Pyotr Zakharov-Chechenets in the Tretyakov Gallery: A Historical Chronicle

Lyudmila Markina

Magazine issue: 
#3 2011 (32)

I came across the idea of this article by sheer chance, when a group of reporters from Grozny “descended” upon the Tretyakov Gallery. Unprepared, I was to give an interview about the art of Pyotr Zakharov-Chechenets. In the introductory room, my attention was caught by an old photograph featuring the interior of the gallery in 1898, which showed that Zakharov-Chechenets’s portraits fitted in perfectly with those hanging beside them, including masterpieces of Russian art of the 1830s-1840s by Karl Briullov and Fyodor Brum. Almost all of his best works in the collection were purchased by Pavel Tretyakov. What was it that attracted the demanding collector? Images of the people who were “dear to the nation’s heart”? Or the quality of the artist’s craftsmanship? How, and under what circumstances, were his paintings acquired by the Tretyakov Gallery? Looking for answers, I researched at the department of manuscripts of the Tretyakov Gallery, and in the newspaper and dissertation departments of the Russian National Library.

Zakharov-Chechenets’s early years are wrapped in mystery. To this day we know neither the Chechen boy’s real name nor the date of his birth (supposedly, in the year 1816). The only known fact is that on September 15 1819, in the Chechen village of Dady-Yurt occupied by the Russian military, “an infant was found near his killed mother”. Publications about the artist1 mention, without any documentary proof, that the boy was cared for by a Cossack named Zakhar (hence the future artist’s last name) Nedonosov from Borozdinovskaya village, lived in a monastery as a child and was baptized as an Orthodox Christian by General Alexei Yemolov. However, neither the letters written by the Yermolov cousins and their relatives nor their notes and journals contain any mention of a “godson”.

The earliest mention of “a Chechen Pyotr and a Lezgin Pavel” placed into the foster care of Major-General Pyotr Yermolov (1787-1844) on August 25 1825 appears in a document now kept in the Yermolov archive at the Russian Archive of Old Documents [RGADA]2. Shortly before then, in January 1825, the 38-year-old hero of the Patriotic War of 1812 married a young lady called Anna Obolonskaya (1807-1852), who was 20 years his junior. Letters exchanged by Pyotr Yermolov’s mother and sister in 1825-1826 mention “Petrusha and Pasha”. The relatives inquired after the progress in the education of “the Lezgin and the Chechen” and sent small gifts for each of them. In response, Pyotr Yermolov wrote that the boys were privately tutored in Russian, Latin and German. Some of the characterizations of the boys are noteworthy: “Pasha studies better, he has always been the more assiduous of the two, and Petrusha is very obstinate”. A letter from May 1826 mentions an infection which “the Lezgin and the Chechen have contracted”. It is possible that the Lezgin Pasha died from that infection, because this is the last reference to him that can be found. The legend about the Lezgin who died in the Caucasus region does not seem to have documentary proof either.

From an early age Petrusha Zakharov demonstrated an uncommon gift for painting, and Pyotr Yermolov decided to place him at the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts. During Nicholas I’s coronation (on August 22 1826) in Moscow he approached the Academy’s president Alexei Olenin with this request. The tactful Olenin did not object to the idea in principle, but offered to start by placing the Chechen under a professional painter’s tutelage. The name of the artist who gave lessons to Zakharov is unknown, though there are suggestions that he studied under a Moscow artist named Lev Volkov. In a December 1830 letter Pyotr Yermolov wrote to Nikolai Shimanovsky: “You know that he [Pyotr Zakharov] was trusted to a painter, began to paint quite handsomely and has shown great talent, but time is running short, he is nearly 14 already and I’m afraid that he may grow too old for enrollment at the Academy”.

It indeed took quite a while to have the foster child enrolled, and this was finally accomplished due to assistance from the Society for Encouragement of Artists. In late March 1833 Petrusha Zakharov arrived safely in St. Petersburg, checked into an apartment rented by the Society and began making himself a home. In his letters to “my great benefactor” the future Academy member touchingly accounted for every kopeck he spent. “I bought with your money a bed, a pillow, a blanket and a mattress, at the overall cost of 15 rubles 80 kopecks. A chest, a paper and pencils have yet to be bought.” Early in April he apprised: “I’ll begin going to classes the week following the first Sunday after Easter. Vasily Ivanovich Grigorovich told me I should live in the same way as others do. Money for meals has been granted. The Society gave me money for meals beginning from April 1, and I paid five rubles for the preceding five days; one ruble for a knife, a fork, a spoon; two rubles for ten sheets of paper for the painting classes; for half a pound of Italian pencils — two rubles 50 kopecks.”

