This is an introduction to an exhibition of Russian drawings and watercolours organized by Stuart and Samarine in Paris, in 1998, written by the late, great Sergei Essaian. Sergei Essaian was a painter and sculptor (http://www.serge- essaian.com/biography_090.htm) who in his spare time curated Mstislav Rostropovich and Galina Vishnevskaya's magnificent collection of Russian Art, as well as giving much needed advice to the young Russian departments of the London auction houses.
101 Masterpieces: Russian Graphic Art 1790-1820
When broaching a subject as specific as that of Russian graphic art, it is as well to remind our reader that Russian art as whole is the youngest member of the family of European National schools. In Western Europe the slow, organic stylistic evolution never abandoned the foundations of the pictorial language which had been formulated at the time of the Renaissance. Russia, on the other hand, until the middle of the 18th century, was a country where secular art, and particularly painting, represented a tiny fraction in terms of quantity compared to religious art, which was being mechanically reproduced according to the half forgotten methods and formulas of Byzantium. This essay is not the place to dwell on the significance of Peter the Great’s reforms, and there is already a voluminous literature on the subject. The powerful stimulus given to the evolution of Russian culture at the beginning of the 18th century, which enforced brutal changes on that culture in all its parameters, did not however obliterate the pictorial genius of the people, the same genius which had manifested itself so brilliantly within the forms of medieval Russian painting. On the contrary, from a historical point of view it is surprising with what speed the Russian pictorial genius found its expression in the new idiom of western European art. Indeed, one should bear in mind that the Imperial Academy of Art in St. Petersburg was only founded in the middle of the 18th century, and that by the end of that same century Russia already boasted such outstanding masters as Levitsky, Borovikovsky and Rokotov. Such a powerful and accelerated process of absorption of the immense European artistic heritage can only be compared in its tempo and its force with the explosion of the Russian avant-garde that took place in the first two decades of the twentieth century.
The artistic environment of 18th century Russia was extremely cosmopolitan. French, Swedish, Italian and Austrian artists worked and taught in the young northern capital, taking an active part in the formation of the inimitable character of Russian 18th century art. Many of them were itinerants, wandering from one European court to another. Plenty, however, settled on the new land, and linked their fate with Russian culture for good. The names of Rastrelli, Quarenghi, and Rossi have become inseparable from our conception of Russian architecture of the golden age. The stage designer Gonzago and the sculptor Falconnet have organically become part of the formation of the national school. In this collection of watercolours and drawings put together by John Stuart and Ivan Samarine there is a characteristic example of a silhouette group executed in the "international style" of the end of the 18th century. It is a large scale pen and ink drawing, depicting Grand Duke Pavel Petrovich out walking with his Consort Maria Feodorovna, together with their two sons, Konstantin and Alexander, who are planting a sapling at the foot of a monument to their Grandmother Catherine II. The drawing can be dated to 1795-6. The drawing is surrounded by a vigorously drawn floral border, an element that is missing in other known versions of this composition. It is also worth noting that this is the only known version signed by the artist, the German silhouettist Friederich Anthing, who was a romantic and yet highly typical figure of the time. Having entered Russian service during the reign of Catherine the Great, he reached the rank of colonel, becoming the adjutant to the famous Suvorov, and left us a history of Suvorov’s campaigns dictated to him by the Field Marshal himself. Anthing published this history in three volumes in bad German. This soldier-artist also published a book of “100 silhouettes” (Munich, 1791), in which he depicted all the monarchs, military leaders and prominent courtiers of the time. Another work shows Catherine II surrounded by her family before a bust of Peter the Great, whose cult Catherine strictly observed, wishing to give her reign the appearance of direct succession from the great Emperor. Thus this elegant silhouette, so typical of the aesthetics of the ‘rococo’ with its love for Chinoiserie, can be considered as a sort of propaganda leaflet.
By the beginning of the 19th century the Petersburg Academy was already sending its pupils to Italy, as other European academies were doing. The aim of these journeys was to copy the 'classics' and to fulfil the set artistic programmes of the Academy. The Russian ‘Italians’ represent an extremely important page in the history of 19th century Russian art. Amongst them are such outstanding masters as Orest Kiprensky, Karl Briullov, the great Alexander Ivanov and a whole constellation of landscape painters: Schedrin, Lebedev, Martynov and others. But the Russian Academicians in Italy studied not only the classics. In Rome, surrounded by students of the European Academies, they became acquainted with new European artistic trends, and shook off the inevitable isolation of provincialism. In the exhibition there is a small watercolour by Martynov, “View of Florence”; a rare image of an early romantic landscape with a very fresh understanding of the light-imbued Italian countryside.
