He was born on May 15, 1848 in the village of Lopyal, Vyatka province. The father of the future artist - Mikhail Vasnievich Vasnetsov was a hereditary priest. Two years after the birth of Victor, the priest received a parish in the village of Ryabovo, located in the same district. In the future, the childhood of the painter passed there. The village priest's family, like other villagers, lived poorly and simply. Victor had five brothers, all together helping his father run the household since their mother died too early.
Father Mikhail, a well-educated person, tried to give all his children a versatile education. He taught them literacy and numeracy, and also tried to develop an inquiring mind and observation in them. The Vasnetsovs loved reading scientific journals, woodcarving and painting with watercolors.
The harsh nature of the harsh Vyatka region, a separate way of life, folk beliefs, ancient traditions, fairy tales and village songs formed both the life and artistic worldview of the future artist. Victor and his brother Apollinarius (who was also engaged in painting) absorbed this magnificent atmosphere of "traditions of the old days", which later became the main feature of their work.
According to the established family tradition, all sons in the Vasnetsov family were obliged to continue the work of their ancestors and become priests. Therefore, in 1858, Mikhail Vasilievich sent his eldest son, Victor, to a religious school, which he graduated in 1862, after which he transferred to the class of the Vyatka Theological Faculty.
There he studied iconography in addition to scripture. Lectures in church painting were given to seminars by artist NA Chernyshev, who has an icon painting workshop in Vyatka. Vasnetsov spent a lot of time with his teacher, visited the city museum and made many sketches. Later, in the house of Chernyshev, he met with the exiled Polish artist Elviro Andriolli, who became a true friend and mentor to the young Victor. Under his leadership, Vasnetsov wrote his first works.
He was also his official assistant, participating in the painting of the temple built in Vyatka. Andriolli told the young man that St. Petersburg, where many famous Russian painters came out. Petersburg Academy of Arts. Dreaming of painting, Vasnetsov decided to try his luck and pass the entrance exams to this educational institution.
Vasnetsov did not have money to travel to the capital, and then Andriolli, with the help of his fellow countryman, Professor Krasinsky, organized a lottery for wealthy citizens, in which two amateur young talents were sold. So, having received some money, the young man left the penultimate course at the seminary and, with the blessing of Mikhail Vasilievich and the rector, went to Petersburg.
In the summer of next year, Vasnetsov, confident in his own skills, again went to take the entrance exams at the Academy of Arts. Imagine how surprised she was when she learned last year that the institution had enrolled its students! For the first year of work, Viktor received a well-deserved award - a silver medal.
The young man became close friends with young talented artists VD Polenov, AI Kuindzhi, VI Surikov and others. He successfully coped with all the tasks and was noted for his student work by the famous professor PP Chistyakov. Already during his studies, Vasnetsov received good orders from publishers to make illustrations for various works: everyday stories, alphabets and fairy tales.
Fate forced Victor to leave the academy for a while. In 1870, the artist's father passed away, and he had to go to Ryabovo to take care of his brothers. Victor returned to the capital not alone, but with his younger brother Apollinaris.
Arriving in Paris almost without money, but supported by other artists, Viktor Mikhailovich began to meticulously study the Louvre collection and to follow the impressionist discoveries of young French painters.
The artist received an order from the ethnographer VA Dashkov, the former director of the Moscow Folk and Rumyantsev Museum, to create a series of portraits of famous Russian figures from preserved historical engravings. Among the images written by the master were such historical figures as Patriarch Germogen II, the teacher of Peter I NM Zotov, Prince DM Pozharsky and F. Ya. Lefort.
Thanks to this work, Viktor Mikhailovich was increasingly immersed in the atmosphere of tradition and antiquity. He had the opportunity to touch historical ruins, plunge into the unusual atmosphere of past centuries.
Not so positive reaction to the work “Igor Svyatoslavich and After the Polovtsy War” could not force the master to abandon the idea of creating a series of historical epic paintings. The artist's work was increasingly fascinated by archaeological discoveries, antiquity and national folklore. The work “Carpet plane” (1880, Nizhny Novgorod Art Museum), created for the work of SI Mamontov, was written on the subject of a fairy tale and supported talented individuals in every possible way.
The motifs of Russian and Arabian fairy tales are wonderfully intertwined in the work. On a bright oriental carpet covered with old Russian patterns, Ivan Tsarevich proudly sweeps dense forests, swamps and rivers, and illuminates his path with a giant lantern. This is an image of a steam locomotive invented by foreigners and used to illuminate and pave the path of a Russian person along the usual off-road. Such a comparison is not accidental: at that time, Mamontov oversaw the construction and operation of the northern and southern lines of Russian railways.
At the same time, in 1882, Vasnetsov, enthusiastically studying domestic history and folklore, received a new order for the development and construction of a picturesque frieze for the construction of the Moscow Historical Museum. AS Uvarov, the director and head of construction of the Moscow Archaeological Society, suggested that the painter exhibit in a sketch the characteristic occupations of a primitive man.
Vasnetsov immediately sought advice from anthropologists and ethnographers. Soon, a stone age ax and a real mammoth tusk appeared in his workshop. As models of primitive people, the artist was posed by his younger colleagues VA Serov and KA Korovin, who also often visited Mamontov.
The brilliant painter, decorator, illustrator and architect Viktor Mikhailovich Vasnetsov passed away in his house in Moscow on July 23, 1926. He is buried in Vvedensky cemetery, and the works he created became a national treasure, reflecting the heroism and depth of soul of our people.