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Exhibition "WIVES" at the Museum of Russian Impressionism
January 30, 2018 17:18


Portrait of Olga Troubnikova, by Valentin Serov

    From February 1 to May 15, the Museum of Russian Impressionism, Moscow, will be hosting the exhibition "WIVES" with more than 40 portraits of the beloved muses of great Russian artists. Among them are works by Ilya Repin, Mikhail Vrubel, Valentin Serov, Boris Kustodiev, Igor Grabar, Pyotr Konchalovsky, Boris Grigoriev, Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin, Alexander Deineka, Robert Falk, Konstantin Yuon, Sergei Sudeykin, Yuri Pimenov and many others.

     This exhibition is aimed to illustrate the development of Russian art in the period from the late 19th to the mid 20th century through the prism of portraits of the great masters’ wives. The artistic changes that the female portrait underwent at the turn of the century were largely based on the social and political upheavals of that complicated time. From classical images that gravitate toward decorativeness and the glorification of femininity, through the breakdown of artistic foundations, Russian art came up with the image of a new Amazon - a Soviet woman.

     Thus, portraits of the late 19th century depict social hostesses wearing enticing corsets, furs and silks, as well as guardians of the hearth, touching and captivating in their homeliness. They are replaced by resolute revolutionaries, women with a straightforward look and broad shoulders - they were building a new world on a par with men.

    Visitors will see lots of female images, among them a portrait of Olga Trubnikova, the faithful companion of Valentin Serov, who completely devoted herself to her husband and gave birth to six children of his. Artist Konstantin Korovin, the best friend of Valentin Serov, admired this woman.

     For lots of the artists, their wives were true muses. For example, a portrait of the wife of Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin, which has come to the Museum from Tallinn, conveys the soul of the artist’s gentle beloved. More than 30 years of heartfelt relationship connected the artist and his muse. The artist proposed to her while working on her portrait, which will be presented at the exhibition. Mara became his faithful life-long companion, and after his death published a book of memoirs under the title “My Great Russian husband”.

     For another famous master, Mikhail Vrubel, his wife was an inexhaustible source of inspiration. Artistic images of an outstanding opera singer, Nadezhda Zabela-Vrubel appeared once and again in his works. One of such examples is the majolica "Girl in a Wreath" from Abramtsevo Museum Estate.

     Another muse, film actress Vera Sudeikina, the second wife of Sergei Sudeikin, even made a list of “Duties of Artist's Wife”, which points, among other musts, “Be a physical ideal, and therefore his eternal model”.

    Natalia Nordman-Severova, the wife of Ilya Repin, was an extravagant writer and fighter for women's rights. She stands out of the noble row of graceful muses. Her portraits immediately give out her bold and eccentric nature.

    Freethinking was not uncommon at that time. The end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century were marked with the development of the idea of equality, and after the revolution the woman took a stand on a par with the man. This change in the role of women in society was naturally reflected in art.

     Portrait of the wife of Nikolai Ionin, a pupil of Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin, "A Woman in Red" is a vivid example of this.

     Alexander Deineka depicted his first wife as the ideal woman of the era of socialism. Strict and determined, she personifies the image of a Soviet woman, able to build a new world along with a man.

     An illustrated catalog will be published for the exhibition. It will for the first time combine several dozens of portraits and personal stories of the wives of Russian artists under one cover.

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Sources: http://museum.ru 

Author: Vera Ivanova

Tags: Russian Artists Exhibitions in Moscow Museum of Russian Impressionism Art Exhibitions  

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