Serov was born in Saint Petersburg, son of the Russian composer and music critic Alexander Serov and was encouraged to pursue his talents by his parents and in his childhood he studied in Paris and Moscow under Ilya Repin and in the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts (1880–1885) under Pavel Chistyakov.
Serov's early works were heavily influenced by the realistic style of Repin.
It was however the portrait work which became the basic genre in Serov's art. It was in this field that his early style would become apparent, the paintings notable for capturing the characteristics of his subjects. Serov's favorite models were actors, artists, and writers (Konstantin Korovin, 1891, Isaac Levitan, 1893, Nikolai Leskov, 1894, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, 1898. He used increasing Impressionistic features to often complement a portrait, or to capture a sense of movement. Some of his works compare with his contemporaries John Singer Sargent, Sorolla and Zorn.
Again i was introduced to his work by a book that Annie was reviewing and have included her review to show the wide talents of Serov.