MATHE Vasily Vasilievich

1856 — 1917

Russian painter and educator, renowned master of reproductive engraving.

Mathe studied engraving techniques under Lavrenty Seryakov (1870-1875) at the Drawing School with the Society for the Encouragement of Arts. He continued his studies under Fyodor Jordan (1875–1880) in the engraving class with the Academy of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg. Upon graduation he was awarded a silver medal and a trip to Paris (1880 – 1884) where he took lessons from Adolf Pannemaker, a wood engraver, and studied etching under Claude Galliard. After his return to Russia, Mathe taught at Baron Stiglitz’ Technical Drawing School (1884-1909) and from 1894 to 1917, was a professor at the engraving chair with the Academy of Fine Arts. From 1911, he taught at the Drawing School with the Society for the Encouragement of Arts. In addition, he taught various engraving techniques to Ilya Repin, Valentin Serov, Isaak Levitan, Boris Kustodiev, Konstantin Somov, Evgeny Lanceret, Lev Bakst and Konstantin Yuon. Among his students were Nikolay Gerardov, Valentin Bystrenin, Ivan Fomin, Anna Ostroumova-Lebedeva, Ivan Pavlov, and Pavel Shillingovsky.

Mathe mainly focused on reproducing original paintings and drawings using engraving techniques. Already in the early years of his creative career, experimenting with colour reproduction, he created a two-colour woodcut on a single plate depicting a piece of Alexander Ivanov’s Yavlenie Khrista narodu [“The Appearance of Christ to the People”]. But he was most successful in black and white xylography. In 1899, Mathe changed from xylography to etching (a total of 278 plates), which, in his opinion, afforded broad opportunities for creative interpretation of the original. The artist was a truly virtuoso etcher perfectly imitating jagged pencil lines, the fluidity of brushstrokes and sketchiness of painting. At the time when photography was virtually displacing reproduction woodcuts, Mathe’s works, conceived as copies, afforded a different way of reproducing – through co-authoring and displaying strong aspects of painting by means of other techniques. This enriched prints in a significant way transforming them into an art in their own right.


All artist`s prints
  • Vladimir Stasov (after portrait by Ilya Repin)Vladimir Stasov (after portrait by Ilya Repin)
  • Pavel Tretyakov (after portrait by Ivan Kramskoi) Pavel Tretyakov (after portrait by Ivan Kramskoi)
  • Portrait of the Princess Eugenia von OldenburgPortrait of the Princess Eugenia von Oldenburg
  • Portrait of Sergei ShubinskyPortrait of Sergei Shubinsky
  • Portrait of Fyodor SokolovPortrait of Fyodor Sokolov