Dimensions of Heroism. Mihail Mihaylov (1900–1945)



The exhibition is part of the Restoration of Memory program of Vaska Emanouilova Gallery launched in 2012 to promote unknown or forgotten names in Bulgarian art. The sculptor Mihail Mihaylov is one of them. Although his works are part of Sofia’s public space and his achievements are connected with European modernism, his name is not widely known. Bulgarian art lovers are definitely familiar with the emblematic figure of a lion in front of the Ministry on Interior in 6th of September Street in Sofia and the other one on the site of the restored monument to the First and Sixth Infantry Regiments in front of the National Palace of Culture.

Mihail Mihaylov Hristov was born on May 12th 1900 in Pazardzhik, and studied at the Academy of Art under professors Marin Vasilev and Zheko Spiridonov. Later he specialized in Paris. He created portraits, figural compositions, monumental figures, nudes but worked mainly as a military sculptor. In 1940 he became professor at the Academy of Art. Well acquainted with the European tradition and influenced by the modernism of Antoine Bourdel, Aristide Mayol, Ivan Meshtrovich and others, in Bulgaria Mikhail Mihaylov was one of the main representatives of stylistic synthesis. His realistic figures pay tribute to the tradition and embody a specific plastic rhythm and inner dynamics. His contribution to the modernization of the concept of national art in the 1930s is important. Mihail Mihaylov authored some remarkable works in Bulgarian art which rank him among the most innovative and original artists from the first half of the 20th century, for whom there are no monographs and whose work is scattered, such as Yordan Krachmarov, Georgi Kotsev, Stefan Peychtev etc.

Most of Mihail Mihaylov’s works are kept at the National Museum of Military History, and some can be found in galleries in the country. He authored the monument of the miner in Pernik, the figures crowning monuments to the fallen soldiers in Kubrat, Negovan and others. The exhibition at the Vaska Emanouilova Gallery is his first presentation to the general public and shows a small part of the sculptor’s work, which could be an occasion for further research. Although not exhaustive, it is a sign of attention to his sculptural heritage from today’s perspective and raises many topical questions.

The exposition has been arranged in association with the National Museum of Military History, the National Art Gallery, the Art Gallery – Pazardzhik, and the artist’s family.



A Girl's Head, ca. 1940, patinated plaster, 44х42х24 cm, Sofia City Art Gallery

G. S. Rakovski, 1935, Military Club, Sofia

Head of a Man (G. Lichev), ca. 1940, patinated plaster, 48x20x17 cm, Sofia City Art Gallery

Guard in front of the monument of the First and Sixth Infantry Regiment. National Museum of Military History Archive

A Lion, 1938, Ministry of Interior, Sofia