How did the artists of the past understand history? What heroes were they interested in? This is important for us who see the past with their eyesight.
According to Ivan Esin, executive director of the My History Foundation, the Tretyakov Gallery, the Patriarchal Council for Culture, the ROSIZO Center, organizing the exhibition History of Russia through the Eyes of Artists. On the 800th anniversary of the birth of Alexander Nevsky, they wanted to draw attention to one of the main characters of our history, whose 800th anniversary was celebrated. But there were not so many paintings worthy of Alexander Nevsky – while many outstanding artists wrote on the themes of the history of Russia, starting with her Epiphany. Inspired by the figure of the holy prince, the organizers created a unique project – a detailed study of the history of the country by its artists, which united under one roof canvases from dozens of museums – and not museums – from all over Russia, and from storerooms that had never left their native walls.
In the halls of the Western Wing of the New Tretyakov Gallery on Krymsky Val, the previously incompatible was united and historical justice was restored, at least temporarily. In the section “Ancient Rus. There were legends” – two famous sketches by Vasnetsov on the theme of the Baptism of Rus, created for the Vladimir Cathedral in Kiev. Cardboard with Prince Vladimir in the font – from the Tretyakov Gallery, with Vladimir raising the cross – from the Nizhny Novgorod Art Museum. In the hall dedicated to the Time of Troubles, three small canvases by Mikhail Scotti from the mid-19th century – from the Tretyakov Gallery, the museums of Nizhny Novgorod and Sergiev Posad – were combined in a triptych for the duration of the exhibition.
“Heroes of the Time of Troubles”, “From Peter the Great to Catherine the Great”, “Muscovy. John the Terrible” – each hall of the exhibition allows one to penetrate with varying accuracy into the psychology of the time about which the story is told – and into the psychology of the artist. And give a “picture” of time and people who once lived.
“Heroes of the Time of Troubles”, “From Peter the Great to Catherine the Great” – each hall of the exhibition allows you to give a “picture” of history
The canvas by Grigory Ugryumov “The vocation of Mikhail Romanov to the kingdom”: eloquent, pretentious presentation, the heroes are full of enthusiasm, everything is in the spirit of the era. The painting by Klavdiy Lebedev “Basil the Blessed” is a white old man in white clothes, no wretchedness, dignity and love, and at first we don’t even notice the chains.
In the late 19th – early 20th centuries, artists worked as archaeologists, read historical works, studied costumes and customs.
Perov, working on “The Pugachev Trial”, striving for accuracy, went to look for types in Orenburg and the Urals. The paintings, of course, could have composed scenes, images, compositions (Grishka Otrepiev, of course, did not jump out the window, as in the painting by Myasoedov), but everyday details are accurate here. That is why for us these paintings, as well as those presented at the exhibition “Menshikov in Berezovo” by Surikov, “The Congress of Princes in Uvetichi” by Ivanov, “The Death of Metropolitan Philip” by Nevrev and other masterpieces of Russian art, with which the exposition is full, like windows into the past.
Two halls each were provided by the organizers of the Russian battle picture – and the era of Ivan the Terrible. According to the curators, neither their desires nor the political situation have anything to do with it – this was the choice of artists and writers of the past.
At the end of the 19th century, many were interested in the unique personality of Grozny, disposed to drama and sharp turns of plots, and here we see like a scene from “Prince of Silver” by A.K. Tolstoy, sparkling with gold and the characters of heroes: the aged Tsar John, who laid out his treasures in front of the English ambassador Horsey.
The battle picture at one time so simply assumed the functions of the historical one. Russia participated in many wars, and artists, in order to avoid the clichés of historical painting, went to gain skill in “battle” classes: the image of the battle allowed not to strain imagination, but, with painstaking preparation, to make a document out of the picture. Even on two walls: on Vereshchagin’s huge canvas “Before the Attack” there are Russian soldiers hunched over, exchanging glances, crossing themselves, preparing to flee under Turkish bullets to the walls of Plevna. And on the contrary – the same format “After the attack”: a clearing by the infirmary, dotted with survivors in bloody bandages.
The battle picture at one time simply assumed the functions of a historical
The chronology of the exhibition ends with the onset of the era of revolutions, and the exhibition ends with an image that was not painted for the temple – the Archangel Michael, attacking the evil army. The image of the border at the end of the eras.
A new life and new painting followed him.