SURENYANTS VARDGES (27.2 (10.3).1860, Akhaltsikhe-6.4.1921, Yalta (Crimea), buried in the Armenian church yard), an artist, art theorist, translator. He and his family moved to Simferopol in 1868. He studied in Lazarev Institute of Oriental Languages (1870-75), in the department of Architecture of Moscow Art School (1875-78), and then he studied in the departments of Architecture (1879) and Painting (1880-85) of Academy of Fine Arts (Munich). In 1881 he travelled to Italy, in St. Lazarus island he studied Armenian miniatures. In 1885-87 he left for Persia with the expedition group headed by the professor of Saint-Petersburg University V. A. Zhukovski. With this expedition group he was in Tabriz, Teheran, Shiraz, Mazandaran, and several months he stayed in Spahan.

In 1890-91 he delivered painting and general history of art in Gevorkian Seminary (Echmiadzin). From 1892 he actively took part in the artistic, theatrical and social life ofKnight-woman. National Gallery of Armenia. Moscow, Saint-Petersburg, Tiflis, and Baku. He visited Ani, Sevan and got acquainted with historical monuments, in the depository of Echmiadzin he got acquainted with Armenian illustrated manuscripts. In 1897-98 he travelled to France, Spain. In these countries he made some sketches («Alhambra»«The church in Saint-Germain Paris»). In 1905-15 he lived in Saint-Petersburg. In 1915 he left for Tiflis, Echmiadzin, he made various portrait sketches of refugees.

He founded The Union of Armenian Artists with Y. Tadevosyan, M. Saryan, P. Terlemezyan  in 1916 (Tiflis). He and M. Saryan illustrated «Armenian Poetry» by V. Brusov (1916). From 1917 he worked on frescoes of Armenian Church of Yalta.

Salome. National Gallery of ArmeniaIn his paintings Surenyants portrayed the history of Armenian nation; he made series of pictures depicting Armenian massacres.

Vardges Surenyants founded the historical genre of Armenian painting. He was also a portrait-painter, one of the greatest graphic artists and the first scene-painter in eastern Armenian fine arts. His «The abandoned» was  something new in Armenian fine art.

In 1894 Surenyants participated in the exhibition of Peredvizhniks. 

«Desecrated Shrine» (1895) depicts barbaric treatment of Turkish Government against the lives and culture of Armenian nation.

«Hripsime monastery near Echmiadzin» depicts the cruel fate and the glorious past of the Armenian nation. «Semiramis by the body of Ara the Beautiful» (1899) is another picture, which depicts the past of the Armenian nation. 

«Women leaving the church at Ani»  (1905), «Portrait of KhrimianDesecrated Shrine. National Gallery of Armenia Hayrik» (1906), «Salome» (1907), «The Return of Queen Zabel»«Knight-woman» (1909), portrait of A. G. Idelson, «Firdousi reading Shannameh to Shah Mahmud Ghaznavi» (1913) are remarkable examples of Armenian Fine Art.

Vardges Surenyants illustrated «Fountain of Bakhchisarai» by Pushkin (1899). He also illustrated «The Birthday of the Infanta» by Oscar Wilde (1909), «Cinderella» and  Armenian fairy-tales «Brother Lamb»«Wise Snake» (1906-14).

He was the scene painter of the opera «The Demon» by A. Rubinstein (1901), «The blind»«Interior»«Intruder»by M. Maeterlinck (1904), «The seagull» by A. Chekhov.

Surenyants knew Russian, Persian, Spanish, English, German, Italian, French, Turkish languages. He translated «Richard III» (he sent it to P. Adamyan in1898), «Midsummer night’s dream», as well as some of the sonnets by Shakespeare, etc.

Refugee girl. National Gallery of ArmeniaVardges Surenyants was also author of some articles, which were published in newspapers and magazines. 

He was considered to be one of intellectuals of his time due to his academic education and deep knowledge of Armenian and world culture.

Surenyants made his paintings with subtle colours, his paintings expressed Armenian national artistic and ideological mentality.

His «Salome» was exhibited at the exhibition dedicated to the 100th anniversary of Academy of Fine Arts (Munich) in 1912, and at Universal Exhibition of Venice.

He had exhibitions in Baku (1901) and in Yerevan (1931, 1960, posthumously).


Source - Encyclopedia «Who is who. The Armenians», volume 2, chief editor H. Ayvazyan,  Yerevan 2007, p.-510-511 (in Armenian).

 See also

Vardges Surenyants (Paintings)


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