In St. Petersburg, Petrusha was taken care of and “looked after” by one of the Society’s founders, Alexander Dmitriev-Mamonov. The latter sent detailed “reports” to Yermolov about the deportment and study progress of the Academy’s new pupil. He also provided the “nice boy with new accoutrements”. At the end of 1833 Zakharov gleefully wrote to Moscow about his first accomplishments and commendations from Kikin, the Society’s secretary, and Grigorovich. By way of proof, he sent along several drawings: “A drawing of Laocoon, an image of Achilles’s gypsum head, also gypsum heads of Medici Venus and Apollo” and two portraits. Pyotr Zakharov informed about a forthcoming relocation to a new apartment on Vasilievsky Ostrov “in Mrs. Kostyurina’s house No. 199, 7th Line”.

One of the important elements of the teaching of painting skills at the Academy was copying the old Western European masters at the Hermitage. In February 1834 Zakharov copied Van Dyck’s painting “The Young Prince”. “Ordered: to give 70 rubles to pupil Zakharov for his copy of Van Dyck’s painting and to return the copy to him so that he could present it to his benefactor Yermolov”3. But Pyotr Yermolov did not receive this work. In 1835 the Society’s committee apprised that “pupil Zakharov has produced a copy of Van Dyck’s picture which in all fairness deserves praise. Member of the Committee Count Vielgorsky encouraged the young man to proceed with his work, took the copy and rewarded Zakharov for it.”4

At the beginning of 1836 Zakharov was actively preparing for an exhibition at the Academy. In a letter to Yermolov he wrote that he was setting out “to make a painting from nature on national themes, to display it at the next exhibition this year, in September”. Presumably, the piece in question was “Fisherman” (1836, Art Museum, Voronezh. First version5), the artist’s earliest known work, that is marked by some tenseness and a sophomoric treatment of nature. The small space of the canvas is nearly entirely taken up by the bulky figure of a peasant mending a fishing net, with the artist’s focus on the huge hands of his subject. The “Russianness” of the image is simplistically accentuated (a red shirt, an Orthodox Christian cross on the chest, a soft beard and the hair parted in the middle). The composition is completed with a Russian belle in the background.

The young artist understood that he had to go to a place with “local colour” to paint the scene, because “the Russian character has all but vanished in St. Petersburg”. Such travel would have required financing, however, which Zakharov never received. Perhaps it was the awareness of his failure that drove the artist to work frenetically on a historical composition. In July he spoke about a finished sketch for his painting “Flavius Belisarius Begging for Alms with a Boy”. The requirement to paint a composition based on the story of the Byzantine army chief Belisarius was a staple in the academic curricula of the time6, the task being to depict Justinian I’s associate whose military victories strengthened the Byzantine Empire, but who, having been unjustly disgraced, lost his sight and in the final years of his life had to beg for alms. The assignment to paint the old man with the boy-guide provided the Academy’s pupils with an opportunity to contrast two ages in a fairly simple two-figure composition.

Analyzing a brief review of the 1836 exhibition written by Nestor Kukolnik in “Khudozhestvennaya Gazeta” (Art Gazette), one can infer that the display was quite comprehensive (580 works in all) and diverse (architectural projects, sculpture, paintings, and drawings). On October 8 the show was visited by Emperor Nicholas I and Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna, who “contemplated all of the artwork with approving attention and graciously”. Zakharov’s pieces were not lost among the host of works produced by architects, sculptors, painters and graphic artists. “We are especially pleased to mention,” wrote the critic, “the small-size works of Zabolotsky, Pechenkin, Zakharov and Plakhov”7.

