SERGEI TRETYAKOV (1836–1892) WAS LESS FAMOUS AS AN ART COLLECTOR AND PUBLIC FIGURE THAN HIS OLDER BROTHER PAVEL, FOUNDER OF THE RENOWNED TRETYAKOV GALLERY. FAME IS USUALLY DISCRIMINATORY AND IS OFTEN UNJUST, AND THIS IS JUST THE CASE. WHILE PAVEL’S CONTRIBUTION IN MAKING THE TRETYAKOV BROTHERS’ PROPERTY IN LAVRUSHINSKY LANE A PUBLIC MUSEUM IS WIDELY RECOGNIZED, SERGEI’S PART IN THE DEAL AND THE FACT THAT IN 1892 HE BEQUEATHED HIS ART COLLECTION TO THE CITY OF MOSCOW IS OFTEN OBSCURED. TO GIVE JUSTICE TO MOSCOW, THE CITY FATHERS WISHED TO RECOGNIZE THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF BOTH BROTHERS; THE WHITE-STONE FRIEZE OF THE FRONT FAВADE, RECONSTRUCTED IN 1902, BEARS A CARVED INSCRIPTION THAT READS: "CITY ART GALLERY OF PAVEL MIKHAILOVICH AND SERGEI MIKHAILOVICH TRETYAKOV".
Sergei Tretyakov, like his older brother, was obsessed with art; however, it is an expensive hobby. Coming from an old family of merchants that was far from rich, they became self-made millionaires. Upon their father's early death, they inherited a house near St Nicholas' Church in Golutvino, an area of Moscow's Zamoskvorechie district, a few small shops in the Gostiny Dvor store, public baths in Yakimanka and a small cash settlement. In 1860 the Tretyakov brothers, together with Vladimir Konshin, their brother-in-law, established a joint stock company and opened a shop in Iliinka street, opposite the Stock Exchange, to sell Russian and foreign made linens, cotton and woolen goods. Being aware of the Russian textile market, in 1866 they set up a linen mill in Kostroma. By the turn of the century the mill was turning out one-sixth of all linen thread manufactured in Russia and had become the world's largest thread spindle factory. They became very wealthy.
In his family Sergei Tretyakov was considered conceited and somewhat greedy, which may be interpreted as ambitious, confident and determined. While he was forceful, Sergei knew how to get along with people, who appreciated his delicacy, intelligence and good manners. He was a capable manager with considerable charm. In 1877 Moscow City Council, which used to be a body representing Moscow's merchants, elected Sergei Tretyakov their Head, a position he filled with distinction. During the Russian campaign in the Balkans he initiated a scheme to raise funds for the troops, being himself a major donor. Despite war-time shortages and hardships, he encouraged state sponsorship of public education, and the number of primary apprentice-training schools doubled in Moscow during his tenure. To beautify the city, he encouraged the development of major public parks, such as Sokolnichy Grove and Shiryaevo Field on the outskirts of Moscow. Foreseeing the need for a new City Hall, he urged the Council to buy a suitable site from the state; later the building was constructed close to the Kremlin, which in the Soviet time became the State Lenin Museum. It was during Sergei Tretyakov's term of office that the unveiling of the monument to Alexander Pushkin, and the concurrent celebrations took place, including the famous tributes by Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Ivan Turgenev. In accepting the monument, built entirely through public subscription, he expressed the popular sentiment: Moscow will preserve it as the dearest national inheritance. Let the image of the great poet encourage us and the coming generations to do deeds both kind, intelligent, honest and deserving of praise.
