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Mary Shanks

Mary Shanks (1866-1949), like her elder sister, studied at Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture.  This photo is a close-up of Mary sitting in her studio.

At art school Mary befriended Tolstoy’s eldest daughter Tatyana who was born two years before Mary. Mary became a Tolstoyan and eventually had to leave Russia because of her Tolstoyan activities.

Art studies

From the letters of her friends it can be seen that Mary was both very sociable and showed a natural artistic talent from early in her education.  She impressed her friends - Elena Polenov writes, on the 30 Mar 1890 to E. G. Mamontov reporting Mary’s success at life drawing.  She describes Mary as 'such a bright girl’.  She also reports that Mary had won two medals in her life drawing class and graduated within ‘only one winter’.  

This painting is thought to be 'Temptation' by Mary Shanks.  From the records of the Peredvizhniki, on the 3rd February 1896, Mary’s painting ‘Temptation’ (Искушение) was approved to be exhibited at the Peredvizhniki exhibition of that year.

I await your verdict

This 1894  painting  'I await your verdict’ by Mary Shanks is believed to show  Vladimir Stasov studying a competed Shanks work while Mary stands behind in trepidation.  The man in the picture is thought to be Vladimir Stasov famous art critic of the time and advocate for women artists.  The woman is Mary.  For comparison below are a photo of Mary at around the same age and a portrait of Stasov.  This painting owned by the Art Museum, Riga Boursa.

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