Philanthropy and Patronage. New Additions to the Collection

Dina Lavrova, Irina Lomakina

Article: 
150th ANNIVERSARY OF TRETYAKOV GALLERY
Magazine issue: 
#4 2006 (13)

The history of the Tretyakov Gallery continues in its ongoing acquisitions, currently made using the resources of private individuals and companies, as well as the Federal Agency for Culture and Cinematography, and the Tretyakov Gallery’s own funds.

The subject of building up the museum's collection from individual donations and through implementation of the state purchasing policy was first touched upon in the #1-2005 issue of the “Tretyakov Gallery magazine”. This article elaborates on the topic, telling about various first-rate works of art acquired for the collection - it focuses only on the last five years, highlighting works of Old Russian art, old masters’ paintings and drawings, archival materials, and objects of applied art, modern sculpture and paintings.

The story begins in the year 2000, when the museum received a large- size sketched portrait by Vasily Polenov (1844-1927), "An Old Jew", a piece unusual for the artist, executed by the artist in the mid-1890s as a study for his painting "Among the Teachers" (1896). The sketch is a portrait of an old man, a study for one of the picture's main characters, Rabbi Gillel. He was the head of the ancient "School of Wisdom" in Jerusalem, which Jesus probably attended as a young man. The old man's portrait is full of inner strength and wisdom. Now the sketch is displayed close to "Among the Teachers", in the Vasily Polenov permanent exhibition room. The purchase of the work was financed by the Tretyakov Gallery itself.

In the same year, 2000, the museum's graphic art d epartment received a pastel by Isaac Levitan (1860-1900) "Autumn Landscape with a Church" (from the 1890s), made possible by the timely assistance of the Surgutneftegas company. The artist was fond of drawing with pastels in the last decade of his short life. But most of his pastels are now in private hands. Interestingly, Pavel Tretyakov's collection had two pastel drawings by Levitan, and in recent years the Tretyakov Gallery has been successful in acquiring quite a number of pastel drawings by the great landscape artist. The museum's experts are expected to determine whether the graphic piece represents Savva Morozov's estate at Pokrovskoye-Rubtsovo.

In 2001, the Tretyakov Gallery received a rare icon and two objects of applied art of the 18th century. The icon "The Mother of God of Korsun” was created by an anonymous craftsman from the Armoury Chamber in 17th-18th centuries, a follower or a junior contemporary of Simon Ushakov. "The Mother of God of Korsun" is a shoulder-length variation on the "Our Lady of Tenderness”, an iconic canon that was established in Russian art no earlier than the 16th-17th centuries. Korsun is the Russian name for the old city of Chersonesos, and "of Korsun" in the past also had another meaning - "antique."

This icon drew the attention of specialists from the Old Russian art department not only due to its fine artistic quality, but also due to its rare iconography; the Tretyakov Gallery's Old Russian section had no icons of "The Mother of God of Korsun" type created by Armoury Chamber craftsmen. The purchase was made possible through the financial assistance of Leonard Gianadda, whose cooperation with the Tretyakov Gallery is really fruitful.

Galina Proskuryakova, another long-standing contributor to the cause of national culture, supported the Tretyakov Gallery's purchase of twin ivory portraits from the second half of the 18th century, representing Prince Pavel Petrovich and his spouse, Princess Maria Fyodorovna. After the couple's wedding in 1776, such medallions with side-view portraits were very popular with ivory carvers. The broad openwork rocaille ornament and the quality of the embossing indicate that the portraits were created in the workshops of St. Petersburg, where carvers who came from the Arkhangelogorodskaya province worked. The pieces acquired by the Gallery are noteworthy for their finely wrought facial features, elaborate detail and the eye-catching ornament of the framework.

In 2002, the museum received a piece by Ivan Kramskoi and graphic works by Nikolai Sapunov. Kramskoi's "Portrait of a Girl in a Little Felt Bonnet" was a revelation of a kind for experts on the art of the second half of the 19th century. The piece was kept in a private collection outside Russia. The portrait, when it became known, complemented Kramskoi's existing work: works by the artist of such high quality, and so well preserved, are very rare on the market. Portrait of a girl in a little hat adorned with an ostrich feather was created in the same year, 1883, as the famous "Portrait of an Unknown Woman". The artist's work in the 1880s was marked by an exploration of form and a focus on open-air painting, and the psychological states of the young sitters. It is worth mentioning that the "Portrait" filled in a gap in the Tretyakov Gallery's collection of Kramskoi, namely its lack of intimate female portraits by the artist. Viewers can now see the "Girl in a Bonnet" in the Kramskoi hall thanks to a contribution by Anatoly Novikov, who supplemented the Tretyakov Gallery's own funds.

