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THE VERY MOSCOW MUSEUM

Дата публикации: 07 октября 2021
Автор(ы): Olga BORISOVA
Публикатор: Научная библиотека Порталус
Рубрика: RUSSIA (TOPICS)
Источник: (c) Science in Russia, №3, 2012, C.93-101
Номер публикации: №1633596461


Olga BORISOVA, (c)

by Olga BORISOVA, journalist

 

In front of the Kremlin, on the opposite bank of the Moskva River, there is a big historical district where merchants lived from the early 18th century. They returned to this "safe harbor" after busy working hours in the noisy city center. Unlike the aristocratic Tverskaya and Arbat streets famous for their day and night life, Zamoskvorechye was a quiet place, where people went to bed early and woke up at dawn.

 

Museum of V. Tropinin and Painters of His Time.

 
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Zamoskvorechye has preserved this atmosphere of peace, comfort and tranquility associated with the Russian province till now. It has remained in solid, well-built ancient houses--"fortresses", one- or two-storey buildings with mezzanines and façades decorated with columns. However, a hundred or two hundred years ago similar buildings built in the Empire style* were typical not only of Zamoskvorechye, but also of the whole city. Today there are only a few left, and therefore are more valued.

 

One of these houses in Shchepkinsky lane, constructed in the first half of the 19th century, belonged to the Petukhov family of merchants who lived there from 1885; the last member of this family was Nikolai Petukhov, ethnographer and historian, admirer of fine arts. In this house he received artists and public figures, in particular, Felix Vishnevsky--son of the chairman of the

 

See.: Z. Zolotnitskaya, "Lofty Simplicity and Dignity", Science in Russia, No. 3, 2009.--Ed.

 

Moscow Art Society*, expert in the national pictorial art, admirer of a great Russian portrait painter Vasily Tropinin and a well-known collector.

 

Felix Vishnevsky was enthusiastic in searching for lost art objects--and he used to find priceless paintings in strange places--in attics, basements, etc. He bought or exchanged them, while many of these pictures "were in a very bad condition; he added some attributes to them and created masterpieces from almost nothing",--Yuri, Vishnevsky's grandson recalled. Restoration of damaged paintings was carried out in cooperation with Alexander Korin, a gifted restorer, copier and landscape-painter, brother of the painter Pavel Korin**, full member of the Academy of Arts (from 1958).

 

To pay tribute to a committed activity of the "savior of pictures", in 1965 Petukhov devised his mansion and a * Moscow Art Society-an association of patrons of arts, collectors and lovers of arts, 1832-1918.--Ed.

 

** See: V. Nartsissov, "A Youth From Del Ghirlandaio's Fresco", Science in Russia, No. 6, 2003.--Ed.

 
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two-storey wooden wing in the yard, built in 1883, to him. Soon Felix Vishnevsky handed over these two buildings and a collection of paintings to the city and worked there as a chief custodian of the Museum of V. Tropinin and Moscow Painters of his Time (established in 1969) until his death in 1978. It is worth saying that Vishnevsky presented over 800 pieces of pictorial and decorativeapplied arts to different national galleries; reproductions of many of them were published in the catalog called The Priceless Gift, published in 2003 to commemorate the 100th birth anniversary of the collector.

 

At the beginning, this treasure-house was used as a branch of the Ostankino Palace-Museum of the Serf Art, but in 1991 it became an independent educational and cultural institution. However, 11 years later, it was decided to repair the building and the major part of the collection was moved to the State Pushkin Museum* in Prechistenka

 

See: Ye. Bogatyrev, "Literary Pantheon", Science in Russia, No. 6, 2005.--Ed.

 

Street. Equipped with a modern lighting system and climate control, Tropinin Museum in Shchetininsky lane was opened for visitors only in spring 2011.

 

By that time, the restorers revived over 200 valuable pictures, including the Portrait of the Princess Anna Leopoldovna (1733) by Louis Caravaque, a court painter from France, one of the most significant representatives of the rossica movement (paintings by foreign authors living in Russia); representations of faces of the apostles--sketches to the iconostasis by an unknown author from the circle organized by Vladimir Borovikovsky (the 1780s). After reconstruction, the house became bigger: the basement was turned into a depository. Originally, the museum kept 300 pieces; today it counts almost 3,000 storage units.

 

The permanent exposition of the very Moscow museum (as it is often called for its close ties with the history and culture of the capital of the 18th-first half of the 19th cent.) includes portraits, water-color paintings, land-

 
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scapes, genre pieces, rossicas and Tropinin's pictures. He painted all in all around 700 pictures that are kept at different art galleries, but the largest collection of his pictures (30 paintings and 20 drawings) is represented in the museum under consideration.

 

All portraits made by the great artist are full of placidity, warmth, tranquility and cordiality ("why should I create painful impressions and sad recollections in the people who loved this man? Let them see and remember him in his happy years", he believed), which matched the spirit of Moscow--a benevolent, leisurely and hospitable city. According to Yulia Volgina, Cand. Sc. (Art History), deputy director of the museum, "Tropinin is a Moscow painter by his temper; it is not by chance that he was very popular and esteemed here. For many people... Tropinin and his art are symbols of the Moscow life style."

