MASTERPIECES OF RUSSIAN ART

Anatoly Vilkov
Return of a National Treasure

№4 2009 (25)

Any visitor to the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow will surely have noticed the icon of the “Virgin Hodegetria with Scenes of Her Life”; set in a case with a glass front panel, the icon is in a place of honour, to the right from the altar, in a cabinet specially made for the purpose. The discreet setting of the icon, by way of sharp contrast, strongly highlights the mighty spiritual force emanating from this sublime image. Few people know today that already in the 16th century the icon of the Virgin Hodegetria became known as a miracle worker, and in the 17th century its fame spread all over Russia.

Lyudmila Markina
The “Fatal Aurora”. An Unfinished Story

№1 2008 (18)

On September 18–19 2007, in London, Sotheby’s was due to offer for sale a unique collection of Russian art belonging to Mstislav Rostropovich and Galina Vishnevskaya1. The most valuable lots included the “Portrait of Aurora Karlovna Demidova” by Karl Briullov, priced at £800,000 –1,200,000. Back in 1995 the Tretyakov Gallery had wanted to buy this piece, but Galina Pavlovna “ran with the ball”. It looked as if the opportunity was presenting itself again – but the collection was bought up in its entirety by the Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov.

Eleonora Paston
The “Poetic Truth” of Moscow

№1 2007 (14)

In June 1877, Vasily Polenov came to Moscow, intending to work on a subject from Russian history – “The Tsar’s Unworthy Daughter Takes the Veil” – and to settle in the capital for some time.

Eleonora Paston
“A Duty to My People...”

№3 2006 (12)

In June 1898 an important event occurred at the Tretyakov Gallery, already then donated by Pavel Tretyakov to the city of Moscow. Pavel Mikhailovich acquired for the gallery the paintings by Viktor Vasnetsov, "Warrior Knights" (1898) and "Tsar Ivan the Terrible" (1897). At the same time Tretyakov had the pictures on display re-arranged: the exhibition rooms were closed until early November and Vasnetsov received the opportunity to make new amendments to his recent pieces. "In the ‘Warrior Knights’ everything that needed touching up was touched up," the artist wrote to Tretyakov on October 5 1898, "for the better, I believe." Amazingly, this was said after the artist had been working on the painting for 30 years.

Galina Churak
Vasily Surikov: I loved beauty everywhere...

№1 2006 (10)

On March 1 1881 the “Peredvizhniki” (Wanderers) group was to open its ninth exhibition at the Yusupov palace on the Moika Embankment in St. Petersburg. Tragically, the event coincided with another one, among the most sinister in Russian history – the bomb thrown by a member of the secret political group Narodnaya Volya (People’s Will) killed Emperor Alexander II. However, as soon as the days of mourning ended, the long wait of art enthusiasts was more than rewarded with masterpieces from the new generation of talented Russian artists: alongside Ilya Repin’s portraits of the composer Modest Mussorgsky and the author Alexei Pisemsky, “Alyonushka” by Vasily Vasnetsov and landscapes by Alexei Savrasov and Ivan Shishkin, viewers would discover the talent of the young Vasily Surikov. His name meant little at the time, but his work “Morning of the Streltsy Execution” seemed to predict in some enigmatic way the recent tragedy. The painting created a sensation. “His appearing to the artistic world with the painting ‘Execution of the Streltsy’ was sensational; nobody had started like that,” remembered Alexandra Botkina, Pavel Tretyakov’s daughter. “He did not hesitate, did not try to size up whether the time was good or bad for the exhibition of such a painting, but went off like a bolt.” Immediately after the exhibition in St. Petersburg, Surikov’s painting, acquired by Pavel Tretyakov before the exhibition, was moved to its permanent home in Lavrushinsky Pereulok. The Tretyakov Gallery was already considered a major collection of Russian art.

Natalia Soukhova
Vrubel’s “Dream”

№2 2005 (07)

As the Tretyakov Gallery's 150th anniversary approaches, the “Tretyakov Gallery” magazine initiates a series of special articles tracing the history of selected paintings from the Gallery's collection. In the first, the focus is on Mikhail Vrubel's “Princess of Dreams”. Next year will not only mark the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the Tretyakov Gallery, but 2006 will also be the 150th anniversary of Vrubel's birth – and exactly 110 years since he created his “Princess of Dreams”. The painting brought Vrubel fame as an artist, simultaneously involving him in an enormous scandal in which the Tsar himself was to become embroiled. In recent years, the “Princess of Dreams” has fared better. An entire room was created in the Tretyakov Gallery to house the painting – the Vrubel room.

 

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