MARIA YAKUNCHIKOVA TO ALEXANDRA GOLSHTEIN: "I would give anything to talk to you..."

Alexandra Fomina

Magazine issue: 
#3 2020 (68)

“I'm fond of the ornamental handwriting –
There is a rustle of dry grasses in it.
The familiar outline of speedily written letters
Murmurs the sad poem.”

Maximilian Voloshin (dedicated to Alexandra Golshtein)

Maria Vasilievna Yakunchikova appears in a number of memoirs, although few memoirists knew her as well as Alexandra Vasilievna Golshtein, who was married to Maria’s cousin and later became her mother-in-law.

Not the kind of person to make friends easily, 19-year-old Masha was demanding in her relationships, but as soon as she moved to Paris in 1889, she developed a liking for Alexandra Golshtein. The young girl's letter of December 18, 1890, testifies to the importance of this friendship for her: “Dear Alexandra Vasilievna, you probably put my silence down to my carelessness or some misadventure, but believe me, this was caused only by what could be called cowardice. You wouldn't believe how often I have wanted to have a good talk with you, to ask your advice, but fearhas kept me back: ... And now, too, I would give anything to talk to you, but here again I'm not sure that you would be interested. .Drop me a line, say something. ... Yours with all my heart, M. Yakunchikova.”[1]

This relationship can be traced in detail using the family archives stored in the Gallery's Manuscript Department. For instance, in one of her letters to N.V. Polenova, Yakunchikova wrote: “We've become like family with the Golshteins, and now it seems strange that we previously didn't know about the existence of Volodya [V.A. Golshtein], who is now more precious to me than my father or brother. And Alexandra Vasilievna even more so.”[2] Quite soon, Maria began to address Alexandra in letters by the familiar “you” form, and Alexandra to sign her messages “Aunt Sasha”, evidence of the intimacy and mutual trust established between the women. Alexandra often called Maria by her pet name, Makhira, modifying the name with terms of affection. For a while, Alexandra became like a second mother to Yakunchikova. “My dear, my kind Aunt Sasha! Thank you, my treasure, for your kind little letter”[3], wrote Yakunchikova on September 14, 1891.

In 1897, Alexandra and Maria became even closer: in August, after several years of friendship, Yakunchikova walked down the aisle with Alexandra's son from a previous marriage - medical student Lev (Leon) Nikolaevich Weber.

A strong-willed person with progressive views and a political emigre who embraced in her youth the ideas of narodnichestvo, Alexandra had far more to do than merely take care of the house and the children - she was interested in philosophy, literature and art, and wrote and translated articles and memoirs. This is how Yakunchikova described her: “Aunt Sasha ... is forever ministering to her family, from dawn to dusk, in a flowing robe, her dragoon braid in a bun, bustling, running around the apartment. Always with an inexhaustible store of sympathy for our heartaches and joys."[4]

These two prominent women shared common interests. Maria played an active role in the public works carried out by Alexandra in Paris. At the end of 1891, Maria helped organise famine-relief parties at the Golshteins' house. In 1892 the artist, joined a women's mutual assistance society[5], a development that Alexandra highlighted in her letter to I.M. Grevs[6]: “I'm organising a women's mutual assistance society on the basis of equality and fellowship. The society must find jobs for its members, help them in work, help with advice, etc. We shall call it ‘Union des Femmes'. At the head there will be ten founding members, but in fact three: a certain Mme Montefiore[7], ... a certain Mlle Zalesskaya . And yours truly. I'm not giving a characterisation of myself. Our Masha is to become a founding member. She's very interested in this project and, it seems, for the first time in her life feels a stirring of civic conscience. I rejoice in it."[8] And indeed Maria was excited by this new pursuit and wrote about it to her sister N.V. Polenova in March 1893: “Aunt Sasha will probably write to you in detail about the society she and some other women we know are setting up - a society for women's mutual assistance. Aunt Sasha is the secretary and I'm the treasurer. The gatherings on Saturdays take place in my home, but since we are yet to begin proper work we're talking about women's social position in general terms."[9]

A gifted wordsmith, Alexandra aptly described in her memoirs details of the Yakunchikovs' daily life that had a direct impact on Maria as she grew and came into her own as a person and as an artist. The manuscript of Golshtein's memoirs is held in the Gallery's Manuscript Department.[10] Unfortunately, her memoirs end in the year 1894, when Maria was still quite young. It is not known if there was a continuation and, if so, whether the text was lost, or if Alexandra had, for some reason, to stop writing her reminiscences.

