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Thursday, 22 August 2013
Exhibition: August Draughtsmen at the Yelagin Palace
Topic: Yelagin Palace


The Yelagin Palace in St. Petersburg is currently hosting August Draughtsmen, a unique exhibition which tells the story of a little-known page of the private lives of the Romanovs—art work created by members of the Russian Imperial family at home. The exhibit features nearly 200 paintings, drawings and sketches created by 50 members of the Imperial family from the period 1787 - 1917. 

Home painting became a popular pastime and an essential element in the cultural education of the Tsarist period, particularly among members of the Imperial family and the aristocracy. Among the works presented in this exhibition are watercolours by Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna, colour sketches of Princess Irina Alexandrovna, the granddaughter of the Emperor Alexander III, fictional landscapes by the sons of Alexander II and Alexander III and, of course, postcards, drawn by Grand Duchesses Olga and Elizabeth Feodorovna. At the beginning of the 20th century, postcards were popular, and during World War I, they were sold with the proceeds benefiting charities.

"They learned to draw, like many children, about three or four years of age - says the curator Maria Sorokina. - They were given coloured pencils, and they drew. They drew their nannies, tutors, or members of their families. They also painted, which taught them to recognize colours." 

“Even the grand dukes and emperors learnt to draw. As future military leaders they must be able to handle a pencil to competently produce drawings. Therefore, from the age of seven - two lessons a week, academic drawing was required. The August members drew their favourite places, room interiors, portraits of friends and tutors, and later their loved ones.”

The exhibit tells the simple story from the first "trial pen", teaching studios, copies of drawings and interior sketches, travel sketches, and illustrations which exemplify the independent creative work of their respective August artists. The works present varying degrees of professionalism, the majority being those of the grand dukes and grand duchesses created during their childhood and youth, which have been preserved in the Romanov Funds of the State Archives of the Russian Federation. They reflect not only the inner world of their creators, but also scenes of Russian life, private household scenes, lyrical impressions of travel and naturalistic drawings.

The Yelagin Palace Museum has also integrated a selection of vintage photographs, graphics and pieces of decorative art from their own archives which depict members of the Imperial family who are highlighted in this exhibition. 
 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 22 August, 2013
 

 

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:40 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 22 August 2013 10:16 AM EDT
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