Zakharov’s portraits on view included images of the artists Alexei Tyranov and Yakov Kapkov8, but regrettably the present whereabouts of these pieces is unknown. It was no accident that Zakharov undertook to portray his fellow students at the Academy. These portraits were created in the same year as Mikhail Scotti’s graphic series. Pavel Tretyakov bought Scotti’s drawing book from Lyubov Ramazanova, the widow of a sculptor who studied together with Scotti and Zakharov. In March 1891 she wrote to Tretyakov: “Dear Pavel Mikhailovich, your gallery, as I remember, has a room for pencil drawings and the like. My late husband’s drawing book contains several such drawings, quite noteworthy both in workmanship and content. Scotti drew, using a black pencil, portraits of artists who graduated with gold medals from the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts in 1839: Stavasser, Ramazanov, Pimenov, Klimchenko, Kudinov, Delabvez, Courvoise, Vorobiev.”9 These pencilled portraits of the young graduates are of great historical importance, as the only available evidence showing what many of the Russian artists of the 1830s-1840s looked like. This series includes the only credible image of Zakharov. The piece featuring “the Armenian Nersesov and the Chechen Zakharov” (1836, Tretyakov Gallery) is made with an Italian pencil and a stump, and Scotti ably rendered the individuality of each. This double portrait is pivoted around contrasts between two different images and personalities. The serious Nersesov whose hazel eyes have absorbed “all the grief of the Armenian people” wears ethnic dress (an Astrakhan cap of a peculiar shape). Lively, smiling, with a foppish little moustache and beaming light eyes, Zakharov is depicted as a St. Petersburger from the city’s artistic circles. He has a cloak flung over his shoulders, a beret jauntily pushed sideways, and a handkerchief carelessly tied round the neck. A heavily starched white collar emphasizes the pallor of his face.

The Society’s report, presented by its secretary Grigorovich in April 1837, states that “Zakharov and Pechenkin, who owe their education and accomplishments to the Society’s care and support — at the Academy’s exhibition, Zakharov displayed his paintings ‘Belisarius’ and ‘Reading the Cards10 and several portraits, and Pechenkin presented three pictures with Russian scenes — were granted the rank of artist of the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts and are now longer in our care. By way of reward for their moral virtue and accomplishments in the domain of the fine arts, the Committee has rewarded each of the two.”11

It appears that the young artist did not quite succeed with the historical composition. In his letter to Yermolov Zakharov honestly recounts the episode: “The painting ‘Belisarium’ did not enjoy a great success, besides the commendation from the Academy’s members. During the graduation ceremony Alexei Olenin heaped much praise on me and thanked me for the accomplishments. The picture was bought at the show by Mr. Ulyanin12 for 350 rubles.”

The Academy’s Council granted Zakharov, who “lived in his flat”13, the rank of liberal artist on August 10 1836. The Council noted therewith that “he produces very pleasant portraits and pieces a-l’aquarelle”14. In spite of the Council’s decision, the official document — the diploma — was handed to Zakharov only on Feburary 4 1837, and with it the new independent life of a “freelance artist” started for Zakharov. In letters to Yermolov Zakharov wrote that he “was busy making portraits” and giving painting lessons. The circle of clients was limited to Zakharov’s good friends from the Academy and their relatives. While residing in St. Petersburg, the portraitist accomplished portraits of the families of Ladyzhensky, Isleniev, and Samsonov. The pieces are mostly small intimate portraits featuring their models seated in an armchair holding a book or a piece of needlework.

It was not easy to earn one’s living solely from private commissions. The artist was in constant need of money and had to move to new apartments every so often. So, early in 1840, “my address: Vasilievsky Ostrov, 7th Line near Bolshoi Prospekt, Gerasimov’s House, Eichorn’s apartment”. By the end of the year it was already, “Sredny Prospekt, between Cadets’ Line and the Little Neva, in the merchant wife Okulova’s house”. In that year Zakharov made a copy of Nicholas I’s portrait “full-length, the canvas one arshin [two and a third feet] tall, in a generic general’s uniform, for 300 rubles” by Franz Kruger, a favourite Prussian painter of the Russian emperor. At approximately the same period Zakharov painted the portraits of Ye. Voeikova, Borozdina (their location unknown), and the merchant Zhadimerovsky (in the Hermitage, the name of the sitter is unknown — L.M.).

