Boris Vassiloff, Russian/American (1906 - 2000)

Barbara Vassilieff

At the suggestion of Carol Ell of the Seacliff, New York Museum, the following is from the "Record-Pilot" newspaper, December 15, 2000.

Artist Boris Vassiloff was born on March 24, 1906 to Julia Nikolaevna and Boris Ivanovich Vassiloff in Russia. He died peacefully on Dec. 4, 2000 in Sea Cliff. 

Boris' first teacher was his father, followed by a Russian government school and three years in the best art academy in Leningrad. Being unable to continue his studies and having no possibilities of going to Western Europe, the artist went to Mongolia to his uncle, Simion Vassiloff. From that moment begins the travels of the young painter, never separated from his sketch book and paint box. 

After Mongolia, Vassiloff traveled to Manchuria, China, Indo-China, Hong Kong, Ceylon, Djibouti, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and finally Canada and America. His studio is filled with sketches and studies from more than 40 countries. Vassiloff also executed a plethora of commissioned works-frescoes in private homes, chateaux and hotels. In 1937, he painted the ikonostasi, (the screen in front of the altar in an Orthodox Christian Church), of the Russian Orthodox Church in Bizerta. Vassiloff's list of museum exhibitions is formidable. 

Boris Vassiloff eventually made his way to Sea Cliff. Vassiloff had tried to stay in contact with his family during and after the Russian Revolution. His older brother was killed by the Bolsheviks; his younger brother was sent to a prison camp for 20 years. His sister was put into a hard labor camp for many years but, despite that experience, she was able to play the piano as a vocal accompanist. 

In Sea Cliff, Vassiloff had art students come to him for advice and direction. Many of them are still grateful to him some 20 to 30 years later. He had many customers come to his open house events on weekends and was happiest while working in his studio. Vassiloff was an avid chess player and had won a championship in Paris during the 1940s and in other competitions later in his life on Long Island. The Sea Cliff community knew Vassiloff's work very well as he had participated in the village's art tours since their inception.

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