Statistically, the artistic production of the first third of the 19th century in Russia is dominated by portraiture, and in particular by watercolour portraiture. A fair amount has been written about its social significance. And indeed the first decades of the 19th century could be called the epoch of the watercolour portrait, which, while not supplanting the art of miniature painting on ivory, did become extremely widespread. The remarkable art of Piotr Feodorovich Sokolov stands out amongst what was a widely practised and often amateur genre. We are used to talking about the "age of Pushkin". But we would be fully justified in calling the same period the "age of Sokolov", who left us a panoramic portrait gallery of Pushkin's contemporaries, and one of the best portraits of the poet himself. Indeed, the very style of the period, the aesthetic of Pushkin's time, is inseparable from the aesthetics of Sokolov's painting. What were its characteristic features? Above all these were freshness, lightness and precision of execution, and a freedom and variety in the watercolour strokes. Sokolov's manner captivates us for exactly the same reason as Briullov's portraits, which were painted "alla prima" (self-portrait in a private collection, London; self-portrait in the Tretyakov Gallery). The variety of the technique, the ability to convey a the sitter's movement in a light turn of the head, an unfinished quality, the deliberate leaving of unpainted areas as an artistic technique - these are some of the components that go together to make Sokolov's manner. However, Sokolov's style is not uniform. Two works exhibited here go a long way to broaden our previous conception about the master's method of painting. First of all there is depiction of the Russian wet-nurse with a baby in an interior, which is amazingly beautiful in its coloration and its handling of modelling. It is as if with this portrait Sokolov is approaching the school of Venetsianov. But his vision is more penetrating, his wet-nurse more of a portrait, then the poetically beautified peasant girls of Venetsianov. It is interesting to note that in this late work the technique has also changed; Sokolov daringly and even rather thickly uses gouache. This precious little picture makes such a marked contrast with the imposingly composed and finely drawn portrait of a mother and child. The latter is executed in pure watercolour and is highly finished. The child in constant movement is particularly masterfully drawn, and the portrait as a whole has a character of animation and majesty. Even the semi-circular upper border gives it the appearance of easel painting; one may suppose that we are here looking at the influence of Briullov's oil paintings.
Comparison of the five exhibited portraits by Piotr Feodorovich Sokolov is evidence of the many sides to Sokolov's talent, and about the variety of his artistic ambitions. We can only lament that in Russian art historical literature there is still not an even half-complete study of the work of this remarkable artist.
The static language of Vladimir Hau's watercolours, perfect in its monotone completeness, contrasts with the lively, romantic language of those of Sokolov. It is, however, the cold perfection of the Biedermeier period. Time seems to be excluded from his manner of painting. But occasionally this very even master reaches a high note in his "descriptive method". Such for instance is the portrait of Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaievna, the beauty and fineness of which unfolds itself under an attentive and slow examination. On the whole the art of Hau prefigures the appearance of the daguerreotype portrait, and for a while co-exists with it. It is interesting to note that early Russian photograph portraits seem to follow the compositional examples of Vladimir Hau.
Also exhibited are two watercolours by Sokolov and Hau's great contemporary Karl Briullov. These are a monochrome compositional sketch and a watercolour portrait. Briullov was an absolute master of watercolour technique; indeed technical virtuosity is one of the components of his artistic talent.
The exhibited compositional sketch to the unrealised painting "Oleg's shield" is extremely rare, and has, as far as we know, never been published. It belongs to a group of sketches on the theme of Russian history. Briullov returned to this theme often. The sketch is executed in a spirited and fluent manner, and does not enter into particular detail. The whole composition, however, is reminiscent of a mise-en-scene played along the horizontal in the foreground of the stage area. Briullov was evidently more attracted to academic, antique and biblical themes, where he was able to shine with his ability to model naked bodies, antique drapery, rearing horses etc. Well known are his words uttered with irritation about the painting "The Siege of Pskov" commissioned from him by Emperor Nicholas I: "Well, what am I going to do with these Russian idiots in their peasant togs? All they are good for is to be stood on their knees!"
Whereas the level of appreciation for Briullov's compositional subjects, and above all for his "Last Day of Pompeii", has varied over the years - from the ecstatic awe of his contemporaries to the scepticism and downright contempt of following generations- his talent as a portrait painter has always remained beyond dispute for every generation of Russian artists.
