Dmitry Zhilov, the 1910s

On behalf of the editor
Our website was addressed by Marina Dmitrievna Bernatskaya, the daughter of the Russian artist and sculptor D.S. Zhilov, graduator of the art school in 1916 in Kazan, the pupil in painting of N.I. Feshin. In the 50s years of the previous century Dmitry Stepanovich Zhilov worked together with A.P. Kibalnikov in the art studios of the All-Union Agricultural Exhibition. In every possible way he helped the family of Kibalnikov, who had just moved to Moscow, made friends with Aleksandr Pavlovich and Aleksandra Grigoryevna Kibalnikovs.

Letter of A.G. Kibalnikova from Saratov to Moscow

The destiny of the talented artist and sculptor was not easy, but he had never stopped creating: drawing, sculpturing and writing. Nowadays his daughter and heiress owns the collection of painting and graphic works of the artist – the representative of the famous “Feshin’s school” which is worth to be introduced to the widest range of the modern audience. But the audience should be, without any doubt, educated and mature, interested in the history of the native fine art and understand the value of the true high professionalism.

We are glad to help Marina Dmitrievna Bernatskaya to keep the memory of her father – a remarkable Russian artist and sculptor Dmitry Stepanovich Zhilov.

Artist Margarita Siourina, editor of the website «SCULPTOR ALEKSANDR KIBALNIKOV»

The sculpture model to V.V. Mayakovsky; this photo was presented to D.S. Zhilov by A.P. Kibalnikov

Reverse side of the photo with sculpture model to V.V. Mayakovsky with a donative signature of A.P. Kibalnikov

Monument to I.V. Michurin at VDNKh. Author Dmitry Stepanovich Zhilov


Zhilov Dmitry Stepanovich

Zhilov Dmitry Stepanovich was born on the 21st of October in 1891 in the family of a peasant in the village of Bazarny Karbulak of NIzhnevolzhskaya where he finished secondary two-years school. From 1910 till 1911 he studied in Volsk Teachers Seminary. In autumn 1911 he entered Kazan art school where he was a capable pupil. At school Dmitry Zhilov studied painting under N.I. Feshin and sculpture - under V.S. Bogatyrev.

Kazan Art school

In a sculptural class-room

While studying at school during the first two years he received scholarship from Zemstvo, and during the last two years of studying he earned his living by teaching drawing at college for deaf-and-dumb people, gave private lessons, painted signs and scenery for theatres. This is a extract from his letter written in September 1914: "…I paint scenery with Ben'kov at a city theatre…the four of us work: give full points - the press extols our scenery".

This is another extract from the letter of 1915: "… I dropped everything and began to work, Two works have just made after Christmas-tide… and got the first category for both of them…and first of all for the portrait. Now I work at colours and drawing for the portrait and this makes me infinitely happy… Before the Easter I exhibited the works of all the classes, except the model (sculpture) class and received the first category for all the works. Received the first premium (25 roubles) for the competitive sketch for sculpture "Second Patriotic War" (the First world War is meant, which is second after the Patriotic War 1812). In general I also painted a lot and successfully – got the first category in painting and drawing as well. Now I paint portraits gradually."

His first two art works - sculptural portraits of two artists Stashis and Popov - were exhibited at the Peredvizhnik exhibition in 1916 in Kazan. In 1916 Dmitry Zhilov successfully finished two faculties of Kazan art school – sculpture and painting. He got excellent grades for all art subjects.

Dmitry Zhilov, 1913-1916, Kazan

Sculptural portrait by D. Zhilov, Kazan period

Sculptural portrait by D. Zhilov, Kazan period

Having finished the art school he was drafted into the army, later in December 1916 he was sent to warrant officers' school in Kiev. Upon demobilization in 1918 Dmitry Stepanovich taught at school of the 2nd level and was the manager of art section of Bazarno-Karbulaksky office of the Union of Education Workers. In 1923 he was sent by board of the Saratov Cultural Department of Labour Union of Education Workers to Moscow Highest Art Workshops to continue his education. By that time Dmitry Stepanovich already had his own family, children, and taking into consideration the current situation in the country – ruin, hunger, especially in Volga region, he was compelled to give up creating. In 1923 he entered agronomical faculty of the Saratov agricultural institute, which he graduated from in 1927. He worked as agronomist, taught at college. In autumn 1931 he was sent to post-graduate study to Moscow. In 1931-193 he was the graduate student of All-Union Institute of Animal Husbandry, defended the dissertation and received degree of Candidate of Biology. In May, 1933 D. S. Zhilov was enlisted as the senior research associate of the Institute where worked till 1938.

