The museum of the great Russian artist V.A. Tropinin is located in ZamoskvorechyeRussian: Замоскворечье, a historical district of Moscow. This area has long been famous for its mansions, gardens, and its quiet and slow-paced lifestyle. The museum is located in a 19th century building characteristic of a Moscow merchant mansion. It contains true masterpieces of 18-19th century fine art as well as unique furniture, porcelain, bronze and glass artworks. Its permanent display exhibits works by prominent masters including A. Briullov, O. Kiprensky, I. Aivazovsky, F. Rokotoff, V. Tropinin, etc.
The museum is famed for its unique, “intimate” atmosphere and the arrangement of its contents. It is one of the few museums where almost all the paintings are exhibited without glass protection. Therefore, there is no barrier between the viewer and the paintings, making the colour and distinctive stroke techniques very easy to see. Nearby are OrdynkaRussian: Ордынка street, the Garden RingRussian: Sadovoe Koltso, or Садовое кольцо, many well-known Moscow mansions and churches, the Israeli and Cuban embassies, and St Catherine ChurchRussian: khram svyatoy Ekateriny, or храм св. Екатерины – the mission of the United States Orthodox Church.
The museum was opened on the basis of the unique collection belonging to Moscow art patron Felix Vishnevsky, who was a well-known connoisseur of Russian art. Its opening was also due to the generosity of Nicholai Petukhov, who bequeathed Vishnevsky the mansion, which his family had owned since the 19th century.
In fact, Felix Vishnevsky saved many of the objects which are now the crown jewels of the museum. These objects came to him in a terribly run-down state; he often found them in rubbish heaps and brought back to life. On 11 February 1971, the Museum of V.A. Tropinin and other Moscow artists of his timeRussian: muzey V.A. Tropinina i moskovskikh khudozhnikov ego vremeni or музей В.А. Тропинина и московских художников его времени was opened in Moscow. Continuing on with his generous spirit, Vishnevsky gifted several hundred priceless paintings to the city.
The building housing the museum is recognized as a monument of history and culture of the second half of the 19th – early 20th centuries. It is the Maslennikov-Petukhovs’ urban estate. It comprises a stone house with a wooden attic and an annex. A distinctive feature of the house is a beautiful portico serving as the entrance to the museum. This house showcases the lifestyle of the elite at the time. The small cozy rooms display not only paintings but also pieces of furniture, crockery, old chandeliers and candlesticks, boxes, and beaded embroidery. These objects help to turn the exhibition space into an example of the Moscow merchant style which took shape in the 19th century and was so widespread in Zamoskvorechye.
Vasily Tropinin is thought to be the founder of the “Moscow Style” of fine art and the intimate portrait. His paintings typically feature an individual, his or her unique personality and feelings. For the first time in its history, Russian art began to address a person’s inner world and displayed genuine insights into human psychology.
Vasily Tropinin is acknowledged to be one of the best Russian paintings. He was a serf, but showed talent for drawing very early in his life; he dreamt of studying in Italy. His master, Count Morkov, allowed him to attend the Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg. However, Tropinin never received a formal education. Instead, he painted the Count’s mansions and decorated the cakes served at the Count’s table. With time, Tropinin’s paintings became widely known, and his artwork drew the attention of the court. A number of art patrons and writers stood up for him, and the Count was in the end obliged to release Tropinin. He was set free quite late in his life at 46 years old, and at that point he was already a renowned artist. After moving to Moscow, Tropinin began to paint portraits in earnest, and there are now 3,000 of his known works. He often painted state officials, merchants, and nobles. He made a good income painting, and soon he was able to liberate his family from serfdom. Pushkin’s, KarmelyukUkrainian peasant’s, Karamzina Russian writer, poet, historian and critic’s and BerRussian doctor’s portraits, as well as the painting “The LacemakerRussian: Кружевница” are among his best-known works. The house where Tropinin spent 30 years of his life is located on VolkhonkaRussian: Волхонка street in the city centre, which is why his portraits often depict the Kremlin and other Moscow cityscapes.
Apart from V. Tropinin’s works, the museum exhibits masterpieces by Alexander Briullov, Orest Kiprensky, Ivan Argunov, Aleksey Antropov, Ivan Aivazovsky, Fyodor Rokotoff, Dmitry Levitsky, Vladimir Borovikovsky, and Sylvester Shchedrin. There are also works by lesser-known artists such as the serf painter Vasily Raev, and others.