The reminiscences below are printed for the first time. The spelling and punctuation in the text have been modernised, but specific features of the style are kept intact. Foreign names and toponyms are printed as written in the manuscript. Abbreviations and illegible passages are decrypted in square brackets.

 

ALEXANDRA GOLSHTEIN’S REMINISCENCES OF MARIA YAKUNCHIKOVA-WEBER

I became acquainted with Maria Vasilievna Yakunchikova - who, for the sake of brevity and out of habit, I'll call Masha - in 1889, when the Yakunchikovs[11] and their three daughters, Olga[12], Masha[13] and Vera[14], came to Paris to visit the World's Fair. Olga, the oldest among them, was very tall - so tall that Paris street urchins on seeing her would shout: “Voila la tour Eiffel qui passe"[15]. She was not pretty, she knew this - she exaggerated her plainness and considered herself hideous. She was generally prone to melancholy, she was gloomy and very shy, but extremely genial and kindly. Perhaps it was on account of this unhealthy negativity towards herself that she seemed to be looking for sympathy, for friendship. She adored her mother, who, however, was quite standoffish towards her... Vera, the youngest sibling and her father's favourite, gave the impression of frivolity - she was lively, cheerful, amiable with everyone. You could clearly see what kind of person she was and she attracted people effortlessly. Masha, a tall girl a little awkward in her bearing, was uncommunicative and seemed haughty, as if she held everyone and everything in contempt. It seemed to me that she was already playing the role of the great artist and did not care about anybody, not even her mother. Whereas her mother, Zinaida Nikolaevna, was all over her, gazing into her eyes, trying to anticipate her every wish, and Masha responded to all this infinite love - which was, if truth be told, somewhat vexing - not only with indifference, but with annoyance.

All this put me off. I quickly became friendly both with Vera and dear Olga while keeping my distance from Masha. I didn't show, or tried to avoid showing, my negative feelings towards her, but I didn't show much warmth either - I didn't feel any. I was certain that Masha, indifferent to everything, simply didn't notice my attitude, but that was not the case. Much later, in Biarritz, Masha wrote me a letter, which I enclose here16, after which our relationship became established once and for all. In Biarritz, Masha had a suitor - a foolish young Englishman with no money and no profession. Zinaida Nikolaevna was terrified, she could not - simply would not dare - do anything to stop the courtship. Masha herself was in doubt, but could not sort out her feelings. Zinaida Nikolaevna, perhaps at Masha's request, asked me to come to Biarritz and Masha wrote the letter enclosed here. In Biarritz, with Masha's consent, Zin[aida] Nik[olaevna] and I informed the Englishman that Masha didn't have any property of her own, that her father wouldn't give her any dowry if he disapproved of the marriage, that a trip to Paris would have to be made in order to negotiate with her father and that we would write from Paris. Masha was mightily relieved, and we all left. After our conversation with the Englishman, Masha's opinion of him crystallised: he was mostly hoping for an easy ride using his future wife's money. And that was the end of it for her.

The Yakunchikov family was far from close-knit. Masha's father Vasily Ivanovich Yakunchikov was a very intelligent and often witty person, and an agreeable conversationalist. Raised partly in England, he was a great admirer of the orderliness of the Western way of life. He and he alone was responsible for the large fortune he had amassed. Despite his numerous virtues, he was loved only by a handful of people because his virtues alternated with considerable, and bizarre, deficiencies of character. First of all, unwavering materialism and an absolutely incongruous stinginess, either innate or acquired. Nothing outside the realm of practical life touched him: art, literature and even science - all this not only didn't interest him, but even seemed to prompt his ridicule. Music was the exception. Vas[ily] Ivanovich] believed that he loved and appreciated music; he could even could play the violin, albeit very poorly. He inherited his fortune from his uncle, who made a lot of money as a tax farmer. When Vasily Ivanovich returned from England and received his share of the inheritance, he flatly refused to invest it in tax farming. He decided to devote his life to “an activity useful to the state" - manufacturing. He built factories, which was his life's business, and not only did he not spend his uncle's fortune, he expanded it massively.

