The Formation of a Great Collection

Oleg Antonov

Magazine issue: 
#4 2012 (37)

The Tretyakov Gallery show "Drawings and Watercolours by Russian Artists of the Second Half of the 19th-beginning of the 20th Centuries" constitutes a small part of the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts's extensive collection of Russian graphics, which totals 150,000 sheets in all. This part of the collection, especially drawings dating back to the second half of the 19th century, has never been carefully studied or exhibited, so is not well known by either the general public or art experts. It does, however, stand on its own, including some unique works and offering certain important details that complement our overall understanding of that period in the development of Russian art.

The graphics collection at the Pushkin was built gradually, in several stages. The first one, in the 1920s, involved the transfer to the museum of the extensive collection of the Rumyantsev Museum's Prints Cabinet, nationalized private collections of merchant and noble families from the Museum Fund, as well as first acquisitions and gifts1. Those acquisitions included individual works by Alexei Bogolyubov, Vasily Samoilov, Mikhail Mikeshin, the brothers Pavel and Pyotr Sokolov, Alexei Savrasov, Alexander Beideman, Grigory Myasoyedov, Yelizaveta Bohm, Sergei Ivanov, Sergei Vinogradov, Stanislaw Noakowski, Valentin Serov, Leonid Pasternak, Mikhail Vrubel, George Loukomski, and Sergei Chekhonin.

However, in the 1920s the bulk of this stream of acquisitions still represented works by obscure and unknown artists, as well as amateurs and copyists, and the few truly significant works by Russian masters of the period were lost in this general background. Ivan Bilibin's watercolour "Baba Yaga and Bird-maidens" (1902) is one of the first significant works, coming originally from the collection of Major General Klachkov, and was bequeathed to the Rumyantsev Museum in Klachkov's will. The Rumyantsev Museum was also the source of the works that prior to 1910 had been in the collection of Pyotr Sveshnikov (a merchant of the top guild, director of the trade and industrial partnership "Pyotr Sveshnikov & Sons", Sveshnikov was a famous art collector): drawings and watercolours by Ivan Shish-kin, Vasily Vereshchagin, Alexei Afanasyev, Pavel Scherbov, and Carl Heftler.

The most important nationalized collections included those of Alexander Musin-Pushkin, Nikolai Basnin, Sergei Scherbatov and Alexander Kasyanov.

Musin-Pushkin owned a small but remarkably complete collection of small landscapes, military art and genre scenes executed in the papier-pelle technique which was extraordinarily popular in the 1850s-1860s and became a sub-genre within the graphic arts. Watercolour, pencil and needle were used to create images on paper thinly primed with gesso. The technique, exceptionally easy to use, was an excellent way to convey the effects of night and artificial light, as well as various natural phenomena, such as thunder, rain, wind and stormy weather. Both professional and amateur artists enjoyed using it. Musin-Pushkin's collection contained papier-pelle drawings by Alexei Bogolyubov, Konstantin Filippov, Vasily Maksutov, Fyodor Lvov, Iosif and Adolf Charlemagne, and Mikhail Klodt.

Nikolai Basnin owned a small set of drawings by Russian artists. The greater part of his vast collection was comprised of Western European engravings of the 16th-18th centuries; the works of Russian artists were secondary to his interests — he did not even consistently seek to acquire them. Many of those works were bought merely if the occasion presented itself, or were gifts Basnin received from artists or other collectors. At the same time, his collection had more than 20 drawings by Ilya Repin, including his early watercolour study of a barge hauler (1870) for his painting "Barge Haulers on the Volga" (1870-1873, Russian Museum), Konstantin Makovsky's study for "Mermaids", his 1874 illustration to Nikolai Gogol's novella "Terrible Revenge".

A true "crown jewel" of the museum's current collection, Mikhail Vrubel's gouache drawing "Demon Downcast" (1902), originally belonged to Count Sergei Scherbatov. Scherbatov was planning to create the "City Museum of Private Collections" in Moscow, with a separate room to house each collection in order to reflect the personality of its owner, but the revolution prevented him from realizing his plan. In spring 1919, the new government issued the decree "On the Prohibition of Export and Sale Abroad of Items of Special Artistic and Historical Value"; thus, prior to emigrating, Scherbatov was forced to leave his extensive collections to be housed at the Rumyantsev and Historical Museums. Later his collection was nationalized and broken up. Less than ten graphic art pieces from Scherba-tov's collection were transferred from the Rumyantsev Museum to the Museum of Fine Arts; however, among them were five works by Mikhail Vrubel and three water-colours by Konstantin Somov.

