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Exhibition "Country of Heroes and Gods ..." - Antiquity and Russian Culture of 19th Century
February 15, 2018 19:58

The exhibition "Country of Heroes and Gods" in the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow, covers the most diverse spheres of Russian life and culture of the first third of the 19th century. It aims at showing how the interest in the antiquity was reflected in objects and phenomena of everyday material, moral and social life in Russia. The exposition is devoted to various aspects of the life of Russian society, influenced by the cultural heritage of Ancient Greece and Rome. These are literature and art, the political and philosophical thinking of Pushkin's contemporaries, architecture, sculpture, interior decoration and even fashion.

Excavations of Herculaneum and Pompeii, started in the 18th century, laid the foundations of a new science - archeology. In Russia, similar excavations of ancient monuments were made in the Crimea. At the exhibition you can see two books that have made a great contribution to the study of the Crimean culture. This is the "Leisure of the Crimean Judge" by P.I. Sumarokov and "Journey through Tauris" by I.M. Muravyov-Apostle. Both the authors were very well educated people, perfectly familiar with Greek and Roman sources.

In watercolors, engravings and lithographs there are architectural monuments that testify to the Russian architects’ perception of the cultural experience of ancient Greece and Rome. These are the Admiralty by A.D. Zakharov, the Kazan Cathedral by Voronikhin, the Exchange building on the Vasilevsky Island by Tom de Tomon, the Cameron Gallery in Tsarskoe Selo, and many others.

According to Pushkin's contemporary F.F. Vigel, the interest in "antiquity" also affected the decoration of the rooms. Therefore, in the exposition halls you can see furniture and objects of decorative and applied arts created under the influence of antiquity.

The exhibition highlights the highest achievements of ancient literature – writings by Homer, Sophocles, Aristophanes and others. Besides, the visitors’ attention is attracted to the works by Russian poets, a considerable part of their creativity devoted to the translations of ancient authors and imitations of them. These are is M.V. Lomonosov, G.R. Derzhavin, I.I. Dmitriev, N.I. Gnedich, K.N. Batyushkov, D.V. Davydov, and others. The poets thought in terms of analogies with antiquity; even speaking of the most ordinary things, they did not do without the mention of the ancient deities.

The exhibition also tackles upon the theme of the influence of ideas and images of antiquity on the education of young Russians in the first third of the XIX century. Their education involved acquaintance with the mythological characters, Latin epigraphs and sayings. The concepts of democracy, freedom within the law and civil responsibility, originating in Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, made the image of a Roman Republican in the eyes of Russian adolescents especially attractive.

Interest in antiquity also affected fashion, predominantly female. Portraits of the beginning of the XIX century and fashion pictures from magazines of that time give a good idea of that.

Part of the exposition is dedicated to Alexander Pushkin, who referred to the images and subjects of antique literature throughout his poetic career - from the lyceum time to the last years of his life. Here you can see the works by the authors, who were most significant for the poet in different periods of his life: Apuleius, Ovid, Tacitus, Horace and others. Here you can also get acquainted with Alexander Pushkin’s writings, in which there are multiple references to the subjects and images of ancient Greece and Rome.

Where: the 1st floor of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts at the address 12/2, Prechistenka Street, next to Kropotkinskaya metro station, Moscow.

When: from December 20, 2017 to March 3, 2018.


Author: Vera Ivanova

Tags: Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts Exhibitions in Moscow    

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