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Victor Podgoursky

  • Given name:
    Victor
  • Last name:
    Podgoursky
  • Alternative names:

    Victor Podgursky; Виктор Степанович Подгурский

  • Date of Birth:
    01-09-1893
  • Place of Birth:
    Tomsk (RU)
  • Date of Death:
    1969
  • Place of Death:
    Tashkent (UZ)
  • Profession:
    ArtistDesignerTeacher
  • Introduction:

    Victor Podgoursky spent more than twenty-five years in Shanghai, working as an artist, teacher and designer. As a long-standing member of the Shanghai Art Club, he acted as the resident art critic and an instructor in life drawing and painting for the members.

    Word Count: 43

  • Signature Image:
    Victor Podgoursky, photography (© Nikolay Kradin).
  • Content:

    One of four sons of a Polish aristocrat exiled in Siberia, Victor Podgoursky grew up in Vladivostok. In 1914–1918, he studied at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, under the tutelage of renowned painters A. Arkhipov and A. Vasnetstov. Having arrived in Shanghai in 1920, Podgoursky initially worked as a newspaper cartoonist, teacher of painting and figure drawing, and proofreader for the Russian-language newspaper New Shanghai Life. In 1921, he became one of the founders of the First Russian School, where he continued to teach through the 1930s.

    In 1925, Podgoursky exhibited his paintings at several Shanghai shows, including an exhibition alongside eleven Chinese artists at the Palais Café. His first solo exhibition took place at the Alliance Française (French Club), on Avenue Joffre, in December 1926, where he was praised for his versatility. Three years later, Arthur Sowerby of The China Journal found Podgoursky's paintings "of high caliber" and a head above anything else exhibited in Shanghai; the critic was amazed that such a talented artist should price his pastels at $100 at the highest, and often as low as $50. Having joined the Shanghai Art Club in 1929, Podgoursky was its resident instructor in anatomy, life drawing and still life, and also a critic. The club admitted owing much to his presence, as "the guide and the philosopher of the art classes" and "an always attractive exhibitor at the annual displays."

    Podgoursky travelled extensively around China, studying ancient architecture and artistic traditions. Ten of his paintings were reproduced in the book Diamond Jubilee of the International Settlement of Shanghai (1940). In Shanghai, he completed several large design commissions. For the French Club (built in 1926), he designed the stained glass windows in the tearooms and large decorative panels in the card room. For the Sassoon House (1929), he created the frescoes and murals in the entrance hall, the tearoom and the bar. In 1928, Podgoursky’s mural was installed in the foyer of the Capitol Theatre, designed by C. H. Gonda.

    In February 1935, the artist travelled to Florence and Venice and supervised the assembly of the ceiling mosaic for the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation in Hong Kong. The vivid and complex mosaic covered 4,000 square feet and depicted 50 life-size human figures, as well as animals, machines, ships and other objects. The centrepiece, in the shape of an inverted half-cylinder, evoked the theme of "progress" and depicted the period from prehistoric to modern, "with emphasis on industry and transport, the occidental and oriental contrasted on opposing sectors." There were also images of the sun, Greek gods, the signs of the zodiac, Chinese gods of fortune and Japanese spirits.

    Podgoursky and his wife and son initially resided in Joffre Terrace, at 927 Avenue Joffre; later, he moved to 79 Route Pere Robert. In the 1930s and 1940s, Podgoursky’s studio was located at 6 Avenue Dubail, two doors down from another prominent émigré artist, Mikhail Kichigin. The two collaborated on the design of the monument to the poet Alexander Pushkin, built through the efforts of the Russian community and installed in 1937 in a quiet square off Route Pichon, in the French Concession. The architect Emmanuel Gran was also involved in the design.

    In 1947, Victor Podgoursky and his family returned to the USSR, where his son Valery was arrested and given a lengthy prison sentence. Podgoursky taught art at the Kazan Art School until 1956. Although his legacy was unrecognised until after his death, he had been influential as a mentor to his students, who credited him with introducing them to the work of Van Gogh, Gauguin and Matisse from his large collection of art books assembled during his exile in Shanghai.

