Elena Guro

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Elena Guro
Elena Guro 7.jpg
Born(1877-01-10)January 10, 1877
DiedMay 6, 1913(1913-05-06) (aged 36)

Elena Genrikhovna Guro (Russian: Еле́на Ге́нриховна Гуро́, IPA: [jɪˈlʲɛnə ˈɡʲɛnrʲɪxəvnə ɡʊˈro] (About this soundlisten); in marriage Matyushina (Russian: Матю́шина, IPA: [mɐˈtʲuʂɪnə] (About this soundlisten); January 10, 1877 – May 6, 1913[1]) was a Russian Futurist painter, playwright, poet, and fiction writer.

Early life[edit]

Guro was born in St. Petersburg on January 10, 1877. Her father was Genrikh Stepanovich Guro, an officer in the Imperial Russian Army of French descent. Her mother Anna Mikhailovna Chistyakova was a talented amateur artist. Guro spent her childhood in the village of Novosely near Pskov and at her father's estate in Luga. She inherited a government pension and property in Finland from her father, using both to support her artistic career. Her sister Ekaterina was also a writer.[2]


Guro and Matyushin.

From 1890 to 1893 she studied art at the Society for the Encouragement of the Arts in St Petersburg. From 1903 to 1905 she studied in the private studio of Jan Ciągliński where she met her future husband Mikhail Matyushin (they were married in 1906).[1] In 1905 she illustrated the Russian translation of a book of fairy tales by George Sand. In 1906 she and Matyushin moved to the school of Elizaveta Zvantseva, where Guro worked under Mstislav Dobuzhinsky, Léon Bakst and Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin.[1] In 1908 she left the school and established her own studio. By 1908 her home was an important meeting place for discussions on art and literature.[2]

Little Deer by Guro, 1908/09

Guro published her first prose work in 1905. Her first book of prose, poetry, and drama The Hurdy-Gurdy came out in 1909.[1] In 1910 she contributed to the journal Trap for Judges the first publication of the Russian Futurists. She also contributed to the second volume of Trap for Judges in 1913. Guro and her husband subsidized both issues. In 1911 Guro's manuscript of a book of fairy tales she had been planning to publish was lost by her publisher along with the illustrations she had done for it. Her second book Autumnal Dream was published in 1912.[1][2]

Last days[edit]

In 1913 she continued to write and paint, even though she was suffering from leukemia. She died the same year at her country house in what was formerly Uusikirkko, Finland. At the time of her death she had nearly completed a major work The Poor Knight. Several poems and two works of prose were published posthumously, in the collection The Three and in the journal Union of Youth, in 1913. Her third book The Little Camels of the Sky was published in 1914.[1][2]

A Woman in a Headscarf by Guro, 1910


  • The Hurdy-Gurdy (1909)
  • Autumnal Dream (1912)
  • The Poor Knight (1913)
  • The Little Camels of the Sky (1914)
  • The Three (1913) (Posthumously)

English translations[edit]

  • The Little Camels of the Sky, Ardis Publishers, 1983.
  • Thus Life Passes, from 50 Writers: An Anthology of 20th Century Russian Short Stories, Academic Studies Press, 2011.


  1. ^ a b c d e f Dictionary of Women Artists, Volume 1. Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers. 1997. pp. 623–624. ISBN 1-884964-21-4. Retrieved 2012-01-08.
  2. ^ a b c d Dictionary of Russian Women Writers. Greenwood Press. 1994. pp. 238–241. ISBN 0-313-26265-9. Retrieved 2012-01-08.