ARTISTIC DYNASTY

Tatiana Plastova
The Call of the Future

№4 2012 (37)

For nearly 50 years the Chernyshev-Gorsky family has played a vital role in the Russian visual arts. In 1969 Dmitry Zhilinsky, a student and associate of Nikolai Chernyshev, painted “The Artist’s Family. The Chernyshevs” (Russian Museum), and a year later “The Chernyshev Family” (Tretyakov Gallery), thus completing the family’s image. He wrote of the works: “I imagined all the Chernyshevs walking in an autumnal forest. Nikolai Mikhailovich, in profile, against Antonina Alexandrovna, full-face; further on, young oak trees, branching out, and between them the trio: daughters Katerina and Natasha, and son-in-law Andrei Gorsky. To the left, grandson Kolenka hopping around like a grasshopper, daughter Polina to the right, behind the trees. The composition and the colour seem to have been decided. A golden autumnal background. Chernyshev in a light-coloured raincoat, nearly weightless. Behind him, Antonina Alexandrovna, serious and close to the earth, stands quietly, holding a bunch of autumnal flowers. He is narrow and light-coloured – an incarnation of spirit; she is wide, quiet, beautiful – his support.”1 Many years later, in the picture “Paths of Childhood” by Nikolai Chernyshev’s grandson Nikolai Gorsky-Chernyshev, this chain of times would be looped back: the boy (Kolenka from the Zhilinsky painting) running along the road to a church and Nikolai and Antonina, supporting each other as they walk behind him, embody that continuous, endless road of spiritual quest which the members of this admirable Russian family have been treading for a century.

Tatyana Plastova
The Plastovs - A Family of Artists

№4 2011 (33)

The Plastovs are an ancient Russian family. Their ancestors, many of whom were priests, lived in the Arzamas region. Legend has it that one of the Plastovs was a cleric in an area populated by the Mordvins (the Erzya people). Their family surname then was Sinitsyn, and among them was, in the late 18th-early 19th centuries a certain Vasily Sinitsyn, a deacon fond of painting. One of the Sinitsyn family was an apprentice with the icon painter Plastov – he painted icons with the artist travelling from village to village. When his mentor died, the apprentice took his family name: at first he was called Plastov the apprentice, and then simply Plastov. The first family member about whom anything is reliably known is Gavrila Stepanovich Plastov (1801-c.1843), whose father is known to have been a cleric. Gavrila studied at (but did not graduate from) a seminary in Kazan. He also studied at an art school in Arzamas founded in 1802 by the painter Alexander Stupin. Founded on academic principles (Stupin himself had studied at the Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg), the school had a curriculum combining professional education with a large range of general subjects and was endorsed by the Academy. The school placed a special emphasis on teaching icon painting.

 

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