Vrubel is a Polish name, but by the time Mikhail was born, three generations of the artist’s ancestors had already lived in Russia, choosing a military path. Michael was left without mother early, the family moved from place to place, following his father, an officer of the Cossack army.
Passion for painting manifested itself early. The father in every possible way encouraged the hobby of the youngest son. He took him to classes in art schools and studios. When it came time to choose a profession, the future master completely obeyed the will of his father, who believed that the future of his son should be connected with the benefits for society. Vrubel enters St. Petersburg University at the Faculty of Law.
The university was graduated, but the future artist was not a lawyer for a single day. With great difficulty he went through all the difficulties of the annual military service and, contrary to his father’s wishes, entered the Academy of Arts.
Vrubel met artists as a law student. Every free hour Michael spent in the Hermitage, studying the work of great masters. In the artistic gathering of St. Petersburg, he long ago became his own, managing to study not only in the classes of the academy, but also in the workshops of his friends.
Vrubel's teachers noted his keen sense of form, color, and ability to convey the most complex texture. His main teacher, Chistyakov, considered Mikhail the most talented of his students. It was this professor who recommended the young master for the restoration of frescoes in a medieval monastery near Kiev.
The Kiev period of Vrubel’s life is closely connected with the study of the canons of Byzantine painting. The artist works with rapture, forgetting about everything in the world. But soon the passion is replaced by throwing. The master then quits work and leaves Kiev, then returns and takes up the restoration. Such throwing could not please the customer. Creative throwing adds financial troubles.
In his work, the artist introduced his understanding of biblical subjects. The church refused the services of Vrubel, and only after his death recognized his innocence and philosophical interpretation of church paintings.
After the Kiev period, the Moscow period begins in the life of the artist. Vrubel’s works are not popular, he has no customers. A happy meeting with the famous philanthropist Savva Morozov allows the artist to partially solve financial problems.
During this period, the master is occupied by a demonic theme. His series of demons is still considered the most famous works of the master, a textbook for the art of modernity at the turn of the XIX and XX centuries.
Despite the undeniable genius and innovation of the works, one can already see in them the signs of that ailment that will interrupt the artist's creative activity.
The patronage of Mamontov allows Vrubel to actively work in his own way, regardless of the tastes of the public. The artist draws up several opera performances, tries his hand at architecture, ceramic plastic. Criticism often spoke of Vrubel's work in a harsh and undeservedly derogatory way.
The XX century brought the master two great tragedies: his father dies, and the long-awaited son is born in a serious defect - a cleft lip. The most severe creative depression is added to personal tragedies.
In 1902, the artist was placed in a psychiatric clinic. His condition is constantly deteriorating and relatives with friends are preparing for the worst. However, Professor Bekhterev’s efforts have been successful. A year later, Vrubel goes on vacation in the Crimea. And although he can’t practically work, there is a hope for recovery. Hope collapsed at one point: Vrubel is losing his son.
Small periods of clarification were replaced by madness ... The last event that the master managed to perceive was his election as an academician in 1905.
For the next five years, the artist only existed, being a regular patient in various clinics.