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Vologda Picture Gallery

Resurrection Cathedral. Vologda Picture Gallery

Vologda holds a place of its own in the history of the North and its artistic culture. Splendid collections of works of art were collected in the churches and the monasteries, and then in the local museums. The Vologda Picture Gallery plays an important role in the cultural life of the city. Set up in 1952 it has about 30.000 exhibits of painting, graphic arts, sculpture and applied art.

Shalamov's House

The museum complex is located in the house that initially belonged to the Vologda diocese and was used as living quarters for the clergy of parish. It is a two-storeyed building dating from the 18th century. The great Russian writer Varlam Shalamov (1907-1982) was born in this house and lived here untill 1924. One of his works describes historical and artistic image of the house, life of the clergy and his own family. The Gallery is situated in the centre of Vologda on the territory of the Kremlin. The baroque building of the Gallery, erected in 1772-1776, is a sort of symbol of the city's cultural life. Different cultural schools and tendencies are presented in the halls of the Vologda Picture Gallery.

Official, full-dress portraits hold a special place in the eighteenth-century Russian art. Portrait painting merits special attention in the exposition of the Vologda Picture Gallery. "A Portrait of a Woman" painted by an unknown artist about 1760 opens an exposition. Everything depicted in the picture is contrasting - dark and spotlit pigments, black and red colouring, the subtlest nuances of light and shade, volumetric image and archaic planarity. The young woman's attitude is relaxed and simple, yet refined and elegant. She is depicted against a dark background. The image of the young woman is devoid of any trace of affection or coquetry. Her facial features are distinctive. The shape of her eyes, a scarcely perceptible smile and sad expression in her eyes give particular charm to her face, which bears an expression of tenderness and dreamy thoughtfulness.

"A Portrait of an Unknown Man with a Cross of St. John of Jerusalem" belongs to the brush of Vladimir Borovikovsky, the prominent Russian painter. It dates back to the beginning of the 19th century. The picture has a classical composition that emphasizes a heroic interpretation of a person's image. Borovikovsky's male portraits were no less typical of the age. There is a serious, rather sullen aspect. In his portraits, the image as a whole was subordinated to his ideal of a pure, poetic personality with an elevated soul. The pose and the landscape were all a kind of setting for the model's face.

In the 1920s the works of the famous landscape painters and marine painters - I.Aivazovsky, I.Levitan and some West European artists were delivered to the Vologda Picture Gallery from the State Museum Funds.
The works of Vasily Vereshchagin and Ilya Repin were given by the State Russian Museum, and the landscapes of V.Polenov and I.Bogdanov - by the State Tretyakov Gallery.
In the course of his work, Ivan Aivazovsky evolved his own method of depicting the motion of the sea - from memory, without preliminary sketches, limiting himself to rough pencil outlines. Aivazovsky's phenomenal memory and romantic imagination allowed him to do all this with incomparable brilliance. "The Niagara Waterfall" was painted by Ivan Aivazovsky soon after his trip to the USA in 1899 and provides dramatic records of the wild area.

Bogdan Villevaldi, a teacher of the Imperial Academy of Arts, was a great painter of battle-pieces. His canvas "You Today, Me Tomorrow. Kulm. 1813." is devoted to the campaign of the Russian Army in Western Europe in 1813-1815. It should be pointed out that the subject of painting tends towards theatricality. But as far as the colour range is concerned, it is refined. The style of painting as a whole is gentle, with a delicate merging of colours.

The earliest realist works began to appear in the 18th century, as a reaction against the excesses of romantism and neoclassicism. But the great realist era was the mid-19th century, as artists became disillusioned with the salon system and the influence of academies. Many paintings belonging to the brush of the Russian talented and original artists of the late ninteenth century can be found in the Vologda Picture Gallery.

"The Icon-painter" (1891) by Vladimir Makovsky, the well-known nineteenth-century painter, is delightful. It is not by chance that this canvas was purchased by Mr.Tretyakov, a Russian patron of art, for his collection. The author admires every detail of the composition, the colour range is very delicate and warm. This outstanding sketch will leave nobody indifferent. His works, based on the serious and careful observation of the lives of simple people, represent one of the more typical examples of Russian genre painting of the second half of the nineteenth century.

The works of the renowned landscape painters of the second half of the nineteenth century - Arkhip Kuindzhi, Alexei Savrasov, Isaak Levitan and Vasily Polenov - are also exhibited in the Vologda Picture Gallery. One of Savrasov's most ambitious early works "The Oak-trees" (the 1860s) appeared new and fresh, permeated with authenticity, subtle, musical lyricism, and a most delicate technique.