I've said that he was stingy but in an incongruous way. He could give someone a relatively large sum all of a sudden, but on the other hand, he almost every year left Moscow for Paris so as to avoid giving holiday tips to employees in Moscow and servants at the Parisian hotel (Hotel de Bade) where he stayed every year. To this end, he took advantage of the differences in the calendars and carefully calculated dates, travel times, etc. He would talk about these “economies" with pride. Once in a while, these “economies" would cost him dearly. Vastly] Iv[anovich] once travelled to Spain on a budget - not only would he not buy a berth in a wagon lit, he opted for a second-class wagon. The going was tough for Vas[ily] Iv[anovich] during the ride... He told the tale himself, but with horror. One can quote lots and lots of examples of this incongruous stinginess. Vas[ily] Iv[anovich]'s strength was his ability to choose the right people. Many of his employees amassed large fortunes under his stewardship - Vas[ily] Iv[anovich] always mentioned it with pride, although these people's prosperity was probably causing harm to, rather than boosting, his own fortunes. Within the family, he was a despot to both his wife and children and this drove a wedge between him and his daughters.

Masha's mother Zinaida Nikolaevna, nee Mamontova, was the complete opposite of Masha's father.

When I first met her, Zinaida was, I would say, a woman past her prime, but astonishingly good-looking. “Clearly a looker in her day" was not the way to put it. She was simply an aged beauty. Her style of dressing, marked by a very personal elegance, enhanced the impression produced by her looks. Intellect was not her strong point - she appeared rather narrow-minded. It seemed as if she didn't have any views on things and people, but sometimes her insights into things and people were astonishing. These insights were conveyed not through sensible judgments but with imaginative formulations sometimes, for the sake of clarity, supported with gestures. Once, referring to a man she had just met and had seen for only a couple of minutes, she held her hands to her chest at a sharp angle and said: “What has he got? All he's got can fit in this hand." And suddenly everybody who had taken a shine to this new acquaintance realized that he was cold-hearted and not very bright. Her “hands at the chest" was a symbol: the person being discussed was a tall, beefy man, broad-shouldered and burly.

Zinaida Nikolaevna was an artistic sort without signs of any talent. Everything in her was by instinct and her main instinct was a sense of beauty, an inherent love for beauty in all inanimate objects and all living creatures. She didn't come up with any formulations to capture this beauty - she simply felt it. She would see a beautiful object, shake her head and say: ‘Ah, so good, how well they've done it!'

She was very kind, but this was instinctive as well. She simply couldn't stand seeing poverty, which always looked unseemly, so she had a way of relieving herself of the depressing feeling caused by the sight of something graceless and squalid: she would help anyone who crossed her path and help generously, without trying to figure out whether the object of her help truly needed it. Not only was she not stingy, she was a lavish spender, although the funds at her disposal were limited: Vas[ily] Iv[anovich] would give her a certain sum every year, apparently the interest accrued on her dowry, which Vas[ily] Iv[anovich] had immediately after the wedding invested in his factory - always the same sum, regardless of how much the factory had made from that money.

Zinaida Nik[olaevna] was very young when she married Vas[ily] Iv[anovich] - a widower with children17 from his first marriage. It seems to me that her feeling of love remained unsatisfied all through her life. She didn't love either her husband or her children. For some reason, she developed an attachment to, and loved passionately and unconditionally, only Masha, and then loved just as strongly Masha's eldest son Stepan. These are the only two people she loved in her whole life.

I'm focusing on Masha's parents because she inherited the most valuable traits that each had. From her father she inherited an immense, clear, inquisitive, practical mind. She was kind-hearted, not at all stingy, and would often help prudently and generously, although all her life she knew the value of money and handled her financial affairs with the utmost accuracy and parsimony. This practical streak made things much easier for her over the course of her life. She owed her great talent for painting to her mother, her mother's innate aestheticism - it was not for nothing that Zin[aida] N[ikolaevna] was born a Mamontova.

