Vera Mukhina

Soviet sculptor

130th birthday
1st of July, 1889

"Our art should be popular"

June 19 (July 1) 1889 - October 6, 1953
- Soviet sculptor. People's Artist of the USSR (1943). Full member of the Academy of Arts of the USSR (1947). From 1947 to 1953 -
Member of the Presidium of the Academy of Arts of the USSR.

    Stalin Prizes

  • first class (1941) - for the sculptural group "Worker and Collective Farm Girl" at the Agricultural Exhibition (1937);

    second class (1943) - a sculptural portraits of Colonels BA Yusupov and IL Khizhnyak (1942);

    first class (1946) - a sculptural portrait of Krylov;

    second class (1951) - for the sculptural group "We demand peace!" (Et al);

    first class (1952) - a monument to Maxim Gorky in Moscow;

    • People's Artist of the USSR (1943);

    • Order of the Red Banner of Labour (1938);

    • Order of the Badge of Honour (1945);

    • Order "Citizenship Award" (Bulgaria)

    • One of streets in the town Klin, Moscow Oblast in honor of sculptor named Vera Мukhina Street.

    • The Museum of Vera Mukhina was established in Feodosiya, Crimea, Ukraine in 1985. The museum sanctified to childhood, to youth and to artwork of famous sculptor.

      The Stalin Prize, the highest civilian award of the Soviet Union, was created in 1941 to honor outstanding achievements in the scientific, literary, artistic or musical fields. Frequently, the prize for individual works of an artist was awarded. For the selection of the winners there was a commission for the awarding of the Stalin Prize.

Muhkina's other work includes:

  • 1927 Peasant Woman, freestanding bronze, now at the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow

  • the 1934 Fertility and 1939 Bread, both now standing in Moscow's Friendship Park

  • three cornice figures on the pediment of the Winter Theater in Sochi, 1937

  • the monumental group We Demand Peace, 1950-1951 (Mukhina served as coordinator of other sculptors and contributor; her figure is the mourning mother)

  • the 1952 Maxim Gorky Monument in Nizhny Novgorod

  • the statue of Tchaikovsky in front of the Moscow Conservatory

  • the finial figure of Mir ("Peace"), with armillary sphere and dove, for the 1954 Stalingrad Planetarium



Vera Mukhina

Riga-born Vera Mukhina was one of the world’s greatest sculptors and a leading proponent of Socialist realism. Her best-known work is ‘Worker and Kolkhoz Woman,’ which is known as the “ideal” and “symbol” of the Soviet epoch. The iconic sculpture, made from stainless steel, shows a group of two figures with a sickle and a hammer raised over their heads.































Foto-Collection (Russian)






































A biographical note

While working as a nurse, she met her future husband Aleksey Zamkov. He was sick with typhus, and she had to take care of him. They fell in love and were married four years later. Aleksey was a very good surgeon and a prominent specialist in endocrinology. By the early 1930s her life was more-or-less stable. She worked and taught at the Art Academy, creating sculpture projects of her famous Revolution, Peasant Woman and some known portraits of famous people, among them ballerina Semyonova and many others.

Meanwhile the scientific work of her husband was thwarted; he was persecuted and the couple decided to go abroad. In Kharkov they were removed from the train and brought back to Moscow. In three months the couple and their son Vsevolod were forced to move to Voronezh. It was, however, time Vera took to go on with her work. 

 Worlds Fair in Paris

In 1936 the Soviet Union was preparing for the World Exhibition in Paris, which was to be held there the following year. Architect Iofan, responsible for the design and construction of the Soviet exhibition hall, suggested it be decorated by a tall sculpture with the Soviet national emblem – the hammer and sickle. Mukhina's project won in the contest so she had to prepare a 25-meter-long and 75-ton copy of it to place on top of the building. The sculpture was so big it had to be cut into almost a hundred pieces. Today a replica of it (the original was damaged while transported back from Paris) is placed in front of the Russian Exhibition Center.

The sculpture was removed for restoration in the autumn of 2003 and its return was further deferred until November 28, 2009. The restored statue uses a new pavilion as its pedestal, increasing its total height from 34.5 meters (old pedestal was 10 meters tall) to 60 meters. The new pavilion is 34.5 meters tall plus 24.5 meters of the statue’s own height. In cinema, Worker and Peasant Woman was chosen in 1947 to serve as the logo for the film studio Mosfilm

War and post-war period

The inexhaustible energy which helped Mukhina use her talent in all areas of her art, including managerial abilities, defined her creative work through her whole life. She was also good at

teaching and devoted much of her time to her students. The harsh, repressive year of 1938 left her husband without his research laboratory and once again he found himself under pressure. In 1942 he died. Mukhina was heartbroken.