From the 1860s Sergei Tretyakov took a great interest in Moscow's cultural life. He played an important part in the formation of the Moscow Branch of the Russian Music Society. The life and soul of the project was the brilliant pianist and conductor Nikolai Rubinstein, a friend of the Tretyakov brothers from their childhood. Later, when Tretyakov was involved in the management of the Moscow Conservatory, he induced the outstanding pianist and conductor Vasily Safonov to become the Director. Although he had been an amateur member of the Moscow Society of Admirers of Art since its formation in 1860, in 1888 he became Chairman. Besides its usual activities - permanent and temporary exhibitions, auctions, lotteries, and competitions with money prizes - under his leadership the society sponsored the first exhibition of sketches that was a great success. This tradition preserved for many years. Always enthusiastic and supportive, yet practical, in 1873 Sergei Tretyakov joined the Moscow Art Society, which supervised the College of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture. In 1874 he became a Fellow on the Board. Not surprisingly, after his death Moscow City Council immortalized his name by establishing the Sergei Tretyakov Grant for the College's students. Despite his good works, in March 1890 his brother Pavel suggested that Sergei had neglected his public duties; he protested, " ...you, more than anybody else, know that I have spent almost all my life, or my best years at least, working in the public interest. Whether my work was successful or not is not for me to decide, but my conscience is absolutely clear, for my eagerness to be useful to the nation has always been sincere and constant".
Sergei was also an avid collector of art. Unlike his brother, who focused on contemporary Russian artists, Sergei at first had no clear idea of his preferences. According to Pavel, the first acquisitions made in the 1870s were a few canvases by Russian painters. However, unwilling to compete with his brother, he soon chose to focus on collecting European masters and by the early 1890s Sergei had accumulated an excellent collection, the bulk of which featured French and German painters of the 1840s - 1890s, as well as works by Spanish, Austrian, Dutch and Swiss masters of the same period. He gave priority to romantic painters, masters of the Barbizon school and realist academic paintings. There were no impressionist pictures in his collection. It was exceptional in its diversity and quality when compared to other collections of European art that was in great fashion in Russia at the end of the 19th century. Igor Grabar, painter, art historian and curator of the Tretyakov brothers' gallery, wrote in the collection catalogue published in 1917: "Even among the private collections of Europe it would be difficult to find one that could match this excellent selection of pictures by 19th century painters. Particularly valuable seems that part of the collection that represents the masters of the so-called Barbizon school, which was a matter of special fastidiousness and care on the part of Sergei Mikhailovich".
He was "buying, exchanging, improving" remembered Аlexandra Botkin, his niece, to achieve the desired effect. Sometimes, once bought and later sold pictures came back again to fill in a gap or to enhance another painting. Such was the case with the landscape by Theodore Rousseau "In the Forest of Fontainebleau" (the so-called "landscape a la Ivan Turgenev", now displayed in the Pushkin Museum of Fine Art in Moscow). It is true that, as Igor Grabar put it: "...the conscious, versatile and consistent taste of Sergei Mikhailovich scrupulously and deliberately searched European art markets for the past [i.e. 19th] century works of art of a very high standard and this enabled him to build up a collection unmatched among similar Russian collections".
Although Sergei Tretyakov's collection was well known in Moscow's artistic circles, particularly among the young artists of the 1880s, it remained private and, as such, normally was not accessible to the public.
According to his "Inventory of Paintings, Drawings and Sculptures" dated May 29, 1891, a year before his death, Sergei Tretyakov's collection, apart from the Russian pieces, comprised seventy-two paintings, sculptures and drawings by fifty-three foreign artists, as well as three Tanagra terracotta figurines, five French tapestries with "scenes of the Trojan War" and a sculpture of Venus described merely as "ancient". In a later supplement to the Inventory there is a note that in 1892, when Sergei Tretyakov was already dead, his collection was completed with Camille Corot's masterpiece "Bath of Diane" that had been purchased the previous April when he had been on a visit to Paris and arrived only after his death.