So, the Yakunchikovs came to Paris. Vas[ily] Ivanovich] found a nice house, a mansion that was spacious, comfortable and splendidly furnished. Because of the World's Fair, many Parisians then were renting out their apartments and homes. The home, I believe, was at rue Pergolese18, although I'm not sure. The rent was high, but Vas[ily] Iv[anovich] decided it was still cheaper than a hotel, especially as they would be staying for some time, until the fair closed.

Olga and Vera focused their attention on the fair and, furthermore, were meeting new people, amusing themselves and having a good time. Masha lived her own life, apart from the rest of the family, and was most of all interested in Paris itself. It would have been difficult for her to participate in her sisters' amusements as she was sick and in need of rest. She felt pain in her right thumb. The pain was strong and doctors did not know what was causing it. Later, if memory serves, it was diagnosed as tuberculosis. This sickness was a matter of anxiety and concern not only for Zin[aida] Nik[olaevna], but also for the many people who loved Masha, including, by the way, Vasily Dmitrievich Polenov, who said sadly that this illness was also a great misfortune because Masha was a marvellous pianist and would have to give the piano up for good. She was able to draw or paint but for a long time in Paris did nothing. She visited museums, admired much of what she saw, but apparently it never occurred to her to copy the artworks. She was peering into Paris as if looking for something to sketch. And I remember that her first work at that time was a study of several multi-coloured outdoor playbills and advertisements[19]. There were lots of such composite playbills everywhere at that time. She was apparently attracted by their colourfulness. The study was an excellent, a very accurate representation of the real thing. It was still a far cry from Masha's subsequent works, but her great mastery in handling of the brush was obvious. This study was the first creation of Masha's that I saw. Truth be told, I didn't appreciate her talent back then. It was good, as I thought and told her, but, to me, entirely superfluous. It seems to me that, in her first months in Paris, Masha did not paint anything else - she was too busy visiting museums and relishing the French art of the day.

The memory of Marie Bashkirtseff20 and her friend Bastien-Lepage21 was still alive then. Bashkirtseff had been a Parisian celebrity, Parisian newspapers were still writing about her and her composition “A Meeting"22 was acquired by the Musee du Luxembourg. I could see that Masha was tempted by the prospect of becoming a famous Russian artist in France and perhaps that was one of the reasons she wanted to stay in Paris, but she didn't know what was at the core of Bashkirtseff's fame and didn't know herself well enough. Marie Bashkirtseff was, above all, a charming society girl, not without talent according to various artists. She owed all of her fame to Bastien-Lepage, who loved her dearly and died nearly synchronously with her. Not only was she Lepage's student and imitator, but Russian artists, fairly or not, claimed that her every composition was touched up by Lepage, that the experienced eye could immediately identify his brushwork. Masha looked nothing like a society girl - she couldn't even master ordinary accommodating manners and would be the last possible person Frenchmen might find endearing. Much more importantly, her potent talent did not, in the least, need imitation and help, but invariably followed its own course always and in every situation.

Masha's sisters, they wanted to stay in Paris. Vera would say, without mincing her words: “Terrible! Off we go to our sour house on Kislovka [“Sour Street"]23." The older family members would keep silent, but Zin[ai- da] Nik[olaevna] knew that Masha at that moment was dreaming about working at Julien's24 studio, about which she had made thorough inquiries without saying a word to anyone.

Everybody worked together - Zin[aida] Nikolaevna], Vas[ily] Iv[anovich]'s nephew Golshtein, whom Vastly] Iv[anovich] trusted, and Vera - and scored a victory: Vas[ily] Iv[anovich] agreed to let Zin[aida] Nik[olaevna] and the daughters stay in Paris so that Vera could work on her piano skills and Masha paint.

The main obstacle to further staying in Paris - the costliness of the rented house - was now out of the way: Vas[ily] Iv[anovich] found a very large furnished apartment, rather unkempt but relatively cheap. Zin[aida] Nik[olaevna] was dismayed by the filth - which, in truth, it took a stretch of imagination to describe as such - and the tasteless furniture, but Masha's desire to stay in Paris was satisfied and Zin[aida] Nik[olaevna] reconciled herself to all the “horrors" of the new lodging. For Vera, an £rard piano was leased, and the pianist Forster[25] was hired to give her piano lessons. Masha started attending one of Julien's workshops.

