NEF ‘13 Centuries of Bulgaria’ presents three generations of the Raynovs

In June 2023, NEF ‘13 Centuries of Bulgaria’ received a donation of artworks by three generations of the Raynovs. Sculptor Diana-Maria Raynova gave the Fund works by her father, the world-famous sculptor Boyan Raynov, her mother Stella Raynova (also a sculptor), and one of her own sculptures.


Boyan Raynov (1921–2005)


The artist was born in Sofia, but was better known in France, where he lived for many years. He was the son of the writer, philosopher, art theorist, and artist, Academician Nikolay Raynov, and brother of Bogomil Raynov. He graduated in Mural Painting from the Academy of Arts in Sofia. In 1947, he left for Paris, becoming an honorary citizen of Antony, a commune in the suburbs, some 13 km from the centre of the French capital, where he set up his studio. He won numerous prestigious awards. On his 60th anniversary in 1982, a postage stamp featuring his work, ‘The Family’, was issued in France. His compositions have been placed on squares in the Parisian suburbs, while his sculpture ‘Awakening’ was installed in the very centre of the city. Since 1989, Boyan Raynov’s works have been shown in Bulgaria. In 2014, his exhibition entitled ‘Direct from Paris’ was held at the Sredets Gallery of the Ministry of Culture.


Writer Ted Todorov stated in his ‘Boyan Raynov: Master of Love’, a biography published in 2023: ‘Going into the details of the course of Boyan’s life, I gradually noticed a rare quality in him: he must have loved life very much, must have loved people very much, must have loved his work very much, loved his native country very much, too; he must also have conceived a love for France, which subsequently gave him everything so that it is here today, and at the same time, to have been able to often forgive those supposedly close, supposedly near and dear, and all sorts of controversial personalities who impeded him, envied him, and betrayed him several times.’ And he added, ‘Regardless of all the difficulties, Boyan Raynov is a completely successful man. Thinking about all this, I became convinced that only a dreamer and a gentle bringer of love to everything and everyone could have done it! For this quality of his, I decided and immediately called him “Master of Love”.’


The drawing, ‘Beauties and Beasts’, based on Paul éluard’s book, and also donated by his daughter to the NEF ‘13 Centuries of Bulgaria’, was made by Boyan Raynov in 1947. It was executed in mixed media (ink and watercolour) and displayed at the artist’s first solo exhibition in Paris, where he remained from that year up to the end of his life.


Stella Raynova (1919–2001)


Stella Raynova graduated in Sculpture from the Academy of Arts, Sofia, in the 1940s. In 1946, she and her husband Boyan Raynov left for France, where she completed a three-year specialisation at the Académie des Arts in Paris. In 1951, she returned to Bulgaria with her daughter, and began working intensively in the genres of portraiture, easel, and monumental sculpture. Her best-known works include a portrait of Hristo Botev’s mother, a head of Ivan Vazov, and a bust of Hristo G. Danov. She created the monument to Hristo Toprakchiev in Svilengrad and contributed to that of Ivan Vazov in Sofia. In 1979, Stella Raynova was awarded the Order of Sts Cyril and Methodius 1st class. The work, ‘Face’, in polished bronze and marble, that Diana-Maria donated to the Fund was sculpted by her mother in 1970.


Diana Raynova (1947)


Diana Raynova was born on 22 July 1947 in Paris; however, since 1951, she has lived in Bulgaria. She graduated in Sculpture from the Academy of Arts, under Prof. Velichko Minekov, and is the founder of the Nikolay Raynov Foundation.

The donor also gave her own work, ‘Owl’ (patinated bronze and black gabbro, created in 1999) to the Fund’s collection. It is the artist’s cast of the original sculpture for the Hristo G. Danov National Award for Literature.

‘From an early age, living in a family of sculptors and artists, I decided for myself that I would tread the thorny path of art. My reason for existing is the world that surrounds me. Through the process by which a sculpture is born, I express my feelings towards this world. My love, admiration, or resentment. When I work, I like to feel the shapes with my hands, touching their own language,’ the donor told us.

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