 

Vasily Tropinin was born to a family of a serf (1780 or 1776), in the estate of Count Morkov near Novgorod; as a child, he showed a taste for painting and successfully studied at St. Petersburg Academy of Arts. But in 1804 his father died and the young man had to leave studies and take his position of an estate manager (Kukavka village, Ukraine, today Mogilev-Podolsk District, Vinnitsa Region). It is worth saying that the painter was very grateful for those 20 years spent at the estate, saying he "owed everything to nature", since he "painted nature a lot".

 

While in Kukavka, Tropinin taught count's children drawing, in 1806 headed the construction of the church of St. Demetrius of Thessaloniki designed by him, in 1807 and 1818 was engaged in its decoration-in particular, he painted icons of John the Forerunner, Demetrius of Thessaloniki, Nicholas the Wonderworker, Sabaoth, Mother of God with a Child. In addition, to master painting techniques, Tropinin produced a lot of sketches and portraits depicting national characters, which was typical of the European art of early 19th century. The most famous piece is The Ukrainian Girl's

 
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Head (the 1810s), which opens the gallery of lovely female images preferred by the painter.

 

In 1824, Tropinin received a letter of enfranchisement and a degree of Academician of Painting. He settled in Moscow forever. One of his works The Lace-Maker (1823, State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow) made him famous as a "Russian Greuze"*, was repeatedly reproduced by him and served as a basis to award its author a degree of Academician. The variant of the painting, kept at the museum, was created by the painter in the 1830s. The Tretyakov Gallery also keeps one of the best Tropinin's masterpieces--a charming Girl With a Pot of Roses painted in 1850--a girl with a round face, big brown eyes and tender smile, resembling sweet country girls, needle-women and spinners he painted all his life.

 

* Jean-Baptiste Greuze (1725-1805)--a French genre painter, head of the sentimental and moralizing movement in the French pictorial art of the second half of the 18th century.--Ed.

 

Many of Tropinin's male portraits, characterized by high expressiveness, were the first art pieces in Russian history, which immortalized simple people. A penetrating glance of the Old Coachman Leaning on a Whip-Handle (the 1820s), who apparently had a bad time, follows the visitors and prints in their memory for a long time. Here is another man, a legendary person--Samson Sukhanov--a self-taught sculptor, head of St. Petersburg artel of granite cutters, who was painted by Tropinin in 1823 as an inspired creator, artist blessed by the God. The stone dresser, whose works were admired by architects and sculptors with academic education, in the 1880s created giant allegorical statues of the Neva, Volkhov, Volga and Dnieper near the Rostral Columns and many other monuments, which made the Northern Palmyra* famous.

 

The Portrait of Sergei Sergeyevich Klushnikov (1828)--a public figure, former adjutant of a great commander

 

See: S. Sementsov, "City of Architectural Harmony", Science in Russia, No. 3, 2003.--Ed.

 

Science in Russia, No.3, 2012

 
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Alexander Vasilyevich Suvorov*--is, perhaps, the most formal art piece at the exposition. Here are also images of other Russian officials, including Sergei Golitsyn (after 1828), Alexei Tuchkov (1843)--Tropinin's patrons and friends. Meanwhile, in the history of Russian art Tropinin is considered a founder of a chamber, "domestic" or "dressing-gown" portrait. For example, Platon Zubov, a representative of the service class nobility, was painted in this very informal manner (1839).

 

According to coevals of the painter, Tropinin made portraits of almost all of Moscow. A lot of merchants ordered portraits to Tropinin. For example, at the museum you can find the Portrait of Yekaterina Ivanovna Karzinkina (after 1838) in the Russian folk costume, fashionable at that time, and pair portraits of the Kiselyov spouses (around 1834), representing his favorite face features in the female portrait and energy, intellect and confident tranquility in the male portrait.

 

*See: A. Bogdanov, "Russia's Sword", Science in Russia, No. 1, 2011.--Ed.

 

In 1843, the Moscow Art Society elected Tropinin (who was at that time at the pinnacle of his glory) honorary member for "committed assistance to its benefit and prosperity". A year later, the painter made his Self-Portrait With Brushes and a Pallet at the Background of the Window With a View of the Kremlin ordered by the Moscow Art Society, representing a summary of the creative life of its author. We see the painter in a working environment--a man with an open face, full of kindness and inner strength, confident in a high mission of arts, importance of his work, and behind him a majestic panorama of the center of Moscow.

 

The exposition also includes masterpieces of eminent painters of the 18th century--Tropinin's forerunners associated with Moscow and St. Petersburg. It is worth saying that the first profane images of people appeared in Russia in late 17th century and were made using technologies typical of icon painting (on wooden boards, plane, i.e. resembling faces of saints); such images are

 
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called parsunas, i.e. painted portraits. National profane fine art was initially developed by Ivan Vishnyakov. At the museum, there is Vishnyakov's portrait representing Matvei Begichev (1757), engineer- artilleryman and writer.

