrina:

  • “Nudes with a Blue Teapot” (mid-1930s) – two themes banned in Soviet times – impressionism and nude. Imitation of the French Impressionists is done in delicate pearlescent tones.
  • “Portrait of Olga Hildebrandt” (1937) is a constant model and close friend of the artist. The painting was painted in a troubling historical period and depicts a naked beauty with an unapproachable face.
  • “Near the sea a green oak”, A. Pushkin, “Tales” (1977) – illustrations for the book of his favorite poet. The images of fairy tale characters are easily recognizable and were loved by many Soviet children.
  • Yu. Koval, “Butterflies” (1987) – the artist did not make separate illustrations for this book, she simply selected an old picture for each story, consonant with the theme of the story. Koval and Mavrina often worked in tandem and created many fairy tales for children, including “Glass Pond”, “Foal”.

During her lifetime, Tatyana Mavrina won recognition as an author and was awarded the title of Honored Artist of the RSFSR.


Tatyana Mavrina.The Tale of the Golden Cockerel
The Tale of the Golden Cockerel
Zainka in the garden, 1963
Zainka in the garden, 1963
Lisa Patrikeevna, 1963
Lisa Patrikeevna, 1963
Vysoko-Petrovsky Monastery
Vysoko-Petrovsky Monastery
Petrovsky Palace in Petrovsky Park
Petrovsky Palace in Petrovsky Park
At the Kremlin wall
At the Kremlin wall
Church of the Ascension in Kolomenskoye
Church of the Ascension in Kolomenskoye
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