Although Masha later remained abroad for good, it was not because she forgot or didn't love Russia. Her love for Russian nature was profound. Ultimately, every picture she created had a Russian flavour, no matter what she was depicting, even a view of Mont Blanc from her window... But it was not Moscow or the home on Kislovka that left an indelible mark on her soul - it was Vvedenskoye, a big country seat bought by Vas[ily] Iv[anovich]. Masha spent her childhood and adolescence there. She always remembered Vvedenskoye. I remember how once in Biarritz, where I was invited by Zin[aida] Nikol[aevna], Masha took me to a closet - they lived in a hotel - and said, “Take a good sniff. what does it smell of?" The smell was musty, with a whiff of what I'd call dry rose - the smell you often get in old manors in Russia. I said right away “Nesterovo" (my grandmother's country estate). Masha was very happy to hear that: “So I'm not mistaken. I think it smells of Vvedenskoye."[26] Excited, she stood still for a long time, deeply inhaling the closet's stuffy air. “It was so good there," she said with tears in her eyes.[27]

I've always believed that if Vas[ily] Iv[anovich] had not sold Vvedenskoye, Masha would have returned to Russia. For her Vvedenskoye was Russia. Vvedenskoye, it seems to me, shaped her both personally and artistically. The nature and spirit of the old mansion were always alive in her soul, heart and mind: the gardens, flower beds, ponds, approach alleys (in Vvedenskoye, such an alley would stretch for many versts) and the overpowering but quiet expanse of meadows. The flowers of these meadows “and every blade of grass in the field, and every star in the sky". She built herself a little house in Savoie and claimed that everything there reminded her of Russia. Not the hills, of course, but the firs, birches and field plants.

This, of course, is just a fantasy, but I always felt that way when I was in close contact with Masha. It often seemed as if living in that old country house had, by some mysterious conduit, filled her sensitive child's soul with the spirit of nobility - the old manor shaped the way she lived to its own contours. What was it specifically?

I cannot say precisely. Neither words nor opinions or actions, but, most likely, her manner of acting and feeling had something that made her stand out from the rest of the crowd, and this distinguished her from her sisters. I can barely remember Olga - she married in Paris and returned to Russia. Vera lived with us for a long time, I loved her like I would my own daughter, but I have to say that, despite her artistry, their old environment showed itself very strongly in her. And in Masha, never. I, for instance, never heard her ask: “Are these people rich?" Any affectation was foreign to her, she was always herself, never pretending to be what she was not. Maybe she wanted fame, but it was because she felt, even knew, that her talent deserved it. She felt happy when her paintings were praised, but she looked at every word of praise critically. When words of praise came from a connoisseur, she would ask them what it was precisely that they liked and disliked. When words of praise came from an ordinary person, a foreigner in the art world, she always separated flattery from genuine positive reactions to her work. I often sensed her noble spirit in this quietly proud consciousness... Or maybe it was simply the proud assuredness of a very talented person. I don't know. I'm writing it down because that is what I thought or felt then. I'm writing it down as my impression.

As I recall, it wasn't long before Masha stopped attending Julien's workshop. She didn't need technical advice fit for beginners, her fellow students didn't happen to be talented and she could learn nothing from them. She felt bored and didn't enjoy her easily gained supremacy. Soon, she started attending the workshop of an English artist[28] who was very famous then in Paris. Alas, I forget his name. I recall that this workshop was already into what was called “l'art idealiste" in Paris at that time.[29] It is hard for me to pithily describe the essence of this tendency - anyway, it was painting divorced from total realism, set free from submission to the visible. Many young artists then, searching for “idealism" separated from pure realism, went for mystical narratives or what might be called symbolic imagery and literature. Masha, as always and in every situation, was alertly watching this new movement; she didn't understand it very well, but tried her hand at it. I remember how she created a sketch she wanted to call “Dew". She often used as a model a young English girl called Dina Peacock[30], a very cute blonde. Masha painted Dina, I believe, in blue clothes, soaring in the air above a blooming meadow[31]. Dina-Dew came out quite bulky, although the green of the meadow was marvellous. Much more “idealist" was her inimitable drawing of a woman running in utmost horror. Masha did not use a model for this picture. I have a vivid memory of this small picture - something shocking, something that causes in the viewer the sensation summed up in the title: “L'Effroi (Fear)"[32], as Masha called it. I am not absolutely sure, but it seems to me that this image was inspired by Masha's own fear: she attended Spiritualist seances on several occasions, experiencing such dread that she couldn't sleep, and then she gave up Spiritualism for good.

