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Masterpieces of Old Russian Drawing from State History Museum in Tretyakov Gallery
February 23, 2018 13:56


The State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, is hosting an exhibition of the 18th -19th century Russian graphic art from the collection of the Historical Museum.
Being the most vulnerable types of fine art, drawings and watercolors rarely leave museum storerooms. Each of the collections brought to the Tretyakov Gallery from the funds of the History Museum is unique, has its own face and a special version of the development of Russian graphic art. The graphic part of the collection as a whole stands out with its unsurpassed mastery, because the art of drawing and watercolor was at the highest level in Russia of the late 18th and 19th centuries.

The State History Museum was founded by Emperor Alexander II back in 1872. Currently, its collection counts more than five million exhibits and most fully illustrates the centuries-old history and culture of Russia. The graphic art collection of the History Museum traces the development of the Russian drawing school from its inception in the 18th century to the beginning of the 20th century.

The main principle of selecting drawings for the exhibition in the Tretyakov Gallery was their artistic quality. The show is based on a chronological principle. The exhibition presents the works by nearly all the major masters of the Russian drawing school: M.M. Ivanov and G.S. Sergeev, F.Ya. Alekseev and M.N. Vorobyov, O.A. Kiprensky and K.P. Bryullov, A.O. Orlovsky and V.A. Tropinin, P.F. Sokolov and V.I. Gau, V.S. Sadovnikov and N.G. Chernetsov, A.I. Charlemagne and M.A. Zichi.

Each of the six exhibition halls is dedicated to a separate topic. Drawings and watercolors of the second half of the 18th century are represented with rare works created during the reign of Catherine II and Paul I. The earliest work is dedicated to the accession to the throne of Empress Catherine II (1762).

The History Museum stores one of this country’s best collections of travelogue graphic art of the first quarter of the 19th century. This section includes the scenes of pre-fire Moscow, St. Petersburg, the Caucasus, the Crimea, and the outskirts of the Russian Empire.

The drawing art of the Romantic era is represented with the works by K.P. Bryullov, O.A. Kiprensky, V.A. Tropinin and A.O. Orlovsky. A unique collection of Vassily Tropinin’s works kept in the museum comes from the artist’s family and contains about 400 graphic sheets.

The History Museum boasts a representative collection of watercolor portraits, which blossomed in the second quarter of the 19th century. This section displays the works by the leading masters of the portrait genre - the Brullov Brothers, P.F. Sokolov, V.I. Gau, as well as Decembrist artist NA. Bestuzhev.

The travel graphic art of the mid 19th century show the images of two Russian capital cities and important historical events taking place against their background.

The court art of the second half of the 19th century can be seen in works that were created by a galaxy of court artists - V.S. Sadovnikov, A.I. Charlemagne, and MA Zichy - from the 1850s. Portraits and interiors of the second half of the 19th century reproduce the era of Alexander II and Alexander III. The sign-off of the exhibition consists in A.I. Charlemagne and N.N. Karazin’s watercolours that depict the coronation of Emperor Nicholas II in 1896.

Several graphic art works here are exhibited for the first time ever. A significant number of pictures were restored by experts from the History Museum in the course of preparation for the exhibition.

Where:  10, Lavrushinsky Lane, next to Tretyakovskaya and Novokuznetskaya metro stations, Moscow.

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Author: Vera Ivanova

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