The works of Nikolai Sapunov - a brilliant, refined master of the "Silver Age" of Russian culture - are extremely rare on the secondary art-market. Thus, the acquisition of the master's theatre design pieces in tempera, gouache, watercolour and China ink was a stroke of good luck indeed. The pieces include "Liza the Dutch” (1910) - based on Mikhail Kuzmin's pastorale that was staged by Vsevolod Meyerhold at the "Dom Intermedii” (House of Sideshows) in St. Petersburg. Also, his "Mummers"(1907-1908) and "Jester" (1912) - the latter, a draft of an actor's costume for Carlo Gozzi's "Turandot", staged by Fyodor Komissarzhevsky at the Nezlobin Theatre in Moscow. These grotesque genre pieces, based on theatre sets designed by Sapunov himself, mix reality and theatrical extravaganza, turning into a phantasmagoria of vibrant cold and warm hues.

The legacy of the artist who was a member of the Blue Rose society and, tragically, died young, is far from large. His first two works that the Tretyakov Gallery acquired were purchased from the artist by the Gallery Board in 1908 and 1911. Later, Sapunov's works came to the museum from nationalized private collections and museums that were shut down. Today the rare works of this refined painter and stage designer who excelled in symbolism and the grotesque have been deposited in the museum thanks to the financial support of its old friend and benefactor, the British American Tobacco Russia company.

In 2003, the Tretyakov Gallery's manuscript department received several valuable archives, including the papers of Vladislav Khodasevich, Leonid Pasternak, Konstantin Pervukhin, Mikhail Nesterov, Mikhail Vrubel, Adrian Prakhov, and Wilhelm Kotarbinskyi.

In the same year, the "Portrait of Violinist Anatoly Mikulya", a wood piece by Sergei Konenkov (1874-1971) from 1912, was bought from the famous musician's family. In recent years, the works of the prominent Russian sculptor, whose art reflected nearly all the innovative tendencies of the early 20th century, have been impossible to find on the market. The subject of music and the musicians - from Bach to Paganini - always stirred Konenkov's powerful imagination; the sculpture was created from a gold-tinted wood, and combines an artistic daring with consummate craft, and is among the most brilliant examples of the "moderne" style in Konenkov's artistic legacy.

In 2004, the gallery, with its own funds (as was the case with Konenkov's "Portrait"), acquired unique objects of Old Russian applied art - the "drobnitsas” (small golden or silver plates for decorating icons), "The Saviour of Smolensk", "St. Nicholas" and "John the Baptist". The three were custom-made and fitted together as a folding piece, which was attached to a panel. The "drobnitsas” were made using the techniques of moulding, chiselling, etching and coloured enamel on filigree. Relying on their technical and other characteristics, experts have dated them to the late 19th century, to the so- called "second wave” of the Russian style, which drew on objects of earlier origin, namely sacred objects of the 16th-17th centuries.

As is well known, the studio-museum of the sculptor Anna Golubkina (1864-1927) is a part of the Tretyakov Gallery. In 2004, financed by British American Tobacco Russia, this "little museum" purchased the "Portrait of Anatoly Gunst". Golubkina worked with Gunst as her sitter in 1905 and presented the resulting work to him. Gunst (18581919) was an artist, an architect and the organizer of the Fine Arts Classes in Moscow, where Golubkina had studied in 1889.

This gypsum original, with its perfectly preserved tinting made by the artist, is of great scientific value for museum researchers - mainly because in the 1940s, after the artist's death, almost all of her gypsum pieces were cast in bronze and damaged during the moulding process. The gypsum originals became uniformly black and grey, so a well-preserved original tinting made by the sculptor is a rarity today. Thus, the museum has the singular opportunity to exhibit and explore the original gypsum portrait, created by the sculptor's confident hand as if in one stroke.

Finally, at the end of 2004 the Federal Agency for Culture and Cinematography bought for the Tretyakov Gallery the "Portrait of Poet Georgy Ivanov" by Sergei Malyutin. Like many of his time, Malyutin was a universal artist - painting, designing theatre sets, drawing and also working as a book illustrator, applied artist and architect. As a portraitist, he evolved from the free-spirited, dynamic art of the 1900s to a monumentalized style of the 1910s, which brought out more fully the artistic potential or intellectual introspection of the sitter One of these expressive portraits, created by the artist in 1915, represents Georgy Ivanov, an outstanding poet. Malyutin reproduced the image of a notable personality of his time, thus continuing the gallery of portraits of "the nation's best people", originally conceived and initiated by Pavel Tretyakov.

