Having acquired a few forged works, Pavel Tretyakov made a rule to buy directly from the artist. Which is why he got furious when he saw two signatures on one of the paintings acquired from Shishkin. It said Shishkin and Savitsky. Savitsky suggested that Shishkin should depict bears in his «Morning in a Pine Wood» (Hall 25), but it is still not known whether he painted the bears himself or his contribution was limited to the advice. Anyway, he withdrew his signature and the work is attributed solely to Shishkin.
«Heroes (Bogatyri)» by Viktor Vasnetsov (Hall 26), though a trite motif as it may seem, was a two decades’ work of the artist. The ancient warriors represent three different Russian characters: power of the Russian land, power to defend the Russian land and the poetic nature of the Russian land.
Before Ivanov started to work on his «The Apparition of Christ to the people», he went to Europe to see what had been done on that topic before. And he saw that many European and Russian artists used biblical scenes to depict reality of today. Take for example Karl Btyullov and his Bathsheba (Hall 9). The subject for the painting was taken from the Old Testament and describes the unfortunate fate of the military commander Uriah who was sent to immediate death because King David coveted his wife Bathsheba, who he noticed naked taking a bath. Not the subject itself was of a great interest to the artist, but the ancient oriental culture.
The naked beautiful body of Batsheba looks marble white in contrast to the black servant woman next to her. The scene is as natural as erotic, and it explains King David’s lust, which spurred him to commit a crime. A very trivial story, which is characteristic of not only ancient oriental times but of present day too. There seem to be human vices and weaknesses, which will never be abolished.
But the artist does not moralize in his work of art. The painting does not rise fear in our souls, or anger in our hearts. And it does not drop seeds of lust in the minds of onlookers. The scene is mysteriously magnetic and the beauty of Bathsheba’s body hypnotizes and embarrasses at the same time, as if we became witnesses to an intimate ritual.
Have you ever felt lost at the gallery? Have you had a Groundhog Day feeling or a deja vu when you ran into one and the same painting several times? Have you ever given up and left the gallery without seeing all the rooms in it? If the answers to these questions were «yes», you definitely need to learn the classic tourist route at the State Tretyakov Gallery.
It is far more interactive and easier to learn the tourist route not by the scheme, which you can find for free at the gallery, but to draw a visual row of paintings. I have just returned from the tour, which I had with the «Becoming an English Language Guide» group and I am eager to share the route with you. It might be useful for the future guides and for tourists alike. Knowing the route, you will save your time and energy, follow the art chronologically and enjoy your visit way more.
The tour starts at the magnificent staircase leading to the first floor of the State Tretyakov Gallery. Here we speak about Pavel Tretyakov and his brother Sergey Tretyakov — the founders of the gallery. We usually outline the landmarks in the history of Russian art starting with medieval times when iconography predominated in the Russian art and how hard and slow was the transition into the rococo style, which changed the epoch of iconography and sentimentalism in the beginning of the 19th century. Читать далее