Elisaveta Merkuryevna Bem (Elisabeth Bohm ) is an outstanding Russian artist, famous for creating postcards and most successful author of postcards of the 19th century. Elisaveta Bem is also known for creating a technique of lithoprint Silhouettes, and is also awarded creator of art work in glass, ceramics and metal.
She was fond of drawing form the early age put in small drawings of dolls and animals with the letters to her Petersburg friends. Elisaveta writes that this attracted the attention of people of art to her small works and advised to study.
It has to be noted that the attitude to women's education in the second half of the 19th century changed. Girls from aristocratic families were encouraged to study art and music. Elisaveta's parents did not mind her desire to study art, so at the age of 14 she entered the School of Painting at the Society for Promotion of Artists there she studied under Ivan Kramskoi and Pavel Chistyakov. Elisaveta graduated with the Large Silver Medal in1865. She then continued her art education through private lessons from Kramskoi. She studied further at the Imperial Academy of Arts, receiving a Large Encouragement Medal for animal paintings.
In 1867 Elisabeth married a prominent Russian-Hungarian violinist Ludwig Bohm, professor of the Saint Petersburg Conservatory. This was a happy marriage that lasted of life time.
Elisaveta was becoming successful and known, her art work was gaining popularity and awards at various exhibitions. She did a great deal of work in water colors and became known for illustrating children books published by the Folk Library. As a result of her work there she met famed writer Leo Tolstoy.
Elisaveta Bem also experimented with glass and ceramics. From the 1870th she started to experiment in the technique of lithoprint silhouettes, which she factually created. She did not cut out silhouettes from black paper, which had been a wide spread technique, but drew on the stone and then made printing copies. This let make the tiny details like lace on the clothes, grass stems, animal's fur and curls on the children's heads visible on the silhouettes and added special charm and expressiveness to her works.
From 1875 Elisaveta Bem started to publish the whole albums of silhouettes which were very popular in tsarist Russia and soon gained international recognition. For her silhouettes, etchings and works of glass she received medals of the World Fairs in Chicago of 1893, Paris of 1900, Munich of 1902 and Milan of 1906.
The main theme of Bem Silhouettes were the children, whom she expressed with touching naivety in her own sentimental style. Her works were welcomed with delight and admiration even by the prominent artists of that time. Arts critics wrote that she took on the Russian children's world; her silhouettes expressed the soul, characters and moods, grace and reaks of children. Totally 14 albums of Bem's Silhouettes were published in several editions both in Russia and abroad.
Elisaveta Bem is considered to be the author of one of the first Russian comic strip. Her book illustrating how children decided to bake a pie, which was later eaten by a cat and a dog getting underfoot was published in 1880 under the same title "Pirog" ("A pie").
Elisaveta Bem is known as a as an illustrator of children's magazines, books by Turgenev, Krylov. She illustrated Old Cyrillic alphabet creating the true masterpiece.Still she is mostly known as one of the most prominent Russian authors of postcards. Elisaveta Bem created more than 350 postcards that ere published in thousands editions. Bem was the most reprinted author of postcards in the Russian empire Her water-color were purchased by Pavel Tretiakov, and members of Royal family which was the certain recognition of an artist.
Elisabeth Bohm died in 1914. However the interest to her art works is still alive. Her postcards are hunted for by the completists, the exhibitions of her works regularly take place in Russia.
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