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Wednesday, 11 March 2015
Poland, Russian Art Dealer Fight Over Plundered Painting
Topic: Russian Art


Aleksandr Khochinsky with Girl With A Dove, a 1754 oil-on-canvas by French-born Prussian court painter Antoine Pesne
 
Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the March 11, 2015 edition of Radio Free Europe News. The author Carl Schreck, owns the copyright of the work presented below.

U.S. authorities have arrested a Russian art dealer at the request of Poland, which accuses him of harbouring an 18th-century painting “plundered” during World War II both by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Army.

Aleksandr Khochinsky, who made global headlines in 2006 by purchasing letters from French philosopher Voltaire to Russian Empress Catherine the Great, says U.S. federal agents acting on a Polish extradition request arrested him at around 6 a.m. on February 26 at his apartment in lower Manhattan.

"[They] took me outside into a record New York cold snap while I was wearing my slippers," Khochinsky, 64, said in a March 9 telephone interview hours after being released from jail under house arrest.

Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr confirmed that Khochinsky was arrested by U.S. authorities at Poland’s request. He did not provide further details.

The Polish government claims Khochinsky is in illegal possession of Girl With A Dove, a 1754 oil-on-canvas by French-born Prussian court painter Antoine Pesne.

The painting, one of hundreds of thousands of cultural objects believed to have been plundered from Poland by German and Soviet forces during World War II, is among  some 63,000 such "lost" pieces that have been catalogued by the Polish Culture Ministry.

Under Polish law, the illegal acquisition, sale, or concealment of property "of significant cultural value" is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Poland’s Ministry of Culture told RFE/RL in an e-mail that it is cooperating with representatives of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Poland in its bid return the painting, which was purchased in 1931 by the Wielkopolska Museum in the western Polish city of Poznan.

In 1943, the painting was removed "together with the most valuable works from the museum" by the Germans and "transported to the depths of the Third Reich, where in large part they were seized by units of the Red Army," the ministry added.

Khochinsky, a U.S. resident who has lived in New York since 2009, does not deny that the painting is in his possession. He says his father likely brought it home "from the front" after fighting for the Soviet Army during World War II.

"Exactly how [he got it], I can’t know, because the war ended in 1945 and I was born in 1951," Khochinsky says. "It never occurred to us to ask, 'Where is that chair from? Where’s the table from? Where’s the painting from? Where’s the carpet from?'"

Khochinsky, who accuses Warsaw of rebuffing his efforts to negotiate a deal to repatriate the painting, says he inherited the painting after his father died in 1991 and that it is currently in Moscow.

Khochinsky, who is wearing an electronic monitoring bracelet while under house arrest, said the next hearing in his case is scheduled for May 5.

Restitution Question

The standoff dates back to 2010, when Khochinsky, whose wife owns the Bogema antique salon in central Moscow, says he discovered by chance that the Polish government was searching for Girl With A Dove.

Khochinsky says he contacted the Polish diplomats in Moscow and informed them that his painting may be the one their government is searching for. He offered to hand it over in exchange for Polish real estate that he says belonged to his mother prior to World War II.

He says his mother, a native of Przemysl in south-eastern Poland, fled eastward from the Soviet-controlled city as German forces advanced during the war. The rest of her family died in the Holocaust, Khochinsky says.

Noting the international criticism Poland has faced for “failure” to properly compensate Jewish victims and their descendants for property seized under Nazi occupation and the postwar communist regime, Khochinsky says the swap would be a fair deal. But the proposal went nowhere.

In July 2010, Poland sent Piotr Michalowski, curator of the European paintings gallery at the National Museum in Poznan, to examine the painting in Moscow. He concluded it was an original.

“I found a signature on this painting, [an] original signature of this Antoine Pesne, with [a] date and everything,” Michalowski told RFE/RL.

Khochinsky says Michalowski failed to conduct a series of tests necessary to determine the work’s authenticity and that the Polish expert’s conclusion cannot be considered definitive.

Communication between the two sides subsequently broke down. Poland’s Culture Ministry says Khochinsky failed to respond after it delivered a restitution claim to him through the Polish Embassy in Moscow in February 2011 -- an assertion the collector denies.

The ministry then asked regional prosecutors in Warsaw to seek international legal assistance to recover the painting.