The most significant acquisition of the 1920s was the collection of Alexander Kasyanov, a prominent Moscow merchant and partner in the trading firm "I.Y. Churin & Co.". This collection was the only one that was fully dedicated to the work of Russian artists who were Kasyanov's contemporaries and worked in the second half of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. Kasyanov often purchased art directly from the exhibitions of the Society of Russian Artists and "Mir Iskusstva" (World of Art) groups, which meant that what he collected was generally of very high quality.

Kasyanov emigrated to China after the 1917 October revolution, but only part of his collection reached the Museum of Fine Arts — like others, it was broken up into several parts, with paintings distributed among various museums2. Some of the drawings and other graphic art pieces were lost — there were discrepancies between the inventory of 1918, when the nationalized collection was transferred to the Rumyantsev Museum, and that of 1924, when it came to the Museum of Fine Arts. For example, the 1918 inventory listed 31 drawings by Repin, while there are none in the inventory of 19243. Despite these losses, first-class graphic works by Alexandre Benois, Kon-stantin Somov, Leon Bakst, Leonid Pasternak, Mstislav Dobuzhinsky, Yevgeny Lan-sere, George Loukomski, Valentin Serov, Sergei Vinogradov, Boris Kustodiev, Filipp Malyavin, and Dmitry Scherbinovsky enriched the museum's funds.

Separate works came from the once-rich collection of Kozma Soldatenkov, a Moscow merchant and publisher. Drawings by Vasily Rayev, Vasily Agin, Pavel Sokolov, and I. Petrovsky could not form the foundation of a museum; however, it is most likely Soldatenkov's collection was the origin of a true masterpiece of 1860s Russian graphic art — Vasily Perov's 1861 "Easter Celebration in a Village", a study for (or the artist's version of) his "Easter Procession in a Village", the painting that made him famous.

Formed from such beginnings, the collection would soon undergo further changes. At the end of the 1920s, the process of asset reallocation between museums started, in accordance with the museums' specific features. In May 1928 the Tretyakov Gallery requested that the Museum of Fine Arts transfer its collection of Alexander Ivanov's drawings4 to the Tretyakov. Responding to this request, the Engravings Cabinet curator A.A. Sidorov submitted the following memo: "The Engravings Cabinet [at the Museum of Fine Arts — O.A. ] has received the Tretyakov Gallery's request for the drawing albums and portfolios containing the works of Alexander Ivanov. As I consider this transfer perfectly appropriate, would also ask the Governing Board to propose to the Museum Department and the Tretyakov Gallery the complete transfer to the gallery of all the Russian drawings that are still housed at the Engravings Cabinet of the Museum of Fine Arts, with the exception of those that are directly related to the Engravings Department (original etchings and lithographs, drawings by Russian engravers, etc.)"5 The Chief Administration of Science, Art and Science and Museum Institutions approved this proposal.

On February 6 1929, one of the most significant transfers in the history of the museum world took place — the Tretyakov Gallery received 5,231 works of graphic arts and 73 albums of drawings.6 This transfer included many drawings dating back to the second half of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries, including those by Franz Roubaud, Alexei Bogolyubov (nine works in total), Mikhail Klodt (23 works), Alexander Beggrov, Konstantin Kryshitsky, Lev Lagorio, Alexei Savrasov (eight works), Grigory Myasoyedov (six works), Vasily Surikov, Vladimir Makovsky, Ilya Repin, Alexander Beideman (nine works), Kon-stantin Savitsky, Sergei Korovin, Viktor Vas-netsov (five works), Stanislaw Noakowski (four works), Alexandre Benois, Valentin Serov, Isaak Levitan, Leonid Pasternak, Nicholas Roerich, Sergei Vinogradov, Boris Kustodiev, Leonard Turzhansky, Vasily Perepletchikov, and others. Kasyanov's7, Sveshnikov's and Musin-Pushkin's collections were finally and completely broken up. It was only the works of foreign artists who lived in Russia (the so-called "rossica") that were left at the Museum of Fine Arts, as well as the oeuvre of engravers and some graphic sheets that for unknown reasons had not been listed among those to be transferred, such as Repin's drawings from Basnin's collection.