The piece “Portrait of an Unknown Lady with Children” (private collection, location unknown5) is dated to October 1840 — it was sent to the Tretyakov Gallery for expert assessment in 2005. In the 1980s the piece was owned by the Moscow art collector Ya. Shapiro. Tamara Mazaeva in her dissertation included the portrait into the listing of the artist’s authentic pieces and called it an image of A. Yermolova with her children. However, the Yermolovs at that time were in Moscow while the artist remained in St. Petersburg. The correspondence between Zakharov and the Yermolovs makes no reference to the artist working on a portrait of the Yermolov family.

The picture, primarily a genre piece, presents a portrait of a family indoors, and belongs stylistically to the Biedermeier tradition. An amusing detail is conveyed by the scene of play between a boy and a cat — the boy is portrayed holding up a piece of paper on a thread while the cat hides under the mother’s armchair. The older girl shyly huddles up to the mother. Zakharov plays up the material side of objects — the texture of wood in the armchair, the soft fluffiness of the velvet upholstery, the shine of the supple silk of the dresses and ribbons, and the translucent delicacy of the lace. The colour scheme is based on contrasts between black-and-grey and red-and-green hues.

The signature on the piece, very unusually for the artist, references his place of birth — “Zakharov Dadayurtsky” (Zakharov of Dada-Yurt). Another such signature is featured on the “Portrait of an Unknown Man Inside a House”16 (1840, in the Hermitage). Given the similarities of their sizes and the same time of production, one can suppose that Zakharov created twin portraits featuring a man and his wife with children.

In December 1840 Zakharov received a job as a drawer at the Military Ministry. Working there, Zakharov accomplished more than 60 drawings featuring different uniforms and arms used by the Russian army (of which 37 have been located). He was twice granted monetary rewards for great technical proficiency and workmanship (250 rubles on April 5 1841, and 175 rubles on January 10 1842). This “improvement of financial standing” led to better living conditions. In 1841, then living on Vasilievksy Island, the artist moved to the 5th Line — the “House of Fashion” on the corner of the Embankment, across the street from the Academy of Fine Arts. In early 1842, he moved to “Transhel’s house” on the 11th Line, between Bolshoi and Sredny Prospekts. In February 1842 Zakharov submitted to the Academy’s Council a request for the title of Academician. But a steep deterioration in his health made the artist abandon the “putrid” climate of St. Petersburg. Late in April 1842 Zakharov moved to Moscow, settling in Pyotr Yermolov’s house near Tverskaya Street, at 236 Chernyshevsky Pereulok (now 6 Stankevich Street). In Moscow, he would work prolifically producing paintings and drawings. A year later he received the much coveted title of Academician for the “Portrait ofAlexei Yermolov” (1843, Russian Museum).

Arguably, Zakharov’s first piece bought by Pavel Tretyakov was the “Portrait of Doctor Fyodor Inozemtsev” (1844, Tretyakov Gallery). A letter from Natalya Postnikova (1788-1885) dated March 7 1883 survives: “Dear Pavel Mikhailovich, if you haven’t changed your mind about buying Inozemtsev’s portrait from me, well, now is the time for it to become swallowed up as well, after my little Chinese dogs and Saxon shepherdesses. But since this portrait is my last resource... I have to hold on firmly to the price tag that was normal for the artist — namely, 1,000 rubles.”17 The sender was the wife of a third-guild merchant from Moscow P. Postnikov (17831865). The Postnikovs’ hospitable and welcoming home in Kudrino, near the Pokrova Church, was a magnet for many Russian intellectuals, including the historian Pyotr Kireevsky and writers Nikolai Gogol and Nikolai Yazykov. The Postnikovs had three adult children — son Ivan (1813-1882), who later became a renowned doctor, daughter Alexandra (1818-1846), who became Zakharov’s wife, and younger son Sergei (1838-1880), a future artist18. By the moment she wrote that letter everyone mentioned was dead and she remained alone. As is clear from the text, in the last years of her life she lived in penury, selling off her plain treasures little by little.

