This is Art History Today's Typepad Profile.
Join Typepad and start following Art History Today's activity
Join Now!
Already a member? Sign In
Art History Today
Midlands, United Kingdom
Professional Art Historian, Phd in Poussin,
Interests: music, art history, films, (classical through to rock), literature (mainly modern crime mystery).
Recent Activity
1) Apollinary Vasnetsov, Rurik and his brothers Sineus and Truvor arrive at Ladoga, oil on canvas, location unknown. 2) Monument celebrating the millennial of Rurik's arrival at Novgorod, Novgorod, 1870s. 3) Map of Russia. 4) Aleksey Gavrilovich Venetsianov, In the Ploughed Field. Spring, first half of the 1820s, o/c, 51.2 x 65.5 cm, Tretyakov, Moscow. 5) Ivan Kramskoi, Forester, 1874, o/c, 84 x 62 cm, Tretyakov, Moscow. 6) Photograph of Tolstoy, 1897. 7) Silvester Shchedrin, Terrace on the Seashore, Capuccini Near Sorrento,1827, o/c, 47.5 x 60 cm, State Russian Museum, St Petersburg. 8) Ilya Repin, Barge Haulers on the Volga,... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Art History Today
Image
A Brief Note on Tretyakov’s Landscapes. Towards the end of the 1850s Tretyakov wrote to the landscape painter Apollinary Goravsky the following words:” I need neither richness in nature nor effective use of light: no miracles. Give me a murky puddle, so long as it contains truth and poetry. There is poetry to be found in everything, that is the artist’s business.”[1] This is the credo of the nineteenth-century realist painters who sought for honesty in nature. The majority of works by landscape artists were acquired in the 1870s and 1880s including works by Alexi Sarasov, Mikhail Klodt, Lev Kamenev,... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Art History Today
Image
Out in the Cold: Images of Siberia. Two juxtaposed images could stand for the idea of Siberia with its icy confines in the Russian imagination: Levitin’s The Vladimirka (1892) and Perov’s Portrait of Fyodor Dostoevesky (1872). The portrait of the great Russian writer is calm and contemplative; Perov, the “Russian Courbet” has captured something of the resigned pessimism of the author of Crime and Punishment whose linked hands may recall wearing the manacles in Siberia.[1] In that novel the famous student murderer Raskolnikov is sent to Siberia for his crime, a fictional episode that mirrors Dostoevsky’s own experience of the... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Art History Today
Image
Down on the Farm with Tolstoy. A much more famous writer than Lermontov and Turgenev is the author of War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina - (1877) Leo Tolstoy. In the second novel, the rural aristocrat Konstantin "Kostya" Dmitrievich Lëvin is thought to be a self-portrait. Retiring to his rural estate from Moscow, Levin often follows the peasants out into the fields, and in one memorable episode in the novel spends a whole day scything which induces a sense of mysticism in nature and an acceptance into the collective of the peasants working on his land.[1] Tolstoy often worked... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Art History Today
Image
The Art of Describing in 19th Century Russian Literature In his foreword to his translation of Lermontov’s short 1840 novel A Hero of Our Time, the modern writer Vladimir Nabokov observes how nineteenth-century Russian writers were indifferent to “exact shades of visual colour” which led to a hackneyed form of prose.[1] Nabokov was surprised at Lermontov’s use of clichéd description because the earlier poet was actually a painter as well as a poet. This interest in writing and the art of painting was prevalent in the early nineteenth-century as is proved by the remarks of the painter Aleksei Venetsianov:” The... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Art History Today
Image
Going Native. One of the most ingrained ideas in the history of Russia is that its culture originated elsewhere; in the words of Etkind- “the fruits are national, the roots are foreign.”[1] National pride wasn’t really internally generated, but stemmed from associations with different tribes like Rurik’s Normans who had been part of Russia’s early history. So we have a phenomenon in which outsiders become naturalised and then try to colonise other scattered peoples across the great breadth of Russia. In the seventeenth-century the German-born Catherine the Great brought nomadic tribes of the Orenberg province (later named Kazakhs) under Russian... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Art History Today
Image
A Portrait of the People. As Vladimir Lenyashin correctly points out, the “true era of a Russian Renaissance is inextricably linked to portraitists”- not landscapists.[1] No matter how much one tries to argue for the origins of landscape painting in the early history of Russia, one always comes up against this fact- the portrait dominated as a genre. And of the many portraits executed, hardly any were of the real people: the peasants, the serfs, the rural native Russians. An “image of the people” only materialized with the promotion of landscape to a more respectable position in the history of... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Art History Today
Image
The Landscape of Mood. Levitan's work was a profound response to the romantic charm of the Russian landscape. Levitan did not paint urban landscapes; with the exception of the View of Simonov Monastery (whereabouts unknown), mentioned by Nesterov, the city of Moscow appears only in the painting Illumination of the Kremlin. During the late 1870s he often worked in the vicinity of Moscow, and created the "landscape of mood", in which the contour and condition of nature are spiritualized, and become vehicles for the conditions of the human soul. Typical in his work is a muted and nearly melancholic daydream... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Art History Today