In the 1930s and 1940s, the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts — it was re-named in 1937 on the centenary of Alexander Pushkin's death — did little to build its graphics collection. One notable acquisition by the department of 19th century graphics deserves attention — the academic study "Two Models" (1866) by a well-known engraver Ivan Pozhalostin. The study was purchased from Pozhalostin's daughter Alexandra for 75 rubles in January 1941, and the acquisition was perfectly in line with the specific aims of the museum's Engravings Cabinet, as set by Sidorov at the end of the 1920s. At the same time, transfers to other museums, albeit on a smaller scale, continued; thus, in 1938 three illustrations to Pushkin's "Count Nulin" by Somov and Benois' watercolour illustration to "The Bronze Horseman" were transferred to the National Pushkin Museum in Leningrad.

In 1949 the museum's collection of Russian drawings was enhanced both in size and in quality when it received Pavel Ettinger's collection, which the renowned art historian and bibliographer had left to the museum in his will. Ettinger described himself as "not one of those collectors who want to have everything; I have the patience to wait for the object I desire to come my way."8 Ettinger assembled an unusually diverse collection9 — he owned drawings by Firs Zhuravlev, Alexei Bogolyubov, Yelena Polenova, Sergei Malyutin, Sergei Korovin, Sergei Ivanov, Sergei Vinogradov, Mikhail Vrubel, Sergei Beklemishev, Vasily Vladi-mirov, George Loukomski, Sergei Chekho-nin, Viktor Borisov-Musatov, Nikolai Kry-mov, Nikolai Sapunov, Konstantin Bo-gaevsky, Vasily Denisov, and others. The collector knew many of the artists of the "Silver Age" personally, actively corresponded with them and often played the part of an arbitrum elegantum of sorts, as he did not hesitate to point out strengths and weaknesses of their work.

Thus, right after Ettinger had acquired a watercolour landscape by Bogaevsky (1908), the artist wrote to him: "I was extremely pleased by your gracious review of my watercolours... As to my oil studies, you were right to say that 'there is little of myself in them' — I never get them right."10 Leonid Pasternak was one of Ettinger's close friends, and they shared similar views on art, similar tastes and temperament. It was thanks to this friendship that some of Pasternak's most representative works found their way into Ettinger's collection, such as the "Portrait of Leo Tolstoy", his 1901 study for "Leo Tolstoy with his Family Circle" (1902, Russian Museum), his pastels "Self-portrait" (1911) and "Summer Visitors" ("Dachniki", or "Raiki", the 1910s).

The portrait of Leo Tolstoy has an inscription on it: "To my dear friend Pavel Davidovich Ettinger. Pasternak". It was the artist's gift to Ettinger, and indeed many drawings from Ettinger's collections have autographs and personal dedications from artists written on their reverse sides; together with the collector's own notes, they offer fascinating details of the circumstances of how, when and from whom the collector obtained this or that drawing. It is exactly how we know that it was from Sergei Korovin's brother Konstantin, a famous landscape painter, that in 1919 Enttinger obtained Sergei's pencil sketch "Soldiers and their Horses at Rest (in the Forest)" (from the 1880s). Also, one of the best pieces in the collection, Mikhail Vrubel's "Young Man on a Sofa" (1904), has the following dedication: "To dear Pavel Davidovich to remember me by — M. Vrubel, once again healthy. July 20 1904."

Some of the most interesting works in Ettinger's collection are "Courtyard in Moscow" (1880s), a small pencil sketch by Yelena Polenova (it depicts the same subject and shares the title with the famous painting by Vasily Polenov, Yelena's brother); genre sketches by Sergei Vinogradov (1895-1896) and Sergei Chekhonin's watercolour "Rostov Figures" (1913), purchased by the famous tenor Leonid Sobinov from a "Mir Iskusstva" (World of Art) exhibition.

Ettinger's extraordinary legacy became the impetus for subsequent additions to the Pushkin's collection of drawings by Russian artists. The effort became particularly pronounced in the 1960-1980s, when the museum came into possession of several artists' entire "heritage", including those of Natalya Goncharova (acquired from A. Larionova in 1966, it included the artist's early impressionist landscapes of the early-and mid-1900s), Alexandre Benois (from A. Benois-Cherkesova in 1981), and Zina-ida Serebryakova (from E. Serebryakov in 1984, 1987-1988, 1995), and others.