The collection was diverse yet representative. Other foreign names on the Inventory included Jean Francois Millet, Theodore Rousseau, Diaz de la Pena and Charles Daubigny, of whom Grabar wrote, "[they] brilliantly opened in front of the viewers' eyes . one of the most glorious pages of modern art history" which "should not be missed by any historian of art". As for the masters representing other schools and movements, Sergei Tretyakov had succeeded in "snagging" such significant pictures, for example, as "Rural Love" by Jules Bastien-Lepage, whose influence is felt in the works of all painters of the 1880s, or "Snake-Charmer" and "Collector of Prints" by Mariano Fortuny, and "Jardin du Luxembourg" by Adolph von Menzel." "Women Gathering Kindling", or "Les Charbonnieres", by Millet, landscapes by Theodore Rousseau, the "Barbizonian" leader were to be found here. Camille Corot, whose work stood out from the other late-period followers of the Barbizon school, with its particular purity and chastity, was represented mainly by his landscapes - "Bath of Diane", "Heather Covered Hills Near Vimoutiers", his admirable "Gust of Wind" and "The Castle of Pierrefonds" - and a genre picture, "Woman With Cow". Incidentally, the subsequent history of this last painting is symptomatic and typical of the whole collection. It was destined to become the pride of St Petersburg's Hermitage, but its provenance from Sergei Tretyakov's collection is never mentioned in the Museum catalogue. Meantime, Sergei Tretyakov is known to have owned two Diaz de la Penas - "Autumn in Fontainebleau" and "Venus Holding Cupid", some landscapes by Charles Daubigny, plus two paintings by Jules Dupre, one of the outstanding representatives of the Barbizon school, - "Ebb-tide in Normandy" and "Evening". There were also four paintings by Constant Troyon - "Ox", "Dog and Rabbit”, "Sheep" and "Approach of the Thunderstorm", or "At the Watering Place" besides other Barbizon painters. In addition, there were French painters who adhered to other aesthetic principles, such as Eugene Fromentin, Prosper Marilhat, Jean Ingres, Louis David ("Portrait of Jean Ingres"), Theodore Gericault ("Nude Study"), Eugene Delacroix ("After the Shipwreck"), Gustave Courbet ("Sea"); and also historical paintings by Jean- Paul Laurence. Of the Dutch paintings "Seamtresses" by Joseph Israels was the best known. Austrian and Hungarian painters were represented by Mihaly Munkacsy ("Composition of a Bouquet"); German - by Adolph von Menzel, L. Knaus, Oswald and Andreas Achenbach and others; British - by a historical painting from the brush of Lawrence Alma-Tadema; Spanish - by a few Mariano Fortunys. Even Swiss painters - B. Votie and A. Calame - were to be found in the Sergei Tretyakov's collection.
As mentioned above, part of his collection featured Russian painting and sculpture. According to the Inventory of May 29, 1891, he owned thirty-nine works of art (thirty-one painting and eight sculptures) by nineteen Russian artists and six sculptors. Fifteen of them were exhibited in Pavel Tretyakov's gallery while the collector was still alive. Beside these there were two landscapes by Silvestre Shchedrin ("View of Naples” and "Street and Buildings") presented to Sergei Tretyakov by his brother-in-law Vladimir Konshin, two landscapes by Yuri Klever, one by Lev Lagorio, three by Alexei Bogolyubov (("A Summer Night on the Neva by the Coast", "View of Moscow", "The Hypatian Monastery near Kostroma"), as well as "Sunset" by Mikhail Klodt, one of Alexei Savrasov's landscapes, three studies by Fyodor Yasnovsky, Konstantin Makovsky's "Woman in front of the Looking Glass", "Portrait of Yelena Tretyakov" by Alexei Kharlamov and "Grandmother's Garden" by Vasily Polenov. The Inventory and the Report of Moscow City Council's Committee on Public Deeds and Needs, in paying homage to their late Head, listed the following sculptures: Mark Antokolsky's "Tsar Ivan the Terrible" and "Head of Christ", "Boy Taking A Bath" by Sergei Ivanov, "Boy With Monkey" by Nikolai Laveretsky (a gift from Pavel Tretyakov); "Mare and Colt" by Pyotr Klodt, two bronze groups by Yevgeny Lancere and a bust of Fyodor Dostoyevsky by Leopold Bernstam.