    Word Count: 598

  • Media:
    Street plan of the corner of Avenue Dubail and Avenue Joffre, where Podgoursky’s studio was located (© Institut d’Asie Orientale).
    Interior showing the card room of the French Club, postcard, collection of the author. The murals were made by Victor Podgoursky.
    Victor Podgoursky, Peking Street Scene, oil painting, 1938 (© Podgourski Family Club).
    Musicians, oil painting, photographed in Podgoursky’s studio, Shanghai, 1940 (© 2012 Mei-Fang Elrick and Tess Johnston, Historical Photographs of China, www.hpcbristol.net).
    Victor Podgoursky's studio at 6 Avenue Dubail, 1940, Shanghai (© 2012 Mei-Fang Elrick and Tess Johnston, Historical Photographs of China, www.hpcbristol.net).
  • Bibliography (selected):

    Kerchelaeva, Nina. “Vernut is zabvenia (To return from oblivion).” Klub Directorov. 12 March 1999.
    Artchive.ru. "Victor Stepanovich Podgoursky." https://artchive.ru/artists/69943~Viktor_Stepanovich_Podgurskij. Accessed 1 January 2020.
    Lebedeva, Tatiana, “Na perekrestke kultur: Victor Podgoursky, hudozhnik I pedagog (At the crossroads of cultures: Victor Podgoursky, artist and educator)”. Art of East Europe, vol. 2, 2014.
    Knyazeva, Katya. "Victor Podgoursky. Building Russian Shanghai."  https://sites.google.com/view/russianshanghai/architects/l-z/v-s-podgoursky. Accessed 11 January 2020.

    Word Count: 69

  • Author:
    Katya Knyazeva
  • Exile:

    Shanghai, China (1920–1947)

  • Known addresses in Metromod cities:

    Joffre Terrace, 927 Avenue Joffre, French Concession (now Huaihai Lu, Xuhui) (residence in the 1920s); 79 Rue Pere Robert (residence); 6 Avenue Dubail (now 447–479 Huaihai Zhong Lu, Xuhui Qu) Shanghai

  • Metropolis:
    Shanghai
  • Katya Knyazeva. "Victor Podgoursky." METROMOD Archive, 2021, https://archive.metromod.net/viewer.p/69/2952/object/5138-11320445, last modified: 08-05-2021.
  • Friedrich Hermann Schiff
    ArtistCartoonistDesigner

    Friedrich Schiff was an Austrian-born artist who went to Shanghai in 1930. He became known for his humorous cartoons, which were enjoyed by the colonial bourgeoisie.
    Due to his Jewish origins, he was unable to return to Austria after Hitler’s annexation of Austria in 1938. He left Shanghai for Buenos Aires in 1947.

    Word Count: 51

    The North China Daily News?, S. M. L. Sanzetti, Portrait Friedrich Schiff.
    Paula Eskelund and Friedrich Schiff,Squeezing through! Shanghai Sketches 1941–1945, Hwa Kuo Print. Co, 1945, cover.Paula Eskelund and Friedrich Schiff, Squeezing through! Shanghai Sketches 1941–1945, Hwa Kuo Print. Co, 1945. The Japanese officer depicted is Kano Ghoya who ruled despotically and cruelly over the affairs of the ghetto residents.Friedrich Schiff, "Hong Kong, a sporting paradise," in Hong Kong Baptist University Library Art Collections, accessed 28/05/2021, https://bcc.lib.hkbu.edu.hk/artcollection/91512504h757t3/. Poster for the Hong Kong Travel Association, 101 x 71 cm, around 1938.Friedrich Schiff, "Fly to the Far East B.O.A.C," in Hong Kong Baptist University Library Art Collections, accessed 28/05/2021, https://bcc.lib.hkbu.edu.hk/artcollection/91512504h757t4/. Poster advertising the service of B.O.A.C (now British Airways), 73 x 48 cm, 1940–49.Schiff, Friedrich and Ellen Thorbecke. China. Java-China-Japan Lijn. Het geheimzinnige China. Mysterious China. 1937, cover.Schiff, Friedrich and Ellen Thorbecke. Hong Kong. Kelly & Walsh, 1938, cover.Schiff, Friedrich and Ellen Thorbecke. Shanghai, North China daily News & Herald Ltd., 1941, cover.Friedrich Schiff. Maskee. A Shanghai Sketch Book. The Yellow Hall, Shanghai, 1940, fan fold binding, first page.
    Shanghai
    Ivan Kounin
    JournalistPublisher

