A magical kingdom, a fantasy land, or simply home to a painter who loved Russian folklore, artist Viktor Vasnetsov's house is a place where fairytales come to life.
Born in 1848, Vasnetsov was the son of a village priest. He studied art in St. Petersburg, and his early works were anything but fairytale-inspired, depicting contemporary life until the late 1870s. At that time, Vasnetsov began illustrating Russian folk tales, going on to become a key figure in the Russian Revival movement – a 19th century style based on renewed interest in traditional Russian architecture.
Vasnetsov’s Moscow home was designed by the painter himself, who lived there with his wife and children from 1894 until his death in 1926. It was his dream home, where he found refuge from the hustle and bustle of the city and drew inspiration for his works.
Now surrounded by Soviet apartment blocks, it looks like a medieval Russian palace made entirely of wood, with quaint ornaments and arched windows. The interiors are typical of Moscow homes of the late 19th century – the ground floor has all the family rooms as well as the dining and drawing rooms. Now a museum, it displays some 25,000 pieces: paintings, drawings and personal belongings, including the original wooden furniture – also designed by Vasnetsov – and a tiled stove.
The heart of the house is on the first floor – in the studio where Vasnetsov created some of his most famous ceiling-high paintings. He nicknamed them “a poem of seven fairytales,” inspired by some of Russia’s most well-known folk tales.
A shelter to terrifying dragons, valiant warriors, beautiful princesses and mythical creatures, the house seems to be filled with magic. Early on, Vasnetsov was criticized for his fantastic style, with some of the biggest art-lovers of the time refusing to buy his works. Yet, in the 1880s he gained popularity and was even commissioned to do frescoes for the Russian Orthodox Church.
A true gem of Russian architecture, the Vasnetsov Museum is the place to go if you want to lose yourself in a fairytale.