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ART & ARCHITECTURE: The Art - Russia
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[53] - The Return of the bread of good deeds, when thrown upon the waters, is promised to nations as well as to men; and a very important part in bringing about the largeness and completeness of the Russian exhibition at Jackson Park is said to have been played by the American donation for the amelioration of the famine in the Czar's domains a year and a half ago. However this may have been, or a mere revival of the old friendship between the two nations taken place, it is certain that this contribution is one of the most worthy of an international exposition that may here be seen. In all the great departments of the Fair it appears --- Agriculture, Horticulture, Live Stock, Fisheries, Mines, Machinery, Transportation, Manufactures, Electricity, Fine Arts, Liberal Arts, Ethnology, Forestry, and Woman's Building - over 120,000 square feet in all. After Germany and France, a larger sum of money was appropriated for this purpose than by any other nation. The captain of the Danish steamer which brought over the 2338 cases of this exhibit certified that their value was a million pounds sterling, the eleven packages contributed by the Imperial Government alone being insured for 420,000 roubles. There were no less than seven boxes of diamonds from the Ural Mountains. All the influence of the government was exerted to induce manufactures and merchants to contribute of their most worthy, much as the [54] German Emperor put a pressure upon his somewhat unwilling subjects; all the necessary expenses were paid out of the Imperial Treasury; the governmors of all the provinces, even those of the Caucases, Turkestan and Siberia, took an active part in the work; the archaelogical, historical and other scientific institutions are well represented. The Department of War sent a collection of military objects made in the factories and workshops of the nation and a complete set of military works edited by the War Scientific Bureau; the Naval Department, a model of the first ship of the Russian fleet, built by Peter the Great, and other models of ships of the Imperial Navy; the Minister of Public Instruction, an exhibit of the work of the public schools; the Department of Public Domains, a complete collection of agricultural products of the empire and exhibits of iron, petroleum, forestry, fishing, botany and the like; there is an exhibit from the Emperor's great vineyards in the Caucasus, Crimea and Bessarabia, etc.

The department of woman's work, under charge of a board of Lady Commissioners, is very large and important, as befits a nation in which the younger women take such important roles both in the higher branches of scholarship and in those of dynamite. In the comparatively limited space of the Woman's Building no less than 3000 square feet are occupied by the feminine handiwork of the empire, the contribution of all classes. From the city and Government of Moscow comes "a beautiful, rich and magnificent exhibit by the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna; from the Government of Tambow, a large and unique exhibit by Mme. A. Narischkine; from the Government of Smolensk, an extremely interesting exhibit by Princess Urusoff; by the Baroness Korff, wife of the Amoor Governor-General, an historical exhibit, representing the hand-work of the different tribes of Eastern Siberia; from the Government of Simbirsk, the exhibit of Mme. Goutcharoff; a valuable exhibit by Princess Shachavski, Government of Pensa; the work of Polish women, by Mme. Gourko, wife of the Governor-General of Warsaw and Poland; work of the North Volga and Ika districts, by Mme. Baranoff, wife of the Governor of Ninji Novgorod; exhibit of the Ladies' Committee at Kasan, in which are beautiful silk, silver and gold embroideries on silk, satin, linen and leather; exhibit of the Ladies' Committee of Tobolsk, showing the work of Western Siberia; exhibit of the Ladies' Committee of Kaono and Minsk. The last two exhibits show the work of the ladies and peasant women of White Russia. There is also a collection of dolls [55] of large size, dressed to represent the native costumes of the different clans of peasant girls throughout the empire; a similar and very sumptuous exhibit shows the different court costumes that have been worn from the earliest times to the present. A number of literary women have prepared a book showing the activity of Russian women in literature, science and art." Mme. Semetschkin, delegate from the Imperial institution of the Empress Marie and commissioner of the department of Liberal Arts, herself an artist, exhibits among other products of her skill the decorations of the panels of an elaborately constructed cabinet, which stands near the front entrance of the Russian pavilion in the Manufactures Building. These panels, executed in burnt wood, after the manner which a New York artist has done so much to popularize in this country, portry various scenes in the life of Tolstoi and a famous painting of the author by Repine, the Russian painter. This lady has also painted two windows, on either side of the main entrance of the exhibit at the corner.