The man featured on the portrait, Doctor Fyodor Inozemtsev (1802(?)- 1869), was a truly legendary individual in Moscow. A talented practicing doctor, he balanced his professional obligations with the duties of a statesman and community work (he was a full state councillor and a member of the medical council under the auspices of the Ministry of Home Affairs). At 30, Inozemtsev was granted the title of Doctor of Medicine and Surgery. Two years later, he became a professor of practical surgery at Moscow University (from 1835 to 1859). A wonderful teacher, Inozemtsev established a school of practical medicine, and in 1861 founded a Society of Russian doctors in Moscow. In the old capital city, Inozemtsev had a reputation as a book lover and art aficionado. In the 1840s he attended to Pyotr Yermolov, Zakharov’s foster parent and patron. It is possible that the commissioning of Inozemtsev’s portrait was a token of gratitude to the doctor. Yet, for some reasons the piece remained with the Postnikovs. The erstwhile collection of Felix Vishnevsky included a small oil sketch on cardboard (25 by 20 cm) made in preparation for Inozemtsev’s portrait.

Regrettably, the gallery’s archive has lost all documents indicating the amount paid for Inozemtsev’s portrait. Perhaps Pavel Tretyakov paid the requested amount of 1,000 roubles (quite a big sum then) and was given “as a bonus” an image of Natalya Postnikova herself accomplished by her son-in-law, the artist, in 1845. Whatever the case, both pieces were listed in the gallery’s first catalogue, published in 189319. The catalogue also lists another of Zakharov’s graphic works — “Group Portrait” (1844)20. This most interesting piece was gifted by Illarion Pryanishnikov.

Five years after Mrs. Postnikova’s letter Pavel Tretyakov received a new proposal. “I vividly remember how, ten years ago, you wanted to buy Zakharov’s portrait of Granovsky,” Yevgeny Korsh wrote on June 4 1888, “and my late sister21, who owned it, set her heart against selling it. Now that after her death I’m the sole owner of the portrait, being also an old man with not much time ahead, I am more than willing to pass it on to your excellent gallery for a price upon which, I believe, we can instantly agree, of course provided that you would first inspect the picture in my home.”22 As Korsh had hoped, the agreement was reached almost immediately, as documented in the receipt, to the amount of 500 rubles, made out by the owner and dated the same month of June23.

The “Portrait of Timofei Granovsky” (1845, Tretyakov Gallery) is one of Zakharov’s true masterpieces and one of the gems of Pavel Tretyakov’s collection. The artist undoubtedly fell under the spell of the famous historian’s personality. The portraitist depicted the model’s figure and head in a contrapposto mode, conveying the sitter’s inner energy: the 32-year-old scholar was in the prime of life and at the peak of his career. Zakharov emphasized the thinker’s high forehead, while the white, heavily starched little collar accentuates the aristocratic pallor of his face. Shoulder-length soft hair, a dandyish handkerchief round the neck and, finally, an elegant cane with a snake-shaped handle — all this speaks of Granovsky’s artistic nature. This portrait complements Granovsky’s characterization by one of his contemporaries: “Colossal erudition, marvellous memory, excellent scholarship and taste, and finally, the appearance itself, accurately reflecting his best inner qualities — all this taken together made Granovsky one of the most important and influential persons in the university as well as the learned circles of Moscow society”24.

Timofei Nikolaievich Granovsky (1813-1855) was something of a legend. A talented historian and brilliant lecturer, he was also renowned for his community activism25. A graduate of St. Petersburg University (1835), Granovsky had a two-year internship at Berlin University (from 1837 to 1839). Upon his return to Russia, he became a professor of world history at Moscow University, where he taught until his death. His emotional lectures on the history of the Middle Ages26 were very popular. According to contemporaries, he was one of the favourite mentors for students and Moscow youth. “A stranger to one-sidedness and exclusivity, Granovsky was not so much a scholar and teacher as an artist on the pulpit,” Konstantin Kavelin reminisced. “He held sway over his audience and his entourage not on account of the impeccable consistency of academic argument but on account of the secret spontaneous persuasiveness of the most elegant and deeply-felt presentation of the material”27.