Khochinsky says he had heard nothing from Poland about the painting for two years when U.S. federal agents showed up at his apartment on February 26.

He adds that the issue of the painting’s restitution is not in his control.

“This is an intergovernmental issue,” he says. “Restitution is not an issue for a private individual, a citizen who has owned this painting for many decades.… I’ve owned it openly, without going into hiding, without hiding the painting, without hiding my position or demands.”
 
‘Harsh Doubts’
 
An estimated 516,000 items of cultural property were taken from Poland during German and Soviet occupation, making it “undoubtedly the country which suffered the most from the looting of cultural goods during the Second World War,” said Vanessa von Kolpinski, a researcher at the London-based Art Loss Register, a commercial firm that tracks lost and stolen cultural artefacts. 

For the Soviet army, “taking cultural goods, whatever their origin, was seen as a right to reparation for the hardship and financial distress caused to the USSR,” she added, noting that the Soviet government did undertake efforts to return plundered art to Poland after the war

The National Museum in Poznan is eager to secure the return of Girl With A Dove because it was the only painting by Pesne in its collection prior to World War I, and because it is a departure from typical examples of the artist’s work, Michalowski told RFE/RL.

“He painted mostly portraits, official portraits, and this one is a genre subject. So it’s more interesting in my opinion,” he said.

Khochinsky said Poland would know nothing about the whereabouts of the painting if he had not contacted Polish officials in 2010.

“They got everything from me. They never had any information of their own,” he said.

He added that in his first hearing at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Judge Jed Rakoff expressed “harsh doubts” about the basis for Poland’s extradition request.

U.S. prosecutors in the case could not immediately be reached for comment.
 


Voltaire and Empress Catherine II
 
Vanishing Letters

The case is not the first time Khochinsky has found himself entangled in international intrigue. In 2006, he paid 583,200 euros at a Sotheby’s auction in Paris for 26 letters that Voltaire wrote to Catherine the Great between 1768 to 1777.
 
At the time Khochinsky declined to identify for whom he made the purchase. But three years later he told The New York Times that he bought the letters for a Russian billionaire who intended to present them as a gift to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
 
Khochinsky claimed he gave the letters to Russia’s state-owned Channel One television, which he said was planning to televise their handover to the Russian leader. But the documents subsequently vanished.
 
Khochinsky has accused Channel One director Konstantin Ernst of involvement in the alleged disappearance of the letters, an allegation Ernst has denied. A spokesman for Putin said the Russian president "never saw these letters, and nobody ever gave him anything like this, or will give it to him,” according to the Times report. 
 
© Carl Schreck / Radio Free Europe. 11 March, 2015
 

 

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 11:54 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 11 March 2015 1:51 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 16 July 2014
In Memoriam: Orthodox Artist Pavel Ryzhenko (1970-2014)
Topic: Russian Art


Pavel Viktorovich Ryzhenko 1970-2014
 
It is with great sadness that I announce the death of Pavel Ryzhenko, his cause of death is unknown at the time of this writing. The famed Orthodox artist died today at the age of 44. Pavel Ryzhenko was a particular favourite of mine, and it was during my visit to Ekaterinburg in 2012 where I saw an exhibition of his paintings on display at the Patriarchal Compound of the Church on the Blood.

Pavel Ryzhenko created many large-scale paintings dedicated to scenes from Imperial Russian history, including the Battle of Kulikovo, Sergius of Radonezh, Russian Orthodox saints, and the era of the Royal-Passion-bearer Nicholas II. Large-scale exhibits of his works have been showcased in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kostroma, Ekaterinburg among other Russian cities. 

A memorial service for Pavel Ryzhenko will be held on Sunday, July 22 at 12:00 in the Church of All Saints in the village of Krasnoselsky District, Moscow. The funeral will be held on the same day in Kaluga, followed by his burial at the Zhdamirovskom Cemetery, in the village of Zhdamirovo.

Pavel Ryzhenko was born at Kaluga, Russia in 1970. In 1982 he entered the Moscow Art School at the Surikov Institute. In 1990 he entered the Russian Academy of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, where he studied in the historical and religious workshop of Professor Ilya Glazunov. From 1999, he taught at the Russian Academy of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture. In 2007, Paul began working at the Ryzhenko Military Artists Studio, where he became one of the leading masters of diorama-panoramic art (during his life, he painted six large-scale dioramas). In 2012 Ryzhenko was awarded the title "Honored Artist of the Russian Federation."