In contrast to "professional" watercolorists, that is masters of this "minor form", in Briullov's watercolour portraits one immediately recognises a master of the "major form", (i.e., oil paining). This can be felt in the freedom of drawing, in the pose of the figures, and in the high degree of finish. Briullov's watercolour portraits can be separated into two distinct types. The first type is the watercolour study for a future oil portrait; the watercolour portrait of I.A. Krylov, for example, which is a study for the identical painting in oil - perhaps the artist's greatest work. The second type is the watercolour portrait for its own sake. And here Briullov is not breaking the "rules of the genre"; he is only bringing the spirit of easel painting into a chamber art. The portrait of Khitrovo exhibited here does not differ so very much from the work of Piotr Sokolov. It could be said that while Sokolov aspires, in some of his compositions, towards easel painting ("Portrait of a mother and child" exhibited here, for example), Briullov at times chooses to work in the "minor form", but leaves in it traces of his mastery of easel painting.
It was presumably with the aim of reinforcing the monopoly on 19th century realism exclusively held by the "Wanderers" that Soviet art historians stubbornly ignored the work of a whole constellation of battle painters who worked for the Russian Court.
Probably in order to fill this gap in our knowledge of 19th century art, the State Hermitage mounted an exhibition in 1998 of the work of Franz Krüger, the Court painter to Friederich-Wilhelm III. Krüger made flying visits to work in Russia and undoubtedly exerted a huge influence on the formation of a Russian national school of battle painters. After being successfully exhibited in Berlin, his famous canvas "Parade in Berlin" commissioned by Grand Duke Nikolai Pavlovich in 1824 was brought to the Winter Palace (1831) and became a sort of school for Russian masters of the battle genre. Krüger was a rather dry portrait painter, a hard worker to set rules. His talent is most manifest in hunting scenes and military parades, in which his ability to recreate a magnificent ceremonial atmosphere was combined with a purely Prussian love of detail. His smooth painting style and ability to create iconographic types fully satisfied the aesthetic demands of the monarch. There is an amusing account of Nicholas I ‘s visit to Krüger during an exhibition in Berlin, where the large group portrait "Nicholas I and his suite" and the "Portrait of I.F. Paskevich" were being shown. Having examined these canvases, Nicholas requested that certain inaccuracies in the uniforms, medals and equipment be corrected. In 1836 Krüger painted portraits of the Grand Dukes Nicholas and Michael Nikolaievichi. Exhibited here is his portrait of the young Tsetsarevich Alexander Nikolaievich, executed in charcoal and which served as an original for an official engraving and lithographed portrait. Also on show is a very effective and accurately drawn "Study of a Cossack" from the collection of the Galerie Popov. The figure is depicted full length and silhouetted against the brown paper of the background. This treatment of the blank paper as a way of giving a spatial dimension for the subject gives Krüger's study an almost contemporary feel, linking it to the study of a montagnard by Lancere exhibited here also, but executed more than half a century later. As we have already remarked, Krüger's many figured canvases on military themes, commissioned and acquired by Nicholas I, served as a sort of school for Russian battle painters. One of the most talented followers of the great Prussian master was Karl Karlovich Piratsky (1813-1871). Piratsky finished the Imperial Academy of Arts in 1836 in the battle painters' class. His talent was noticed by the Emperor before he had left the Academy, and he commissioned him to make a copy of Krüger's painting "Emperor Nicholas I and his Suite". As soon as he had finished his studies Piratsky was appointed a painter to the Imperial Great Court. In 1838 he undertook an enormous task: the illustrations to A.V. Viskovytov's "Historical description of the uniforms and armaments of Russian soldiers with drawings, compiled by Imperial Command". The originals of these watercolours, which were intended as Imperial presentation pieces and were kept in folders in the Winter Palace, have remained completely unknown both to artistic circles and to the public at large. The only way one came across them was through lithographed editions, which themselves quickly became bibliographical rarities. All the more sensational therefore seems the appearance here of original works by Piratsky and his successor and follower P.I. Balashov, who inherited his precise watercolour technique. The "View of the War gallery in the Winter Palace" published and exhibited here is a true masterpiece by Piratsky, and of many genres all at once: of interior painting, portrait painting and military-historical painting. But it is also a masterpiece of watercolour painting. After thorough examination of all the light areas in the uniforms and in the architecture, the viewer will not find a single use of gouache or white! Such a consummate mastery of the material using such saturated colour and highly complicated tonal gradations in the treatment of perspective seems simply unachievable to the contemporary viewer. The quality of the sheet strikes one at once, but it takes time to come to terms with all the aspects of Piratsky's pictorial language. One could also mention in passing that the word "sheet" is not quite appropriate in this case, in which the painterly-illusionistic qualities of the art of watercolour have been taken to their very limits. The sheet of paper, as such, ceases to exist on an aesthetic level, and becomes merely the foundation for the painterly construction.