The practice of acquiring important art through purchases from private collectors and antique shops by the Soviet Ministry of Culture became widespread, while quite a few drawings were donated to the museum. Building the collection one piece at a time brought substantial results. Quite a few lacunae were filled, especially where it concerned artists whose oeuvre was not yet represented in the museum's funds. During those years the museum's collection was enriched by some of its most significant pieces, such as Mikhail Nesterov's study for his "St. John the Evangelist" icon at the Vladimir Cathedral in Kiev (1893) and his composition "Virgin with Child" (1900); "Tree Branches under Snow" (1890), Ivan Shishkin's study for his famous painting "In the Wild North..." (1891, Kiev Museum of Russian Art): Nikolai Ge's sketch "Crucifixion" (1890s) for his painting of the same name (current location unknown); Ilya Repin's watercolour version of his 1904 painting "Such Freedom!".11 This list also includes Valentin Serov's pastel study for his portrait of Alexander Lensky and Alexander Yuzhin, actors at the Maly theatre (1908); "Battle" (1902) by Nicholas Roerich, as well as such true masterpieces of Russian art nouveau as "Dream of Deity" (the left and right parts of an unrealized fresco), from 1904-1905 by Borisov-Musatov, and "Self-portrait with Family. Silhouette" (1915) by Georgy Narbut.

This is a far from complete list of the museum's acquisitions during those years; the collection was enriched by a wide variety of works by artists representing late academicism, critical realism, the Society of Russian Artists, "Mir Iskusstva" and the symbolist movement; among them, Mihaly Zichy, Luigi Premazzi, Alexei Bogolyubov, Mikhail Mikeshin, Alexei Savrasov, Vladimir Makovsky, Andrei Ryabushkin, Filipp Malyavin, Isaak Levitan, Mikhail Vrubel, Ivan Pokhitonov, Mstislav Dobuzhinsky, Konstantin Somov, Serge Sudeikin, Sergei Chekhonin, and others. New works are still being acquired: one of the latest and most important is Konstantin Korovin's study for the decoration of the "Far North" pavilion at the 14th National Industrial and Art Exhibition in Nizhny Novgorod (1896)12.

Overall, the Pushkin Museum's collection is not uniform in its composition — there are relatively few works by painters, while artists who specialized in graphics (draughtsmen, engravers, lithographers) are represented very well. The "Peredvizh-niki" (Wanderers) are insufficiently represented; at the same time, the museum's collection of the period concerned is one of the best in the country. These variations are largely due to the way Russia's tradition of collecting and museum-building has developed. On the one hand, the collection cannot claim to tell a full and consistent story of the graphic arts in the period; it does, however, give a good idea of their development through that time. It provides a comprehensive overview of the main styles and movements in graphic arts, their expression and characteristic features, as well as the way they were reflected in the art of drawing and related to the "larger" narrative of the development of the fine arts, including the genres, themes, unique elements of creative trends during various periods, and of the influence popular European tendencies had on them.

Almost all the notable events in the history of the graphic arts are reflected here. The collection has students' studies of models and sketches for classical compositions: we find a striking example of the kind of art that was cultivated in the second half of the 19th century at the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts in Alexander Litovchenko's 1861 study "Tsarina Natalya Kirillovna and Her Children Facing the Streltsy (the Streltsy Uprising)". The study bears the Academy stamp with the word "approved" written in the hand of the Academy's long-term director Fyodor Bruni. The study was executed for the 1862 gold medal competition,13 which it did not win, and two years before the famous "revolt of the fourteen", in which Litovchenko took an active part.

Many works reveal a close connection to the artistic life of their period. One example is a series of papier-pelle drawings from the late 1850s-early 1860s. At first glance, several stand out as crude and garish; however, upon closer examination they turn out to be a rare example of artistic cooperation between both professional artists and amateurs — they were created at the so-called "Academic Fridays", the weekly evening meetings that took place at different periods at the participants' apartments, or at the Drawing School of the Society to Support Artists, and then from 1860 at the Academy ofArts14.

Alexei Bogolyubov, one of the participants at those "collective" workshops, recalled: "Before I went abroad, we had organized artistic gatherings on Thursdays, which during my seven-year absence15 [working abroad on a grant — O.A.] turned into artistic 'Fridays'. F.F. Lvov was the one who planned this endeavor. He was secretary of the Society for the Encouragement of the Arts, which was located in the wings of the stock exchange building; the Artists' Society was allowed to take up the space on those days. We played all sorts of tricks, improvised, took part in simple, light performances. Everyone contributed what he could to entertain the gathering. Dmitry Vasilievich Grigorovich, Ippolit Antono-vich Monighetti, the artist Carrick, Professor Sverchkov, railway telegraph engineer Lieutenant Colonel Ruhl, Stakenschnei-der, Baron Misha Klodt, myself and merry fellows like Prince Maksutov, A.K. Beg-grov, and others amused the audience..."16 Among those collaborative drawings, we find " Hunter in the Reeds", a sketch full of good-natured humour and accompanied with a quick inscription at the bottom to describe who contributed to it and how: "Water by Bogolyubov, reeds by Filippov, figure by Maksutov, air by Sokolov; after that Lvov came and scraped it".17 There is no doubt that the drawing entitled "Landscape with Moon and Travellers", signed "Maksutov & Co." was also one of these "Friday" creations.

