August 15th –Tretyakov Gallery Public Opening
Today marks the anniversary of one of the most significant days for Russian cultural heritage, as on August 15th 1893, the Tretyakov gallery was officially opened to the public.
The gifting of the gallery to the state was a major stepping stone in raising the profile of Russian art. Pavel Tretyakov, the eponoymous founder, came from the new class of merchant-collectors who emerged in Russia as the feudal economy transitioned into an industrial one during the the second half of nineteenth century. This created a radical new age of opportunity in Russia as, for the first time, millions could be made instead of inherited. The influx of new money had an impact on the cultural sphere, as a host of new patrons emerged into auction houses and art studios.
Tretyakov was one of the new indstrialists who used his fortune to pursue his passion of collecting art. Unlike others such as Sergei Shchukin and Ivan Morozov, however, who focused on acquistions of European modernism, Tretyakov was committed to collecting Russian art throughout the centuries, seeking to reflect an objective timeline of the nation’s artistic evolution.
Tretyakov, like his merchant-collector colleagues was unencumbered by formal education and yet possessed of an astonishingly discerning eye for art. They were thus able to break out of the rigid approach of Imperial collecting, and started supporting new, fresh talent in painting. For four decades following the opening of his gallery in 1856, Tretyakov devoted himself to expanding his collection, as well as the building it was housed in, including commissioning the heavily decorated, folkloric facade designed by Viktor Vasnetsov which still fronts the main entrance. By the time he donated it to the city of Moscow in,1893, he had over two thousand works.
Today over 1.5 million people visit the Tretyakov gallery annually, and the collection consists of over 130,000 exhibits, including classics ranging from Andrei Rublev’s medieval icons to Kazimir Malevich’s iconoclastic modernism.
This blog was brought to you by Kamila, student and blogger at Liden & Denz, St. Petersburg