On the 150th anniversary of the birth of the painter, graphic artist and muralist, Mikhail Nesterov, the State Tretyakov Gallery with the support of EUROCEMENT group opened a grand exhibit entitled ‘In search of his own Russia’ displaying the artist’s works. The exhibition features some 300 works from 24 museums in Russia, Ukraine , Belarus, and 10 private collections. For the first time ever the painting ‘Golgotha’ (1900) was put on display. A sophisticated restoration of this painting was performing under EUROCEMENT group’s sponsorship.
‘In search of his own Russia’ shows a wide range of Mikhail Nesterov’s artistic interests: paintings on religious themes, portraits and landscapes. In addition to its easy paintings, the exhibition includes sketches of temple murals and mosaics. A number of valuable paintings and graphic works that belonged to Nesterov’s granddaughter and the Schusev family have recently entered the collection of the State Tretyakov Gallery. Many works had been specially restored for the exhibition such as ‘The Youth of St. Sergius’ (1892-1897 , TG) and ‘Golgotha’ (1900 , TG) .
‘EUROCEMENT group and the State Tretyakov Gallery are long-time partners. During the seven years of our collaboration we have implemented a large number of outstanding projects. Among them is the exhibition of works by Marc Chagall, and a monograph on the works of George Dawe. I’m sure that the Mikhail Nesterov exhibit, which was first demonstrated at the Tretyakov Gallery in full, will be something completely new for the general public and professionals," - said Mikhail Skorokhod, the President of EUROCEMENT group at the exhibit’s opening.
There are nine sections of the exhibition organized chronologically, by genre and theme that demonstrate Mikhail Nesterov’s creative works in a variety of artistic quests, hobbies and occupations : " Beginning of the road (1877-1886) ", "The establishment of own theme", " The cycle of Sergius of Radonezh " , "Novel in colors" , " In the space of cathedrals ", " Portraits of the modern era ( 1900s ) ," " After 1917 ," " Portraits 1921-1941 years ", " Documentary and biographical section".
A large-scale painting "In Rus (Soul of the people) " ( 1914-1916 , TG) was the centerpiece. It appears as a collective image of Russia: a kind of procession bringing together people of different ages, social classes and conditions and typical figures of Russian history that embody the national spirit.
The most important sections of the exhibition are devoted to the portraits painted by Nesterov. Among the best works of this genre - " Portrait of the Artist's Daughter , OM Nesterova ( Amazon) " (1906 , RM), and a double portrait of the" Philosophers "(1917 , TG) depicting religious thinkers PA Florensky and SN Bulgakov. This work was a harbinger of a brilliant gallery of images made by his contemporaries created by the artist in the 1920s - early 1940s and is considered the top portrait of the time. There are portraits of the artist V. Vasnetsov (1925), physiologist I Pavlov (1935), sculptor V. Mukhina (1940), the architect Alexander Schusev (1941 , all - TG) and many others.
Also for the first time (approximately 100 sheets) there all are sketches and preparatory cartons (approximately 100 sheets) showing Nesterov monumental works, which have become a new word in church art. The most significant among them is in the Vladimir Cathedral in Kiev, in the church of Alexander Nevsky in Abastuman (Georgia), the Church of the Intercession of the Virgin in the Martha and Mary Convent of Mercy in Moscow, the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Sumy (Ukraine) and sketches of mosaics in the Church of the Resurrection (Savior on Blood ) in St. Petersburg. In the paintings of the master one can trace lyricism and intimacy inherent in his work. At the same time, they joined the tradition of Western art, in particular the English Pre-Raphaelite, and the Russian national style of neo-romanticism took shape at the turn of the XIX- XX centuries.
A special edition album was created for the exhibit, which included more than 400 illustrations, reproducing paintings, watercolors, drawings, archival photographs. For the first time ever a new series of dating works have been published. In addition to the exhibition there is an educational program that includes lectures, meetings with experts in the exhibition, guided tours, thematic concerts and art practice in the art studio.
Mikhail Nesterov’s works occupy a particular page in the history of the Silver Age. The art search of the artist were in line with the national-romantic movement of national symbolism and art nouveau. The most important features of the Russian character and nature of Russia reflected in the artist's works. By its content and depth the art of Nesterov is in tune with religious quest of Russian writers and philosophers of the turn of XIX-XX centuries. And later, in the rigid ideological framework of the 1920's - early 1940 's, the artist went on to claim the humanistic ideals with his works.
Mikhail Nesterov comes from a wealthy merchant family from Ufa with strong Orthodox traditions, which largely determined the future of the inner world of the artist. An even greater role in the development of his personality played the nature of his native land – the Cis-Ural region. The lack of commercial talent kept Nesterov from participating in his family’s trading business. In 1877, as a fifteen-year adolescent, he entered the Moscow School of Painting , Sculpture and Architecture, the atmosphere of which was determined by V.G. Perov, the favorite teacher Nesterov. Under the influence of the master and the traditions of the Itinerants, the young artist became interested in the genre painting , but saw no opportunity to express his individuality trough it. Soon he found a range of themes close to himself, and the style associated with the new age, the era of Art Nouveau and Symbolism.
Nesterov defined the essence of his art as poeticized realism. The artist was always touched by the images that embodied the idea of moral perfection of the man, his spiritual undertaking. The most profound and artistically sophisticated were the works in which Nesterov created a poetic myth of Holy Russia, not concretized in a historical context, which was a kind of ‘timeless ideal of the original fusion of human existence with the life of wilderness" for him.
First Nesterov discovered his own theme in the painting “The Hermit" (1888-1889 , TG) , where the man and nature are in harmony and unity . The artistic and moral ideals of brightened colors of the landscape and the fragile figure of a boy give the painting a certain flatness, almost immaterialness, connecting lyricism and monumentality in the work. The piece opened a cycle dedicated to St. Sergius of Radonezh , "The Youth of St. Sergius " (1892-1897) , "The works of the St. Sergius " (1896-1897 , both - TG) , " St. Sergius of Radonezh " (1891-1899 , RM). This cycle is adjacent to the work "Murdered Tsarevich Dmitry" (1899 , RM) , where the image is on the verge of a real and iconic images. The characters of Nesterov are in a state of the “quietest inner prayer’, which the artist conveys, using a restrained range of colors: green , pink , blue and cyan. Nesterov admitted that he avoided to portray "strong passions" , preferring "our quiet landscape, a man living an inner life". His landscapes are imbued with similar contemplative mood: "Silence" (1903 ), "Fox " (1914 , both - TG) , "Homeland of Aksakov" (1914, Nesterov Bashkir State Art Museum, Ufa) .
The painter worked much on pieces devoted to the fate of Russian women. The exhibition brought such paintings together for the first time ever: “Novel in colors", " At the Mountains" (1896 , Kiev National Museum of Russian Art) , "The great shear" ( 1898, RM ), "Beyond the Volga" ( 1905, Astrakhan State Art Gallery . Dogadina PM ) .
A special cycle includes thr pictures of people leaving from the bustle of the world: “The bride of Christ " (1886 , private collection) , "Evening Bells" (1910 , Vyatka Art Museum . VM and AM Vasnetsov ), "Elder. Servant of God Abraham" (1914-1916 , Samara Regional Art Museum). These works are full of harmony and deep sadness. In the literature, these images are embodied by F.M. Dostoevsky , N.S. Leskov , P.I. Melnikov-Pechersky. Nesterov discovered this theme in painting.