Granovsky taught at a time when Russian public life was dominated by the heated debate between the Slavophiles and the Westernizers. Alexander Herzen described the atmosphere in Moscow during those years: “Granovsky and we all were very busy, all of us held jobs and worked, some teaching at universities, others editing and writing for reviews and magazines, and still others studying Russian history. Never again did I meet an assortment of so many talented, mature, versatile and pure people.”28

The historian Granovsky’s image fitted seamlessly into the gallery of portraits of “people dear to the nation’s heart”, methodically assembled by Pavel Tretyakov.

Zakharov-Chechenets’ artistic legacy — mostly his drawings — caught the attention of another Moscow collector, Ivan Tsvetkov. In 1849 a rag-picker Guberman the younger sold, for just 50 rubles, a composition which was originally called “A Chechen”, later — “A Chechen in a Burka [sleeveless felt cloak with square shoulders]”, and it was even speculated that the piece could be a self-portrait29. Even today one can come across such namings of the piece in popular publications about the artist. What such writers miss, however, is the fact that in 1843 (when the portrait was made) Zakharov was only 27, while the painting features a middle-aged man with a luscious moustache.

Tsvetkov bought a whole folder of drawings made by Zakharov with Italian pencil. The pieces feature bust-size profiles of a sitting woman (ID 6722), an adolescent boy (ID 6723) and a young man (ID 6721). Seven pieces in all, they were painted from live models. On the whole, these pieces bespeak excellent academic drawing skills. The artist is very skilled in anatomy drawing, knows how to place a figure in space, and has a perfect command of the pencil with stump. All this points to the fact that these undated works were created during Zakharov’s mature period, when he lived in Moscow.

After the collector Tsvetkov’s death his collection, according to his will, was sent to the Tretyakov Gallery in 1925.

Among the pictures acquired by the gallery after the Bolshevik revolution, the “Fisherman”, sent by the State Museum Fund (the former Akopov collection), is worth mention.

Later the gallery acquired such important pieces by Zakharov as the “Portrait of the Yermolov Children” (1839). Since its creation the work was kept in the Yermolov family, until in 1928 Maria Yermolova, heir to the distinguished dynasty, decided to sell it. It is a genre piece: the older children of the artist’s “kind benefactor” — Nikolai (1827-1879) and Yekaterina (1829-1910) — are depicted performing daily routines in the shadow of a centuries-old oak tree. The boy is sorting berries, the girl holds a bowl of jam in her hands. The middle son, Alexei (1830-1869), is plying the bellows to keep the fire aglow. To the left are the younger children, no more than a year apart in age — Varvara (1832-1906), Nina (1833-1890) and Grigory (1834-after 1896)30. There is a doll thrown on the floor. One of the girls is already treating herself to the jam. Undoubtedly, the artist had many opportunities to watch such scenes, knowing the children well. Their manners and poses are natural, they do not “pretend” but “live”. This is a world of family bliss and brotherly mutual understanding which the artist understood well — he was a part of it. That was why Zakharov depicted this household scene with so much love and immediacy. It was not by chance that the artist often mentioned the children in his letters to Pyotr Yermolov. For instance, in January 1842 he wrote: “I pray to God for a longer life for you and all of your family — Katerina Petrovna, Nikolai Petrovich, Alexei Petrovich, Varvara Petrovna, Nina Petrovna, Grigory Petrovich!” And in the same year in July: “I wish to all your family good health and accomplishments in learning; I have been pleased to hear that Nikolai Petrovich, Katerina Petrovna and Alexei Petrovich are making progress in painting — they promised to send me their works at times.”31

Looking at these happy faces, not yet burdened by concerns and staring innocently at the viewer, one is tempted to ask:
what wold become of these children in the future? Nikolai Petrovich Yermolov graduated from Moscow University and worked at the Moscow archive of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 1860 he participated in an election of deputies from the nobility in Zhizdrinsky Province of Kaluzhskaya Gubernia, and later was elected as the chairman of the congress of justices of the peace. He worked hard to publish Alexei Yermolov’s notes. He died at 52 and was buried in the Pokrovsky Monastery in Moscow. His sister Yekaterina Petrovna, two years younger than him, lived a long life and died already in the 20th century. Yekaterina Ysrmolova was a lady-in-waiting in the court and a community activist and a philanthropist. She is buried in the Pokrovsky Monastery in Moscow. Not much is known about the life of Alexei Petrovich Yermolov; he retired from service with the rank of staff captain and died at the age of 39, and is buried in the family vault at the Pokrovsky Monastery. Varvara Petrovna married a man called Dmitry Fyodorovich Samarin, and is buried in the Danilovsky Monastery in Moscow. Nina Petrovna married Mikhail Kuzmich Polozov, a house tutor at the court. Grigory Petrovich served in the military, retiring in July 189632 with the rank of lieutenant-general.

