The Russian Museum has opened a grandiose exhibition dedicated to the 125th anniversary of the foundation “Gifts. Favorites "

The Russian Museum has opened a grandiose exhibition dedicated to the 125th anniversary of the foundation “Gifts. Favorites "
29 July 2020, Wednesday
The Art Newspaper Russia

Exhibition “Gifts. Favorites ”is dedicated to all those who donated works of art. Among them are the Russian tsar, the Soviet scientist and the chocolate magnate.


The curators have selected about 1,000 works of art for display from those that have been received in more than 100 years from hundreds of donors. The project “Gifts. Selected ”is dedicated to the 125th anniversary of the founding of the State Russian Museum. When the centenary was celebrated, the emphasis was on the fact that the State Russian Museum is the keeper of the thousand-year history of Russian art. Now the focus is on donors as the main driving force behind the replenishment of the museum collection.


Despite its huge volume, this exhibition can hardly be called a blockbuster. Yes, many masterpieces have been selected for it, but there is no one main storyline, as scientists would say, a narrative - something that should strike on the spot at a blockbuster exhibition. In "Gifts" there are many of these plots, they branch and intertwine, the exposition requires a leisurely careful examination. But it doesn't give the viewer simple clues. For example, there are no two of the most famous paintings in the collection of the State Russian Museum - "The Last Day of Pompeii" by Karl Bryullov and "The Ninth Wave" by Ivan Aivazovsky, and at the same time there is "Phryne at the Poseidon Festival" by Henry Semiradsky, although all three came in 1897 from Winter Palace during the formation of the main collection of the Russian Museum. The reason is that "Phryne" was bought by Alexander III in 1889 from an exhibition of one painting at the Academy of Arts. In the same year, the emperor acquired Ilya Repin's painting "Nikolai Mirlikisky frees three innocent convicts from death."


According to legend, it was these works that prompted the autocrat to create a national museum of Russian art. By the way, in 1887 he acquired the painting "Christ and the Sinner" by Vasily Polenov, and in 1891 - Repin's "Zaporozhtsev". Perhaps, these purchases also served as an incentive for the birth of the main cultural project in the life of Alexander III. All three hits are shown at the exhibition.


Nicholas II not only moved art to the museum he opened. His personal contribution was the works of Vasily Vereshchagin and Valentin Serov, acquired at posthumous exhibitions of artists. First of all, it is the Vereshchagin diptych - "After the Luck" and "After the Failure", non-military paintings - "In Jerusalem. Tombs of the Kings ”and“ Retired Butler ”. Vereshchagin's late works from the Japanese cycle - "Shinto Temple in Nikko" and "Walk in a Boat" also became important for the museum collection. Serov is shown more modestly, with historical gouaches, for example, "Peter II and Tsarevna Elizabeth on the hunt for dogs." But here the emperor had strong competitors: his mother, who presented the museum with portraits of her children - Olga and Mikhail - at a young age, as well as Princess Maria Tenisheva, who presented the piercing landscape "Winter". However, in the history of donations, Nicholas II remains primarily who bought for the museum the painting "The Conquest of Siberia by Yermak" by Vasily Surikov.


Two more important characters in the history of gifts of the early 20th century are the Grand Duchess Elizaveta Fedorovna and the diplomat and collector Vladimir Argutinsky-Dolgorukov. The now canonized sister of the Empress presented the textbook painting “Catherine II Walking in Tsarskoye Selo Park”, two portraits of Alexander I by Vladimir Borovikovsky and George Doe, as well as the rare landscape of Fyodor Vasiliev “Eriklik. Fountain". Argutinsky enriched the Russian Museum with Mikhail Vrubel's sketch for the painting “The Swan Princess” and his sketch “Lilac”.


State Russian Museum
Artists and Collectors - to the Russian Museum. Gifts. Favorites
Until November 14, 2020

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