SARYAN MARTIROS (16(28).2.1880, Nakhichevan-on-Don (now part of Rostov-on-Don, Russia) – 5.5. 1972 Yerevan), Armenian painter. He was a member of the USSR Art Academy (1974) and Armenian Academy of Sciences (1956).  People’s artist of Armenian SSR (1926) and  USSR (1960). Hero of Socialist Labour (1965). Martiros Saryan was the chairman of Artists' Union of Armenia in 1945-51.  He completed the Nakhichevan School in 1895, then studied at Moscow School of painting, sculpture and architecture (1903). He took lessons from V. Serov and K. Korovin. His paintings composed in 1896-1902 (“Self-portrait”, “Makravank”, “Sophia Miansaryan”, etc.) were of academic significance. In 1901 he visited Yerevan, Ashtarak, Vagharshapat, Sevan, then in 1902 visited Ani. 

In 1904-09 Saryan refused to use academic principles of painting and made new “Saryan” art. During those years Saryan studied European innovative painting at the end of the XIX century and at the beginning of XX century. In 1907 he presented his series of paintings “Fairy-tales and dreams” (“Fairy–tale. At the foot of Mt. Ararat” (1904), “Flowering Mountains” (1905), “Leopards” (1907), “A Hot Day. Running Dog” (1909), etc.) in Blue Rose Exhibition  in Moscow. 

In the second phase of his creative activities (1910) Saryan visited Constantinople (1910), Egypt (1911), Persia (1913). The paintings of this period (“Constantinople. A Street. Midday” (1910), “Bananas” (1911), “A Date Palm” (1911), “Flowers of Kalaki” (1914), “A. Tsaturyan” (1915), “Field flowers” (1918), etc.) are realistic, but they are not simply imitations, these works stylistically develop the principles of his previous works  preserving the imaginary orientation.  Saryan combined monumental aspects of Egyptian fine art, some aspects of Japanese art, as well as decorative colour thinking of Paul Gaugin, the volumetric  principle of Paul Cézanne, the manner of Vincent van Gogh to stress the colour, in this way he created new, unique “Saryan” values.

During the Armenian Genocide Saryan worked in the Moscow committee that was organized to assist Armenians, he helped Armenian refugees in Echmiadzin with H. Tumanyan, G. Levonyan. In 1916 he took part  in the foundation of the union of Armenian Artists, he illustrated  “Armenian Poetry” by V. Brusov with V. Surenyants. In 1919 Saryan founded museum of regional studies in Nakhichevan-on-Don.

Martiros Saryan moved to Armenia in 1921, where the third phase of his creative period began. He was the founder and head of the Armenian State Museum, he took part in the foundation of College of Fine Arts in Yerevan, created the national emblem of Armenian SSR with H. Kojoyan, from 1923 he worked in the committee of preservation of antiquities in Armenia, in the workers’ union of Fine arts, in 1924 he took part in the XIV exhibition of Venice Biennale. In 1928 Saryan’s exhibition was organized in Paris (on the way to homeland most of the pictures were burnt in the ship) .

In 1937 he received Grand Prix for the picture in the pavilion of USSR. In 1923 Saryan Martiros Saryan - Flowers in a Studiodrew patriotic pictures, self-portraits, landscapes, still lifes: “Armenia”, “Mountains. Armenia (1923), “Bank of Zangu” (1930), “Flowers” (1945), portraits of  E. Charents (1923), S. Aghajanyan (1930), T. Toramanyan (1934), S. Malkhasyants (1934), “Part of a Yard” (1953), etc..  During his life he drew many paintings of Ararat valley, landscapes of Sevan, Lori, Zangezur, etc. Saryan portrayed Armenia with “tangible existence”, he expressed the beauty and harmony of national spirit and nature. For his series of paintings “My Homeland” (1952-58) he was awarded Order of  Lenin (1961).

Saryan illustrated  “Poems” by A. Isahakayan (1929), “Fairy tales” by H. Tumanyan (1930), “Land of Nairi” (1933), “ Rostam and Sohrab” by Ferdowsi (1934), etc. The decorations of the operas “Almast” by Spendiaryan (1930,Odessa, 1933, Yerevan, 1939, Moscow, received state prize of USSR in 1941), “Brave  Nazar” by H. Stepanyan (1941), “Davit Bek” (1956, with Kh. Yesayan, A. Mirzoyan), as well as  the decoration of the play “Filumena Marturano” by Eduardo De Filippo (1956, Theater after Vakhtangov inMartiros Saryan - Roses Moscow) were Saryan’s masterpieces.  He created the curtain of the first state theater in Yerevan (1923).

Saryan is the founder of the national school of Armenian painting in the new era. In 1955 Saryan Academy was founded in Aleppo, then in 1967 his museum was opened in Yerevan. His monument stands in Yerevan (1986, sculptor-L. Tokmajyan). Saryan’s paintings are kept in the National Gallery of Armenia and in its branches, in the Tretyakov State Gallery, as well as in other world museums and private collections.

Martiros Saryan had many exhibitions in Saint-Petersburg, Tbilisi, Paris, Yerevan, etc. in 1907.

He received  State prize of Armenian SSR (1965), golden medal of the international exhibition of Brussels (1958). Saryan was chosen as a deputy in the USSR Supreme Soviet.



Source- “Who is Who. The Armenians” encyclopedia, volume II, chief-editor Hovh. Ayvazyan, Yerevan, 2007, p. 431-432.

See also

Martiros Saryan (paintings)


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