Of particular significance is Polenov's contribution to Russian landscape painting. One of his paintings "France. Biarritz. Coastline of the Atlantic Ocean" (1911) was presented to the collection by our countryman Mr.Protopopov. In addition to his many trips to countries in Western Europe, Polenov travelled to the Near East and Greece in his search for subjects and themes for genre scenes, historical and biblical paintings.
In the historical picture "From the Life of Christ" Vasily Polenov depicts an evangelic theme - conversation of the preceptor and his disciples.

An emotionally charged interpretation of nature, generalized forms, intense colours and their contrast, and a search for the pictorial are all characteristic features of the exhibits of the late 19th-early 20th centuries collected in the gallery. An autumn landscape of Stanislav Zhukovsky "Towards evening" dating back to 1910 is a vivid example. This canvas was painted at the peak of the artist's powers.

As the forces of social reform became more closely linked to the rising population of industrial workers, Russia's avant-garde artists turned increasingly to the factory and the frenetic pace of urban life for inspiration. Brilliant colours, simplified and sharply angular forms, and an emphasis on the liberatory energy of the modern world became the basis for new and increasingly abstract compositions. Alexandra Exter travelled extensively between Paris, Moscow and Kiev, playing an important role in disseminating Cubist and Futurist ideas among the Russian avant-garde. She participated in many important avant-garde exhibitions in Russia, Ukraine, France and Italy. A picture of A. Exter "A City" (1914) depicts a new and exciting future. Over the recent years this painting was included into many exhibitions held abroad.

Nikolai Bogdanov-Belsky portrayed peasant boys taken aback by an adult ("Peasant boys", the 1910s). One of the boys is smiling slyly, another one has burst into tears, the third boys is astonoshed. Only a careful observer and connoisseur of children's psychology could depict this amusing scene. The artist painted the children with strength and sentimentality.

One of the halls of Shalamov's house is devoted to West European art. It includes works of art, graphic arts, sculptures and exhibits of applied art presenting different European schools of painting. It is interesting that most exhibits are connected with the Vologda Region. Early in the 20th century the works of the Dutch and Flemish painting, French and German pieces of furniture were delivered to Vologda from the mansions and estates located throughout the region. "Erichthonios" by a Dutch artist Gerard de Lairesse provides a carefully executed painting in which the tsar of Athens and the women who found him appear in the foreground. This work, noted for its oval form and clear composition is associated with Italian Renaissance.

In the 1920s many paintings were presented to the collection of the Vologda Picture Gallery by the State Museum Fund (Moscow). "Brügge"painted by a city landscape artist Augustus van den Steene provides a glimpse of his native town. A picture of an unknown French painter "Abduction of Europe" is regarded as a typical rococo painting.

West European graphics collection in the Vologda Picture Gallery is not large in its volume but includes works of art of famous European masters of engraving who worked in the 17th - 19th centuries in Italy, France, Germany and England. The main part of the collection is comprised of graphic works of artists who with their individuality and talent have contributed to the greatest achievements of the European graphic art - Sacci, Volpato, Morgen, Piranesi, Turner and others. Most engravings were presented to the gallery by Russian collectors. "A Portrait of Maria Antuanetta" by Roger Barthelemy hangs in the gallery.

Exposition of modern art of the 20th century is the biggest in the gallery. It is housed in the former Resurrection Cathedral erected in 1775-1777. The cathedral was designed by architect Zlatitsky in the Baroque style of the second part of the 18th century. The name of Dmitry Bryanchaninov who came down into the history of the Russian church is associated with the cathedral. Dmitry, a young officer, favourite of tsar Nikolai Pavlovich gave up his service and took monastic vows. He is also known by name Ignaty. He is remembered for his ascetic life-style and literary works. Being an archimandrite and later a bishop Ignaty Bryanchaninov was a mentor for many outstanding representatives of the Russian culture in the mid-19th century.

The Soviet painting endured the controversial ambiguity of the culture of the 1930s which happened to combine cheerful optimism and suspicious alertness. Many works done at that time testified to the strong craving to trespass against the rigid boundaries set by the time and to find intricate compromises which would offer artists a glimpse of hope to preserve their individuality. Artists tried to preserve under the hard ideological yoke both the plastic culture and its spiritual core. The Vologda Picture Gallery keeps the collection of such experienced Soviet painters as N. Tyrsa, A.Labas, R.Barto and other renowned artists. Unique and remarkable are works of art and graphics by Robert Falk. Falk's constant desire to get to the essence of things makes his art profoundly philosophic. He sought to unravel the mysteries of the universe in a way opened only to him. "Portrait of L.Popesku" by R.Falk merits special attention.

