Konstantin Somov

Konstantin Andreyevich Somov (Russian: Константин Андреевич Сомов; November 30, 1869 – May 6, 1939)[1] was a Russian artist associated with the Mir iskusstva. Born into a family of a major art historian and Hermitage Museum curator Andrey Ivanovich Somov, he became interested in 18th-century art and music at an early age.

Konstantin Somov
Born(1869-11-30)November 30, 1869
DiedMay 6, 1939(1939-05-06) (aged 69)
EducationMember Academy of Arts (1913)
Alma materImperial Academy of Arts
Known forPainting


Somov studied at the Imperial Academy of Arts under Ilya Repin from 1888 to 1897. While at the Academy, he befriended Alexandre Benois, who would introduce him to Sergei Diaghilev and Léon Bakst. When the three founded the World of Art, Somov liberally contributed to its periodicals. Somov was homosexual, like many of the World of Art members.[2]

Inspired by Watteau and Fragonard, he preferred to work with watercolours and gouache. For three years he worked upon his masterpiece, Lady in Blue, painted in the manner of 18th-century portraitists.

During the 1910s, Somov executed a number of rococo harlequin scenes and illustrations to the poems by Alexander Blok. Many of his works were exhibited abroad, especially in Germany, where the first monograph on him was published in 1909.

Following the Russian Revolution, he emigrated to the United States, but found the country "absolutely alien to his art" and moved to Paris.

In about 1930, Somov met Boris Mikhailovich Snejkovsky (born 23 July 1910), "the twenty-year old young man who would inspire several of Somov's best later works. He would sit for straightforward portrait drawings, beautiful, mildly suggestive oil paintings, and he may have been the model for more erotic watercolors. Somov was a homosexual, but the exact nature of his relationship with his model and friend is unknown."[3]

Somov was buried at the Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois Cemetery.

On June 14, 2007, Somov's landscape "The Rainbow" (1927) was sold at Christie's for US$7.33 million, a record for a work at an auction of Russian art.[4]

Somov's diary (Dnevik) for the years 1917-1925 was published in Russian by Dmitrii Sechin (Moscow) in 2017 and 2018; the two volumes total over 1600 pages.


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Konstantin Somov Online". Artcyclopedia.com. Retrieved 2012-04-16.
  2. ^ Ryan, Judith; Thomas, Alfred (2003), Cultures of Forgery: Making Nations, Making Selves, Routledge, p. 151, ISBN 0-415-96832-1
  3. ^ O'Donnell, Stephen (2018-07-29). "Le jeune Boris—portraits of Boris Snejkovsky by Konstantin Somov". godsandfoolishgrandeur.blogspot.com/.
  4. ^ Varoli, John (2007-06-14), "Russian Sale Sets Record, 'Crazy' Prices at Christie's, London", Bloomberg, retrieved 2007-09-20