Nor have the children been forgotten in this comprehensive display. Many thousand square feet of space in this pavilion are occupied by the products of the public institutions which are conducted throughout the empire for the benefit of homeless and helpless children under the patronage of the Empress. There are said to be six hundred of these institutions and more than 500,000 pupils and inmates. The exhibit of needle work is particularly fine. The girls of one of the public schools of St. Petersburg, in token of remembrance and gratitude for the American famine fund, have reproduced with their needles, in gold thread, a design of a head cover called "Soroka," worn by the women of Vladimir in the thirteenth century, and which is to be presented to President Cleveland at the close of the Exposition. This was executed by pupils of from twelve to fourteen years of age, and younger girls have sent to Mrs. Cleveland a delicately embroidered handkerchief case, also here exhibited. A part of this exhibit consists of twenty-five beautifully embroidered handkerchiefs, each a different design, executed for presentation to the Empress on the twenty-fifth anniversary of her wedding, and which she contributes to the Fair, although very highly prized by her.

The curious and very Russian-looking pavilion in the Manufactures Building remained empty till the first week in June, but bore apologetically on its front a great placard, "Exhibit Delayed by Ice in the Baltic." [56] This effective and massive architectural structure, executed in dark wood, and which a Byzantine style is combined with Slavic detail, follows the style of the seventeenth century, and is said to be similar to the palace at Kolmno in which Peter the Great was born. The grand entrance, at the corner, under a curious interrupted arch, has emblazoned over it the arms of the empire, and a square pinnacle, sixty feet in height, surmounted by the double eagle, rises over all. Mme. Semetschkin's stained-glass windows, one on each facade, show in one a "boyar" and a "boyarishna," and in the other a "boyarin" and a "voyevoda" on horseback. These, it is explained, are personages of different social standing, the last named being the most exalted and a boyar the least in rank, though still of a high degree. A boyarishna is a female boyar. The interior of the edifice is reached by two broad steps. It was erected in Russia and, when approved, taken down and shipped to Chicago in sections, being there put together again by native carpenters. The architect is Petrovo Ropette, architect to the Czar, who designed the Russian facade at the Paris Exposition of 1878, and the Russian section at that of Copenhagen in 1888. The latter so pleased the King of Denmark that it was presented to him by the Imperial Government and now stands in the park at Fredensborough, the country residence of the Danish court, where it serves as a tea-house for the imperial guests. It is to be wished that the present pavilion could be preserved in this country to ornament some city's pleasure grounds.

In the interior will be found, among many other things, a curious and interesting display of art in silver and bronze which will recall to the memory of some visitors the effect produced by the Russian exhibit in similar productions at the Philadelphia Centennial. Since then the high artistic value of the bronze statuettes, mostly of equestrian subjects, for which the sculptors of this country seem to have a special gift, has been recognized in all civilized capitals, and an opportunity is here afforded to enjoy a more extended and even more admirable display. These bronzes are divided into two exhibits, devoted [57] principally to groups from army and from peasant life, fifty-six of them being the work of the sculptor Eugene Lanceray, who died last year at the early age of thirty. The right to reproduce the works of this artist is possessed only by one of the two exhibitors of these artistic bronzes, N. Stange, of St. Petersburg. The principal artists and artisans represented in the collection of the second of these, C. F. Woerffel, also of this capital, are Laveretsky, Lieberich, Popoff, Gratscheff, Ober, Posen and Bach. The silver ware display includes a number of examples of the art of enameling silver which has been revived by the Russians within the last twenty years, though here too, as in so many other departments of the Fair, it is to be noticed that when the workman has abandoned his local or national inspiration to undertake a Columbian "souvenir" the renown of the great discoverer has not profited much by the effort. Some of the work in enameled silver is wonderfully intricate in construction, and so delicate as to be almos transparent. The skill required in its manufacture is very considerable, and it is said thant an entire piece may be destroyed by the least error in pouring the melted enamel into the last of ten thousand infinitesimal spaces. The greater part of the silver display is furnished by two of the leading establishments of the empire, both of which contribute some fine examples of this peculiar modern Byzantine type of decoration in this ware. Among the examples of industrial art may be cited a model of a Greek galley, very curiously wrought, a magnificent platter belonging to the Czarewitch, a bowl of the Preobra-Jensky Life Guard, and some presentation silver ware, all in the Moscow exhibit. An album containing photographs of prominent buildings in this city is valued at $3000 principally because of a reproduction of the Kremlin in hammered silver on the cover. Among the more purely artistic work, in statuettes, etc., is one in solid silver of the Czar Alexander breaking the chains of the serfs and liberating Bulgaria. This, with its pedestal of red jasper, is valued at $10,000.

