Vasily Polenov - Portrait of Natalya Yakunchikova - 1882
Maria Vasilievna Yakunchikova-Weber (Russian: Мария Васильевна Якунчикова-Вебер) (1870-1902) was a Russian painter, graphic artist, and embroiderer.
Yakunchikova was born in Wiesbaden, Germany in a prosperous industrialist family, and grew up in Moscow. Her family was very musical: her father, Vasily Ivanovich, was an expert at the violin, while her mother, Zinaida, played the pianoforte. Indeed, her father sponsored the construction of the Moscow Conservatory.
Yakunchikova’s own interests, however, turned towards the fine arts. In 1882, following her sister Natalya’s marriage to the landscape artist Vasily Polenov, his sister - Elena Polenova - also a fine artist, became a close friend. The Polenov residence was to become an important training centre for budding artists, and Yakunchikova joined as well, taking evening lessons with Elena between 1886 and 1889. Here she met artists such as Isaac Levitan, Valentin Serov, Mikhail Nesterov and Konstantin Korovin, among others.
Beginning in 1883 she had private lessons in art with N. A. Martynov, and from 1885 she studied as an external student at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture.
In 1896, she married a doctor named Leon Weber-Bauler, who was studying at the Sorbonne at the time, and attached his name to hers from then until her death. Their first son, Stepan, was born in 1898.