In the following year, 1929, the drawing “Portrait of an Adolescent Boy with a Book” (ID 11576) came to the gallery from Ilya Ostroukhov’s museum.

Nearly ten years later, in 1938, a purchasing committee in Lenigrad sent to the Tretyakov Gallery the “Portrait of an Unknown Man” (1840). Nikolai Shabanyants believes that the sitter was Lev Volkov (1790-1852), Zakharov’s first teacher who tutored him in 1831-1832, before his enrolment at the Academy. However, this attribution appears doubtful. Its St. Petersburg provenance and the dating of the picture indicate that it was created when the artist lived in St. Petersburg, whereas the artist Volkov lived and worked in Moscow. That was Zakharov’s last piece to be acquired by the Gallery. Thus, the treasury of Russian art became the repository of the largest collection of Zakharov’s artwork (the Russian Museum holds two pieces and the Hermitage, five), which reflect different aspects of his talent and include seven paintings and nine drawings.

In 1962-1963, when the project to open an art museum in the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic was underway, the government decided to send to the institution several of Zakharov-Chechenets’s works: “A Chechen in a Burka”, “Portrait of an Unknown Man” and three drawings originally from Tsvetkov’s gallery (the sketch of the female figure, the male portrait, and the unfinished portrait of a young man). All these pictures were lost in unexplained circumstances during the military operations in Chechnya in the early 1990s.


