By the 1870s Polenova was working primarily in watercolour. Her landscape watercolours were shown first in 1882 in exhibitions in St Petersburg and Moscow, where they met with public success and were noticed by the critic Vladimir Stasov. In the early 1880s Polenova moved to Moscow, where she associated closely with the family of Savva Mamontov and began to play a prominent role in the activities of the Abramtsevo circle. In 1885 Polenova and Yelizaveta Mamontova organized a carpentry and wood-carving studio at Abramtsevo. Polenova was closely involved in the development of this national Romantic version of Art Nouveau within the Abramtsevo circle.