    A self-driven journalist and a self-funded publisher, Ivan Kounin created several illustrated albums focused on the life of Shanghai’s international community, which highlighted the work of Russian artists.

    Word Count: 29

    Kounin, Ivan and Alexander Yaron, editors. Diamond Jubilee of the International Settlement of Shanghai. Post mercury Co. fed. Inc. U.S.A.,1940. Ivan Kounin in the office of Adcraft Studios, photography, Diamond Jubilee of the International Settlement of Shanghai, 1940.
    Kounin, Ivan and Alexander Yaron, editors. Diamond Jubilee of the International Settlement of Shanghai. Post mercury Co. fed. Inc. U.S.A.,1940. The staff of Adcraft Studios, photography, Diamond Jubilee of the International Settlement of Shanghai, 1940.Ivan Kounin, cover print, F. Chaliapine, 1936 (© Amir Khisamutdinov).Kounin, Ivan and Alexander Yaron, editors. Diamond Jubilee of the International Settlement of Shanghai. Post mercury Co. fed. Inc. U.S.A.,1940. Advertisement for Adcraft Studios, Diamond Jubilee of the International Settlement of Shanghai, 1940.
    Shanghai
    Alexander A. Yaron
    DesignerJournalistArtistPhotographer

    An autodidact and a versatile commercial artist, Alexander Yaron applied his talent in portraiture, photography, interior design, advertising, layout and illustration. His best known projects were illustrated art magazines and books produced as part of Adcraft Studios, in tandem with Ivan Kounin.

    Word Count: 42

    Kounin, Ivan, and Alexander Yaron, editors. The Diamond Jubilee of the International Settlement of Shanghai. Shanghai, 1940. Portrait of Alexander A. Yaron, photography.
    Alexander Yaron, Along the ancient channel, print, Ponedelnik (Monday),1933 (© Amir Khisamutdinov).Alexander Yaron, portraits, drawings, Highlights of Art, 1938 (© Natalia Kounin).Alexander Yaron, poster for the Russian Ballet, 1936 (© Amir Khisamutdinov).Kounin, Ivan and Alexander Yaron, editors. Diamond Jubilee of the International Settlement of Shanghai. Post mercury Co. fed. Inc. U.S.A.,1940. The double page shows the covers of Adcraft Studios’ magazines, including Highlights of Art, and others.Yaron Studios, advertisement for Central Air Transport Corporation, China Weekly Review, 20 September 1947.
    Shanghai
    Emmanuel Gran
    ArchitectTeacher

    A stateless Russian Jew exiled in Shanghai, Emmanuel Gran rose to become the most accomplished and the most prolific of the diaspora architects. His projects included dozens of public and commercial buildings, apartments and villas in Shanghai and elsewhere in China; close to twenty of them still stand in downtown Shanghai.