In summary, Sergei Tretyakov's Collection totalled one hundred and one works of art (three Tanagra terracotta figurines, a bust of Venus and five tapestries not considered) by seventy two Russian and European artists. The value of the Collection in April 1891 was estimated at 516 435 rubles.
Sergei Tretyakov died on August 6, 1892. His sudden death came as a shock to Pavel who had lost more than a beloved brother, but also a clever, energetic associate, close friend and confident. Pavel Buryshkin, a chronicler of Moscow's merchant families, wrote: "It does not often happen that the names of two brothers should be so closely associated with each other. In life they used to be knit together by true brotherly love and friendship. In eternity they will share the homage of the founders of the Pavel and Sergei Tretyakov Gallery".
The wonderful friendship and spiritual bond between the Tretyakov brothers was revealed in Sergei's will, made in 1881, long before his death. He knew his brother's secret desire to make his art collection a gift to the City of Moscow; in his will Sergei gave his older brother the right to dispose of his collection: "Of the works of art, that is paintings and sculptures, which are to be found in my house in Prechistensky Boulevard, ...shall be taken those he [Pavel Tretyakov] finds necessary to own and make part of his art collection, so that it shall also have examples of work by foreign artists, in order he shall be in capacity to dispose of the selected works of art to the same purpose as he has in view for his own ones".
In similar terms the City of Moscow was to be granted the rights to his portion of the family estate in Lavrushinsky Lane - the site of the future Tretyakov State Gallery. His will also bequeathed to the gallery the annual interest on the capital of 125,000 rubles to be used to purchase works by Russian artists. This particularly moved Pavel, because it showed how highly his brother esteemed and appreciated Russian art.
Sergei's premature death, and the wishes made in his will, put Pavel Tretyakov in the position that he urgently had to make substantial changes in the legal status of the gallery that had so far belonged solely to him. To have Sergei's will probated, that is to have it accepted as valid and binding, and to allow the heirs to come into the property that included such assets as money, real estate, shares in the New Kostroma linen mill, and to dispense various charity monies, including funds for the Moscow Conservatory to pay grants to their students, could only be done with Pavel's consent to execute his brother's will concerning the disposition of the art collection. There appeared to be a legal contradiction: "the will could not be executed because half of the house devised to the City of Moscow belonged to another individual", namely to Pavel Tretyakov. He saw his deceased brother's will with both apprehension and gratitude. Although he was taken unawares by Sergei's sudden death and the consequences it entailed, for it forced him to revise his plans concerning the gallery. In a letter to his wife dated from Geneva in October 1892 he confessed: "Although I had not at all intended to do it, it has turned out to be alright like this. It may be even for the better." On August 31, 1892 Pavel Tretyakov, in carrying out his cherished dream and his brother's last will, addressed Moscow's authorities with an offer to donate the gallery to his home town. The generous donation was gladly and gratefully accepted on September 1 5, 1892. Pavel died in 1898.
The Tretyakov Gallery, which incorporated both brothers' collections, saw them as equal benefactors. If Pavel's Russian collection represented the national artistic tradition, Sergei's European collection represented the international art world. This was absolutely clear to the artistic community of the period. In 1911, after the Gallery had seen new additions of European masters bequeathed by Mikhail Abramovich Morozov or regularly purchased, Ilya Ostroukhov, Curator of the Gallery, wrote, full of enthusiasm, to N.N.Vrangel, the well-known connoisseur and historian of art: "One of these days the huge collection of Shchukin and some others, whose names are not to be made public yet, may be merged into one joining the wonderful collections of European (mostly, French) masters of Sergei Tretyakov and Mikhail Morozov. Then, actually, nowhere in the world will the French painters of the 19th and early 20th centuries be represented so widely as in our gallery".
No matter that the dream was not to come true; it illustrates the sincere admiration that contemporaries had for the generous and valuable gift made by Sergei Tretyakov to his beloved Moscow.
Ironically, after his death Sergei Tretyakov became a benefactor to the gallery in a way nobody could have foreseen. After Pavel donated his gallery to the City of Moscow he stipulated that the collection could not be increased; it must remain as he and his brother bequeathed it. However, after Pavel's death the Board of Trustees, which included members of the Tretyakov family, wished to add to the collection, particularly in the area of contemporary art. As mentioned above, in his will Sergei left the interest on a legacy to purchase contemporary Russian paintings and sculpture. As noted by Igor Grabar, the Curator, this was the legal reason to circumvent Pavel's wishes and to augment the collection.
With the exception of the following pieces: Galofre's painting, the landscapes by Lagorio and Savrasov, two studies by Yasnovsky and one by Orlovsky, as well as Konstantin Makovsky's "Woman in front of the Looking Glass", the rest of Sergei's collection, as described in his will, were added to Pavel's collection and became part of the Tretyakov Gallery by the end of November 1892. Originally Sergei Tretyakov's collection was put on display in a separate room on the first floor of an annex, constructed in 1890-1892, to the main building. In the spring of 1897 Pavel Tretryakov started construction of a new annex; in 1898, in two new rooms on the ground floor Sergei's European painting collection and memorial room were opened. His sculptures were placed at the entrance to the rooms. For the memorial room Yelena Tretyakov, his widow, donated most of the contents of his study from his home in Prechistensky Boulevard. Besides the furnishings, this included the blue-enamel-decorated silver-plated lamps, candlesticks, a writing set and a clock.15 The walls of the memorial room were hung with the tapestries from his collection, drawings by Ingres, Cabanel and a few paintings. The partition wall, with two ached doorways on both sides that led to the exhibition room featured a portrait of Sergei Tretyakov commissioned by the Moscow City Council's Committee on Public Deeds and Needs. It had been executed in 1 895 by Valentin Serov from an earlier photograph. The inscription on the marble tablet below the portrait read: Sergei Mikhailovich Tretyakov, Head of Moscow City Council in 1877-1881, who bequeathed to the City of Moscow his collection of works of art. This portrait was installed by order of the Moscow City Council of January 26, 1893.
Unfortunately, the Sergei Tretyakov collection has not been preserved intact. In 1924-1925 all European art in Moscow, including the Tretyakov's collection, was allegedly transferred to the Fine Arts Museum, now the Pushkin Museum of Fine Art, and the State Museum of New Western Art, which does not exist any more. Now about forty of Sergei Tretyakov's paintings are known to exist in the Pushkin Museum. Others were donated to the State Hermitage collection in St. Petersburg and other museums throughout the former USSR. Today, the provenance of some Tretyakov paintings is not acknowledged. Nevertheless, the memory of the benevolent and generous gift made by the younger Tretyakov brother still lives in the history of Russian art collecting and culture, in the history of the Gallery itself and in the inscription on the front fapade of the Tretyakov Art Gallery in Lavrushinsky Lane in Moscow.
- Archives of the Tretyakov Gallery. For details see the corresponding note in Russian.
- Catalogue of the Works of Art in the Pavel and Sergei Tretyakov City Gallery. Moscow, 1917, p. 283.
- Botkina A.P. Pavel Mikhailovich Tretyakov v zhizni i iskusstve (Pavel Mikhailovich Tretyakov in Life and Art). Moscow, 1995, p. 196.
- Catalogue of the Works of Art et al., op. cit., pp. 283-284.
- The State Hermitage. Paintings of Western Europe. Catalogue 1. Italy, Spain, France, Switzerland. Leningrad, 1976, p.266. The painting in question is "A Peasant Woman Shepherding a Cow at the Edge of the Forest" (Catalogue number: 7166). It came to the Hermitage in 1930 from the Moscow Fine Arts Museum. Earlier, according to the Catalogue, the painting belonged to the State Tretyakov Gallery that had acquired it from a private collection in 1917. Both the Inventory of Sergei Tretyakov's collection and the photos of the collection taken by K.A. Fisher in 1898, when compared with the reproduction of the picture in the Hermitage Catalogue, prove the identity of these two paintings; indeed, even the dimensions in both catalogues are the same.
- They were: Karl Gun - "Caught in the Act", "A Ukrainian Night" by Arkhip Kuindzhi, Fyodor Vasiliev - "In the Crimean Mountains", "A Fowler" by Vasily Perov, "A Business Visit" by Vladimir Makovsky, Ivan Kramskoy's "A Moonlight Night" for whom the model was Yelena Tretyakov, the collector's wife; four Vasily Vereschagin's canvases; four studies by Alexander Ivanov for his large-size pieces "Appearance of Christ to People" and "Apollo, Hyacinthus and Cyparissus Making Music and Singing"; «A study. The Town of Pozzuoli near Naples» by Vladimir Orlovsky (Archives of the Tretyakov Gallery. For details see the corresponding note in Russian).
- I In both documents the cost of "Ivan the Terrible" is included in the total estimated value of the collection. Igor Grabar, the author of the Introduction and the introductory articles for the chapters in the 1917 Gallery Catalogue, leaves no doubt that the sculpture belonged to the Sergei Tretyakov collection (Cf., The 1917 Gallery Catalogue, Article XI, p. 299). At the same time there are letters and receipts written by Mark Antokolsky and addressed to Pavel Tretyakov, which contain information that Pavel Tretyakov commissioned Antokolsky to make the sculpture and the latter's receipts for contract payments and other sums. (Pisma khudozhnikov k P.M. Tretyakovu (Letters of Painters to Pavel Tretyakov). 1870-1879. Moscow, 1968, pp.43, 52-54, 84, 91, 95, 141, 152, 174, 177). Sofia Goldstein claimed: "On the Tretyakov brothers' order Mark Antokolsky completed, in 1875, the marble statue "Ivan the Terrible", which soon became part of Sergei Tretyakov's collection." Cf., Gosudarstvennaya Tretyakovskaia Galereia. Ocherki istorii (The State Tretyakov Gallery. Essays on Its History). 1856-1917. Leningrad, 1981, p.89).
- The Catalogue of the Works of Art et. al., op. cit, chapter "Paintings and Drawings by European Artists Collected by S. M. Tretyakov" mentions 84 works by 51 artists and 4 Tanagra terracotta figurines. (Moscow, 1916, p. 141-146). These figures are also mentioned by Alexandra Pavlovna Botkin, op. cit., but she must have been mistaken concerning the number of Russian painters and sculptors and, also by mistake, counted as part of Sergei Tretyakov's collection a painting by L. Jerome bought by her father, Pavel Tretyakov, in 1898. (Cf., Botkina A.P, op. cit., the title mentioned in note 5, p. 196).
- Buryshkin P.A. Moskva Kupecheskaia (Moscow of Merchants). Moscow, 1991, p. 142.
- Gosudarstvennaya Tretyakovskaia Galereia. Ocherki istorii (The State Tretyakov Gallery. Essays on Its History). 1856-1917. Leningrad, 1981, p.303.
- Botkina A.P. op. cit., See note 3, p. 276. On August 30, 1892 Pavel Tretyakov wrote to Vasily Stasov, an art critic: "To make the probate of the will possible, I will have to, immediately, donate to the city my part of the house and my collection of paintings, on the condition, of course, of my life occupation of the flat and curatorship of the gallery". Cf., Perepiska P.M. Tretyakova i V.V. Stasova (P.M. Tretyakov – V.V. Stasov Correspondence). Moscow-Leningrad, 1981, p. 152.
- Archives of the Tretyakov Gallery. For details see the corresponding note in Russian.
- Archives of the Tretyakov Gallery. For details see the corresponding note in Russian.
Oil on canvas. 38 by 55 cm
Oil on wood. 24 by 32 cm
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Oil on canvas. 26 by 46 cm
Oil on canvas. 321 by 266 cm
Oil on wood. 19 by 34 cm
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Oil on canvas. 37 by 45 cm
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Oil on canvas. 43 by 58 cm