Pavel Ryzhenko’s death is a tremendous loss to Russia’s artistic and spiritual communities. On behalf of Royal Russia and it’s supporters, I offer my deepest condolences to his family, friends and the people of Russia. Below are five popular works depicting Emperor Nicholas II by Pavel Ryzhenko:
 

Farewell to the Escort - No. 1 of the Imperial Golgotha triptych

Imprisonment in the Alexander Palace - No. 2 of the Imperial Golgotha triptych

The Ipatiev House Aftermath - No. 3 of the Imperial Golgotha triptych

Photo for Memory - No. 2 of the Russian Century triptych

Sovereign at the Hospital

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 16 July, 2014
 

 

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:28 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 16 July 2014 1:10 PM EDT
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Friday, 4 October 2013
Orthodox Patriot Wants Famous Painting of Ivan the Terrible Purged
Topic: Russian Art

 


Ivan the Terrible and His Son Ivan on November 16th, 1581 by Ilya Repin (1885). Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow 

A Kremlin-linked dairy magnate and radical Orthodox Christian activist has demanded the removal from one of Russia’s main art galleries of a painting of Ivan the Terrible that he says is a smear on the nation’s reputation.

In a lengthy appeal to the authorities, Vasily Boiko-Veliky describes 19th century Russian painter Ilya Repin’s work “Ivan the Terrible Killing His Son” as “slanderous” and “unpatriotic.”

Mainstream accounts of Russian history have it that the notoriously ruthless 16th century monarch did, in fact, kill his son in a fit of intemperate rage, but Boiko-Veliky insists the tsar was in fact an upstanding and landmark historical figure.

Tretyakov Gallery director Irina Lebedeva told RIA Novosti that the painting would continue to hang, but Boiko-Veliky’s appeal marks a new turn in an ongoing trend at revisionism that has appalled many professional historians.

Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky, one of the people to whom the appeal was addressed, had not commented as of Thursday, but he may prove a sympathetic ear.

Medinsky, a former public relations manager, has published a series of books aimed at debunking alleged myths about Russia. These, he has written, include the ideas that serfs were ill-treated in tsarist times and that Russians have a penchant for heavy drinking.

Conservative activism is on the rise in Russia, with Christian activists protesting against a number of art projects. Targets have included modern art exhibits by prominent museum curator Marat Guelman, in the cities of Krasnodar and Novosibirsk in early 2012, and a show of works by British artists Jake and Dinos Chapman at the St. Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum in December.

Repin’s painting, which depicts the tsar in a state of appalled terror as he cradles his dying son in his arms, is considered a landmark of Russian realist art and features in most textbooks on Russian history, which have traditionally depicted Ivan the Terrible as a cruel tyrant.

While Ivan the Terrible is commonly acknowledged with strengthening the central government, it is also recognized he did this to a large extent by massacring his foes.

Boiko-Veliky, 54, has gained media exposure by combining his business pursuits with hardline Christian activism. In 2010, he ordered all employees in relationships to conduct church weddings or face dismissal.

He also posted a reward of 50,000 rubles ($1,500) for identities of members of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot, who performed an anti-Kremlin song in a cathedral in Moscow in 2012. Five band members participated in the performance, but only three have been identified so far.

Boiko-Veliky’s fortune was in 2007 estimated by Finans business weekly at 3.5 billion rubles ($110 million).

Ruzskoye Moloko company, part of his Your Own Financial Caretaker holding, supplies dairy goods to the presidential administration. In 2010, then-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and then-President Dmitry Medvedev - the two have since switched roles - sampled the company’s milk at an agricultural fair.

Still, the tycoon has not always managed to stay on the right side of the law. Boiko-Veliky, who was expelled from the Komsomol communist youth league in Soviet times over his religious beliefs, spent 20 months in custody in 2007-2008, pending investigations over a suspect land deal. He was released on bail and the case is ongoing.

