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Vasily Dmitrievich Polenov was born in 1844 in St. Petersburg into a family of a senior officer in the Russian Imperial army. His mother was an amateur painter. His art education was shaped by the Imperial Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg, Russia where he studied under Pavel Chistyakov. In 1871, he won a Major Gold Medal from the Academy as well as a travel scholarship, which allowed Vasily to visit Germany, Italy, and France. He was studying works by early 19th century French landscape painters, and painted plein air.
Polenov took part in the Russo-Turkish War (1877-1878) as a war artist. After the war, Polenov joined the Peredvizhniki movement of realist artists, taking part in their mobile exhibitions. Pavel Mikhailovich Tretyakov, Russian art collector and patron, admired Plenov's art and acquired many paintings for his gallery.
Polenov was elected a member of the St.Petersburg Academy of arts in 1893, and named as a People's Artist of the USSR in 1926. For many years, he coached young painters in the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture. His pupils included Abram Arkhipov, Isaac Levitan, Konstantin Korovin, Emily Shanks and Alexandre Golovine. Polenov's former home in Borok has been designated a national art museum, and the village was renamed Polenovo to commemorate his name.
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