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Iakovlev, Mikhail Nikolaevich

Яковлев, Михаил Николаевич

Born December 14, 1880, Mikhailov, Ryazan Province, Imperial Russia; died May 15, 1942, Tbilisi, Georgian SSR

began his artistic studies at workshops of the Moscow Stroganov School for Technical Drawing but did not complete a degree. Two years later, Iakovlev applied to the Penza Art School and studied under the guidance Konstantin Apollonovich Savitskii, a Russian realist painter and a leader of the peredvizhniki (wanderers) art movement. Leaving Penza, he enrolled in the art school of Princess Maria Klavdievna Tenisheva in St. Petersburg. Iakovlev studied there with the renowned Russian artist Il’ia Repin, and although Repin left the school, Iakovlev and his classmates organized their own studio where they continued to develop their skills. From 1905 to 1906, the artist illustrated for the satirical magazines Maski (Masks), Zriteli (Spectator) and Shersheni (Hornet).

Mikhail Iakovlev also worked in theatrical design at the Krivoe Zerkaloa (Crooked Mirror), a leading St. Petersburg cabaret-style theater that was ultimately closed by the Soviets in the 1930s. It was at the Crooked Mirror where Iakovlev’s talent was noticed by Konstantin Korovin, (the Russian Impressionist painter), who invited him to work at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow.

In St. Petersburg in 1908, Iakovlev took part in the exhibition of the Venok (Wreath) youth association. He joined the Union of Russian Artists in 1911 and became a regular participant in their exhibitions. After the Russian Revolution of 1917, Iakovlev was appointed a member of the Department for Museums and its Protection of Monuments of Art and Antiquities of the People's Commissariat of Education. During this period, he also was a member of the Izograf consortium of Moscow artists.

Due to failing health, Iakovlev emigrated to Leipzig, Germany for treatment but later moved to Munich, and then to Paris. Well received in Europe, Iakovlev held solo exhibitions in Ghent, Antwerp, Brussels and Liege. In 1926 he participated in the Paris Salon des Indépendants, exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists. In 1937, he exhibited at the Palace of the Soviet Embassy in Paris.

Returning to Moscow in 1937, Iakovlev continued to work in the Soviet art world. He held what would be his final in-person solo exhibition in March 1941 in Moscow. During World War II, the artist was evacuated to Tbilisi, Georgian SSR where he died. In May 1942, a posthumous exhibition of his work was held at the State Art Gallery of the Georgian SSR.


Senelick, L. (2015). Historical Dictionary of Russian Theater. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield. (p. 103, bio on the Crooked Mirror)
Milner, J. (1993). A dictionary of Russian and Soviet artists 1420-1970. Woodbridge: Antique Collectors' Club. (Ia.M cited as initials for Iakovlev, Mikhail) (artist bio) (bio, Salon des Indépendants)