The life-asserting power and beauty of images created by Zinaida Serebriakova ascend to the best traditions of Russian and West European realistic art; whereas her pure and crystal-clear talent was inherited from the famous artistic dynasty of the Lanceray-Benois that she belonged to. Her all-embracing love of art and her native land with its infinite expanses and simple people from times immemorial living and working on it, determined the spiritual essence of the creative path of this outstanding artist.
Zinaida Serebriakova came from a talented artistic family, her father being the sculptor Evgeny Lanceray and her uncle the Ballets Russes designer Alexander Benois. She began to draw at a very early age selecting simple subjects from daily life surrounding her, such as her family and the landscape in her native village of Neskuchnoye. She first came to prominence in 1910 with the exhibition of her celebrated self portrait Woman at the Mirror (State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow).
After emigrating to Paris in the 1920s, she earned a living painting society portraits, but spent much of her free time exploring subjects she had first discovered in Russia. She continued to paint her children into adulthood, including affectionate studies of her daughters, Catherine and Tatiana, often posing in the nude. She also painted other female models, reclining in her studio with patterned wraps and decorative drapes. Such nude studies were informal, often highly erotic, characterised by a spontaneous, but firm handling of line.
Her daughter Catherine accounts for the success of her mother's nude studies, probably the most immediate and intimate images of the female body in Russian art. She writes "The female nude was mother's favourite subject. While she was in Russia young peasant women would pose for her. In Paris her friends would come over to her studio, drink a cup of tea, then they would stay and pose for her. They were not the professional models that you might find in Montparnasse and maybe this is the reason why they are so natural and graceful."