Viktor Mikhaylovich Vasnetsov was a Russian painter who painted scenes of Russian folklore as well as history painting, genre painting, religious subjects and landscape.
Though I don’t think his folklore paintings were meant to be reproduced as illustrations, they have a similar narrative quality. His flights of fantasy are grounded in a tactile realism that gives them weight and solidity.
Vasnetsove was friends with Ivan Kramskoy and Ilya Repin. At Repin’s suggestion he moved to Paris, where he developed an interest in Russian folklore, a subject he had resisted previously.
His paintings in that vein were given harsh treatment by critics initially, and he eventually moved toward religious subjects, spending considerable time painting frescos in the St Vladimir’s Cathedral in Kiev.
Vasnetsov was also involved with architecture and theatrical set and costume design, as well as mosaics for other cathedrals. In addition, he was curator of the Tretyakov Gallery, and instrumental in preserving religious paintings from churches by having them moved to the gallery during the Russian Revolution. He donated a number of works to the Russian State Historical Museum.