Saturday, May 7, 2016

Russian Portraits in London

London's National Portrait Gallery is exhibiting famous Russian portraits of artists and composers in an exhibit called Russia and the Arts: The Age of Tolstoy and Tchaikovsky.

Valentin Serov, Maria Ermolova, 1905 
The portraits, borrowed from the State Tretyakov Gallery, document the turbulent years of Russian history that produced composers such as Tchaikovksy, Mussorgsky and Rimsky-Korsakov and writers such as Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky. The artists include Repin, Serov, and Kramskoi.

The portrait of Mussorgsky by Repin, profiled earlier on this blog, is included.

Valentin Serov, Ivan Morozov, 1910
The Telegraph says, "This relatively small show provides not only a vivid and intimate survey of an extraordinary period, but a kind of advert for the virtues of the painted portrait itself, a form that is in abeyance in our own time."

Ivan Kramskoi (1883

Ivan Kramskoi, one of the leaders of the Peredvizhniki or "Wanderers," painted the actor Aleksander Lensky in the role of Petruchio in Shakespeare's 'The Taming of the Shrew' by (1883).

A detail shows the delicate strokes he used to achieve both definition and softness in the paint handling.

The brooding intensity of the composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky is captured by Nikolai Kuznetsov in 1883.

Pyotr Tchaikovsky by Nikolai Kuznetsov (detail)
Dostoyevsky by Perov (detail)
All images credit State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow
Review of the show on the Telegraph
Guardian review
Russia and the Arts: The Age of Tolstoy and Tchaikovsky through June 26


Roberto said...

WOW! I’m sure this exhibition will be quite impressive. Hopefully we can get a review from one of our fellow Journios or Journiettes from across The Pond. -RQ

Vladimir Venkov said...

Great. Thanks for the info James. I was just saying to my girlfriend that thanks to your wonderful blog I know what is happening in the city I live in :) Will visit the exhibition for sure. Thanks again!

Clara Lieu said...

One of the things I really enjoy about your blog is that you write about artists who are not the same 50 artists that everyone talks about all the time. As a teacher, at times I get frustrated that many people who blog/write about art don't make the effort to seek out the more obscure pieces, which can be so surprising and refreshing compared to the artworks that we tend to get bombarded with over an over again. I'm not saying there isn't anything to learn from those popular artists, because there is a case for revisiting the same artists/artworks over time. I've seen John Singer Sargent's "Daughters of Edward Darley Boit" portrait at the MFA in Boston at least 30 times, and every time I learn something. On the other hand, there's something wonderful and startling about engaging with an image for the first time in your life that is quite special. So thank you for providing that opportunity!

My students struggle with the same problem. Last summer I asked my students who their favorite artists were and they either said 1) "I don't know any artists" or they named Picasso or Monet. Often times my students want to be able to find an artist who works in a style or with a specific subject so they can get ideas for their work, but they have no idea where to start looking. Your blog is a great resource, I'll keep recommending it to my students!

James Gurney said...

Thanks, Clara. Your students are lucky to have you widening their horizons. I'm always amazed at how many great painters there are out there that I've never heard of before. I appreciate you recommending the blog.

My Pen Name said...

a little closer to home the Met has a stunning Repin:
we're lucky because not many of his paintings are in the west....