Within the museum's collection, a group of watercolour landscapes stands apart; the genre was remarkably popular in the second half of the 19th century and dominated the exhibitions of the Circle (later Society) of Russian Watercolourists. Those are the works of Luigi Premazzi, Karl Huhn, Mikhail Mikeshin, Nikolai Gritsenko, Alexander Beggrov, Carl Heftler, Vladimir Derviz, as well as Roman Klein, the architect of the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts main building.

The above-mentioned "Easter Celebration in a Village" (1861) by Vasily Perov and "At the Cemetery" (beginning of the 1860s) by Alexander Beideman are both early examples of critical realism in art that occupy a central place in the collection. While Perov's drawing is a caustic satire of the church of his day, the tone of Beide-man's gouache is predominantly compassionate and sympathetic. What they do share is an ideological agenda, as they both "render harsh judgment of life's realities". It is worth noting that "At the Cemetery" shares exactly the same subject matter with Perov's "Scene at the Grave" (1859, Tre-tyakov Gallery) — this fact underscores certain common elements in what artists were seeking to relate in the 1850s-1860s. These works are linked to drawings by members of the Wanderers group of various generations, such as Ivan Shishkin, Alexei Savrasov, Ilya Repin, Vladimir Makovsky, Viktor Vas-netsov, Valery Jacobi, Nikolai Zagorsky, Nikolai Ghe, Andrei Ryabushkin, Konstan-tin Korovin, and Sergei Ivanov. Many of these drawing echo the Tretyakov Gallery collection, such as Makovsky's pencil sketch of a bank interior for his painting "Downfall of a Bank" (1881, Tretyakov Gallery), and the study with tree branches for Shishkin's "In the Wild North..." (1891, Tretyakov Gallery, pastel).

The Pushkin also houses a representative collection of illustrations to works of literature, which includes Mihaly Zichy's watercolours to Yakov Polonsky's poem "Mi- shenka" and illustrations by Pyotr Sokolov to "The Captain's Daughter" by Alexander Pushkin, drawings by Konstan-tin Trutovsky, Mikhail Mikeshin and Kon-stantin Makovsky to Nikolai Gogol's Ukrainian novellas and short stories; Repin's illustrations to "The Prophet" by Pushkin; and Vrubel's and Serov's to Mikhail Ler-montov's poem "The Demon". Other items worth mentioning are Mikhail Klodt's jacket design for "Tales of a Grandmother" by George Sand; Alexei Afanasyev's illustrations to "The Tale of the Fisherman and the Fish" by Alexander Pushkin and poems by Alexei Tolstoy; and Valentin Serov's illustrations to fables by Ivan Krylov.

Quite a few works are not technically book illustrations, yet they reveal a certain literary foundation. Thus, two watercolours by Mihaly Zichy, "Young Man Reading (Morning)" and "Old Man Reading (Night)", both executed in 1867, are united by a cross-cutting narrative and numerous exciting details: the viewer has the strong impression that there is a literary source behind the drawings. In this particular case, we are looking at two scenes that give us a metaphorical and somewhat moralistic take on different stages of life and the mistakes that come with them. It is a peculiar illustration to the popular French expression, Si jeunesse savait, si vieillesse pouvait — "if youth but knew, if age but could..." — as well as a parable about lost time. The young man is yawning and stretching as he plays with his dog — he is frankly bored with reading. His loose suspenders and smoking pipes hanging on the wall speak of an idle life. In contrast, the old man, with the appearance and attributes of Don Quixote (we see his suit of armour and lance), is eagerly poring over a volume as he tries to make up for the time he once lost. This occupation is apparently the only thing that is left for him in life — his dusty suit of armour has forever been sitting in a corner of his room, and the old dog sleeps peacefully, an unlikely companion in knightly quests.

