ST PETTERSBURG GALLERY

RUSSIAN PORTRAITS OF THE 18th-20th CENTURIES

2nd October 2014 – 24th January 2015

St. Petersburg Gallery is proud to present the new exhibition “Russian Portraits of the 18th- 20th Centuries”. This exciting new show will depict the history of Russian portraiture through the display of more than a hundred paintings, drawings, sculptures and porcelain objects. The juxtaposition of different styles, covering three centuries, will allow the visitor to examine through change and continuity the development of one of the great European portraiture traditions.

TThe 18th century, traditionally known in Russia as the century of portraiture, is represented by the works of arts of both Russian and foreign masters working at the Imperial Court. The exhibition features brilliant official portraits of Russian sovereigns: the marble bust of Empress Catherine the Great by the French sculptor Nicolas-François Gillet and the portrait of Emperor Paul I painted by the Russian artist Stepan Schukin constitute some of the finest examples of the epoch. Important portraits of renowned commanders complete the display: Count Grigory Orlov by the Italian painter Stefano Torelli and the portrait sculpture of Count Alexander Suvorov executed by the French sculptor Louis-Marie Guichard.

Amongst the Russian works on paper of the first half of the 19th century, watercolour portraits are held in particular high esteem. The exhibition displays the artworks of prominent portrait painters such as Peter Sokolov and Alexander Brullov. Both artists made a significant contribution to the recognition of watercolour portraiture in Russia as an independent genre. The works of Ilya Repin, a pillar of the second half of 19th century Russian portrait art, provide some of the finest examples of realist paintings. They sharply demonstrate the movement’s preoccupation with uncovering and capturing the psychology of their models.

The portrait paintings and drawings of the first thirty years of the 20th century on display epitomize the variety of artistic trends and movements of the period. The passéist artworks of Valentin Serov and Konstantin Somov feature alongside works by Aristarkh Lentulov, Ilya Mashkov and Pyotr Konchalovsky, executed while the later were members of the "Jack of Diamonds", one of the first Russian avant-garde art societies. Unique majolica works by Mikhail Vrubel, fired by the artist during his stay at the Abramtsevo colony, will delight even the most knowledgeable Russian art lover.

Exhibited alongside these fascinating pieces are the artworks of perhaps the most famous creative couple of the avant-garde period: Natalia Goncharova and Mikhail Larionov. His later works will be of particular interest to admirers of the Ballets Russes. During a trip to Europe, the artist, at the invitation of Sergei Diaghilev, painted portraits of the Russian impresario and of Leonide Massine, one of the leading dancers of the troupe, as well as one of the masterpieces of the exhibition, a portrait of the composer Igor Stravinsky.

The exhibition also includes a number of works by famous artist of the Russian diaspora, Yuri Annenkov, Boris Grigoriev, and Filipp Malyavin among others, who were forced to leave Russia after the 1917 revolution. Despite the hardships of exile, they were able to pursue careers abroad, whilst managing to keep artistic links with the spiritual heritage of the Great Russian culture.

Portraits of the Soviet period are represented by paintings and drawings of great masters such as Yuri Pimenov, Vladimir Lebedev and Alexander Deyneka and a unique collection of figurines and portrait sculptures, executed by masters from the Lomonosov Porcelain Factory.