June 1st is the birthday of Maria Tenisheva, a talented artist, philanthropist and collector

Maria Tenisheva - Russian noblewoman, public figure, enamel artist, teacher, philanthropist and collector was born on June 1, 1867. According to contemporaries, she was “the pride of all of Russia”, an outstanding woman, widely educated and broadly read, sincerely in love with art.

Today, on the International Children's Day, we recall that one of the main educational projects in Tenisheva’s life was Talashkino, which embodied the concept of an “ideological estate”, that is, a center of enlightenment, the revival of traditional folk art culture and, at the same time, the development of agriculture.

In 1894, the Tenishev family bought the Flenovo farmstead not far from Talashkino and a year later opened there an agricultural school to teach peasants’ children. It was unique for that time. This October we will mark the 125th jubilee since its founding.

The school differed from other similar schools. There was no paid tuition, orphans were accepted, and girls studied on a par with boys. Pupils were fully supported by the Tenishevs. Children willingly went to study at this school that enfranchised them, the gifted children could find their way in life. The class was divided into two halves. In one half, the pupils studied, and in the other - they were acquainted with creativity and practiced crafts. Over time, the school workshops turned into art manufacturing workshops. Moreover, the school charter stated that the holder of the school graduation diploma received benefits for serving military service and was released from corporal punishment for life.

For six years, students were mastering the general education course according to the Ministry of Public Education, as well as special areas: agriculture, horticulture, gardening, cattle breeding, beekeeping and fish farming. Every graduate received the right to manage his own farm or work as an employed person. Low-performing students were not expelled from the school, but were taught some useful crafts. Tenisheva and creative artists that she invited to teach children organized art-industrial workshops in school were children could practice in drawing, carpentry, woodcarving and painting, embossing, ceramics, dyeing fabrics, sewing and embroidery. Festive parties were  arranged for children, they played in the orchestra of folk instruments, performed at the local Theater stage.

Tenisheva sent all talented children to study further at her own expense. At her school, a child did not just gained knowledge - everything was aimed at developing his hidden gifts and talents. From the book “The impressions of my life": "... I firmly believe that every person can find application and his own path".

Ref.: The impressions of my life. Memories. M.K. Tenisheva. 2011