Russian painter in oils and watercolour, and illustrator. Born in St Petersburg, son of Andrei Somov, Curator of the Hermitage. Studied at the Academy of Arts in St Petersburg 1888-97, from 1894 under Repin, then lived 1897-9 in Paris in the circle of Bakst, Alexander Benois and other Russian friends. Member of the World of Art (Mir Iskusstva) 1899. His early work was mainly landscape, but from about 1900 he began to paint romantic scenes of marquisses, harlequins, etc. set in the Rococo and early 19th century periods. Also painted portraits and modelled figures for the Imperial Porcelain Factory. First one-man exhibition in St Petersburg 1903. Member of the St Petersburg Academy of Fine Art 1913; professor at the Academy of Arts from 1918. Left Russia in 1924 and spent his last years in Paris. His works include illustrations for Manon Lescaut, Daphnis und Chloé and the poems of Pushkin. Died in Paris.
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, p.696