Most works of the Soviet period were presented to the collection by the artists' relatives. The works of Nikolai Tyrsa who was taken out of blockade Leningrad in 1942 and buried in Vologda were given to the gallery by his daughters. N. Tyrsa was the inspirer of the experimental quest. His experiments allowed to employ techniques that bore external resemblance of watercolors; he thus contributed to the flourishing of pictorial drawing on the lithographic stone on which artists worked utilizing a whole arsenal of effects including brush, filling of ink, and splashing to produce lightsome and colorful surface. (Picture: "A Portrait of a Woman" by N.Tyrsa)

Collaboration with the painters from Moscow, St.Petersburg and other Russian cities contributed greatly to the collection. For many Russian artists the North has become a source of inspiration. The Vologda Picture Gallery values the works of art devoted to the culture of our region.
"A Church in Kimzha" by a Moscow - born painter Victor Popkov provides an image of the North emphasizing its spiritual impregnability. Victor Popkov became one the most influential Russian artists of the 1960s, developing a particular type of metaphorical picture that combines accurate observation of life with allegories and dramatic generalizations. In the canvases belonging to the brush of V.Popkov impressions from journeys to the northern Russian villages, with their increasingly deserted and dilapidated huts and the mournful memory of their owners, are transformed into dramatic images with expressive colour contrasts and monumental draughtsmanship. Such notable painters as Nikolai Romadin, Vladimir Stozharov, Yuri Kugach, Igor Abrosov also exhibited their works in the Vologda Picture Gallery.

Vladislav Sergeev drew upon a wide range of traditions pertaining to other trends in pictorial art which appealed to him, he brought into his paintings the seemingly distant realm - the old-Russian painting. (Pictures by V.Sergeev: "Invitation to Ancient Rus". 1988, "Horses". 1977)

Common people and representatives of the Vologda intelligent community are depicted in the paintings and graphic works by Dzhanna Tutundzhan. (Picture: D.Tutundzhan. Be it lighter. 1976)

The pictures of a Vologda - born G.Popov, a self-taught artist, are devoted to rural areas, village way of life and beauty of the native city. (Picture by G.Popov. "Generous Land" 1976)

The same theme prevails in the festive paintings of G.Asaphov who brought together the seemingly distant realms - Russian avant-garde of the early 20th century and folklore style. (Picture by G.Asaphov. "Flax is being Spread". 1983)

Vologda landscape painters in the late 20th century represent its romantic line. An emotionally charged interpretation of nature, generalized forms, delicate colours, a classical composition, and a search for the pictorial are all characteristic features of their art. The landscapes of the Vologda painters are permeated with lyricism, they cherish the history of the region and remind us of the bygone times. The landscape has become the favourite subject for the Vologda painters. "Winter in Ferapontovo" (1989) by E.Sokolov shows us a winter scene in a rural area. The painter's artistry is masterful.

The memorial studio of Alexander Panteleev (1932-1990), Honoured Artist of Russia is affiliated with the Vologda Picture Gallery. A brick structure designed in the eclectic style in late 19th century has become the first museum to perpetuate the memory of the notable painter, our contemporary. A.Panteleev worked in this studio since 1981 creating canvases devoted to the Russian North and its culture. The artist travelled to Italy and Cuba searching for subjects and themes for his paintings. He was one of the first artists who represented ecological line. The painter, graphic artist, scriptwriter Alexander Panteleev will come down into the history of the Vologda Region of the second half of the 20th century.

The studio of Alexander Panteleev houses a collection of books and articles of applied art brought by the artist from his trips. Here one could see gifts presented to the artist by his friends and admirers. The memorial museum has become home to expositions of other Vologda - born painters, it is a venue for commemoration meetings. Concerts and lectures are also held in the museum. (Picture by A.Panleleev. "Indian Summer". 1981)

In 2002 one more museum appeared in Vologda - Museum of Vladimir Korbakov, People's Artist of Russia. The outstanding painter presented his collection of about 2000 pictures and drawings to the city.

A studio of the renowned Vologda painter is located in the museum. It is open for the visitors. (Picture by V.Korbakov. "Flight over Vologda". 2002)

The Vologda Picture Gallery
Director: Vladimir Voropanov
Tel.: +7 8172 721228, +7 8172 721433
Fax: +7 8172 721228
E-mail: chief-gallery@mail.ru
Address: 10 Kremlin Square, 160035, Vologda, Russia