A strong formal resemblance to the model, which was the artist's trademark, is combined here with a sharpness of social and psychological characterization. The image of Ivanov is "diabolized" according to the symbolist canon, its grey and black palette emphatically refined. The "Portrait of a Poet" already occupies a fitting place in the hall exhibiting the works of artists affiliated with the Russian Artists' Union.

Rounding off this brief overview of the most important acquisitions of the Tretyakov Gallery from the last five years, is 2005 - the year preceding its 150th anniversary. The museum made new acquisitions thanks to the support of the E.ON Ruhrgas AG in Moscow (Boris Turetsky's "Pilots") and the Brunswick UBS company (Ivan Kraytor's archive), as well as using its own funds (Vadim Sidur's "Structure No. 1").

Due to such generous support, the section dedicated to the paintings of the second half of the 20th century now exhibits at the Tretyakov Gallery's Krymsky Val building "Pilots" - a 1968 piece by Boris Turetsky, which was bought from the artist's family.

"Pilots" was exhibited at the first posthumous show dedicated to the anniversary of the artist's 75 th birth that took place at the Tretyakov Gallery in 2003. The show featured a figural series of the late 1960s, where the odd grotesque images combined the master's artistry and his sharp social insights. "Pilots", a piece from the series, is one of the best created during this period.

Another acquisition made last year is the large and complete archive of Ivan Kraytor, spanning the period from 1896 through to the 1950s. Kraytor was an artist, restorer, art collector and organizer of art shows at the Lemercier Gallery in Moscow, and his archive includes 394 items in all. Its backbone consists of letters from famous Russian artists, letters from the Russian Museum and Rumyantsev Museum, unique photographs of the early 20th century, items concerning the life of the arts in Russia in the 1910s- 1920s, as well as a collection of the private papers of Kraytor, who left Russia in 1923. Its value to students of the history of Russian art is considerable.

This commemorative account of new acquisitions ends by mentioning a work of modern art, "Structure No. 1", an abstract composition by Vadim Sidur, a prominent master of the second half of the 20th century; the sculpture in copper dates from 1972-1976. Previously, the Tretyakov Gallery owned two small figurative pieces by Sidur, so the acquisition of an abstract work will allow the museum to introduce to the public the most important aspect of this multi-gifted artist. Sidur made figurative as well as monumental sculptures, paintings and drawings and wrote poetry and prose. "Structure No. 1", one of the key pieces in his legacy, was a centrepiece at the "Moscow Abstraction" show at the Tretyakov Gallery in 2003.

It deserves special mention that the Tretyakov Gallery has come into possession of a singular piece of art from the 18th century, the bas-relief by the acclaimed Russian sculptor Mikhail Kozlovsky (1753-1802), "Bacchus Sees Ariadne Dozing on the Island of Naxos".

The acquisition is significant because it is the first time in 200 years that a work by this master has appeared on the art market. The museum's researchers came across it at the 2nd Moscow World Fine Art Fair in Moscow in September 2005, where the sculpture was put up for sale by a private gallery from Paris. Another reason why this piece is so noteworthy is that the Tretyakov Gallery has only a few replicas of the prominent master's works.

The bas-relief made of light terracotta was created by Kozlovsky in Paris in 1780: the sculptor made it after he returned from a fellowship stay in Rome, where he familiarized himself with the original art of the ancient world and the Renaissance. The art of those periods, with their ideals of harmonious simplicity and majesty, inspired the classicist sculptor's own work.

In ancient art Ariadne was usually depicted sleeping, and later her story became one of the most popular subjects in classisism, and can be seen in Kozlovsky's superb bas-relief. The daughter of King Minos of Crete, Ariadne helped the Greek hero Theseus kill the monstrous Minotaur and escape from the labyrinth. The grateful Theseus decided to take the princess along with him to Athens but left her sleeping on the island of Naxos, where she was discovered by the god of wine Bacchus, who made her his wife and a priestess.

This terra-cotta relief may have been one of the works that won the sculptor the honorary degree of academician in France - a fact that Tretyakov Gallery researchers are still to clarify. The bas- relief will occupy a well-deserved place at the 18th-century sculpture collection thanks to the financial help of OAO Lukoil.

Thanks to the generous support of its sponsors, the Tretyakov Gallery has acquired four new works in recent months.

