Happy birthday, Vasily Surikov!

Vasily Surikov, a Russian painter, a master of large-scale historical paintings, academician and full member of the Imperial Academy of Arts, was born on January 24, 1848.

Василий Иванович СУРИКОВ. Автопортрет. 1879
Self-portrait. 1879
Tretyakov Gallery

The artist chose Red Square, the historic heart of Russia, intentionally as the scene for the deadly opposition of the "Streltsy" and Tsar Peter. The walls and towers of the Kremlin, the Execution Block, St. Basil's Cathedral, the very expanse of Red Square have been witness to many events, both major and minor in their significance; it was simultaneously an everyday market place, the setting for grand royal processions and the coronations of Russian tsars, and the arena for mass executions.
Galina Churak. Vasily Surikov: I loved beauty everywhere...
Magazine issue: #1 2006 (10)


Publications of the Tretyakov Gallery magazine dedicated to Vasily Surikov:


Galina Churak
Vasily Surikov: I loved beauty everywhere...

#1 2006 (10)

On March 1 1881 the “Peredvizhniki” (Wanderers) group was to open its ninth exhibition at the Yusupov palace on the Moika Embankment in St. Petersburg. Tragically, the event coincided with anotherone, among the most sinister in Russian history - the bomb thrown by a member of the secret political group Narodnaya Volya (People’s Will) killed Emperor Alexander II. However, as soon as the days of mourning ended, the long wait of art enthusiasts was more than rewarded with masterpieces from the new generation of talented Russian artists: alongside Ilya Repin’s portraits of the composer Modest Mussorgsky and the author Alexei Pisemsky, “Alyonushka” by Vasily Vasnetsov and landscapes by Alexei Savrasov and Ivan Shishkin, viewers would discover the talent of the young Vasily Surikov. His name meant little at the time, but his work “Morning of the Streltsy Execution” seemed to predict in some enigmatic way the recent tragedy. The painting created a sensation. “His appearing to the artistic world with the painting ‘Execution of the Streltsy’ was sensational; nobody had started like that,” remembered Alexandra Botkina, Pavel Tretyakov’s daughter. “He did not hesitate, did not try to size up whether the time was good or bad for the exhibition of such a painting, but went off like a bolt.” Immediately after the exhibition in St. Petersburg, Surikov’s painting, acquired by Pavel Tretyakov before the exhibition, was moved to its permanent home in Lavrushinsky Pereulok. The Tretyakov Gallery was already considered a major collection of Russian art.

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