Leo Tolstoy’s Literary MuseumRussian: Literaturnyi muzey Lva Nikolaevicha Tolstogo or Литературный музей Льва Николаевича Толстого, a small two-storey building dating back to the 19th century, is located in the very heart of Moscow, on Prechistenka StreetRussian: ulitsa Prechistenka or улица Пречистенка. Unlike the Tolstoy MuseumRussian: muzey-usadba L. Tolstogo or музей-усадьба Л. Толстого in KhamovnikiRussian: Хамовники District, which is focused primarily on Tolstoy’s private life, the museum on Prechistenka Street focuses on Tolstoy’s literary career and life, as well as the historical setting in which he lived and worked.
The building accommodating the museum is a fine example of Moscow civil architecture typical of the period following the Great Fire of Moscow (1812)during the war between the Russian Empire and Napoleonic France on the territory of Russia in 1812. The estate premises used to take up a much larger area belonging to the Lopukhins, a wealthy noble family, whose name was given to a nearby lane. The main house faced Prechistenka Street, followed by an outbuilding, and further on a garden with various utility structures and vegetable garden beds at the back.
The main house on the estate was rebuilt between 1817 and 1822 when the owner’s son, Vasily Lopukhin, got married – this explains the relief on the façade depicting the worship of Cupid and the paintings on the lampshades of the grand bedroom imitating ivy-wrapped gazebos, both typical of early 19th-century wedding-related design themes. For the sake of economy, the house was built of wood, but all its decorative elements imitate stone architecture (e.g. columns, rustication between windows).
Exhibition at the literary museum
The Leo Tolstoy Museum opened on Prechistenka Street in 1920, based on the Historical MuseumRussian: Istoricheskiy muzey or Исторический музей’s exhibition devoted to Leo Tolstoy’s life and work. The museum boasts a unique collection, which includes Tolstoy’s personal archive totaling 170 thousand manuscript pages, as well as visual art and literary exhibits. The museum draws on this vast collection to organize thematic shows and is the core basis of its permanent exhibition. Presented in such a way as to provide visitors with as much information as possible about both Tolstoy’s life and his literary legacy, all exhibits occupy a suite of rooms that have preserved their original furniture and decorations (lampshade paintings, fireplaces, columns, etc.).
As you enter the first exhibition room, you find yourself in the so-called ‘Egyptian anteroom’ featuring Tolstoy’s family tree, along with the portrait of Pyotr Tolstoy, an associate of Peter the Greatruled from 1682 until 1725’s and the first count in the Tolstoy family.
The next room – the grand hall – presents canvases by I. Repin, M. Nesterov, and other famous 19th and 20th century painters, with views of the estate of Yasnaya Polyana and portraits of Leo Tolstoy. The third room – formerly, the grand study – is dedicated to Tolstoy’s childhood, spent at Yasnaya Polyanathe former home of Leo Tolstoy 200 kilometres from Moscow, and echoed in Tolstoy’s first novel ChildhoodRussian: Detstvo or Детство, as well as to his adolescence and military service in the Caucasusa region located at the border of Europe and Asia, situated between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea.
The fourth room – the grand parlour – focuses on Tolstoy’s best-known novel War and PeaceRussian: Voyna i mir or Война и мир. On display are pages from the manuscript, the first edition of the novel, and a number of illustrations made by M. Bashilov on Tolstoy’s advice, as well as those by L. Pasternak and other artists.
The fifth room is the grand bedroom of the Lopukhins. It is no coincidence, therefore, that it is devoted to the recurring theme of family which pervades Tolstoy’s works in general, and his novel Anna KareninaRussian: Анна Каренина, in particular. On the walls hang portraits of Pushkin’s daughter M. Hartung, whose physique Tolstoy superimposed on the character of Anna Karenina, and of M. Dyakova-Sukhotina, whose name is associated with one of the first divorce cases in Russia.
The following rooms have been transformed into exhibition rooms and allow visitors to explore Tolstoy’s spiritual transformation, the later years of his life, his last literary works, and the last period of his life and creative activity. You can watch genuine video footage of Tolstoy in 1908 through to 1910 and see portraits of his family members. The museum has also mounted a separate exhibition covering the last thirty years of Tolstoy’s life. His work on A ConfessionRussian: Ispoved or Исповедь marked the beginning of this creative period, which lasted until Tolstoy’s death in 1910, with the publication of over hundred profound, dramatic and philosophical works, including The Death of Ivan IlyichRussian: Smert Ivana Ilicha or Смерть Ивана Ильича, The Kreutzer SonataRussian: Kreytserova sonata or Крейцерова соната, the novel ResurrectionRussian: Voskreseniye or Воскресение, and many more.
Today, the Museum is engaged in intense research and awareness-raising activities, holding regular conferences, seminars, public lectures, concerts, meetings with film and theatre actors and directors. Guests are always welcomed, including kids and teenagers who are offered guided tours and interactive classes related not only to Leo Tolstoy and his literary works, but also to mid-19th-century Moscow. The museum blends the distant past and present-day technology – visitors are offered, among other things, a free audio tour accessible on smartphones operating on iOs and Android platforms. For further details check the official website of the museum.
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