The interior of the War Gallery is presented dramatically, and with the use of complex foreshortening. The huge doorway on the left with the half open door is one of the sources of light, and the wall hung with the portraits of the heroes of 1812 recedes sharply into the distance. Not for Piratsky the symmetrical composition usual for interior painting at that time, in which one of the walls runs parallel to the edge of the painting; in our picture the vanishing point, if it is not quite in the centre, is at least within the depicted space. In the sort of perspective which Piratsky has chosen, the sharply receding wall would normally serve as a sort of background, a backdrop for the group of figures in the foreground. Nothing of the sort. Both the wall and the doorway are painted with such a mastery of architectural detail, and the perspective, particularly the spatial perspective, is worked out so finely and with such a wealth of gradations that the wall is transformed from a background into a real three dimensional space, capable of enveloping a man. In the way he has resolved the depiction of space Piratsky achieves a realism of which the following generation of painters - the "Wanderers"- could not even dream. Indeed, they never set themselves such problems. Their interiors are for the most part merely backdrops for the playing out of their didactic scenes.
We have said so much about Piratsky's mastery of watercolour without even referring to the actual subject matter of his art. Each one of his watercolours is a reference book for the specialist in military uniforms. The author confesses his complete incompetence in questions of military iconography and hands on the baton to a future researcher.
But there is one more entry level to our picture, which is the examination of the face painting. And here we discover a remarkable thing. These tiny faces are all, without exception, portraits! For the task Piratsky had to complete, the depiction of the uniforms of the Russian army in a landscape or in an interior, such "total" portraiture was not obligatory. To have done it is a kind of "over-fulfilment"; a task set by the artist himself. We realise that these are not imaginary figures, not dummies wearing uniforms, but real, once living people, and this gives an additional profundity to Piratsky's realism. Suddenly we are overcome with the same excitement we experience when we look, for example, at the painting of the heads in Velazquez' Capture of Breda; after all the surrender of the keys hardly moves us nowadays, but the head of the youth looking at us on the right hand side of the crowd is unforgettable. And indeed, this crowd is a collection of portraits. Of course, there can be no stylistic comparisons between Velasquez' canvas and the microcosm of Piratsky. However the latter on a tiny scale allows us to experience the same sense of "being there", that sense when historical time, indicated by the painting's interior stylistic regalia, falls away and we become witnesses to the real presence of people who actually lived at one time. The artist does not narrate but shows.
And there is yet another similarity between Piratsky's artistic vision and that of the Old Masters.
During a close examination of, for example, Flemish painting, the viewer is struck by that endless, loving degree of finish which leads his gaze deep into the painting, right to the surface of the visible world. But taking a pace backwards, the viewer once again takes in the whole image, not distorted, but enriched by its profusion of detail. But therein lies the danger: detail can gobble up the surface of a picture, and destroy the sense of wholeness of the world. It is the very ability to preserve this wholeness that makes the difference between a Velasquez and epigones. And Piratsky's art has absorbed even this quality. This is the sign of a great master, however physically small are his pictures.
Another reason we have devoted so much attention to Piratsky's work is because there is practically no literature about this outstanding artist. From the meagre information in the dictionaries it is known that he worked for many years in the Ministry of War, that in 1855 he was made an Academician for his painting "The Ride", and that two years before his death he was appointed a Professor of the Imperial Academy of Arts. His life and work are awaiting their researcher, as does the whole of that half-forgotten stratum of Russian 19th century artistic culture.