 

All visitors are captivated by a heart-piercing portrait of a young countess Anna Petrovna Sheremetyeva (Ivan Argunov, not later than 1768), who died two weeks before the wedding. Next to it, you can see wonderful portraits of the lady-in-waiting Agrippina Leontyevna Apraksina (author Alexei Antropov, 1750s), Count Artemy Ivanovich Vorontsov (Fyodor Rokotov, after 1768), Prince Mikhail Mikhailovich Shcherbatov (Dmitry Levitsky, 1781), Varvara Andreyevna Tomilova, spouse of the first national historian of arts Alexei Romanovich Tomilov (Vladimir Borovikovsky, 1800s), etc.

 

We should also mention Tropinin's teacher--court painter Alexei Shchukin, who in 1788 replaced Levitsky in the capacity of the head of Portraits Department at the St. Petersburg Academy of Art, one of the most significant Russian portrait painters of late 18th-early 19th centuries. He made a portrait of Alexander I (after 1805) representing a young man wearing a uniform of the Preobrazhensky regiment with a cloudy sky in the background, typical of his creative manner. It is true that Shchukin greatly influenced his famous student: he was very enthusiastic about depicting Nature and people, was fond of genre portraits and of warm smoky grey, golden and olive colors.

 

The museum also keeps many pictures made by Tropinin's coevals, first of all, by the founder of the Russian water-color portrait Pyotr Sokolov. According to specialists, his best work is a light image of Yelizaveta Ksaveryevna Vorontsova as if wrapped up in a soft diffused light (about 1823). Traditions of the genre were taken up and further developed by Vladimir Gau, namely, a wonderful portrait of actress Anna Matveyev-

 
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na Stepanova in oriental clothes (1842), characterized by bright colors and a state-of-the-art technique of painting.

 

The portraiture continues in the gallery of miniature painting. This genre--small pictures on enamel and bone-appeared in Russia in the first decades of the 18th century. The exposition includes images of Generalissimo Alexander Suvorov, head of Moscow masons Pyotr Tatishchev, bone medallions with profiles of the members of the royal family, etc. (late 18th-early 19th centuries). The portrait of Emperor Peter I, embroidered with smallest beads, is always in the focus of attention of visitors.

 

Right from its establishment, the museum has been forming a collection of ornamental arts and crafts, mainly items circulating in the time of Tropinin, i.e. in the late 18th-early 19th centuries. The most representative part consists of ceramic items. In 1744, in compliance with an order of Empress Yelizaveta Petrovna, the Neva Porcelain Manufacture was established in St. Petersburg-it was the third porcelain plant in Europe and the first one in Russia. We must point out that porcelain making as a chemical process was first described by the great national scientist-encyclopedist Mikhail Lomonosov*, which made it possible to develop a national technology of porcelain making highly competitive with Saxon porcelain. First, only small items were produced from it, while from 1765, when a big furnace was built, larger items were made as well. It was the time when the first set for the royal family was created, and the plant itself was called the Imperial Porcelain Plant.

 

Glass-making appeared in Russia as early as the 12th century, when Russian masters began to produce glass dishware and mosaics, and the first glass factory was set up in 1635 in the Moscow Region. But manufacture of real luxury items and pieces of interior design, decorated with engraved and carved ornament, not intended for free sale, was initiated only at new plants near St. Petersburg established in 1710 and 20 years later at the amalgamated Imperial Glass Plant.

 

See: A. Utkin, "Phenomenon of Lomonosov's Personality", Science in Russia, No. 6, 2011.--Ed.

 
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In the 18th century, in the blossoming period of Russian porcelain and glass, masters of the imperial plants made real art objects characterized by elegant shape and original surface finishing technologies. They constantly improved production technologies, in particular, developed production of faceted crystal dishware set in gilded bronze, painted vases and other products with polychrome flower compositions, landscapes, genre scenes, often reproduced paintings of great masters.

 

The exposition also includes rare table laying items made of porcelain and glass (18th-19th cent.), decorated with portraits of the reigning imperial family--Yelizaveta Petrovna, Maria Fyodorovna, Alexander I, Czarevitch Pavel Petrovich; figurines with golden paintings, different vases decorated with game scenes, bunches of flowers, landscapes, etc. According to Irina

 

Yegorova, director of the museum, "The museum halls are small. Many paintings, sculptures and figurines, articles of interior design are of intimate, private character. Thus, they keep the atmosphere of an old Moscow house, where many of the people represented on the portraits could have lived... Furniture, old lamps and chandeliers, porcelain and glass items, snuff-boxes, bone boxes, bead embroidery--all these articles let us feel the harmony of the past."

Опубликовано на Порталусе 07 октября 2021 года

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