Born in 1937, Dmitry Plavinsky is an acclaimed non-conformist artist from Moscow who has participated in numerous unofficial exhibitions since the 1960s. His works can be found in famous collections in Russia and abroad, but to date the Tretyakov Gallery had only one of Plavinsky's paintings.

In 2006, thanks to financial support from Vneshtorgbank, the museum was able to purchase the triptych "The Wall of a Church in Novgorod" (1988), in which the artist chose as his subject the revival of long-vanished ancient worlds. The piece, exploiting a variety of techniques on hardboard, depicts a fragment of the wall of a church. The picture, 105 by 255 cm in size, is a combination of figurative and non-figurative elements and typographical elements (just letters, in his case). Especially for the work, the artist developed a technique of multi-layered painterly relief highlighting the rough surface of some spots and damage caused by age to the magnificent monument from the past.

Plavinsky's work is included in the Tretyakov Gallery's permanent exhibition on Krymsky Val, where viewers, unhurriedly gazing at the picture, can immerse themselves in an ideal world of bygone times and bygone culture.

One of the founders of the Moscow conceptualist school, the modern artist Viktor Pivovarov (born in 1937) is a figure of the same stature as Ilya Kabakov or Eric Bulatov, and created a genre of narrative albums and absurdist paintings. The artist lives now in Prague - because of this, the purchase of his "Composition with Red Square" (1974), created early in the artist's career, is especially noteworthy, as the Tretyakov Gallery previously had no early work by Pivovarov.

The piece combines figurative and non-figurative elements; moreover, the two are concealed in one another, which lends a mystical meaning to the entire symbolic picture. CentreInvest Group provided the financial support that helped to fill this gap in the museum's collection.

The gallery has very few paintings by the abstract painter Yury Vassiliev- Mon (1925-1990). Thanks to another benefactor, JSC TVEL, the Tretyakov Gallery's modern art department acquired an important work, the painting "Modern Woman's Sufferings", created by the artist in 1966, and a truly unique work, both for the artist and for Russian art of that period.

The first Russian "assemblage” - a kind of "object art" - was created from a range of different materials. Thus, the face of the "modern woman" is a sculptured relief, while her figure and the environment around her are a combination of mixed techniques on a plane surface. Multi-referential, at once harmonious and disharmonious, the piece is an excellent multi-faceted representation of the modern individual.

Thanks to the direct financial support of a private benefactor, Raymond Johnson, the Tretyakov Gallery's unique academic library acquired an exclusive book with engravings - "Ecclesiastes" (1994), by the artist Yury Lyukshin (born in 1949). The book with its text typeset on a 19th century hand-press includes 14 etchings by Lyukshin. They were hand-painted by the author, who made the exclusive hardback cover and jacket using the technique of silk- screen printing.

This curio is an artefact of bookmaking of the late 20th - early 21th centuries, and belongs to a special kind of book-making art development - the "livre d'art” (art book). Such art books are often designed by an artist in a single style throughout, which makes the result a work of art equal to a painting or a drawing.

Lyukshin references timeless subjects and the major stages of world culture. The graphic works of this St. Petersburg artist can be found in the Hermitage, the Russian Museum, the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Ludwig Museum in Cologne and other collections.

Late September saw the completion of a huge project, carried out within the framework of the federal programme "Culture of Russia”. The Agency for Culture and Cinematography acquired for the Tretyakov Gallery a sculpture by Vera Mukhina (18891953), an outstanding master of the 20th century - "Yulia” (from 1925, in wood). The work is now part of, and integral to, the permanent collection at the Krymsky Val hall.

"Yulia” is a masterpiece, titled after the ballerina Yulia Podgurskaya, whom the sculptor used as a model for the piece conveying a convoluted spiral movement characteristic for avant-garde art. This is a rare example of a wood sculpture retaining the uniqueness of masterly craftsmanship. Anatoly Bakushinsky called the piece "a truly round sculpture”, and Mukhina was fond of the sculpture and kept it in her studio all her life. In 1989 it was a centrepiece of Mukhina's solo show held at the Tretyakov Gallery to mark the centenary of the sculptor's birth. Later, the piece remained in the family of Mukhina's son, Vsevolod Zamkov (1920-2003), and after his death, came into the gallery's possession.

The major gifts received by the museum from artists and collectors comprise a long enough list. Among them, received in 2005, are paintings by Oleg Tselkov, Andrei Vasnetsov, Oleg Lang, Natalia Turnova, Andrei Pozdeev, Viktor Pivovarov, Dzhabrail Umarbekov, and drawings by Garif Basyrov, Mikhail Shvartsman, Abram Nikritin.

