Bee Yard, signed in Cyrillic "Zina Lanceray" and dated 1900, further inscribed in Cyrillic on the reverse.
Pencil and watercolour on paper, 23.5 by 31.5 cm
This splendid early watercolour by Zinaida Serebriakova dates from 1900, a year before she entered the painting and drawing studio of Princess Maria Tenisheva. Zina Lanceray (as she was then) was only 15 years old. At that time the girl sometimes took lessons from her uncle, the famous watercolourist Albert Nikolaevich Benois. She trusted him implicitly, and he kept a constant eye on the young Serebriakova’s work, zealously monitoring her success. In his time he also had a considerable influence on the artistic development of his younger brother Alexander, later a well-known member of the World of Art movement. So it comes as no surprise that the watercolour technique of Bee Yard is similar in method to the work of Albert Benois. However, Serebriakova’s striving for stylistic “emancipation” and more freedom in composition is already clearly seen in this touching early work.