Towards the beginning of the 1860s, that is at the time of the founding of the "Society of wandering exhibitions" graphic art went through a significant change of subject matter. The watercolour portrait becomes a thing of the past, as a genre of its own; its everyday function is gradually taken over by the photographic portrait. The genre of the interior also disappears, as does the album leaf with its sentimentalised views of country estates; book illustration falls into decline and veers towards naturalism. The graphic repertoire of the "Wanderers" is on the whole extremely narrow in scope. The use of drawing becomes completely subservient to painting; it is a sketch for a composition or a landscape. And although there were some great draughtsmen amongst the ranks of the "Wanderers" (Repin, Kramskoi and others), their drawings are almost always of this "utilitarian" nature. The value and quality of such drawings entirely depends on how gifted their author is. There are several works exhibited here by outstanding masters of the "Wanderer's" movement. First of all there is a rare, circular self-portrait by Kramskoi, executed in black crayon; or, to be precise, a study for a future self-portrait executed in oil. What makes it stand out is its photographic tonal accuracy and its masterly composition.
A sheet with two sketched heads by I.E. Repin is a fine example of his rapid drawings from nature, a practice Repin continued until ripe old age. The sketch on the right hand side depicts Repin's friend and contemporary at the Academy, the sculptor Mark Antokolsky.
Time passed, and the various activities of the "Society of Wandering Exhibitions" began to change, and to widen in scope. Its great decade, which had witnessed the most brilliant achievements of Repin, Ge, Kramskoi and Kuindzhi and many other important painters, lay behind it. Towards the end of the century the word "Wanderers" began, in the ears of some critics, to become synonymous with bad quality painting, painting that sought success not through its artistic achievements, but through speculative subject matter. A new generation of artists and cultural figures entered the scene, and they brought with them an attitude that was completely opposed to that of the "Wanderers"; they were preachers of a different aesthetics.
We are talking here about a group of young artists; extremely different from one another both in their temperament and in their talent, but all determined to change the artistic life of Russia. As the "Wanderers" had done before them, the members of the "World of Art" group claimed a monopoly for their artistic credo. And all might have turned into a barren polemic between the realists and the aesthetes had the artists themselves not embodied their slogans in true works of art, just as their predecessors and cultural opponents had done.
Returning to our specific theme, we can boldly affirm that graphic art, as an independent category, valuable in itself and not just in relation to oil painting, became firmly established in Russia specifically thanks to the small group of talented young artists who at the beginning of the century rallied around the magazine published by Diaghilev and the circle of Alexander Benois.
The name of Alexander Nikolaievich Benois is known to the western European observer mainly in connection with Diaghilev's enterprise, with the legendary production of Stravinsky's Petrushka, and with several other theatrical works which have become classics of XX century European theatrical art. However, Alexander Benois' significance for Russian art and culture is in no way confined to his theatrical activities. One of the founders of the World of Art, a painter, an excellent illustrator, a subtle critic and art historian, a brilliant memoir writer, Benois occupies a very special place in Russian artistic culture of the first decades of the XX century. This autumn, Parisians will see an extensive exhibition of Benois and his companions in arms of the World of Art organised by Erik Naslund.
Here, Benois is represented by a remarkable town landscape: a view of the Arch of the General staff in St. Petersburg. Like all members of the "World of Art", Benois was a remarkable connoisseur of the architecture of old St. Petersburg and the palaces in its environs. It is this knowledge and love of Rossi's masterpiece that are conveyed to the spectator in a precise and yet at the same time powerful and monumentalised form.
Mstislav Dobouzhinsky's "Lion Bridge over the Fontanka" is yet further proof of the "World of Art" members' love for their native city. Dobouzhinsky is rightly considered the singer of the St. Petersburg of the time, who was able to find poetry and plastic expression not only in architectural monuments and historical ensembles, but also in the chaotic buildings of the early 20th century, the "urbanised space" in the wide sense of the words. Dobouzhinsky was the first in Russian art to discover the theme of the city and was able to create an acute, laconic and expressive language to convey it.
