Третьяковская Галерея – Tretyakov Gallery

Having grown up in the United States, I have observed that discussions surrounding fine art are often restricted to the Greco-Roman tradition, to the “rebirth” of Greco-Roman art with the Italian and European Renaissance, and to 19th-century and 20th-century artistic movements (impressionism, cubism, surrealism, etc) hailing primarily from Western Europe. Great Western European and North American masters, such as Da Vinci, Monet, Picasso, Van Gogh, and Warhol, have almost exclusively basked in the limelight of artistic fame throughout the world. The Hermitage in St. Petersburg, with its unfathomable number of exhibitions, is on one hand a testament to the glorification of Italian, French, British, Dutch, and overall, Western Europe art; on the other hand, the absence of Russian art from Catherine the Great’s vast collection grossly dismisses it as inferior to that of its western european counterparts. Fortunately, the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow redeems Russian artistic mastery and offers tourists such as myself a rare glimpse into the world of Russian art, one that is frequently overshadowed and even hidden in the western world.

In addition to our group trip to the Tretyakov Gallery, I ventured there myself a second time so that I could properly admire the astounding Russian masterworks on display. The Tretyakov Gallery was first established in 1856 when Pavel Mikhailovich Tretyakov, a Moscow merchant, bought his first two paintings by Russian artists: Nikolay Shilder’s “Temptation” and Vasily Khudyakov’s “Skirmish with Finnish smugglers.” From that point on his collection grew, and by 1892 he came to possess over 2,000 works of Russian artwork.

Before going to the Tretyakov Gallery, I knew very little about Russian artwork and even less about Russian artists. It did not take long, however, for me to quickly fall in love with the beautiful paintings that were on display at the gallery. I had the wonderful opportunity to gaze upon works by great Russian artists including Ivan Shishkin, Ilya Repin, Vasily Pukirev, Viktor Vasnetsov, and Mikhail Vrubel.

Below are some paintings that stood out to me the most:

by Vasili Pukirev

The Unequal Marriage by Vasili Pukirev

by Mikhail Vrubel

Demon Seated by Mikhail Vrubel

by Ivan Shishkin and Konstantin Savitsky

by Konstantin Flavitsky

Princess Tarakanova by Konstantin Flavitsky