    Word Count: 51

    Sapajou (Georgy Sapojnikoff), portrait of Emmanuel Gran, cartoon, around 1934, The North-China Daily News, 17 April 1934.
    Emanuel Gran, development building in downtown Shanghai, drawing, Shanghai Sunday Times, 11 December 1932.Emanuel Gran, Medhurst Apartments on Bubbling Well Road, drawing, 1934, Shanghai Sunday Times, 10 December 1933. One of Gran’s largest projects for Davies, Brooke & Gran.Davies Brooke & Gran, development of the Hanray Apartments on Avenue Joffre, drawing, Shanghai Sunday Times, 12 December 1937.Drawing of the project for Pushkin’s Monument, brochure page, Pushkinskie dni v Shanhae (Pushkin Centenary 1837–1937), 1937 (Public domain).Emanuel Gran, New Ashkenazi Synagogue on Rue Tenant de la Tour, drawing, Shanghai Sunday Times, 12 December 1937.Mary Catalina, Ceremony of the laying of the cornerstone of the New Ashkenazi Synagogue, 24 November 1940, photography (© United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Siegmund Sobel collection).
    Shanghai
    Mikhail Kichigin
    ArtistDesignerTeacher

    Mikhail Kichigin was Shanghai’s preeminent émigré artist in the 1930s and 1940s. He travelled extensively around China and Eastern Asia, exhibiting his work and conducting visual studies. A versatile professional and a respected art instructor, he influenced a number of young artists from the Russian diaspora.

    Word Count: 47

    Mikhail Kichigin, photography, 1968 (© Yaroslavl Art Museum).
    Mikhail Kichigin, Self-portrait, drawing, around 1920 (© Yaroslavl Art Museum).Mikhail Kichigin in his studio at 10 Avenue Dubail, photography, Shanghai (© Yaroslavl Art Museum).Mikhail Kichigin, Model in Traditional Costume, painting, Shanghai (© Yaroslavl Art Museum).Mikhail Kichigin, Abandoned Temple, oil painting, Shanghai (© Yaroslavl Art Museum).Vera Kuznetzova and Mikhail Kichigin in Yaroslavl, photography, 1968 (© Yaroslavl Art Museum).
    Shanghai
    Thais Jaspar
    Artist

    Combining the vocation of philanthropist with that of an artist, Thais Jaspar was equally at ease among the foreign elites and Soviet diplomats in Shanghai. Her pleasing portraiture was much in demand by her friends and clients.

    Word Count: 37

    Thais Jaspar, Self-portrait, drawing, around 1938, Shanghai (© Central State Archive of the Museum of Literature and Art, Ukraine).
    Thais Jaspar at her Shanghai home, photography 1930 (© Central State Archive of the Museum of Literature and Art, Ukraine).Thais Jaspar (right) in front of her work celebrating the victory of the USSR in the Great Patriotic War, photography, Shanghai, 1945 (© Central State Archive of the Museum of Literature and Art, Ukraine).Thais Jaspar (back row, right) teaching an art class, 1940, Shanghai (© Central State Archive of the Museum of Literature and Art, Ukraine).Thais Jaspar, paintings, North China Daily News, 19 June 1949.
    Shanghai
    Vera Kuznetzova
    ArtistDesignerIllustrator

    A native of Harbin and a resident of Shanghai in the 1930s and 1940s, Vera Kuznetzova was among the most accomplished female artists of the Russian diaspora. Together with Mikhail Kichigin, she travelled extensively around China and Eastern Asia, exhibiting her work and conducting visual studies.

    Word Count: 46

    Vera Kuznetzova, photography (© Yaroslavl Art Museum).
    Painters Vasily Zasipkin, Vera Kuznetzova and Jacob Lehonos in the Salle des Fetes of the French Municipal College at the Russian art exhibition, photography, June 1931, The China Press, 5 July 1931.Vera Kuznetzova, Official’s Tour, water colour, 1933–1936 (© Yaroslavl Art Museum).Vera Kuznetzova, illustration on the cover of the Projector Weekly Magazine, Vol. 41, 6 October 1934 (© Mikhail Drozdov).Vera Kuznetzova, Old Man with a Pipe, charcoal and sanguine drawing, 1937, Shanghai (© Yaroslavl Art Museum).Kounin, Ivan and Alexander Yaron, editors. Diamond Jubilee of the International Settlement of Shanghai,1940, p. 35. Vera Kuznetzova, Court Scene, illustration.Vera Kuznetzova and Mikhail Kichigin in Yaroslavl, photography, 1968 (© Yaroslavl Art Museum).
    Shanghai
    Vasily Zasipkin
    ArtistDesigner

    Vasily Zasipkin was a prolific artist and and influential teacher, much loved in the diaspora. Having lost his studio and all his work in wartime Shanghai, he started over in Singapore.