The richness of the empire in valuable and semi-precious stones is again set forth here, as it was at Philadelphia, in magnificent fashion. Rock crystal, porphyry, jade, rhodonite, malachite, lapis-lazuli, jasper, aventurine, agate, labrador, crocidolite, and obsidian, may all be found here, their native opulence enhanced by the arts of the polisher nad the stone-cutter. The Imperial Lapidiary Works at Peterhof, Ekaterinburg and Barnauhl send a Roman vase in rich green jade and a scroll-life, oblong vessel, style Louis Quinze, in the same material, both of such thinness and translucency that their varying and shifting color is difficult to determine. Still more remarkable are three magnificent cabinets, in hard stone mosaic, whose panels show tropical scenes, landscapes and birds, executed, on blue and white backgrounds, in green Kalkanski jasper, lapis-lazuli, amethyst and other gems. There are also two reproductions, in lapis-lazuli and malachite, of vases in the royal palace at St. Petersburg, each about four feet high and valued at $10,000. Here may also be found, in this curious combination of art and [58] industrial art, a medalion of St. George and the dragon, painted on pearl, a copy of a miniature of the Madonna, framed in white pearls, the original of which was purchased by the President of the World's Columbian Expositioon on one of his visits to Russia, etc., etc., etc.

It is in this industrial and decorative art, rather than in the picture galleries of the Fine Arts Building, that the traditions of the true native art of Russian are preserved, that hieratic, conventionally ornamental art, borrowed from the East and the West, between which and the determinedly realistic standards of the modern painters so great a gulf exists. The museums, cathedrals, monasteries and palaces of the empire still preserve, in spite of the lapse of time and numerous meltings down of national treasures to supply national needs, great and rich stores of the former. For these museums and picture galleries, as well as for that general introduction of the culture of the fine arts which formed so important a part of his scheme of Western Civilization for his people, Russia is indepted to Peter the Great. With this object in view he sent students to Italy, and though the alien art which he thus imported was as unprofitable as such forced growths usually are, the first steps were taken. The academy of the Fine Arts was founded by the Empress Elizabeth in 1757, and further endowed by Catharine II., who gave a new impetus to the gathering of treasures and establishment of art schools and acquired, among other things, that collection of statues the greater part of which may still be seen in the Hermitage Museum. In 1850, after some eight years of inactivity, the new wing of the Hermitage was enriched by a large collection of objects from the different palaces, by order of the Czar Nicholas, the Demidov and Laval collections were brought, and in the early part of the reign of Alexander II. further important acquisitions were made.

With regard to the preponderating influence of Oriental traditions in the early art of Russia, the authorities differ. Viollet-le-Duc, who considers this country one of the laboratories in which the arts coming from all points of Asia and Europe have been united to form a combination intermediate between the Eastern and the Western worlds, holds strongly to this opinion. Of the three principal elements which combined to give origin to this art, the local Scythian, the Byzantine, and the Mongol, he considers that nine-tenths came from the East. But the pere Martinoff, reviewing this opinion, expresses his confidence that the West, and especially Scandinavia, exercised a more marked influence than is generally supposed. Since the sixteenth century, the paramount influence of the West has not been disputed. The date of the beginning of Russian art is generally given as the period of the foundation of Moscow, in the twelfth century, and its culmination as the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In addition to the preponderating Byzantine influences, other Asiatic elements, Viollet-le-Duc observes, may be perceived - "principally in ornament." Byzantine art, itself, was a compound in which various Asiatic elements entered. Traces of this borrowing from the Orient, and by preference from Constantinople and Persia, are as visible in Russian goldsmiths' and silversmiths' work, and the other decorative arts connected with it, as in the icons, illuminated MSS. and wall [59] - paintings. But as many of the numerous foreign workmen whom she encouraged came from Europe as well as from Asia, evidences of the influence, even the direct imitation, of Western ornament and technical methods may also be found. One of the most characteristic features of Russian decorative art is enameled work, as has been said.

