Paul Mak Portrait of a Woman
Portrait of a Woman
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Paul Mak ( St. Petersburg 1891 - Belgium 1967 )

After studying at Konstantin Fedorovich Iuon’s (1875-1958) studio in Moscow, Mak provided illustrations for Moscow and St. Petersburg journals for two years, before enrolling at the Kiev Military Academy following the outbreak of World War I. He was something of a war hero, being promoted to Captain before being wounded in action. After the war he was imprisoned for six months by the Bolsheviks in the infamous Butyrka prison, but was swiftly rehabilitated. By 1920, he was working as an artist for the Theatre of Revolutionary Satire in Moscow.

Mak’s emigration in 1922 marked the creative turning-point in his work. He travelled extensively throughout the Middle East, eventually settling in Persia (modern-day Iran), where he initially worked as a racehorse trainer, before an introduction to the Reza Shah (1878-1944) led to his appointment as official court artist. During this period, Mak devoted himself to the study of the Persian miniature, renowned for its exquisite detail and intricacy, and he found constant inspiration from the culture of the region. He continued to travel throughout the 1920s and 1930s, eventually settling in Belgium, where he worked for the rest of his life.