    Word Count: 31

    Vladimir Tretchikoff, Portrait of Zasipkin, Projector, 5 May 1934. Vladimir Tretchikoff was a student of Zasipkin.
    Vasily Zasipkin, Study, Ponedelnik (Monday), around 1930.Advertisement for V. A. Zasipkin’s Art Studio at 542 Avenue Joffre, Parus, 1937.Vasily Zasipkin, interior design for Cathay Café, drawing, Singapore, The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser, 8 December 1939.
    Shanghai
    Emma Bormann
    Artist

    Emma Bormann was a pioneering artist and printmaker. Her oeuvre gives witness to her extensive travels around the globe and to the agility and versatility of her artistic rendering of the urban sites she encountered.

    Word Count: 35

    Emma Bormann, Shanghai from YMCA, wood or lino cut, around 1940 (© private collection).
    Emma Bormann, Deutsches Eck [German Corner], wood or lino cut, around 1949 (© private collection).Emma Bormann, Ex Libris Fritz Maas, around 1940, Shanghai (© private collection).Emma Bormann, Great Western Road, wood or lino cut, around 1940 (© private collection).Emma Bormann, Mei Lanfang, wood or lino cut, around 1940 (© private collection).Emma Bormann, Garden Bridge, woodcut or linocut, around 1940, Shanghai (© private collection).Emma Bormann, Foochow Road, wood or lino cut, around 1940, Shanghai (© private collection).Church Missionary Society House, 89 Range Road, Shanghai, around 1915 (© 2008 Peter Lockhart Smith, University of Bristol, Historical Photographs of China, www.hpcbristol.net).
    Shanghai
    Ponedelnik
    Association

    Ponedelink was the most influential and the longest-running art society in Shanghai. Committed to promoting awareness of Russian culture and to developing its members' taste and erudition, it published the finest art magazine of the diaspora.

    Word Count: 36

    A meeting of the Ponedelnik society, photography, January 1931 (© Amir Khisamutdinov). Vera Kuznetzova, Mikhail Kichigin and Vasily Zasipkin are sitting around the table.
    Cover of Ponedelnik (Monday)(© Amir Khisamutdinov).Severny, Pavel. Lady, Shanghai 1938. Alexander Yaron, cover design, Lady, 1938 (© Mikhail Drozdov). Pavel Severny and Alexander Yaron were collaborators at the Ponedelnik Society in Shanghai.La Renaissance restaurant at 795 Avenue Joffre, photography, Modern Miscellany (Shidai), no. 12, 1932.A. T. Hull, Jr., HLAM-organised beauty pageant Miss Shanghai in the Arcadia Cabaret at 291 Route Courbet, photography,1940 (© Time Inc.). Alexander Vertinsky is in the centre, Eduard Eliroff (with a ribbon) is on the right.
    Shanghai
    Victor Sassoon
    Entrepreneur

    Victor Sassoon was a descendant of the Baghdadi Jewish Sassoon merchant family. He contributed significantly to a real estate boom in Shanghai in the 1920s and 1930s and helped European Jews in the Shanghai Ghetto. An ambitious amateur photographer, he produced many images of people and events of the time.

    Word Count: 50

    Photograph of Victor Sassoon. G. L. “Die Immigration – ein Problem.” Shanghai Woche (Weekly Review), 30 March 1939, p. 3.
    Hahn, Emily. China to Me. A Partial Autobiography. BCE, The Blakiston Company, 1944, cover.
    Shanghai