Mukhina’s works of the period leading up to the Great Patriotic War of 1941–1945 included a monument to Maksim Gorky, permeated with the revolutionary and romantic spirit of the writer’s early works. After the war, Mukhina again took up monumental sculpture. Seeking to enrich the artistic vocabulary of Soviet art, Mukhina often presented her theories on sculpture, experimented with new materials, and developed a technique of polychromatic sculpture. She decorated exhibitions, made industrial drawings, and designed clothes, textiles, porcelain and theatrical costumes for the Vakhtangov Theater in Moscow. Mukhina was among the initiators of the movement to improve Soviet artistic glassware and worked in this field from 1938 to 1953.

She died at 64 and was buried with her husband on Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow. On the tomb’s stone there are the words of Mukhina’s husband “I did all I could for people” and under these words the words of Vera Mukhina “I did too”.

* * *


Vera Ignatievna Mukhina was born in Riga on 19 June (1 July) 1889 into a merchant’s family. She spent her childhood and youth years (from1892 to1904) in the seaside city of Theodosia. There the future artist took her first drawing and painting lessons. After finishing classical school she moved to Moscow where she studied in the studio of the famous landscape painter K. Yuon (1909-11), and later shifted to the less academical I. Mashkov(1911-12). Vera Mukhina completed her education in Paris – in the Fine Arts Academy, in F. Colarossi Academies, la Palette and la Grand Chaumiere (in the latter very important were classes of Emile Antoine Bourdelle [French Expressionist Sculptor, 1861-1929]). In spite of all her initial tendency to principles of realistic vision the beginning artist was friends with non-figurative artists, which made for her brief working in the theatre (costume sketches for performances of Moscow Chamber Theatre, such as Alexander Blok’s Rose and Cross and Sem Benelli’s The Feast of the Jesters, all of 1916) and just as brief pursuit in textile design in the 1920s.

* * *

In sculpture the shaping of Mukhina’s own language was connected with the plan of monumental propaganda. Out of the four projects created according to this plan – sketches for sculptures Liberated Labour and Revolution (both of 1919) and monuments to V.M. Zagorski (1921) and Y.M. Sverdlov(1923) - the last one is most remarkable. Its symbolical solution ( Flame of Revolution is another name for it) has the motif of surmounting the stagnant flesh; the opposing movements of forms add mighty dynamism to the composition and make it seem monumental (though the project was not implemented, just like the three other). The metaphor of impetuous impulse and overcoming, initially thrown up by experiencing revolution, later reverberated in many Mukhina’s works, such as The Wind(1926-27), A Woman’s Torso (1927), Worker and Kolkhoz Woman (1937), Icarus and Boreas (both of 1938). At the same time hyperbolized sensation of bodily mass typical of her works and most expressly conveyed in Peasant Woman (1927) with its generalized heavy plastic and later subjected to aesthetization (in Fertility, 1934 and Bread, 1939), created some counterpoise to the flight feeling also inherent in her works. As a result sculptures by Vera Mukhina presented a balance ideal for official soviet art – the balance of statics and willpower, blending of earthly heaviness and transpersonal triumph.

The artist worked in chamber genres as well: in the 1940s she was into art glass, along with vases and cups creating glass portraits ( Portrait of V.I. Kachalov and Portrait of Ballet Soloist S.G. Koren as Mercutio, both of 1947).

In portraits of war heroes, namely those of B. A. Yusupov and I.L. Khizhnyak (both of 1942) her manner became more detailed and exact, yet the feeling of integral shape, as a rule, helped her avoid superfluous narration.

In 1939 Mukhina wrote: "Style is born when the artist doesn’t only with his mind learns the ideals of his time, but when he cannot feel otherwise, when the ideology of his age and his people becomes his personal ideology”. It is in this very sense that she conveyed the style of her epoch. V. M. Mukhina died on 6 October, 1953 in Moscow.

Many of Mukhina’s projects remained unrealized, including the monument to Y. Sverdlov and Lenin. M. Gorky monument intended for Moscow was set up in the city of Gorky (later renamed back to Nizhni Novgorod).

There is a museum of Vera Mukhina in Theodosia and one of the streets in Peredelkino District of Moscow is named after her.






Пламя революции - 1919