Originally from TaganrogRussian: Таганрог, Anton Chekhov eventually came to Moscow and developed a strong bond with the city. In Moscow, he truly developed his writing and playwriting skills and ascended to fame. At the request of his relatives, the first room dedicated to him was opened at the Rumyantsev MuseumRussian: Rumyantsevskiy muzey or Румянцевский музей library in the spring of 1912. Subsequently, the Chekhov House MuseumRussian: Dom-muzey Chekhova or Дом-музей Чехова appeared in 1954 in the mansion on Sadovo-Kudrinskaya Street,Russian: Sadovo-Kudrinskaya ulitsa or Садово-Кудринская улица where the writer lived from 1886 to 1890.
His house still contains the original furniture, décor and personal effects of the close-knit Chekhov family. An friendly, academic and welcoming atmosphere prevails throughout the house, serving to attract visitors just as it attracted guests in his day. The museum is of interest not only to admirers of Chekhov, but also to those who want to know more about Moscow’s way of life in the late 19th century.
To Moscow, to Moscow
While studying in a grammar school in his hometown, Anton Chekhov wrote about his first visit to Moscow: ‘As soon as I graduate from school, I’ll fly to Moscow on my wings, I really liked it’. And so it was; after graduating, Chekhov entered the medical faculty of the Moscow UniversityRussian: Moskovskiy universitet or Московский университет and combined his studies with writing. His affection for Moscow grew stronger every day, and soon he wrote: ‘Those who get used to this city, will never leave it. I am a Muscovite forever’. Many of Chekhov’s literary characters are depicted as rushing ‘to Moscow, to Moscow, to Moscow’.
In the meantime, however, the life of the Chekhov family in Moscow was not easy. They were of modest means and changed apartments frequently; they stayed on SretenkaRussian: Сретенка for a while, then moved to Bolshaya YakimankaRussian: Большая Якиманка Street in the historical ZamoskvorechyeRussian: Замоскворечье area. The apartment there was damp, cold and far from the editorial offices of the magazines Chekhov worked with. So, in 1886 the Chekhov family rented an apartment at 6 Sadovaya-Kudrinskaya Street, in a house built in 1874: ‘I live in Kudrino… in Korneev’s house, it resembles a chest of drawers. The colour of the house is liberal, that is red’. Chekhov really liked it here: ‘The place is clean, quiet and not too far from anywhere’. Indeed, at that moment, Sadovaya-Kudrinskaya, created in the 1820s on the site of a former earthworks was a quiet, empty, wide and very green street. Chekhov lived here for four years before his famous journey to the island of SakhalinRussian: Сахалин, where he went to find out more about the life of convicts. This was the time of his creative heyday; here, he wrote his plays IvanovRussian: Иванов and The Wood DemonRussian: Leshiy or Леший, a long story called The SteppeRussian: Step' or Степь, vaudevilles The BearRussian: Medved' or Медведь, The ProposalRussian: Predlozhenie or Предложение, The WeddingRussian: Svad'ba or Свадьба, short stories LightsRussian: Ogni or Огни, The Name-day PartyRussian: Imeniny or Именины, A Boring StoryRussian: Skuchnaya istoriya or Скучная история and many others. The writer was able to invite friends to his house, and he wrote ‘When you’re in Moscow, come over for a cup of tea, lunch and dinner’. Many writers, artists, actors and musicians visited the “chest of drawers”: V. Korolenko, V. Gilyarovsky, I. Levitan, F. Schechtel, P. Tchaikovsky, V. Nemirovich-Danchenko.
Having collected rich materials during his trip to Sakhalin, Chekhov did not return to this house. In Moscow, he lived at Malaya DmitrovkaRussian: Малая Дмитровка street in the village of MelikhovoRussian: Мелихово, where there is another museum dedicated to his life and works.
Alive and eternal
The Chekhov family occupied both floors of the building on Sadovo-Kudrinskaya street, where they lived through many happy times. Today, the rooms of the house are exactly as they were during his lifetime. The study and Chekhov’s bedroom, the hallway, the staircase, ‘as in the Assembly of the Nobility’, the rooms of his brother and sister and the living room were reconstructed based on the drawings and descriptions of his sister Maria and brother Mikhail. In the museum, you can see editions of Chekhov’s work published during his lifetime, unique photographs, posters, and the personal belongings of Chekhov’s family.
The most interesting thing in this house is, of course, Chekhov’s study. He spent a lot of time here, and as a friend of his recalled, ‘he sits and writes, writes, writes. He writes each and every day… Sometimes, if there are no house calls, he’ll stay indoors for the entire day. An awful hard worker’. Here, Chekhov not only wrote his stories and plays but also saw his patients, as evidenced by the sign on the wall of the house: ‘Dr. A.P. Chekhov’. In his study, there are candlesticks shaped like dragons, fishing supplies and an inkpot with a figure of a horse given to him, according to legend, by one of his female patients. The story goes that Dr. Chekhov not only refused to accept payment from her, but also gave money her for the medicine she needed. On his desk there is an autographed photo of Tchaikovsky. Chekhov was a great admirer of him; he wanted to dedicate his collection of short stories Gloomy peopleRussian: Khmurye ludi or Хмурые люди to Tchaikovsky and was thrilled when the composer, who lived nearby, visited him in his house in Kudrino.
Other members of Chekhov’s family who lived with him in this house were his mother (Chekhov wrote about her: ‘Our talent comes from our father, our soul – from our mother’); his beloved sister Maria Pavlovna (MaPa), who dedicated her entire life, 90 long years, to her brother; and his brother Mikhail — a law student and Chekhov’s assistant (Chekhov called his room a secret office). Being a multi-talented person, Mikhail not only captured the house on Sadovaya-Kudrinskaya in his watercolours, but also became Chekhov’s first biographer (he wrote the book Around ChekhovRussian: Vokrug Chekhova or Вокруг Чехова). Chekhov’s other brother Nikolai — a talented artist whose paintings can be seen on the walls of the living room — used to come round as well, but sadly he passed away before his time. Some pets also lived in the Kudrino house — for example, a cat called Fyodor Timofeich, featured in the short story KashtankaRussian: Каштанка.
The Chekhov family did not live a wealthy life, but it was a life filled with harmony and fun. Three times a day — during breakfast, lunch and dinner — the whole family gathered in the dining room, had lively conversations and shared their news. Family members were the first readers of Chekhov’s works.
All guests who visited them noted the sincerity, comfort, warmth and talent of this family. Poet Aleksey Pleshcheyev lovingly called them ‘Sweet Chekhiameaning Czech Republic’.© 2016-2018 moscovery.com