Examples of such "quasi-literary" compositions include "Baba Yaga and the Bird-maidens" (1902) by Ivan Bilibin, a fantasy based on Russian folk tale motifs, and "On the River. White Night" (1901) by Vasily Vladimirov, which could be an illustration to an ancient Russian epic. These works clearly reflect the artists' desire to express their national identity. Such pursuits, whether they concerned content or forms of expression, were widespread in many European countries in the second half of the 19th century and manifested themselves in all kinds of art — architecture, painting, graphics, as well as the decorative and applied arts. One popular field that artists engaged in was working to revive the traditional crafts of pottery and woodwork. Following this trend, P. Grigoryev drew a sketch for the design of a heating stove decorated with luster glazed ceramic tiles (1882) depicting scenes from Alexander Pushkin's fairy tales; this work was probably done for the 1882 All-Russia Industrial and Art Exhibition in Moscow. The same quest for a national style is represented by the works of Yelizaveta Bohm, Sergei Malyu-tin's decorative design for a balalaika "Battle with Zmey Gorynych" (1899), which was created for Maria Tenisheva's woodworking workshop in Talashkino; along with the Abramtsevo artists' circle, Teni-sheva's workshop became the cradle of the Russian revival style.

Among the artists who lived and worked on Savva Mamontov's estate in Abramtsevo and were associated with him, some names stand out, among them Valentin Serov, Konstantin Korovin, and Mikhail Vrubel. Serov's landscape "Autumn. Bykovo" (1886) depicts an area close to Abramtsevo, where the artist spent the summer and autumn of 1886. Vrubel's wa-tercolour "Night in Naples" (1891) is one of his sketches for the curtain design for Ma-montov's Russian Private Opera18.

Korovin created his design of the "Far North" pavilion (executed by Lev Keku-shev) for the 1896 All-Russia Industrial and Art Exhibition in Nizhny Novgorod, and it is one of the most striking artistic creations to contribute its innovative aesthetics to the formation of the visual language of Russian art nouveau. The pavilion was conceived as an advertisement for the new Archangel direction of the Moscow-Yaroslavl railway, and the entire exhibition was to showcase the riches and peculiarities of the region. Korovin took a trip to the North specifically to prepare for this work. He recalled: ". [working] on the spacious pavilion of the Northern Division, I try to create the same impression, the same feeling in the visitors that I myself experienced in the North."19

A wooden barn from the Norwegian trading post provided the basis for the pavilion. The simple asymmetrical structure with smooth walls was in stark contrast with the majority of other buildings of the exhibition. Its unusual construction was noticed while it was still being built, and Vasily Polenov wrote about it: "The Northern pavilion with Konstantin's [Korovin] frescoes may be the most vibrant and talented at the exhibi-tion."20 Korovin remembered that "passers-by would stop and stare for a long time. Babushkin, the contractor who was building it, used to say: "Some sort of thing! Look here, all the cottages I have built, I have a parquet business, and here, you just [work with an] axe. [He] ordered to start painting, would you believe it, all day they spent mixing the paint — what commotion. Is this beauty? I made the edging just a bit wider; 'Not good,' he said. 'You'll have to redo it.' And where does Savva Ivanovich [Mamontov] find them like that — I would leave, really... only out of respect for Savva Ivanovich do I do it. Strange to look at it — the ropes, barrels, raw stuff... [He] brought a man with him, well, that one guzzles live fish! Where did he find such a man? 'Well,' I said to Savva Ivanovich, 'a barn is a barn. Should have given [the job] to me, I would have whipped up a pavilion for you with cockerels, you could make it into a cottage later.'"21

Tn contrast to the graphics of the second half of the 19th century, a period unevenly represented in the museum's collection, the art of drawing at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries is covered in all the variety of its movements, art associations, genres and techniques.

Drawings and watercolours by members of the later "Peredvizhniki" (Wanderers) group and the Society of Russian Artists stand out, such as Alexei Afanasyev, Sergei Ivanov, Sergei Korovin, Valentin Serov, Sergei Vinogradov, and Pavel Scher-bov. Scherbov, an extraordinarily witty and observant artist, created caricatures that were highly regarded by his contemporaries and fellow artists, even though they often became the objects of his humour. A particular example is his ironic caricature "The Apotheosis of Zeuxis (Kuindzhi Ascends to Heaven)" (c.1897), which pokes fun at the landscape artist Arkhip Kuindzhi, a favourite character in Scher-bov's caricatures, at a board meeting of the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts. The setup is simple: the Academy's officials are bringing Kuindzhi into the circle of "gods", members of the Academy. The drawing depicts (from left to right): the artists Mikhail Botkin and Efim Volkov, the sculptor Leonid Posen, the Vice-President of the Imperial Academy of Arts Ivan Tolstoy (as a golden idol with a cigarette); the artists Vladimir Makovsky (shown breastfeeding a baby, probably an allusion to his son Alexander, who had just been appointed to a teaching post at the Higher School of Art), and Ilya Repin; the engraver Vasily Mathe, the sculptor Robert Bach (with a cigar and a mug with beer), and Vladimir Beklemishev. All the "gods" are sitting solemnly on children's chamber pots; there is a place ready for Kuindzhi, complete with a halo. Scherbov created three versions of this composition, varying the number of characters and their places in the group22.