In Paris, Masha's first submission for an exhibition (Salon d'automne[33] or simply Salon?) was a big composition we called “Felix"[34], because Masha's model for it was Felix Ostroga[35]. The painting was rejected. Masha's feelings after this failure are described in her letter to Nat[alia] Vasilievna Polenova[36]. The next try was a pastel portrait of my daughter[37]. Masha showed this pastel to the English artist whose studio she had previously attended, and felt most gratified when he told her: “Send it, and if they don't take it, let them go to the devil"[38]. The portrait was accepted.

Her next submission to the Salon was a painting that was highly praised by some Russian critic. I don't remember whether the French wrote about it. It was called “Reflet intime"[39]. The artistic objective was impossible to achieve: the picture featured a young girl sitting by a candelit table and her reflections in window panes. It was not clear that this was a reflection - the model was seated close to the window and the reflection was very vivid. “Reflet intime" was accepted.

 

  1. Maria Yakunchikova, letter to Alexandra Golshtein. Biarritz. December 8, 1890. Manuscript Department, Tretyakov Gallery. Fund 205. Item 392. Sheets 44-45.
  2. Manuscript Department, Tretyakov Gallery. Fund 54. Item 12221. Sheet 2.
  3. Manuscript Department, Tretyakov Gallery. Fund 205. Item 13. Sheet 1.
  4. Manuscript Department, Tretyakov Gallery. Fund 54. Item 12223. Sheet 1 reverse.
  5. A reference to the women’s mutual assistance society Adelfia - Yakunchikova took part in a number of its activities until the end of 1894.
  6. Ivan Mikhailovich Grevs (1860-1941) was a Russian historian, public figure and member of the People's Will organisation.
  7. Dora Montefiore (1851-1933) was an English-Australian women's suffragist, translator and poet.
  8. Tyurin, A. ‘About Alexandra Golshtein (1850-1937)' [Ob Alexandre Vasilievne Golshtein (1850-1937)]. “Preo- brazhenie" (Russian Feminist Magazine). 1995. No. 3. P. 70.
  9. Maria Yakunchikova, letter to N.V. Polenova. March 18, 1893. Manuscript Department, Tretyakov Gallery. Fund 54. Item 12226. Sheets 4 and 4 reverse.
  10. Manuscript Department, Tretyakov Gallery. Fund 205. Item 392. Sheets 1-31.
  11. V.I. Yakunchikova (1827-1907) and Z.N. Yakunchikova (1843-1919).
  12. Olga Vasilievna Yakunchikova (1867-1917).
  13. Maria Vasilievna Yakunchikova (1870-1902).
  14. Vera Vasilievna Yakunchikova (1871-1923).
  15. French: “Look, the Eiffel Tower walked by".
  16. Maria Yakunchikova, letter to Alexandra Golshtein. Biarritz. December 8, 1890. Manuscript Department, Tretyakov Gallery. Fund 205. Item 392. Sheets 44-45.
  17. V.V. Yakunchikova (1855-1916), Ye.V. Yakunchikova (married name Sapozhnikova, 1856-1937), N.V. Yakunchikova (married name Polenova, 1858-1931).
  18. A street in the 16th arrondissement of Paris between the Bois de Boulogne and the Arc de Triomphe.