For more information on Tsar Ivan IV, please refer to the following articles at Royal Russia News;

Myth About Tsar Ivan IV - this article also disputes the commonly held myth that the tsar killed his son


Ivan the Terrible’s Library: Greatest Historical Mystery


Stalin’s Scheme to Glorify Ivan the Terrible

© The Moscow News. 04 October, 2013


 


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:12 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 4 October 2013 6:30 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 24 September 2013
Robbers Steal Shishkin, Korovin Paintings from Russian Museum
Topic: Russian Art


Masked robbers have stolen several paintings by renowned 19th and 20th century Russian artists from a local museum in central Russia, the Interior Ministry said on Monday.

Three masked men broke into the history and arts museum in the city of Vyazniki, about 300 kilometers (180 miles) east of Moscow Sunday evening, tied up a guard and stole several paintings by Ivan Shishkin, Konstantin Korovin and Stanislav Zhukovsky.

The ministry did not say which paintings were snatched, or how many were stolen.

An investigation has been launched.

In early June, Shishkin’s “Twilight” sold at MacDougall's auction house for £2.1 million (over $3.3 million), the highest recorded price for his work.

According to Interpol, Russia beats out France, Italy and Germany in the number of items stolen from its museums. Over the last 15 years, the Russian Interior Ministry estimates that nearly $1 billion worth of cultural works have been stolen from Russia and taken abroad.

For a more indepth look into how serious art theft has become in modern day Russia, please refer to the following article in Royal Russia News; 

Russia Tops European Countries in Art Theft

© Moscow News, Rossiyskaya Gazaeta. 24 September, 2013


 


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 5:59 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 24 September 2013 6:55 AM EDT
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Sunday, 28 July 2013
Celebrating Two Centuries of the Russian Academy of Arts
Topic: Russian Art

The Assembly Hall, Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg 

The Russian Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg, was founded in 1757 by Ivan Shuvalov under the name Academy of the Three Noblest Arts. The Empress Catherine II renamed it the Imperial Academy of Arts and commissioned a new building, completed 25 years later in 1789 by the Neva River.

The Academy of Arts was one of the most ambitious institutions of its time, enrolling students as young as five years old. A rare copy of the academy’s charter is owned by the British Library. Voice of Russia's Vivienne Nunis has been talking to some of the experts who think the academy deserves wider academic respect.

Celebrating Two Centuries of the Russian Academy of Arts

© Voice of Russia. 28 July, 2013


 


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:09 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 28 July 2013 7:32 PM EDT
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Thursday, 25 April 2013
Tretyakov Gallery Offers Special Exhibit on the Works of Mikhail Nesterov
Topic: Russian Art

 

Christ with Martha and Mary by Mikhail Nesterov (1911). Marfo-Mariinsky Convent, Moscow   

The Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow has opened its largest exhibition of the year devoted to the outstanding painter Mikhail Nesterov. Nesterov’s creative work reflects the major features of Russian national character and Russian nature, the exhibition organizers note.

“The content and the depth of Nesterov's art in many respects harmonize with the religious searches of Russian literature and philosophy at the turn of the 19th-20th centuries. The best embodiment of his art and moral ideals were expressed in his program picture “Vision of youth Bartholomew” (1889-1890), which opened a cycle of canvases devoted to Venerable Sergey Radonezhsky,” the museum’s website explains.

About 300 works from 24 museums of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and 9 private collections are on display at the exhibition. They demonstrate a wide range of creative interests of the master: pictures on religious themes, portraits, landscapes. Besides easel works, the exposition includes sketches for the paintings in the St. Vladimir's Cathedral in Kiev, in the church of the Protection of Our Lady in the Marfo-Mariinskaya Cloister of Sisters of Charity in Moscow and in the church of the Savior on Spilled Blood in St Petersburg. In his monumental canvases Nesterov combined the traditions of West European masters (in particular, English pre-Raphaelites, who followed the masters of the Early Renaissance epoch) with the national style of Russian neo-romanticism, appeared at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Many works are exhibited for the first time after they have been subjected to the most complicated restoration work. A number of valuable canvases and drawings have recently arrived to the collection of the Tretyakov Gallery and will become the true revelation for the public and experts.

© Russkiy Mir. 25 April, 2013



Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:11 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 25 April 2013 6:17 AM EDT
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Wednesday, 20 February 2013
Repin. A Russian Master's Life and Work in Finland
Topic: Russian Art

 

 Double portrait of Natalia Noordman and Ilya Repin (1903)

The exhibition Repin. A Russian Master's Life and Work in Finland has opened at the recently renovated Kadriorg Art Museum in Tallinn, Estonia. The exhibition, which was organised in collaboration with the Ateneum Art Museum of the Finnish National Gallery, introduces the distinguished artist Ilya Repin's paintings from his Finnish period, which have received less attention. 