The icons, or religious pictures, are a frank return to archaic Byzantine hieratism. These are usually executed on a gold ground, and vary from very small dimensions to those larger than life. The Greek church, which rejects all carved objects, or those executed in relief, as contrary to the commandment, accepts these representations on a flat surface. In this art there is "but one school and one epoch;" the formulas by which the artists worked were as invariable as those of the celebrated school of Mount Athos, which they resembled very closely. The study of nature was replaced by certain fixed traditions; the figures are characterized by an ungainly, austere, ascetic expression, lean and emaciated as if by rigorous fastings, small, thin-but eyes, long, lank hair, long and scanty beard, the skull abnormally rounded and the bony hand upraised in blessing with the fingers symbolically divided - this last peculiarity being a sign "more cherished and more adhered to as the outward testimony of a great dogmatic distinction than the sign of the cross as the mark of a Christian." The child in the Madonna's arms "looks more like a small grown-up person with decided features, conveying the idea that even as a child He was divested of the natural expression of infantile weakness. The Blessed Virgin has generally, especially in western Russia, a serious countenance, and is scarcely ever made to look upon the Holy Child in her arms. An inclination of the head is the utmost. She is altogether too masculine and stern-looking, as if she must not even know the tenderness of a mother's heart." The celebrated black virgins of the eastern church are of an especial sanctity, though this peculiarity of color was probably due at first to the effect of time on the painting. It has been attributed to a misconception of the passage in the Song of Solomon, "I am black, but comely."

In many of these images the arts of metal work, enamel and jeweled decoration are combined with the paintings, the collars and garments, the crowns and nimbuses, being enriched with precious stones, executed in gold or silver-gilt in relief, elaborately repousse, or enameled in colors on a gold ground. In these pictures but little painting is visible but the head and hands, and even this peculiarity was exceeded by the practice which originated in the middle of the eighteenth century of almost entirely covering the picture with a plate of metal simulating the contours of the human figure and the robes, and permitting only the faces and hands to appear through the openings. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries there were several schools of iconography, varying in certain special rules - all work in the Byzantine manner being originally called the "Khorsounsky" style. The imagery of illuminated books and the frescoes of religious edifices followed the same general traditions, though of late years the more realistic influences of

[MISSING PAGES 60-61] [62] - of its art, and that these camera-like studies of man and nature be but the precursors of a somewhat higher and more imaginative art.

Of the numerous canvases which crowd the two galleries opening on the western side of the South Court of the main pavilion of the Fine Arts Building many are the personal contribution of the Czar, or are the property of the Imperial Academy of the Fine Arts of St. Petersburg, so that a certain official flavor may be said to characterize the exhibit, and many of the better known of the younger Russian painters are not here represented. Nevertheless, M. Kamenski, the fine arts commissioner, considers the collection as fairly representative of the contemporary art of his nation, and as, in many respects, the best ever made by Russia in a foreign country. Nearly all the leading painters who have attained to academical honors are represented, and there is a sufficient number of very large canvases. The exhibit of sculpture is small, and a number of works were, unfortunately, badly damaged in transit. Among these immense canvases are such exotic and formal academical essays as SIEMIRADSKY'S "CHRIST IN THE HOUSE OF LAZARUS" and "PHRYNE," and MAKOVSKY's "BACCHANAL," but these painters, better known abroad than most of their fellows, scarcely strike the national note. The real national accent, most pronounced, may rather be said to be furnished at once by REPINE's huge "COSSACK'S ANSWER TO THE SULTAN," reproduced for this work by a very vigorous etching by XAVIER LE SUEUR. Even this forcible plate can give only a partial idea of the effect produced upon the unsuspecting tourist when he comes suddenly upon this astonishing canvas. There is nothing like it in the ten thousand paintings in the international galleries; it may be doubted if there is anything quite like it anywhere. Never has there been represented in art such a tremendous guffaw; never was there done in color such a roar of contempt. If the Commander of the Faithful could have heard the Homeric bellow with which this answer to his summons was penned, he would have put both Asia and Europe under contribution to avenge this last of insults. Every shade of huge laughter is here represented with surprising discrimination, and some of the heads of these scoffers, as large as life, or larger in the immediate foreground, are extraordinary. There is one purplish red countenance with a forelock, the color of a tumor, seen just at the left of the scribe, that is like a nightmare. The distance from the Byzantine icons to this brutal realism is certainly great, and the "study of nature" being thus once more to the fore, the "style" may perhaps follow.