  19. Perhaps the piece in question is “A Lantern with a Kiosk" (early 1890s. Oil on paper on panel. 35.5 x 26.2 cm. Museum of Western Art. ID Zh-798).
  20. Marie Bashkirtseff (1858-1884) was a Russian painter who lived and gained fame in France.
  21. Jules Bastien-Lepage (1848-1884) was a French painter, Marie Bashkirtseff's friend and teacher.
  22. Now “A Meeting" (1884, oil on canvas, 177 by 193) is held at Musee d'Orsay in Paris.
  23. Kislovka was the family name for the Yakunchikovs' house on Sredny Kislovsky Pereulok in Moscow.
  24. This is a reference to a private art school founded in 1868 in Paris by the artist Rodolphe Julian (1839-1907). The Academie Julian competed with the Ecole des Beaux-Arts.
  25. Charles Forster was a Hungarian pianist and teacher. In 1890, Yakunchikova painted his portrait (watercolour on paper, present whereabouts unknown).
  26. Vvedenskoye was a former estate of the Princes Lopukhin, bought by Vasily Yakunchikov as a present for Zinaida Yakunchikova in the mid 1860s. Maria spent much of her childhood on the estate. In 1884, it was sold to S.D. Sheremetev.
  27. There is a surviving letter written by Maria to Alexandra: “I'm in an awful hurry, leaving for 2 days, on horses, for Vvedenskoye!!!! You understand my feelings, I'm not myself, all my soul is turning upside down. Hugs and kisses. Your loving Makhira" (Manuscript Department, Tretyakov Gallery. Fund 205. Item 392. Sheet 45).
  28. Julius Rolshoven (1858-1930) was an American artist who studied and worked, at different times, in New York, Munich, London, Paris and Florence.
  29. French: idealist art.
  30. Dina Peacock was the sister of Netta Peacock, Maria's friend.
  31. Perhaps the sketch mentioned was a preparatory piece for the etching called “Elusive" (L'Insaisissable) (otherwise known as “The Unattainable" or “Rainbow").
  32. “Dread". Also known as “Horror". A coloured etching. 29 x 20 cm. The Tretyakov Gallery holds a coloured print. ID GR-1362. The piece was displayed at the Salon du Champ-de-Mars in the spring of 1894.
  33. The piece was sent not to the Salon d'Automne (Autumn Salon), but to the Salon du Champ-de-Mars.
  34. This is a reference to the painting called “Window" (“By the Window", 1892). The piece has not survived.
  35. Felix Ostroga (1867-1936), a French composer and pianist, was a friend of the Yakunchikov family.
  36. Perhaps the writer refers to Maria Yakunchikova's letter to Ye.V. - and not N.V. - Polenova, dated May 28, 1892. Manuscript Department, Tretyakov Gallery. Fund 54. Item 9693. Sheet 1 reverse.
  37. “A Portrait of Natalia Vladimirovna Golshtein" (1892) in March 1893 was displayed at the Salon du Champ-de- Mars (ID 1267). Present whereabouts unknown; previous owner Alexandra Golshtein.
  38. “Send it, and if they don't take it, let them go to the devil."
  39. “Reflet intime" (Reflection of an Intimate World). 1894. Oil on canvas. 115 x 66 cm. Private collection.