Image
Russian Tourism & Painting While Russian academic artists were travelling through Italy and creating classical landscapes, others were actually taking an interest in drawing and painting their own land. This neglect of Russia’s geography by its own painters is highlighted by Dostoevsky’s aggrieved question: “Does there exist a Russian…who doesn’t know Europe twice as well as Russia.”?[1] In other words tourism did not exist in Russia; it was unattractive as a place of vacation or retreat for artists and the intelligentsia. Russia missed out on the aesthetic picturesque movement of the nineteenth-century, largely because of the European focus; but also... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Art History Today
Image
The Image of the People in Nineteenth-Century Russian Art The image of the Russian peasant would have to endure an artistic revolution before it could truly be said to express Russian identity. Part of this struggle was fought on the terrain of genre and landscape painting which fought hard to escape the shackles of the classical tradition imposed on nineteenth-century Russian realist painters. If one wants to get an idea of how the image of the people in Russia drastically changed, then one need only compare Silvester Shchedrin’s Terrace on the Seashore (1827) with Repin’s Barge Haulers on the Volga... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Art History Today
Image
Ethnicity and Art in Russian History. During the nineteenth-century artists like Repin and Surikov successfully rode the wave of nationalism and liberalism prevalent in Russian society. This is why the exploits and events of historical figures like Ivan the Terrible, Rurik (above) and Ermak appear in the history painting of the mid to late nineteenth-century. New modern realist artists also began to represent the people themselves who had been virtually ignored during the long history of Russia. In order to understand how a sense of Russian identity influenced the realist school of the nineteenth-century, it is necessary to appreciate the... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Art History Today
Image
Will it ever stop? Art Watch tells you why not. Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Art History Today
1) Jean-Baptiste Vallin de la Mothe and Alexander Kokorinov, Imperial Academy of Arts Vasilyevsky Island, Saint Petersburg. Built in 1764-1789. 2) Valery Jacobi, Inauguration of Imperial Academy of Arts, 1889, oil on canvas, Imperial Academy of Arts, St Petersburg. 3) Academy sphinxes on the embankment. 4) Maksim Vorobyov, Sphinxes lining a quay in front of St Petersburg Academy of Arts, 1835, oil on canvas, St Petersburg Academy of Arts. 5) Leonid Pasternak, Meeting of the Council of Art Teachers of the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture & Architecture, 1902, pastel on paper, 65 x 87 cm, Russian Museum, St Petersburg.... Continue reading
Posted Nov 18, 2016 at Art History Today
Image
Collections on Vasilyevsky Island. Vasilyevsky Island will be known to readers of Russian novelists like Dostoevsky (actually a friend of Semenov) but it was also home to important organisations and collections. Standing on this detached land mass, one could see over the Neva to the Admiralty and Winter Palace; and the house of the Vice-President of the Imperial Society for the Encouragement of the Arts, Mikhail Petrovich Botkin who amassed Italian renaissance art by Pinturicchio, Sandro Botticelli, Andrea Mantegna and others. Then there was Stephan Fyodorovich Solovyov, a collector who owned gold mines, and whose paintings were auctioned in 1887... Continue reading
Posted Nov 18, 2016 at Art History Today
Image
A Modest Russian Collector: Pyotr Semenov At first glance the geographer Pyotr Semenov (above) does not seem an ideal candidate for a collector of Dutch Old Masters. More notable for his exploring, particularly being the first European to set foot on Tian Shan (“Mountains of Heaven”) in Central Asia, Semenov was a passionate entomologist, botanist, and natural scientist who resonates not only in the biographical/scientific material written about him, but (according to Solokova) also in the writings of the modern Russian novelist Vladimir Nabokov whose The Gift features an explorer character fascinated by the wonders of nature. How then did... Continue reading
Posted Nov 18, 2016 at Art History Today
Image
Rembrandt & the Russians. As Solokov notes, the shift in taste is reflected in the Academy’s attitude towards Rembrandt: though respectful of the great Dutch master, the Academy shunned his techniques because in their eyes they violated the canons and doctrine of classical decorum.[1] Nevertheless, Rembrandts slowly and surely made their way into the Hermitage starting with Peter the Great (who bought the David and Jonathan) and continued during the Empress Catherine’s tenure with her acquisition of the Holy Family (Crozat Coll), Abraham and Isaac (Walpole Coll), and others. Also, Rembrandt’s art was in tune with the ideals and attitudes... Continue reading
Posted Nov 18, 2016 at Art History Today
Image
Going Dutch in St Petersburg. It is hardly surprising that the great champion of icon painting Tretyakov started by collecting Dutch art since next to French painting, this was the most popular type of Old Master sought by collectors in Russia, though there were enthusiasts of Italian renaissance art like Botkin and the Benois Family. The interest in Dutch and Flemish art can be traced back to Peter the Great’s time when the Tsar sought to obtain pictures like Memling’s Last Judgment (1470) on a visit to Gdansk (now Danzig) to no avail as the city fathers refused the request.[1]... Continue reading
