Great sculptures by Vera Mukhina
Vera Mukhina was a Soviet sculptor-monumentalist, a member of the Presidium of the Academy of Arts of the USSR. She was an academician of the Academy of Arts of the USSR (1947), People’s Artist of the USSR (1943), winner of five Stalin Prizes (1941, 1943, 1946, 1951, 1952). The crater on Venus was named in her honor.
Vera Ignatyevna Mukhina was born on June 19 (July 1), 1889 in Riga (now Latvia) in the family of a well-known merchant and philanthropist Ignatiy Kuzmich Mukhin. The girl spent her childhood in Feodosia. Her mother died from tuberculosis when Vera was two years old. Her father died in 1904 and Vera with her elder sister Maria were hosted by uncles and aunts living in Kursk. Later both girls moved to Moscow, where Vera studied painting at the studios of K.F. Yuon, I.O. Dudin and I.I. Mashkov.
On Christmas 1912, when Vera was in her uncle’s estate in Smolensk province, an accident happened. While riding from the mountain on a sled she crashed into a tree and a sharp branch cut off her nose. The nose was sewn in the Smolensk hospital, but the scars remained on her face. So, the girl had to forget about the balls she loved so much.
In 1912-1914 she lived in Paris, where she studied at the private studio of Colarossi and at the same time she attended the academy. Later she traveled to Italy to study sculptures and paintings of the Renaissance.
In the summer of 1914 Vera returned to Moscow and two weeks later the First World War began. After graduating from the courses in nursing, Vera began to work in a military hospital. In the same year she met young military doctor Alexei Zamkov. In 1918, Vera Ignatyevna married Alexei Zamkov.
After the victory in October Revolution, the Leninist Plan for Monumental Propaganda was adopted. Sculptors received orders for the creation of city monuments. In 1918 Mukhina made the project of the monument to the educator and publicist N.I. Novikov. The project was approved, but the mock-up of the monument, made of clay and stored in an unheated workshop, cracked from the cold, so the project remained unfulfilled.
In 1923, Vera together with A.A. Ekster, designed the pavilion of the newspaper Izvestia at the first All-Russian agricultural and artisanal exhibition in Moscow.
In 1925, Vera together with the designer N.P. Lamanova received grand prix for a collection of elegant women’s clothing at the exhibition in Paris.
In 1927 her sculpture Peasant Woman was awarded the 1st prize at an exhibition dedicated to the 10th anniversary of October. Later, the sculpture was bought by the Trieste Museum, and after the Second World War it became the property of the Vatican Museum in Rome.
The most famous sculpture by Mukhina was the 24-meter monument Worker and Collective Farm Girl, which was installed in Paris at the 1937 World Exhibition. The monument was described by the French press as “the greatest work of sculpture of the twentieth century”, and Pablo Picasso wrote: “How beautiful are the Soviet giants against the lilac Parisian sky”.
After the exhibition was closed, the monument was moved to Moscow and, in 1939, it was installed near the northern entrance to the Exhibition of Achievements of the National Economy (VDNKh). The monument became one of the symbols of the new Moscow, and since 1947 this sculpture is the emblem of the film studio Mosfilm.
In 1945, Mukhina was invited to Riga as an expert for the art evaluation of the Freedom Monument and it escaped the demolition.
Vera Mukhina died on October 6, 1953. She was buried in Moscow at the Novodevichy Cemetery.