"Ilya Repin's work is well-known among the Estonian public. However, it has been predominantly viewed through the prism of the Soviet Union's art policy, which was limited to the social and socially critical portion of the artist's work," Linda Lainvoo, one of the exhibition curators, said. "However, this exhibition focuses on the artist's more intimate paintings and helps us understand the background of Repin's craftsmanship. The artist, who was known for cultivating a realistic style of portrayal and socially critical subjects, is revealed at this exhibition as a sensitive portraitist and passionate drawer."

Repin. A Russian Master's Life and Work in Finland is based on the Repin collection at the Ateneum Art Museum, and is directly connected to the artist's home "Penates" in Karelia, as well as to Finnish history. The works have arrived at the museum as gifts, donations and purchases by the government. Through drawings that were completed at various period of his life, the exhibition also illustrates Repin's lifelong dedication to improving his art.

Ilya Repin (1844–1930) is one of the Russian artists whose work is renowned around the world. He is known primarily as a great realist, and his works, which often contain a socially critical subtext, provide a reflection of the daily lives of simple people and peasants.

The artist settled in Kuokkala, Karelia (today Repino, in the Russian Federation) in the early 20th century. Together with his life partner Natalia Nordmann (1863–1914), who was active in photography and literature, he established his home there, which soon became an active centre of cultural life. After Finland became independent, Repin became increasingly involved with the Finnish art scene and art community. In the 1920s, the artist, who was quite elderly, appeared at exhibitions in Russia and Finland. Despite many invitations from the Soviet Union, Repin did not leave Finland, remaining there until his death in 1930.

© Kadriorg Art Museum. 20 February, 2013


 

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:02 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 21 February 2013 7:05 AM EST
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Saturday, 29 December 2012
Russia Marks 180th Anniversary of the Birth of Pavel Tretyakov
Topic: Russian Art

 

Photo: A portrait of Pavel Tretyakov. Artist: Ilya Repin (1883) 

Pavel Tretyakov, the renowned art collector and founder of the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, was born 180 years ago. Together with his brother Sergei Mikhailovich, he collected paintings by Russian artists for over a quarter century, creating the most extensive private art gallery in Russia, which he then offered as a gift, along with the building housing it, to the city of Moscow.

Pavel Tretyakov was the son of a merchant and he received a good education at home. Having inherited his father’s business the young Pavel and his brother Sergei constructed a cotton mill that employed about 5,000 workers.
    
Pavel Tretyakov began to collect Russian art in the 1850s with the intention of donating it to the city. It is believed that he acquired his first Russian paintings in 1856: Nikolai Shilder’s “The Temptation” (1853) and Vasily Khudyakov’s “Skirmish with Finnish Smugglers” (1853). Later he added paintings by Savrasov, Trutovsky, Bruni, and other masters to the collection.

Tretyakov supported talented artists all over Russia and was a personal friend of many of them. He especially admired a number of young realist painters known as “Peredvizhniki” (the Itinerants or Wanderers). The Peredvizhniki artists tried to show the “true Russia” and acquaint common people with art. They protested against academic restrictions and resisted the belief that all art was centered in St. Petersburg.


Photo: The Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow is the foremost depository of Russian fine art in the world.

Although the Russian painting tradition had not been formed yet and resembled the great art tradition of Europe, Tretyakov truly believed in Russian art. Medieval Russian art was nearly forgotten and works of the Russian painters of that time were scattered across private collections abroad. Tretyakov’s goal was to represent the Russian painting school in its entirety.

In 1893 the collections of both brothers opened as “The Pavel and Sergey Tretyakov Municipal Gallery.” Shortly afterwards, Pavel Tretyakov presented both collections to the city of Moscow. “For me, as one who truly and fervently loves painting, there can be no greater desire than to lay the foundation of a publically accessible repository of fine arts that would bring benefit and pleasure to many,” he wrote. At that time, the Tretyakov brothers’ gift numbered 1287 Russian paintings, 518 drawings, 9 sculptures, 75 paintings and 9 drawings by foreign artists, valued at 1.43 million rubles.

