Zinaida Serebriakova – House of Cards (1919)

Born into a family of artists and intellectuals, Zinaida Serebriakova (1884 – 1967) was a Ukrainian painter that was bound to follow into her relatives’ footsteps. Her own uncle, Alexandre Benois, was a well-established painter that founded the art group Mir Isskustva. Serebriakova lived a happy, content life, gaining recognition throughout the Russian Empire for her talent, until the break of the October 1917 revolution.

In 1919 her life suddenly took a turn for the worse. Her husband was arrested and died, leaving her behind with four children and a sick mother. Later that same year the family estate Neskuchnoye, where she had created most of her early works, was looted and burned, forcing her to move back to St. Petersburg in her grandfather’s apartment.

It was then when Serebriakova produced her saddest and most tragic painting, a depiction of her children playing in House of Cards (1919). The abundance of blues used reinforces the sadness of the scene. The children should be happy playing, but they have assumed the seriousness of adults, as if all grown up, looking down solemnly at the house of cards that might crash at any second. Nothing could be taken for granted anymore, in Zinaida Serebriakova’s eyes.


Zinaida Serebriakova - House of Cards
Zinaida Serebriakova – House of Cards (1919)

7 Comments Add yours

  1. I am glad that you started the series with a female painter.
    All artists have tragic lives or well most of them do.:(

    Liked by 1 person

    1. artschaft says:

      Hey, you read them all! Do you have any favourites?

      Tragedy has been on my mind lately. There is a lot of sadness either behind the artworks I choose or in the artists’ lives. It dawned on me however that we can’t escape suffering, that it’s natural to find pain and grief in others’ lives once you look closer.

      … that being said, I still need to find some happier paintings.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I give time between readings. So, I started with this one as it seemed to be the first entry. I have a fondness for the Arabic Story teller. I always loved the Arabian Nights and that post/painting is reminiscent of that . So as of now, that one seems to be my favorite.

        We cannot escape suffering, No. But maybe we can make something out of it. A transformation of the self leading to an expression that surprises us. ( Hoping that the suffering doesn’t drown is though) To an empathetic heart there is suffering enough in this world. He/She cannot escape it.

        I wonder how Happy Paintings look like ? 🙂
        I will wait for those.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I like Zinaida Serebriakova
    but I have never noticed this painting of her. You have the ability to find unfamiliar pictures to everybody and reveal the picture
    Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gabriela says:

      Thanks, Julia! I really like Serebriakova’s works too and was fascinated by the life she led and the obstacles she had to overcome.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I like the sense of suspension in this painting – indeed a house of cards about to come tumbling down (also notice how the children’s heads are suspended above a sea of blue), both like childhood and the politics of an era. Thank you for sharing. I hadn’t seen this artist’s work before.

    Liked by 1 person

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