The picture of the thriving artistic life of the turn of the century is made complete by the works of the "Mir Iskusstva" (World of Art) artists — Alexandre Benois, Konstantin Somov, Leon Bakst, Mstislav Dobuzhinsky, and Yevgeny Lansere; the symbolists Mikhail Vrubel, Viktor Bori-sov-Musatov, Vasily Denisov; as well as the artists of the "Blue Rose" group — Pavel Kuznetsov, Nikolai Krymov, Nikolai Sapunov, and Serge Sudeikin. Among them are many seminal works, and many that "echo" the Tretyakov Gallery collection. In particular, "Royal Hunt (Peter I Hunting, Hunters at Rest)" (1907), a gouache by Lansere, reflects the "retrospective" pursuits of the "Mir Iskusstva" artists and their fascination with the 18th century. Its theme, manner and palette bring it close to such se-lies of compositions as "St. Petersburg in the 18th Century" and "Ships at the Time of Peter I" (1906-1907).

Slightly different, but also imbued with the charm of the 18th century, is the mood of Konstantin Somov's sheet "Dress in the Old Times" (1903). This "ode" to the refined aesthetics of the French Rococo style is part of a set; the matching water-colour, called "Dress in Present Time" (1903), is housed at the Tretyakov Gallery. In it, Somov, ever the skillful stylist, created images of the Silver Age dandies.

Two sketches by Borisov-Musatov for his fresco "Dream of Deity" (1904-1905) add to the image of the period. The artist created them on commission from Fyodor Schechtel for A. Derozhinskaya'a mansion in Moscow (the project was never realized). We know that in 1904-1905 the artist completed four watercolour studies: "Spring Tale", "Summer Melody", "Autumn Evening" and "Dream of Deity" (all at the Tretyakov Gallery). As he prepared to paint his studies, Borisov-Musatov executed a number of preliminary works, in which his focus was on working out individual motifs and elements of the composition. Drawings for the left and right panels of the composition are now in the Pushkin collection. Even in small fragments, like the image of a Cupid sculpture and a castle, there is an interplay of metaphors, a variety of connotations and emotional states; it is not the dream of a deity but rather the workings of the human soul, its fine feelings and subtle impressions, the themes of withering and simultaneous awakening, and of fascination with nature.

In the words of the art critic Sergei Makovsky, the "sweet and sad lyrical mirages" of Borisov-Musatov's works so aptly embodied symbolist sensibilities — it was no accident that the artist's genius became an object of worship as early as the mid-1900s, with the emergence of the "second wave" of Russian symbolism. Pavel Kuzne-tsov was one of the most prominent representatives of this second generation of symbolists and members of the "Blue Rose" artistic association. His connection to Borisov-Musatov's art is clearly revealed and acutely felt in his early ink drawing "Dream" (c.1905). However, the same motif of a dream, of a certain illusory reality is transformed into an entire microcosm — we see the mystic circle of life, matter taking shape and dissolving in the environment, a succession of beginnings and oblivion. The drawing is thematically linked with Kuznetsov's significant works of the same period, such as "Blue Fountain" (1905) and "Birth" (1906) both in the Tretyakov Gallery.

At the beginning of the 20th century, many artists of varied artistic movements and associations were influenced by the techniques of the French impressionists and post-impressionists — their enthusiasm for working en plein air, their desire to express immediate impressions, their inclination towards a free and fluid manner, their characteristic use of both the particular features of their medium (colour, texture and thickness of paper) and accentuated painting techniques (pastel, watercolour, gouache, tempera). Some of the most striking examples include early (from when she was a student at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture) landscape and genre pastels by Natalya Goncharova, and watercolours by Alexandre Benois and Dmitry Scherbinovsky, which were executed while travelling in Europe.