All can remember how Pavel Tretyakov's collection started - with two pictures by artists who were the great art collector's contemporaries. 150 years on, it is very important for all of us involved with the Tretyakov Gallery to be able to say, "The founder's traditions remain alive..."

Illustrations

Icon 'The Mother of God of Korsun.' 17th–18th centuries. Russia
Icon "The Mother of God of Korsun." 17th–18th centuries. Russia
Tempera on wood. 43.5 by 33.5 cm
Drobnitsa (small golden or silver plate for decorating icons) 'The Saviour of Smolensk.' Russia. 19th century
Drobnitsa (small golden or silver plate for decorating icons) "The Saviour of Smolensk." Russia. 19th century
Chiselling, etching, moulding and coloured enamel on filigree. 10 by 6.6 cm
Drobnitsa 'St. Nicholas.' Russia. 19th century
Drobnitsa "St. Nicholas." Russia. 19th century
Chiselling, etching, moulding and coloured enamel on filigree. 9.7 by 5.2 cm
Drobnitsa 'John the Baptist.' Russia. 19th century
Drobnitsa "John the Baptist." Russia. 19th century
Chiselling, etching, moulding and coloured enamel on filigree. 9.7 by 5.2 cm
Icon 'The Mother of God of Korsun'
Icon "The Mother of God of Korsun"
Unknown artist. Russia. Portrait of Great Prince Pavel Petrovich. 2nd half of the 18th century
Unknown artist. Russia. Portrait of Great Prince Pavel Petrovich. 2nd half of the 18th century
Carved ivory. 8 by 7.5 cm
Unknown artist. Russia. Portrait of Great Princess Maria Fyodorovna. 2nd half of the 18th century
Unknown artist. Russia. Portrait of Great Princess Maria Fyodorovna. 2nd half of the 18th century
Carved ivory. 8 by 7.5 cm
Mikhail KOZLOVSKY. Bacchus Sees Ariadne Dozing on the Island of Naxos. 1780
Mikhail KOZLOVSKY. Bacchus Sees Ariadne Dozing on the Island of Naxos. 1780
Terra-cotta. 47 by 67 cm
Mikhail KOZLOVSKY. Bacchus Sees Ariadne Dozing on the Island of Naxos. 1780. Detail
Mikhail KOZLOVSKY. Bacchus Sees Ariadne Dozing on the Island of Naxos. 1780. Detail
Terra-cotta. 47 by 67 cm.
Isaac LEVITAN. Autumn Landscape with a Church. 1890
Isaac LEVITAN. Autumn Landscape with a Church. 1890
Pastel on paper. 62 by 47 cm
Nikolai SAPUNOV. Liza the Dutch. 1910
Nikolai SAPUNOV. Liza the Dutch. 1910
Tempera on canvas. 55 by 74 cm. Based on Vsevolod Meyerhold's production of a pastoral by Mikhail Kuzmin
Ivan KRAMSKOY. Portrait of a Girl in a Little Felt Bonnet. 1883
Ivan KRAMSKOY. Portrait of a Girl in a Little Felt Bonnet. 1883
Oil on canvas. 60 by 49 cm
Sergei MALYUTIN. Portrait of Poet Georgy Ivanov. 1915
Sergei MALYUTIN. Portrait of Poet Georgy Ivanov. 1915
Oil on canvas. 76 by 61.5 cm
Vasily POLENOV. Rabbi Gillel. A study for the painting 'Among the Teachers'. 1896
Vasily POLENOV. Rabbi Gillel. A study for the painting "Among the Teachers". 1896
Oil on canvas mounted on cartboard. 71.5 by 50.5 cm
Sergei KONENKOV. Portrait of Violinist Anatoly Mikulya. 1912
Sergei KONENKOV. Portrait of Violinist Anatoly Mikulya. 1912
Tinted wood. 36 by 34 by 34 cm
Vera MUKHINA. Yulia. 1925
Vera MUKHINA. Yulia. 1925
Wood. 180 by 56 by 60 cm
Yury VASSILIEV-MON. Modern Woman's Sufferings. 1966
Yury VASSILIEV-MON. Modern Woman's Sufferings. 1966
Mixed media. 120 by 90 cm
Dmitry PLAVINSKY. The Wall of a Church in Novgorod. 1988
Dmitry PLAVINSKY. The Wall of a Church in Novgorod. 1988
Hardboard, mixed. media. 105 by 255 cm
Viktor PIVOVAROV. Composition with Red Square. 1974
Viktor PIVOVAROV. Composition with Red Square. 1974
Fiberboard, enamel. 170 by 130 cm

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