Russian Culture: 1800-60
The first three rooms contain exhibits which give a general picture
of the social history of Russia in the first quarter of the nineteenth
century. There are portraits of the representatives of the main social
classes of the Russian state, examples of costumes of that period, and
also prints showing towns and villages.
A rare collection of drawings and water-colours illustrates the War of
1812. On the walls are portraits of those who fought in the war. Also of
interest are sets of caricatures by I. Terebenev, I. Ivanov and A. Venetsia-
nov, displayed in the glass cases,
Room 177 reflects the activities of the Decembrists. Only the most
significant material is on show, that illustrating the more important stages
of the Decembrist movement, which influenced the further development
of the revolutionary ideas. V. Timm's picture 14th December 1825
occupies the central place, being one of the few canvases on that subject
painted in the nineteenth century.
In this room there is also a beautiful suite of furniture typical of those
to be seen in the houses of the rich at the beginning of the century, silk
wall panels, bronzes and porcelain.
Room 178 is a library in English style. The walnut furnishings were
made in 1894 at the Meltzer Furniture Factory in St Petersburg.
Rooms 179-182 are devoted to the flowering of the arts and sciences
in Russia in the first half and middle of the nineteenth century. One's
attention is drawn to a bronze bust of Pushkin, cast from I. Vitali's
original in 1841-42. This stands out as one of the best sculpture por-
traits of Pushkin, both by its artistic mastery and by the expressiveness
with which the sculptor conveys Pushkin's poetic inspiration.
Portraits of Gogol, Saltykov-Shchedrin, A. Ostrovsky, Goncharov
and I. Turgenev witness to the flowering of Russian literature, criticism
and theatre. Under the Portrait of Gogol, painted in the early 1840s by
F. Miiller, is displayed a copy of the prose poem Dead Souls, published
in 1842, and also A. Agin's delightful drawings for that work.
The Portrait of I. S. Turgenev is interesting in that it was drawn from
life by the German artist K. Lessing during Turgenev's stay at Baden
spa in 1876.
Room 183 contains works typical of Russian folk art in the first half
of the nineteenth century, with its highly distinctive qualities and cen-
turies-old traditions. One's attention is drawn to a collection of distaffs
in a wide variety of shapes and patterns, made by unknown masters from
various Russian provinces. The first half of the eighteenth century saw
the flowering of many forms of folk art, in particular wood-carving,
pottery, weaving, needlework, and decorative lacquerwork.
In room 184 are displayed architect's drawings, prints, lithographs
and paintings which acquaint the viewer with the work of the greatest
architects of the first half of the nineteenth century, and with the archi-
tectural aspect of Russian towns and cities at that time.
Room 185 contains numerous exhibits which illustrate the great
achievements of Russian applied art in the first half of the nineteenth
century. These objects have the distinctive simplicity, organic harmony
and clarity of line which are characteristic of Russian Classicism. An ex-
ample of this style is provided by a suite of gilt furniture with upholstery
produced at the St Petersburg Tapestry Workshop in 1806. The two
tapestries representing Saturn and Aurora also belong to this suite and
the ensemble adorned one of the rooms in the Winter Palace.
An important role in interior design was played by bronze: chande-
liers, candelabra and vases. Those produced at the Imperial Glass Works
were particularly renowned. At the beginning of the nineteenth century
the famous architect Rossi became chief designer for that factory-the
oldest in the country. The large cut-glass vases, the candelabra and
standard lamps in this room were made from his drawings. Articles from
the Imperial Glass Works are notable for the rich effect of the faceted
glass which harmonizes with the gilded bronze setting.
Some of the finest examples of Russian porcelain are displayed in the
cases by the window. Besides articles produced by the Imperial Porcelain
Factory, St Petersburg, there are items from the private factories of
Gardner, Batenin, Popov, as well as ivory carvings and articles made of
tortoise-shell and horn.
Room 186. The paintings, prints and miniatures in this room
illustrate the development of Russian artistic life in the first half of the
nineteenth century. The distinguished Russian artist of the first half of
the nineteenth century Briullov (1799-1852) is represented by the
Portrait of Bobrinskaya. There are also works by his pupils Kapkov
(1816-1854) and Orlov (1812-1863), and by the talented serf artists
Tropinin (1776-1857), Argunov (1771-1829) and Tulov. The work
of the pupils of Venetsianov is also well represented.
There are also interesting pictures of interiors in the Winter Palace,
a rare collection of which is preserved in the Hermitage.
In room 187 are exhibits illustrating the disintegration of the feudal
system in Russia in the middle of the nineteenth century. Water-colours
and lithographs by Timm (1810-1895) and Filippov (1830-1878)
portray various episodes in the Crimean War of 1853-56, the heroism
of the soldiers defending Sevastopol.
The fine portraits by Gay (1831 - 1894), founder member of the
Society for Circulating Art Exhibitions, are a reminder of the awakening
of social consciousness in Russia, of the new ideas for the reform of the
old system. These portraits depict Herzen and Nekrasov. There is also
a portrait of Chernyshevsky (?) by Petrov (1833-1882).
The exhibition ends with a display of material relating to the peasant
reform of 1861.
A selection of Russian seventeenth to twentieth century objets d'art
is displayed in the Gold Room.