This style of painting-like graphics, which flourished mainly during the art nou-veau era, found its "opposite" in the movement that cultivated the natural attributes of graphics — small scale, intimate mood, exquisite lines, decorative expressiveness, and emphasis on the contrast of black and white. This "graphics" movement within art nouveau dominated in book and magazine illustrations, in such publications as "Zolotoye Runo" (The Golden Fleece), "Apollon", "Vesy" (The Scales), "Satyri-con" and "New Satyricon".

Many works of art at the time re-interpreted or even directly borrowed artistic techniques from Aubrey Beardsley, the English graphics artist of the last third of the 19th century. Beardsley's influence on his contemporaries, including Russian artists, was extremely strong. Thus, drawings by Anna Remizova (working under her artistic pseudonym "Miss"), Nikolai Kry-mov, Boris Anisfeld, and Sergei Lodygin form a fairly coherent group united by the use of common techniques. Their art was characterized by its use of exquisite lines, a desire for stylization, and richness and variety of decorative motifs. Sometimes it seemed that the "object" in the drawing was "drowned" in decorative elements, which dominate the entire drawing. Lines are sometimes intricately bent, sometimes constructed from a multitude of points, while the light touches of the pen also add to the overall impression of decorativeness.

It took slightly more than 50 years, from the 1850s to the 1910s, for the art of drawing, as well as all Russian art, to advance a very long way. On the one hand, this development was marked by a wide variety of artistic movements; on the other, it showed a certain continuity of tradition, shared ideals of humanism, and interest in human beings and their inner lives (avant-garde and contemporary art belong to a very different era). This section of the Pushkin museum's collection includes works by artists both important and less so; it also has some masterpieces, works that are central not only to one collection, but to the history of the Russian art of drawing as a whole.

  1. Those collections that were nationalized before 1924 were acquired via the Rumyantsev Museum; the ones that were nationalized between 1924 and 1927 came from the State Museum Fund.
  2. Paintings from Kasyanov's collection created the foundation for the Omsk Regional Museum of Fine Arts, which was established in 1924 (now the Mikhail Vrubel Omsk Regional Museum of Fine Arts.)
  3. The Museum of Fine Arts, Manuscripts Department. Folio 11, op. I, item 220
  4. The Museum of Fine Arts, Manuscripts Department. Folio 5, op. XII, item 14, sheet 49
  5. Ibid, sheet 50.
  6. Ibid, sheet 50.
  7. Later the Tretyakov Gallery handed quite a few works of art from Kasyanov's collection over to regional museums of the USSR.
  8. From "The Pavel Ettinger Museum. From the Collection of the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts". Exhibition catalogue. Moscow, 2004, p. 15
  9. On the content and themes of Pavel Ettinger's collection, see "The Pavel Ettinger Museum. From the Collection of the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts". Exhibition catalogue. Moscow, 2004.
  10. From "The Pavel Ettinger Museum. From the Collection of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts". Exhibition catalogue. Moscow, 2004, p. 72
  11. According to the note in Repin's hand on the back of this watercolour, the work was donated to the Imperial Free Economic Society's Committee to Help the Starving in March 1906 to be raffled or sold in auction.
  12. The study was donated to the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in 2007.
  13. Nikolai Dmitriev-Orenburg-sky was one of Litovchenko's competitors; his version was called "Tsarina Natalya Kirillovna Showing Ivan V to the Streltsy to Prove that He is Alive and Well" (Taganrog Museum of Art).
  14. Severukhin, D.Y, Leikind, O.L. "The Golden Age of Art Associations in Russia and the USSR (1820-1923). Reference Book". St. Petersburg, 1992, pp. 9-10
  15. Alexei Bogolyubov's travel abroad as a pensioner is meant.
  16. Bogolyubov, A.P. "Memoirs of a Sailor-Artist". Samara, 2006, p. 148
  17. The note refers to: Alexei Bogolyubov (1824-1896), Konstantin Filippov (1830-1878), Vasily Maksutov (1826-1886), Ivan Sokolov (1823-1918), Fyodor Lvov (1820-1895).
  18. The versions of the composition are in the collection of the Tretyakov Gallery; the curtain was burnt out in January 1898 in the fire in the Solodovnikov Theatre.
  19. From "Konstantin Korovin Remembers...". Compiled by I.S. Zilbershtein, VA. Samkov. Moscow, 1990, p.177
  20. "Vasily Dmitrievich Polenov. Letters, journals, memoirs". Moscow, St. Petersburg, 1950, p.296
  21. From "Konstantin Korovin Remembers.". Compiled by I.S. Zilbershtein, V.A. Samkov. Moscow, 1990, p.177
  22. One of the versions is housed at the Tretyakov Gallery.

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