Towards the end of his life, Tretyakov was given the title of commerce adviser, became a member of the Moscow branch of the Council of Trade and Manufactures, and also (from 1893) became a full member of the Petersburg Academy of Arts. He died in Moscow on December 4, 1898. The Tretyakov Gallery became the first publically accessible museum in Russia in which Russian painting was presented not as disparate works of art, but as a unified whole. Through his nearly half century of art collecting and support of the most talented and brilliant artists, Tretyakov had a tremendous influence on the formation and flourishing of Russian artistic culture in the second half of the nineteenth century.

© Russkiy Mir Foundation. 29 December, 2012



Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:53 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 29 December 2012 7:02 AM EST
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Sunday, 8 April 2012
Mikhail Nesterov Exhibit in St. Petersburg
Topic: Russian Art

 

View of the onion dome mosaic by Nesterov in the Church of the Saviour on Blood in St. Petersburg  

The Russian Museum has opened an exhibit coinciding with the 150th anniversary of the birth of painter Mikhail Nesterov. The creative oeuvre of the painter that was connected with religious and philosophic searches of the so-called Silver Age of the Russian culture revealed to a viewer the wonderful poetical world of the Orthodox monasteries and Old-believing cells, fascination of the nature of Middle Russia and the inspired beauty of the national character. The best characteristics of a creative person had found their embodiment in the images of the artist’s famous contemporaries. These works are regarded as the classics of the portrait genre in Russian art.

Nesterov created frescoes and mosaics for the Holy Protection Cathedral at the Martha and Mary Convent in Moscow 

The exhibition includes about 200 paintings and graphic works from the collections of the Russian Museum, the State Tretyakov Gallery, the State Art Museum of the Republic of Bashkiria, the State Picture Gallery of Astrahan, the State Museum of the History of Religion, the Scientific-Research Museum of the Russian Academy of Arts, the State Historical, �rt and Literary Museum Reserve Abramtsevo, the Tver Regional Picture Gallery, the Church and Archeology Cabinet of the Moscow Orthodox Ecclesiastical Academy, the State Museum Reverse Pavlovsk, the State Museum Reverse Peterhof, and from the private collections.

From 1890 to 1910, Nesterov lived in Kiev and St. Petersburg where he worked on frescoes and mosaics in St. Vladimir's Cathedral and the Church of the Saviour on Blood. After 1910, he spent the remainder of his life in Moscow, working in the Martha and Mary Convent. 

As a devout Orthodox Christian, Nesterov could never accept the Bolshevik Revolution but remained in Russia until his death in 1942.  

© Russkiy Mir Foundation & Paul Gilbert. 08 April, 2012



Posted by Paul Gilbert at 11:32 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 8 April 2012 11:44 AM EDT
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Friday, 9 March 2012
Volkswagen Funds Hunt for Russian Art Lost in World War II
Topic: Russian Art

 

Peterhof Palace in 1944, after the destruction by German troops in World War II. The palace is among the museums benefiting from a research project funded by Volkswagen and German government foundations to try to track down art treasures lost in the war.

Volkswagen AG is providing funding of 600,000 Euros ($794,000) for a joint German-Russian research project to track down Russian art treasures lost in World War II, a statement from two state-owned funding bodies said.

Volkswagen-Stiftung, the research-sponsorship arm of Europe’s biggest carmaker, will fund 75 percent of the 800,000 euro costs, with the rest coming from the two German state-owned funding institutions – the State’s Cultural Foundation and the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation.

Russian museums lost hundreds of thousands of artworks and cultural treasures through plunder and destruction by German troops in World War II. The project will bring Russian and German historians and art historians together to comb the archives of both countries, as well as of the western allies.

“We have high hopes that we will not only gain new historical insights, but will also find traces leading to individual artworks,” the Russian museum curators were quoted in today’s statement. “Despite efforts to register losses and our own research, we still rely on assumptions and speculation. This project is a breakthrough.”

The research begins with the museums of Novgorod and Pskov as well as the royal palaces at Catherine Park, Gatchina, Pavlovsk and the Peterhof Palace, according to the statement.

© Bloomberg. 09 March, 2012


 


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:25 AM EST
Updated: Friday, 9 March 2012 7:28 AM EST
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