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Soutine and Aivazovsky come up in the world

The successful exhibition, held last year in the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow, has now reached Belarus
The successful exhibition, held last year in the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow, has now reached Belarus. At the beginning of October, the National Art Museum receives picturesque masterpieces by Aivazovsky, Vasnetsov, Levitan, Savrasov, Repin, and our compatriots — Soutine, Pen and Bakst. The exhibition subtly entitled, Russian Art of the 19th and 20th Centuries from the Collection of Alexander Volodchinsky, will be, as the museum specialists say, a gift both for admirers of academic painting, and for less sophisticated lovers of classical art. Minsk visitors will be able to open a new chapter in the history of national art, thanks to the collector Alexander Volodchinsky — works from his collection will decorate the halls of the National Art Museum until February next year.

It all started with a love of art in general and the genre of Russian art in particular. Alexander Volodchinsky began to collect masterpieces of the patriarchs and classics of the art world more than a quarter of a century ago. Today his collection consists of more than three hundred works and continues to develop — the collector admits that he does not restrict himself in terms of time, genre or stylistic framework. However, he does not hide his preferences and the entire hall of the exhibition will be devoted to the Makovsky brothers. Among the 30 works by Vladimir Makovsky will be his famous Despot of the Family.

Birch Grove by Kuindzhi, which also took its place in one of the halls of the museum many years ago, will be shown at the exhibition. Similarly, other works from Volodchinsky’s collection are closer to canonical, as Alexey Khoryak, Head of the Department of Russian and Foreign Art, commented, “Many artists have repetitions, second and even third versions of their works. The picture that we have is one of the last created by Arkhip Kuindzhi. Visitors will have a unique opportunity to compare these two original but different author’s variants. I also want to note that the exhibition in our Museum will not be a repeat of Moscow. Alexander Naumovich bought several works from natives of Belarus which will be shown to public for the first time in Minsk.”

Among the novelties of the collection — Portrait of Unknown Woman by Apollinary Goravsky, Houses by Ossip Zadkine, Portrait of Iraida Barbut–Lipstein by Yehuda Pen, Portrait of the Artist Van Dongen by Jacques Chapiro and Still Life with Fish by Chaïm Soutine. Alexander Volodchinsky recollects, “My grandmother and Chaïm Soutine studied in the same school in Smilovichi, my family and his parents were buried nearby. The works of Soutine for me are memories, nostalgia, links to the homeland of my ancestors. In addition to Still Life with Fish, especially for the exhibition in Minsk, I augmented this collection with the work of a friend and colleague of Soutine, Michel Kikoïne. His Music Lesson will be, I’m sure, one of highlights of the exhibition.”

Another jewel in the exhibition is Crying of Yaroslavna by Vasily Perov, a painting that has already received great ovation in the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts. Volodchinsky bought this picture at Sotheby’s many years ago, “I was impressed by this work. It is one of the most monumental and interesting works not only in my collection, but also in the creative canon of Vasily Perov. I am pleased that visitors to the exhibition will see it, as well as people who like and understand painting. Belarus is my homeland, I spent my youth here. I’m pleased and excited to be introducing my collection in Minsk.”

The earliest work from the collection of Volodchinsky, available to Belarusians, will be Portrait of Tsar Peter the Great, painted by great Dutch painter Carel de Moor, presumably painted not earlier than in 1718. It will become the start of the exhibition. According to Alexey Khoryak, there will also be an opportunity to look at the works of Vasily Pukirev in a new way, “Pukirev is unfairly considered the author of one piece — his Unequal Marriage takes perhaps the most prominent place in the artist’s work. One of the author’s versions is also available in our museum, another original is stored in the Tretyakov Gallery. Thanks to Alexander Volodchinsky, Minsk citizens will have an opportunity to enjoy another great work of the master, In the Presence (Entrance of the Chief), dated to the second half of the 1860s.

Minsk citizens will see nearly 150 works: paintings, graphics, sculpture, as well as letters, autographs and photographs of outstanding figures of culture, theatre, cinema and fine arts (for example, the archives of Polina Khentova and Solomon Mikhoels will be available too). It is expected that graphic paintings will decorate the walls of the museum art café. Drink a cup of coffee while examining the sketch of scenery by Alexandre Benois for the ballet Petrushka by Stravinsky, or Boy in Sheepskin Coat by Leon Bakst (during his student period), it’s an excellent way to quench both one’s physical and spiritual thirst?


The creativity of Western authors will also be represented at the exhibition. For example, the work of Anthelme François Lagrenée (Portrait of Anisimova), Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot (Landscape with Rider), Suzanne Valadon (Bouquet of Tulips), Moïse Kisling (Portrait of a Girl) and Georges Rouault (Portrait of Ballerina Tamara Karsavina).

By Yulia Leonova
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