  1. Shabanyants, Nikolai. “Life and Work of the Artist Pyotr Zakharov”. Grozny: 1963. Shabanyants, Nikolai. “Academician Pyotr Zakharov. A Chechen Artist (18161846)”. Grozny: 1974. Kropivnitskaya, Galina. ‘New research about the artist Pyotr Zakharov'. In: “Cultural Landmarks. New Discoveries” Moscow: 1977. Pp. 334-335. Mazaeva, Tamara. “The Artist Pyotr Zakharov (Chechenets)”. A doctoral thesis. Leningrad: 1982.
  2. Gennady Yakushkin is preparing the publication of these documents. The author expresses her most profound gratitude for the opportunity to familiarize herself with the material before its release and to use parts of it in the article.
  3. Department of Manuscripts, Tretyakov Gallery. Fund 31. Item 2139. Item 1. Sheet 1.
  4. Department of Manuscripts, Tretyakov Gallery. Fund 31. Item 2280. Sheet 1.
  5. “Fisherman". Oil on canvas on cardboard, 50 by 40 cm. On left bottom - signature: P.Z. Zakharov. Collections, owners: Akopov's collection, State Museum Fund [GMF], Tretyakov Gallery (prior to 1928), Voronezh Museum of Regional History (prior to 1935). In 1935 from Voronezh Museum of Regional History to Voronezh Art Museum.
  6. The Tretyakov Gallery holds apicture called “Belisarius Sitting by the Road in the Pose of a Beggar, with a Boy by His Side" - a work of Ivan Tupylev (ID 15172), which garnered him the title of Academician in 1785.
  7. “Khudozhestvennaya Gazeta” (Art Gazette). Nos. 11 and 12, 1836. P. 176.
  8. “Khudozhestvennaya Gazeta”. No. 4, 1836. First addition of September 28. P.7.
  9. Department of Manuscripts, Tretyakov Gallery. Fund 1. Item 2797. Sheet 1.
  10. November 26 1835 - “Old Woman Reading the Cards". An extract from the Journal of the Council of the Academy of Arts. Location: Russian State Historical Archive (RGIA). Fund 789. Catalogue 1. Item 2094. Sheet 4 - Mazaeva.
  11. “Khudozhestvennaya Gazeta” (Art Newspaper). Nos. 9 and 10, 1837. P. 143.
  12. Alexander Vasilyevich Ulyanin (1782-1856), a landowner from Nizhny Novgorod, artillery sub-lieutenant, Cavalier of the Order of St. Vladimir, 4th degree. In 1830 Ulyanin met Alexander Pushkin during his stay in Boldino. The Tretyakov Gallery holds the “Portrait of Alexander Ulyanin” by Ivan Kashirin (Reg. Ж-1420) painted in St. Petersburg (as inscribed on the back of the canvas) circa 1836.
  13. Ina letter to Pyotr Yermolov Zakharov wrote: “I rented a small but tidy apartment for 15 rubles per month, and then was faced with the necessity to spend more to buy some household items. My address: Vasilievsky Ostrov, 3rd Line near Sredny Prospekt, Khalunin's house No. 31 ”
  14. Department of Manuscripts, Tretyakov Gallery. Fund 31. Item 2283. Sheet 1.
  15. Portrait of an Unknown Lady with Children. 1840. Oil on canvas, 67 х 54.6 cm. At the left below on a column - signature and date: Zakharov-Da-da-yurtsky - 18 IV/X 40.
  16. “Portrait of an Unknown Man Inside a House". 1840. Oil on canvas, 67 х 54.5 cm. On light bottom - signature and date: “Zakharov Dadayurtsky 1840". Sent to the Gallery in 1946 from the Museum of Ethnography. ID at the Hermitage Museum: РЖ-1961.
  17. Department of Manuscripts, Tretyakov Gallery. Fund 1/2739. Sheet 1 (obverse and reverse).
  18. The painter Alexander Ivanov spent the last period of his life in the house of Sergei Postnikov and his cousin Mikhail Botkin in St. Petersburg. Ivanov's posthumous image painted by Postnikov is held at the Tretyakov Gallery.
  19. “Catalogue of the Tretyakov Gallery". 1893. P. 9. Nos. 166 and 168.
  20. Ibid., p. 61.
  21. Maria Fyodorovna Korsh was a close friend of Elizaveta Bogdanovna Granovskaya (1824-1857, nee Muhlhausen), Timofei Nikolayevich Granovsky's wife (editor's note).
  22. Department of Manuscripts, Tretyakov Gallery. Item 1757. Sheet 1.
  23. Department of Manuscripts, Tretyakov Gallery. Fund 1. Item 1758. Sheet 1.
  24. Kavelin, Konstantin. “The Tenor of Our Minds". P. 257.
  25. Levandovsky, Andrei. “Timofei Granovsky in Russian Social Movements". Moscow: 1989.
  26. Lectures of Timofei Granovsky on the History of the Middle Ages (From Granovsky's Lecture Notes and Notes Taken by the Students)". Moscow: 1961. “Lectures of Timofei Granovsky on the History of the Late Middle Ages". Moscow: 1971. Granovsky, Timofei. “Lectures on the History of the Middle Ages". Moscow: 1987.
  27. Kavelin, Konstantin. “The Tenor of Our Minds. Essays on Philosophy of Russian History and Culture". Moscow: 1989. P. 256.
  28. Herzen, Alexander. “My Past and Thoughts". Part IV. Chapter XXIX. In: Herzen, Alexander. “Collected Works". Vol. 5. Moscow: 1956. P. 110.
  29. A Listing of Paintings and Drawings in Ivan Tsvetkov's Collection". Moscow: 1904. P. 16 (“A Chechen"). A Listing of Works of Art at Tsvetkov's Gallery". Moscow: 1915. P. 31 (“A Chechen in a Burka with a Gun, Self-Portrait").
  30. There were eight children in Pyotr Yermolov's family. The oldest, Alexandra (1825-1830), and the youngest, also named Alexandra (1837-1838), died before the portrait was accomplished. The information about the Yermolov children was kindly provided by Gennady Yakushkin.
  31. Russian National Archive of Old Documents [RGADA]. Fund 1406. Yermolov Family. Catalogue 1. Document 627. Sheets 12 and 13.
  32. Yekaterina Yermolova in her letter of April 6 1907 to the historian Sergei Belokurov mentions “the portrait of brother Grisha" as “one of the best pieces" by Zakharov. Location: Department of Manuscripts, Russian National Library. Fund 23. Folder 18. Item 20. Sheet 22.





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