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Mstislav Valerianovich Dobuzhinskii (1875-1957) was one of the brightest stars of the group 'Mir Iskusstva' (World of Art). He was considered one of the best graphic artists and set designers of his time. From 1924 he lived with his family in Lithuania and collaborated with many European theatres and private productions, designed book illustrations and exhibited extensively.
At the end of 1936 Dobuzhinskii visited Prague where his friend Nikolai Benois was designing the set for 'Prince Igor'. The main purpose of his trip was to complete negotiations with the National Theatre in Prague about the design of scenery and costumes for P. I. Tchaikovskii's opera Evgenii Onegin. The project was a great success and the artist attended the premier of the opera on 10 February 1937. During his long sojourn in Prague, the artist was in contact with local members of the Russian intelligentsia. Amongst them were Valentin Bulgakov, Director of the Russian Cultural History Museum and the graphic artist, Nikolai Zaretskii.
Sensing the approach of war, Dobuzhinskii moved to America with his family in 1939. He asked Bulgakov to put the part of his archive that had been left in Prague after his departure in the Cultural History Museum for safekeeping. During the war, the Museum was run by Zaretskii, and the archive was protected. Bulgakov returned to Prague in 1945 and took part in negotiations about the transfer of the museum's collections to funds in the USSR. He wrote to Dobuzhinskii and requested to 'see that the archive is handed over to some other body'. The artist expressed the wish that his whole archive be given to Zaretskii, and it has remained in his family to the present day.