Another extremely important artist of the "World of Art" movement, Konstantin Somov, is represented at the exhibition by four works. The "Portrait of a Gentleman" from the collection of V. and S. Spivakov is a work of perfect technique and enigmatic content. What is it, a copy of an unknown original by Hau, or a brilliant exercise in the style of the 30's of the 19th century? Either way, this watercolour bears witness to Somov's fascination for the heritage of the previous century, so typical of the cultural atmosphere of his circle, and of his desire to master the art of watercolour portraiture which had been lost over the years of the "Wanderers". The second work is a watercolour landscape depicting a mass of greenery, which is highly polished and full of inner dynamics. Somov takes delight in conveying the richness of the texture of the greenery, and the tapestry-like tones of the leaves. This is not a "subject" Somov has chosen, but a fragment of nature. The artist has broken with Shishkin's theatrical compositions, and he has no need to work up the whole surface of every leaf. This is not the unfinished quality of the "Salon"; it is as if the process of painting has been interrupted altogether, and a ready-made piece of nature has been placed on white sheet of paper. And again we are reminded of the drawings of the Old Masters, Dürer's Piece of Turf or the watercolours he made while travelling. Through this study we catch something of the atmosphere of high artistic culture that had surrounded Somov from childhood: his father was the keeper of the drawings at the Imperial Hermitage. The "Love-struck Harlequin", which was once in the collection of G. Basmadjian, is a more mature and more typical work by the artist. The elegance of the drawing, the refined beauty of the colour scheme, reminiscent of the "scènes gallantes" by Lancret and Watteau, the French masters of the 18th century so dear to the "World of Art"; the atmosphere of fragility and irreality of existence…All these qualities of the mature Somov were in harmony with the thinking of the members of World of Art. In this sense, Somov's work is highly "programmed". There are two works by Zinaida Serebryakova, who was the niece of Alexander Benois and an unfailing participant in all the exhibitions of the "World of Art". The first is a sheet with three pencil studies in differing foreshortenings for a self-portrait. This sheet is a remarkable testimony to the artist's skill in drawing. Serebryakova had an outstanding talent as a portrait painter, which was not limited to graphic art, although pastel was to remain her favourite technique throughout her life. She has a full drawing style, which emphasises form, and always, even in small scale works, contains an element of monumentalisation. If re-interpretation of 18th century figurative idiom was typical of many members of the World of Art, Serebryakova's art is oriented rather towards the heritage of the Renaissance portrait. The second work exhibited here is her portrait of Princess Yusupova. This is that rare event of artistic triumph when the beauty of the model and the beauty of the execution combine to produce an outstanding work of art. It is remarkable in the simplicity and the clarity of the method of conveying plastic form, a simplicity which brings to mind Holbein's preparatory drawings and those of the XVI century Florentine portrait painters. And yet there is no trace of pastiche of the Renaissance style; after all, the skill of those who go in for pastiche is borrowed, but Serebryakova's skill was her own. Another great talent who does not quite fit into the narrow confines of one artistic movement was Valentin Serov. Serov was the outstading portrait painter of the beginning of the century, the extent of whose gifts continues to unfold with time. In all the memoirs of his contemporaries his personality stands as the measure of artistic truth for those around him - be they his contemporaries of the World of Art, or his teacher, Ilya Repin. It is interesting to note that it was none other than Serov who managed to receive money for the publication of the World of Art journal from the private purse of Nicholas II, having distracted the Tsar with details of the journal' s aims during a portrait painting session. The exhibition includes a masterpiece by Serov; a finished sketch for his famous painting "The Rape of Europe" from the collection of N. and N. Lobanov-Rostovsky. There are a number of versions of this laconic composition in Russian museums, which has become the emblem of Russian Art Nouveau. Serov's friend Mikhail Vrubel was an extremely important phenomenon of Russian art of the turn of the century. Much has been said about the universality of his talent, which brought an unrepeatable individuality to all aspects of his artistic creation, from Abramtsevo ceramics to theatre decoration. Vrubel was also a draughtsman and watercolourist of genius. The watercolour stroke was for him a tonal and colour outline, which he used to sculpt form. Such a method creates a mosaic effect, but in Vrubel's case it was a mosaic composed in three dimensions, and not on a flat surface. Several works from outside the set time frame are included in the exhibition. These are, first of all, works by Pavel Kuznetsov and Matiros Saryan, Aristarkh Lentulov and Maria Sinyakova, Boris Grigoriev and Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin, as well as magnificent early gouaches by Natalia Goncharova. All these artists, despite the differences between them, can be categorised in a very arbitrary way as the group of artists who broke with the aesthetics of the "World of Art". They all had a vivid artistic individuality, and, although they were contemporaries, belonged to different artistic groupings and trends. The reader will find a brief biography of these masters at the end of the catalogue. Many of the artists exhibited here moved to France after the Bolshevik revolution. Their creative fate varied, and for many of them life in the emigration was very difficult. Goncharova and Bakst, Serebryakova and Somov, Benois and Maliavin, Grigoriev and Stelletsky and many others ended their days in France. It is to the memory of these remarkable artists that I would like to join John Stuart and Ivan Samarine in dedicating this modest exhibition