Posted Nov 18, 2016 at Art History Today
Image
Some Artists in the Wanderers Colony. For westerners, the most famous name in the group must surely be Ilya Repin (1844-1930) who came from the Ukraine and successfully captured the life and soul of Russia in his large canvases and in his studies. Repin’s They Did Not Expect Him is perhaps is his best known work; it was executed at Abramtsevo and shows a scene which could have come out of any number of nineteenth-century Russian novels like Tolstoy who would have been his equivalent in literature in this century. Other notable works are his Religious Procession in Kursk Province... Continue reading
Posted Nov 18, 2016 at Art History Today
Image
Enter Tretyakov. One of Russia’s greatest patrons of the arts was not a Tsar, but a humble businessman and philanthropist. It was Pavel Tretyakov (1832-98) who bought paintings from the Wanderers for over thirty years, eventually donating his whole collection to the city of Moscow in 1892. The most important point about the gallery named after him- the Tretyakov- is that it was the first museum in the country to be devoted totally to Russian works of art. Tretyakov began collecting art at the age of 22 in 1854, ironically ten canvases by Dutch masters. But with his involvement with... Continue reading
Posted Nov 18, 2016 at Art History Today
Image
The Mamontovs, Their Artists & the Medieval Revival in Russia. Savva Mamontovs possessed great wealth because he created the railroads running from Archangel to Murmansk, and from the north to the south of Russia. Intensely artistic, he was a singer, sculptor, stage director, and dramatist who founded the first Russian private opera company well before Diaghilev. Strangely, it was in Rome where he and his wife Elizabeth first met with Russian artists. His wife Elizabeth was deeply devout, an adherent to the Russian Orthodox Church and it was her who suggested building a little church (above) on their estates at... Continue reading
Posted Nov 18, 2016 at Art History Today
Image
“The Wanderers” & the Breakaway from the Academy. “Mamontov’s Circle” established an artists’ colony on the magnate’s estates in 1865, a significant time because it was four years after the abolition of serfdom. The timing must have been deliberate because the core of the group had succeeded from the Imperial Art Academy in St Petersburg which they regarded as another form of enslavement. Inspired by the idea of “bringing art to the people” a brave group of fourteen artists apparently committed “career suicide” by breaking away from official institutional structures and naming themselves “The Wanderers” because they held travelling exhibitions... Continue reading
Posted Nov 18, 2016 at Art History Today
Image
Acquiring Art Knowledge in Nineteenth-Century St Petersburg. In her fine survey of the art world in nineteenth-century St Petersburg, the curator of Dutch paintings at the Hermitage, Irina Solkova discusses the various opportunities an art lover might have had in the city, difficult because there was no public gallery of art to visit. Firstly, the art-starved individual might visit the Imperial Academy of Arts, but he or she could only do this once as the institution only opened its doors to the public once a year for two weeks in order to show student work. Moreover, the kind of “art... Continue reading
Posted Nov 18, 2016 at Art History Today
Image
A Decisive Decade: The 1860s in Russia. After the horrors of the Crimean War (1853-56) a greater liberalism entered Russian society. Travel in Europe became much easier unlike the reign of Nicholas I (1825-55) where passports were only available to the rich as they were prohibitively expensive: they cost 500 silver roubles, and even then permission from the monarch himself was required.[1] So with an easing of travel restrictions, many Russians like Pyotr Semonov could visit foreign lands and cities like Paris from which they could bring back pictures to hang on their walls. Some of these collections containing paintings... Continue reading
Posted Nov 18, 2016 at Art History Today
Image
A Very Brief History of the Russian Imperial Academy of Fine Arts in St Petersburg. The roots of the Academy of Fine Arts in St Petersburg- there was never one in Moscow- can be found in the career of Mikhail Petrovich Avramov, a civil servant in the time of Peter the Great who studied drawing and painting while on a diplomatic mission to Holland.[1] Back in Russia, Avramov set up the first school of drawing in that country in 1721 modelled initially on Dutch academies known to exist in Utrecht and at the Hague, and possibly Amsterdam where one was... Continue reading
Posted Nov 18, 2016 at Art History Today
(all paintings in Hermitage unless stated) 1) Charles Cameron, Gallery, Tsarkoye Selo, 1784. 2) Vladimir Borovikovsky, Portrait of Tsar Paul I, oil on canvas, Russian Museum, St Michael’s Castle, St Petersburg. 3) Jean-Louis Voille, Portrait of Grand Duchess Marie Fyodorovna (1759-1828), late 1790s, oil on canvas, Russian Historical Museum, St Michael’s Castle, St Petersburg. 4) Vladimir Borovikovsky, Young Emperor Alexander I, 1800, oil on canvas, 58.5 x 40.5 cm. 5) Romanov Family Tree. 6) George Dawe, Portrait of Alexander I, 1824, oil on canvas, 238 x 152.3 cm, (via the State Museum Fund from Kamennoostrovsky Palace, Petrograd, 1924). 7) Grigory... Continue reading
Posted Nov 6, 2016 at Art History Today