Illustrations

Maria YAKUNCHIKOVA. Elusive (L’Insaisissable). 1895
Maria YAKUNCHIKOVA. Elusive (L’Insaisissable). 1895
Colour etching. 58.5 × 44 cm
© Museum and Exhibition Complex “New Jerusalem”
Maria YAKUNCHIKOVA. Reflet intime. (Reflection of an Intimate World). 1890s
Maria YAKUNCHIKOVA. Reflet intime. (Reflection of an Intimate World). 1890s
A sketch for a similarly named painting (1894, private collection). Oil on canvas. 43 × 32 cm
© Museum-Reserve of Vasily Polenov
Maria YAKUNCHIKOVA. The Set Table. 1889–1890s
Maria YAKUNCHIKOVA. The Set Table. 1889–1890s
Watercolour on paper. 50 × 32.8 cm
© Museum-Reserve of Vasily Polenov
Vera Wulff with Alexandra Golshtein. January 1, 1891
Vera Wulff with Alexandra Golshtein. January 1, 1891. Photograph
© Manuscript Department of the Tretyakov Gallery. First publication
Maria YAKUNCHIKOVA. Paris. Room in Avenue de Wagram. 1889
Maria YAKUNCHIKOVA. Paris. Room in Avenue de Wagram. 1889
Watercolour on paper. 42.4 × 33.7 cm
© Museum-Reserve of Vasily Polenov
Maria Yakunchikova. Early 1890s
Maria Yakunchikova. Early 1890s. Photograph
© Manuscript Department of the Tretyakov Gallery
A page from the memoirs of Alexandra Golshtein about Maria Yakunchikova-Weber [After 1902]
A page from the memoirs of Alexandra Golshtein about Maria Yakunchikova-Weber [After 1902]
© Manuscript Department of the Tretyakov Gallery. First publication
Panorama of Paris [Early 20th century]
Panorama of Paris [Early 20th century]
Postcard
© Manuscript Department of the Tretyakov Gallery
Vera Wulff, George Wulff, Alexandra Golshtein, Leon Weber, Maria Yakunchikova-Weber
Vera Wulff, George Wulff, Alexandra Golshtein, Leon Weber, Maria Yakunchikova-Weber.
Front row: children of Alexandra and Vladimir Golshtein, Natalia and Alexei, with their friends. [1897–1898]. Photograph
© Manuscript Department of the Tretyakov Gallery
Alexandra Golshtein with her granddaughter Natalia Semyonova [1920s]
Alexandra Golshtein with her granddaughter Natalia Semyonova [1920s]
Photograph
© Manuscript Department of the Tretyakov Gallery. First publication
Maria YAKUNCHIKOVA. Grand Piano by the Window. A drawing in a letter from Maria Yakunchikova to Natalia Polenova. 1888
Maria YAKUNCHIKOVA. Grand Piano by the Window. A drawing in a letter from Maria Yakunchikova to Natalia Polenova. 1888
© Manuscript Department of the Tretyakov Gallery
Unknown artist. Portrait of Vasily Yakunchikov. 1860–1870s
Unknown artist. Portrait of Vasily Yakunchikov. 1860–1870s
Pastel on paper mounted on cardboard. 73.7 × 54.9 cm
© Tretyakov Gallery
Nikolai ULYANOV. Portrait of Zinaida Yakunchikova. 1891–1910
Nikolai ULYANOV. Portrait of Zinaida Yakunchikova. 1891–1910
Compressed charcoal on paper mounted on cardboard. 64 × 50.1 cm
© Tretyakov Gallery
Zinaida Yakunchikova with Stepan Weber [1901]
Zinaida Yakunchikova with Stepan Weber [1901]
Photograph
© Manuscript Department of the Tretyakov Gallery. First publication
Vvedenskoye. A River View. Late 19th – early 20th century
Vvedenskoye. A River View. Late 19th – early 20th century
Photograph
© Manuscript Department of the Tretyakov Gallery. First publication
Maria YAKUNCHIKOVA. A Lantern with a Kiosk. Early 1890s
Maria YAKUNCHIKOVA. A Lantern with a Kiosk. Early 1890s
Oil on paper mounted on wood. 35.5 × 26.2 cm
© Museum-Reserve of Vasily Polenov
Permission issued to Maria Yakunchikova for sketching and taking photographs in the woods, gardens and city squares in Paris. April 8, 1896
Permission issued to Maria Yakunchikova for sketching and taking photographs in the woods, gardens and city squares in Paris. April 8, 1896
© Manuscript Department of the Tretyakov Gallery
Maria YAKUNCHIKOVA. LʼEffroi (Fear)
Maria YAKUNCHIKOVA. LʼEffroi (Fear)
Name option: "Horror". Etching: reservage, aquatint. Imprint from the base plate (drawing). First state. Printed proof. 29 × 20 cm
© Vasily Polenov Museum-Reserve
Maria YAKUNCHIKOVA. Avenue de Wagram. Sketch in a letter from Maria Yakunchikova to Elena Polenova. 1894
Maria YAKUNCHIKOVA. Avenue de Wagram. Sketch in a letter from Maria Yakunchikova to Elena Polenova. 1894
© Manuscript Department of the Tretyakov Gallery
Maria Yakunchikova-Weber. Vvedenskoye. 1897
Maria Yakunchikova-Weber. Vvedenskoye. 1897
Photograph made by Leon Weber
© Manuscript Department of the Tretyakov Gallery

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