The main museum exhibition, called “Masterpieces of Painting of 18-19th Century MoscowRussian: Shedevry khudozhestvennoy kultury Moskvy XVIII-XIX vv. or Шедевры художественной культуры Москвы XVIII‒XIX вв”, is housed in four halls. In the first two, you will find paintings by Tropinin and other artists of his time. The third hall is devoted to 18-19th century painters. The other hall exhibits drawings and miniature paintings, and the rest of the premises are used to host short-term exhibitions. You can see, for instance, famous miniature portraits painted on bone, the busts of Potemkina Russian military leader, statesman, nobleman and favourite of Catherine the Great and Catherine IIEmpress of Russia from 1762 until 1796, the country's longest-ruling female leader and its most renowned and Sokolov’s watercolour painting depicting Elizaveta Vorontsova, who inspired Pushkin to write numerous poems.
In addition to paintings, numerous samples of 18-19th century furniture, bronze, and glass artworks are also on display. Of particular interest is the collection of porcelain. You will see expensive 19th century tableware arranged beautifully in oak cupboards. There is, for example, a French set painted with allegorical images that symbolise the spectrum of human personality: a jay stands for a talkative person, a wolf embodies ruthlessness, a fox symbolises a cunning person, etc. Antique mirrors and chandeliers and tastefully arranged furniture serve to recreate the atmosphere of a cozy residential house from the 19th century.
A self-portrait greets you at the entrance to the exhibition; in fact, it was painted by Tropinin when he was liberated from serfdom. He depicts himself holding paint brushes and a palette in his hands and peering carefully at his model, trying to grasp the delicate features of her character. He portrays himself against the backdrop of the Moscow Kremlin, emphasising his love for the capital.
“The Lacemaker” is a well-known masterpiece, and is also on display in the museum. This is an incredibly emotionally charged work; it depicts a common girl with bobbins on her thin fingers. Her sly, inquisitive look captures the imagination of the viewer. Another famous painting is “The Girl with a DogRussian: Devochka s sobakoy or Девочка с собакой”, depicting the renowned General Rimsky-Korsakov’s granddaughter. The painting is attributed to the earlier period of Troponin’s creative career, perhaps even as far back as the time he spent studying at the Academy of Arts. Among his later works, the portrait of composer A. Alyabiyev deserves special attention. It reflects the artist’s commitment to romanticizing his characters. Black clothes and a look full of sorrow against the backdrop of dark colours precisely convey the Alyabiyev’s low spirits during some of the hardest periods of his life. Deprived of his noble title and the honours of the war of 1812the war between the Russian Empire and Napoleonic France on the territory of Russia in 1812 and sent into exile for his relations with the DecembristsRussian revolutionaries who led an unsuccessful uprising on Dec. 14 1825, he joylessly lived the last years of his life outside of Moscow. However, in Tropinin’s portrait he is not broken. In contrast, despite all the bitterness of the circumstances in which he found himself, he is instead dignified.
Another painting worth looking at is O. Hoffmann and Y. Klever’s “Moscow. Kremlin. Festive IlluminationRussian: Moskva. Kreml'. Prazdnichnaya illyuminatsiya or Москва. Кремль. Праздничная иллюминация”, painted in 1883. The painting was inspired by the electrical illumination marking the coronation of Alexander IIIthe Emperor of Russia from 1881 until his death in 1894, which roused the imagination of Moscovites. It was the first time that the Kremlin was illuminated by spotlights and light bulbs. After this, electric lighting became fashionable in Moscow.
The Tropinin Museum is very much cohesive with the style of Moscow in general; it is cozy and welcoming, full of endearing things ranging from the bobik tablea small table resembling a bean to beaded knick-knacks, which were an integral part of the 19th century court noble lifestyle.
The museum runs both general and themed guided tours, drawing workshops, scientific lectures, adventure games for children and concerts of classical music. Also on offer is an exciting tour of the surrounding area called “The Mansions of ZamoskvorechyeRussian: Osobnyaki Zamoskvorechya or Особняки Замоскворечья”.
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