All these years, pursuing science, Dmitry Stepanovich also kept studying art: each free minute he took a pencil or a brush, did sketches, painted portraits; he was constantly  interested in art life, achievements in different areas of art, supported friendly relations with companions-artists, such as G. Kozlov, A. Grigoriev, N. Khristenko. In 1938 when the All-Union Agricultural Exhibition opened, Dmitry Stepanovich passed to work as a sculptor in Architectural and Art Workshops at Management of the All-Union Agricutural Exhibition. He executed a number of creative works which were exhibited in 1939-41 at the All-Union Alricultural Exhibition. All those works were accepted with an excellent assessment by the Art Council of the exhibition. The war interrupted creative plans of the artist.

During the Great Patriotic War in 1941-1943 Dmitry Stepanovich was directed by the People's commissar of agriculture of the USSR to work in a front strip as commissioner for livestock evacuation of the Crimea and the Northern Caucasus. He participated in military operations, was awarded medals: "For defense of the Caucasus" and "For valorous work during the Great Patriotic War".

Aleksandr Kibalnikov and Dmitry Zhilov at the studios of the All-Union Agricultural Exhibition

Since the end of 1944 he again worked as a sculptor at the All-Union Agricultural Exhibition. In 1948 D. S. Zhilov according to the recommendation of sculptors S. Merkurov and V. Mukhina and the director of the All-Union Agricultural Exhibition and the academician N. Tsitsin was accepted as the member of the Moscow Union of Artists. In the 50s of the last century Dmitry Stepanovich Zhilov worked at the All-Union Agricultural Exhibition with the sculptor Alexander Pavlovich Kibalnikov who had just moved to Moscow from Saratov. Dmitry Stepanovich was friends with Kibalnikov' family during that period.

In 1954 on a monument dedicated to I.V. Michurin and created by Dmitry Stepanovich Zhilov was opened at VSHV. This monument is at VDNKh nowadays. In 1957 D. S. Zhilov's self-portrait made of wood was exhibited at the All-Union Art Exhibition at the Manezh in Moscow.

D.S. Zhilov working at the sculpture model dedicated to I.V. Michurin

Sketch of the monument “The Conquerors of the North” for Komi ASSR

Self-portrait, the middle of the 1950s, wood, 77x50

The last work, which Dmitry Stepanovich worked at, was a sketch of the monument  “The Conquerors of the North” for Komi ASSR. It was approved and accepted by the Arts Council but a sudden death on the 7th of January 1959 did not allow to complete that creative idea of the sculptor.

Unfortunately, most of his sculptural works were not saved and painting works were lost. Nevertheless, despite difficult life circumstances those works which were managed to be saved and gathered, give an idea about Dmitry Stepanovich Zhilov as a talented and interesting artist of Feshin’s school.

Marina Dmitrievna Bernatskaya, the artist's daughter

Dmitry Stepanovich Zhilov at work, the 1950s

Marina Dmitrievna Bernatskaya

Born in Moscow in 1946. Parents: father – Zhilov Dmitry Stepanovich, sculptor, worked at All-Union Agricultural Exhibition, mother – Gerasimova Anna Aleksandrovna graduated from Timiryazev Agricultural Academy, worked as a zootechnician at the Exhibition of Economic Achievements (VDNKh).

In 1973 M.D. Bernatskaya graduated from the art-graphic faculty of Moscow State Distance Learning Pedagogical Institute, where she defended the diploma on fine arts’ history at the theme “Art and Pedagogical Activity of N.I.Feshin”; worked as art decorator first at the Production and Decorative Enterprise at VDNKh, later worked at Decorative Art Enterprise. In 1997 for reasons of health she received disability and retired.

Her husband – Bernatsky Nikolay Aleekseevich, in 1962 graduated from the Institute of Foreign Languages, was an enterpreter, teacher, linguist, spoke more than 12 European languages. In 1983 with the blessing of her spiritual ancestor he started to work in a church, worked as an altar man in different churches of Moscow. He died suddenly in 1996.

Marina Dmitrievna and Nikolay Alekseevich Bernatskys grew up five children and twenty one grandchildren.

Sketch of a sculptural compostiion "Peasants", author Dmitry Zhilov



The material about Dmitry Zhilov at the official website of the artist Margarita Siourina: