THE MUSEUM ON THE BELAYA RIVER

Valentina Sorokina, Svetlana Ignatenko

Article: 
RUSSIA’S GOLDEN MAP
Magazine issue: 
#3 2007 (16)

The Bashkir Art Museum named after Mikhail Nesterov is one of Russia’s oldest. It was founded on November 7 1919, and opened for visitors on January 5 1920.

The beginning of its collection and the foundation of the museum are connected with the name of the outstanding Russian artist Mikhail Nesterov (1862-1942), who was born in Ufa. Wishing to contribute to the artistic education of his fellow-countrymen, the artist donated to his native city his own collection of Russian works of art of the second half of the 19th and early 20th centuries, in all 102 pictures, including works by Ilya Repin, Ivan Shishkin, Vladimir Makovsky, Nikolai Yaroshenko, Vasily Polenov, Isaac Levitan, Konstantin Korovin, Alexander Golovin, Alexander Benois, Abram Arkhipov, Nikolai Roerich, and other well-known artists.

The most precious part of Nesterov's gift included 30 pictures painted by the artist himself (portraits, landscapes and genre compositions). As a result of the museum's work and subsequent donations by the artist and members of his family, the collection of Nesterov's pictures now numbers 107 exhibits, which is one of the best and biggest in Russia. Chronologically, it includes his works created between 1878 and 1919 (only a few pictures date from later years). This chronological character of the collection has a certain principle, namely, it was in that period that Nesterov's ethical and aesthetic views were formed and materialized. Their essence was to revive the human soul and spirit in a secluded life close to nature, and in harmony with it.

At first it was decided to place the artist's gift in the Aksakov People's House (now the Bashkir Opera and Ballet Theatre), which was being built at the time, but due to the dragging out of that building's construction, the collection was kept at the Historical Museum in Moscow. The pictures were brought to Ufa only on October 9 1919, by Nesterov's friend, the well-known Moscow architect Ilya Bondarenko (1870-1947), who was also Ufa-born, who became the first curator of the museum.

The museum was housed in the former mansion of the timber merchant M. Laptev built in the moderne style by the architect Alexander Shcherbachev in 1913.

In the 1920s and 1930s the collection was enlarged with pictures from Moscow and Petrograd museum funds. During that period canvases by outstanding Russian artists like Konstantin Korovin, Pavel Kuznetsov, Leonard (Leonid) Turzhansky, Ivan Kramskoi, Vasily Perov, Mikhail Vrubel, Valentin Serov, and others were added to the Ufa museum collection. Thanks to Nesterov's personal efforts, the Russian Museum presented the Bashkir Museum with several pictures in 1929, which were real treasures of its collection. Among those were "Night in Venice” by Ivan Aivazovsky, "Bashkir Horseman” by Alexander Orlovsky, "After the Rain” by Ivan Stefanovsky, as well as works by Nikolai Ge, Alexei Kharlamov and Nikolai Roerich.

In the 1920s the foundations for a collection of ancient Russian art were laid, and in the 1920s-1930s the main collection of Russian and Western art came into being. Apart from such sources, pictures were donated by the Ufa municipal council, the social security department, the Aksakov library and private individuals. In subsequent decades the treasury of the museum was constantly replenished, as a result of which its main collections were formed: "Ancient Russian Art”, "Russian Art of the 18th-early 20th Century”, "West European Art of the 16th-19th Centuries”, "Art of Japan and China”, "Soviet Fine Art”, "Bashkir Folk Decorative Applied Art”, and "Contemporary Fine Art of the Republic of Bashkortostan”.

The collection of ancient Russian art includes unique items of the Moscow and Novgorod icon-painting schools of the late 15th-17th century, among them samples of the Northern style of the 16th century, the Palekh style of the late 18th century, samples of church copper plastic works from the 12th-19th centuries, and church silverware of the 18th-19th centuries.

The collection of Russian art of the 18th - early 20th centuries consists of several collections, each one of its own value.

The collection of Russian fine art includes gala portraits painted mainly by unknown artists of the group of Dmitry Levitsky, Vladimir Borovikovsky and lohann-Baptist Lampi. The collection of the Russian fine art of the first half to mid-19th century consists of landscapes made by Peter Basin, Sylvestr Shchedrin, Lev Lagorio, Pavel Dzhogin, Ivan Aivazovsky, as well as portraits painted by Orest Kiprensky, Vasily Tropinin, drawings by Karl Briullov and water colours by Alexander Orlovsky. Most pictures in the collection of Russian art of the latter half of the 19th century were donated by Nesterov and the Moscow and Petrograd museum funds in the 1920s and 1930s. Among them are works by Nikolai Ge, Vasily Perov, Yegor Khruslov, Alexei Savrasov, Ivan Stefanovsky, Arkhip Kuindzhi, Ilya Repin, Vasily Surikov, Vladimir Makovsky, Vasily Vereshchagin, Frantz Rubo, Sergei Ivanov, Sergei Vinogradov, Ivan Pokhitonov, Ilya Ostroukhov, Nikolai Kasatkin, and others. In the collection of Russian fine art of the late 19th and early 20th century are works by members of the artistic associations "Mir Iskusstva” (World of Art), "Soyuz Russkikh Khudozhnikov” (Association of Russian Artists), "Golubaya Roza” (Blue Rose), and "Bubnovy Valet” (Knave of Diamonds). Among them there are paintings and drawings by Alexander Benois, Leonid Pasternak, Mstislav Dobuzhinsky, Nikolai Roerich, Igor Grabar, Valentin Serov, Konstantin Korovin, Mikhail Vrubel, Alexander Golovin, Nikolai Feshin, Pavel Kuznetsov, Petr Konchalovsky, Natalia Goncharova and Mikhail Larionov.

The museum collection of paintings by one of the most outstanding figures of the Russian avant-garde of the early 20th century, David Burlyuk (1882-1967) is of special value. The collection consists of 37 canvases made (except for one) during his stay in Bashkiria in 1915-1918.

In the collection of West European art there are paintings by Philips Wouwerman, Giovanni-Paolo Pannini, Canaletto, Nicolas Poussin, Francois Gerard, Claude Vernet, Nicolas Lancret, Ludolf Backhuysen, Abraham Storck, and others, as well as etchings of the 15th-19th centuries, representing well-known schools of etching in England, Germany, Holland, Italy, France, and also sculptures by Danish, Italian and French masters of the 18th-19th century.

A considerable part of the museum collection is taken up by Bashkir folk decorative applied art works - unique samples of weaving, embroidery, woodcarving, jewellery and costume of the 18th-early 20th centuries, and also paintings by artists of Bashkortostan in the 20th and early 21st century. The latter collection is the museum's largest. It includes works by the founders of Bashkir fine art - Kasim Devletkildeyev, Alexander Tyulkin, Maria Elgashtina, Ivan Uryadov and Anatolii Lezhnev, as well as those by artists of the 1950s-1970s: Rashid Nurmukhametov, Akhmat Lutfullin, Boris Domashnikov, Alexander Burzyantsev, Alexei Kuznetsov, Adiya Sitdikova, Tamara Nechayeva, Mukhamed Arslanov, Galiya Imasheva, Zilfat Basyrov and Ernst Saitov, to mention but a few. Fine art of the 1980s and 1990s and the early 21st century is represented by many artists of various aesthetic trends and members of different artistic associations and groups which have appeared in the republic recently (like the groups "Mart”, "Inzer”, "Sary Biya”, "Genghiz Khan” and "Artysh”).

At present the collection of the Bashkir Museum of Art, named after Mikhail Nesterov in 1 954, includes more than 10,000 exhibits.

The exhibition at the Tretyakov Gallery, arranged within the framework of the federal project "Russia's Golden Map”, and timed to mark the 450th anniversary of Bashkiria's voluntary accession to Russia, includes selected works by four artists only - Mikhail Nesterov, David Burlyuk, Kasim Devletkildeyev and Alexander Tyulkin. These names are the most important ones for Bashkortostan in terms of the artistic quality of their works, and their contribution to the republic's art and culture. Besides, they vividly reflect the multinational character of Bashkir fine art, its generic variety and inimitable originality and imagery. It is to be hoped that these names will be remembered by the Moscow public also because of the uniqueness of the collection of the Bashkir Nesterov Museum of Art.

Illustrations

Mikhail NESTEROV. Early Spring. 1905
Mikhail NESTEROV. Early Spring. 1905
Oil on canvas. 61.7 by 76 cm. Sketch for the painting “Two Harmonies” (1905, Nizhny Novgorod Art Museum)
Mikhail NESTEROV. Shepherd Boy (Portrait of Natalia Nesterova). 1922
Mikhail NESTEROV. Shepherd Boy (Portrait of Natalia Nesterova). 1922
Oil on canvas mounted on cardboard. 32.8 by 26 cm. Sketch for the painting “Spring the Beautiful” (1933, Russian Museum)
Mikhail NESTEROV. Winter at a Hermit’s Retreat. 1904
Mikhail NESTEROV. Winter at a Hermit’s Retreat. 1904
Oil on canvas. 62 by 75.8 cm
Mikhail NESTEROV. The Resurrection of Lazarus. 1900 (fragment)
Mikhail NESTEROV. The Resurrection of Lazarus. 1900
(fragment). Oil on canvas. 66.6 by 74.6 cm. The painting did not survive; Nesterov created it while working on a mural on the same subject for the Alexander Nevsky church in Abastuman (1899–1904). Later the artist destroyed it
Mikhail NESTEROV. Tsarina Alexandra and St. Nicolas the Miracle Worker. 1897
Mikhail NESTEROV. Tsarina Alexandra and St. Nicolas the Miracle Worker. 1897
Oil on canvas. 154.4 by 69.8 cm
David BURLYUK. Red Noon. 1915–1918
David BURLYUK. Red Noon. 1915-1918
Oil on canvas. 44 by 66 cm
David BURLYUK. Rainbow. 1916
David BURLYUK. Rainbow. 1916
Oil on canvas. 92.6 by 62.4 cm
David BURLYUK. Cossack Mamai. 1916
David BURLYUK. Cossack Mamai. 1916
Oil on canvas. 62.6 by 93 cm
David BURLYUK. Portrait of a Young Bashkir. 1917
David BURLYUK. Portrait of a Young Bashkir. 1917
Oil on canvas. 39 by 36 cm
David BURLYUK. Portrait of a Woman with a Boy. 1917
David BURLYUK. Portrait of a Woman with a Boy. 1917
Oil on canvas. 44.2 by 39.5 cm
David BURLYUK. Study of a Female Model. 1917
David BURLYUK. Study of a Female Model. 1917
Oil on canvas. 57.2 by 95.9 cm
Alexander TYULKIN. A Small Courtyard at a Country House. 1919
Alexander TYULKIN. A Small Courtyard at a Country House. 1919
Tempera on cardboard. 71 by 55 cm
Alexander TYULKIN. Flowers in the Windows. 1955
Alexander TYULKIN. Flowers in the Windows. 1955
Tempera on canvas. 110 by 145 cm
Alexander TYULKIN. Hydrangeas. 1920
Alexander TYULKIN. Hydrangeas. 1920
Tempera on cardboard. 94 by 86 cm
Alexander TYULKIN. Quiet. 1930
Alexander TYULKIN. Quiet. 1930
Tempera on cardboard. 64 by 69 cm
Kasim DEVLETKILDEYEV. Porch of a Bashkir Peasant Hut. 1928
Kasim DEVLETKILDEYEV. Porch of a Bashkir Peasant Hut. 1928
Watercolour on paper. 29.1 by 47 cm
Kasim DEVLETKILDEYEV. Ibrahim, a Bashkir. 1928
Kasim DEVLETKILDEYEV. Ibrahim, a Bashkir. 1928
Coal, white paint on paper. 45 by 36 cm
Kasim DEVLETKILDEYEV. At Prayer. 1910s (?)
Kasim DEVLETKILDEYEV. At Prayer. 1910s (?)
Crayon and watercolour on paper. 21 by 33 cm
Kasim DEVLETKILDEYEV. Bashkir Girl in a Blue Dress. 1928
Kasim DEVLETKILDEYEV. Bashkir Girl in a Blue Dress. 1928
Watercolour on paper. 50 by 30 cm

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