Abramtsevo Art Colony revival of Russian Folk Art

Russian nesting doll
Russian nesting doll – Matryoshka, a wooden nesting doll like the type thought to have been created originally by Abramtsevo artist Sergey Malyutin, c. 1890.

Abramtsevo Art Colony was located about 40 miles from Moscow, this colony of Russian artists was involved in reviving Russian folk art and national culture for much of its history. It was at its most dynamic in the later 19th century.

Focus on Russian Traditions

Originally a private estate bought in 1843 by Slavophile Russian writer Sergei Aksakov, who met regularly with like-minded Muscovite intellectuals, Abramtsevo was given further nationalist impetus following the acquisition in 1870 of Russian industrialist and art patron Savva Mamontov. He brought together many leading artists and designers, cultivating a strong interest in Russia’s national traditions and cultural heritage, as evidenced by the buildings and decorations of the estate.

Leading figures in Russian Art

Many of those associated with the colony became leading figures in Russian art, their imaginations fuelled by Mamontov’s collection of traditional Russian folk arts. The painters Il’ya Repin and Mikhail Vrubel, both of whom worked with ceramics, were among those living in Abramtsevo during this period. In addition to ceramic figures, Vrubel also designed a traditional tiled stove in the church of Christ the Savior in Abramatsevo, built in mediaeval style by members of the colony.

The Teremok

The artists and designers of Abramtsevo also built the Teremok, a traditional Russian cottage with sculpted wooden furniture. Mamontov also constructed Russia’s first private opera with the artists of the colony set designs. Other artists associated with Abramtsev included Apollinarius and Viktor Vasnetsov, Mikhail Nesterov, Valentin Serov, Vasily Poleno and Yelena Poleno.

Example of Teremok


Woodham, J. (2004). Abramtsevo Art Colony. In A Dictionary of Modern Design. : Oxford University Press. Retrieved 9 Feb. 2021, from https://www-oxfordreference-com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/view/10.1093/acref/9780192800978.001.0001/acref-9780192800978-e-5.

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