This painting, which is the property of the Academy of Fine Arts, and another, "Ivan the Terrible and his Son," which it was originally intended to send also to Chicago, may be taken to represent, in [63] its most formidable aspect, the dominant qualities in the talent of this eminent Russian artist. Not that his themes are always so sinister, but the same underlying trait of lack of commiseration, of sense of beauty, of the more noble and refining tendencies in art, may be felt, more or less, in all his works. The Czar, Ivan the Terrible, it is recorded, one day, three years before his death, fell into a dispute with his eldest son and heir and struck him such a blow over the head with his iron-pointed staff that the young man died on the spot. The unhappy father, struck with instant and terrible remorse, seized the gory head of his victim and pressed it convulsively to his breast with staring eyes of horror, and it is this scene which the painter has chosen to render with unsparing exactness of detail. "Repine is essentially Russian, and modern Russian," says a recent writer on this contemporary art, "in his conception of the domain of the painter's observation; he is a realist, a democrat, a man newly arrived at `intelligence,' as the Russians say, speaking of that curious mental state that has been observed in Russia since the emancipation and the breaking up of the autocratic empire such as Nicholas dreamed and almost realized. Like Antocolsky, the sculptor, the friend of his youth, Repine is a man of humble origin who has been suddenly provided with all the terrible analytical instruments of Western culture, but not at the same time with the safeguards of Western traditions and prejudices." His subjects, taken from contemporary life, are rendered with the same remarkable story-telling intelligence, the scene is conveyed with the utmost directness and vigor and with no jot of its coarseness, or vulgarity, or mere unpleasantness, abated. As contemporary documents they are invaluable, but as works of art they are completely lacking in M. Viollet-le-Duc's hieratic artistic virtue.

Suggestions of it may, however, be found in many of the genre or domestic pictures here, as in those of VLADIMIR EGOROVITCH MAKOVSKY - not to be confounded with his namesake, CONSTANTIN EGOROVITCH. Here may be seen evidences of greater artistic discrimination, a lighter touch, a sense of humor. And the painter is, consequently, one of the most eminent, and one of the varied and prolific, in his country. Three of his works in this exhibition have been reproduced for this publication, the "GAMBLERS' QUARREL," the "RAG MARKET AT MOSCOW," and the "WAYFARER," the first two as full-page photogravures. In the "QUARREL," there is no lofty theme, but a rather sordid, common-place incident rendered with true artistic intelligence and a delightful amiability. It is impossible not to be interested; the character study is as good as the painting. The spectator's natural indignation at this stout party who upsets the game is tempered by the possibility that his suspicions are only too [64] - well founded. And yet our consideration goes out equally to the old lady who keeps her "hand" so carefully out of sight; and what a sly smiler is the elderly third party! In the "MOSCOW RAG FAIR" this discriminating study of types is repeated with infinite variations and yet always judiciously over the whole crowded composition, the motions ranging from the grin of the round-faced girl in the middle distance, with the sun on her cheek and the tip of her nose, to the care of the anxious mother and the squalling child in appropriate shadow in the corner. In the "SMOKERS," what a very good study of idlers sunning themselves; and how greasy and plausible is the old wayfarer, eating the soup of charity while he endeavors, between spoonfuls, to persuade his dull young entertainer into purchasing some of the religious books and relics which constitute his ostensible stock in trade. But in most of the works of this plain-stating contemporary art - invaluable as documents - there may be found much more suggestion of the kodak than of Jeniers or Van Mieris.

Many of the better and less purely photographic renderings are reproduced for this work in the full-page photogravures and etchings and the textual plates. Here is TVOROJNIKOFF's "LAY BROTHER, SELLER OF IMAGES," for instance - of the same trade as Makovsky's "Wayfarer," but very different in quality. This brother has a certain simplicity of soul painted on his vacant, open-mouthed countenance that induces confidence at once, while only extreme youth or ignorance could be persuaded to put faith in the other. In this neat and exact rendering of differential character is legitimate scope for art. The "Lay Brother" was painted in 1888, and is owned by the Academy. Likewise the property of this institution, and a year younger, is the "GRANDMOTHER AND GRANDCHILD," also here given - the short and simple annals of the poor related entirely without affectation or the lugging in of sentimentality, but with that suggestion of grotesque pathos which the poor themselves, in the flesh, so often, alas! furnish/ These two serious and well-studied pictures are the only works contributed by this artist. Another canvas in which the spectator's emotions are appealed to much in the same way, though it is a more conventional work, is PIMONENKO's "EASTER HALLOWE'EN," a technical study of candlelight effect with the necessary human interest added. If a piece of tallow is melted and dropped in water, on this mysterious eve, and then held up so that the light of a candle or lamp will throw its shadow on the wall, this shadow will certainly take the profile of your true love who is coming to marry you within a year. Naturally, this is a serious and important prognostication, and not to be undertaken with [65] undue levity. Nevertheless, the younger maid, she whose true love is not now in question, cannot view with any great alarm this incantation, and her somewhat incredulous grin contrasts properly with the sweet seriousness of the chief enchantress. This may not be very "high" art, but at least it is better than painting black-avisaged icons to be covered with gold plate, and the Imperial Academy has manifested its due appreciation by adding the picture to its collection.

Among the more important compositions of these painters of realities may be mentioned "THE HARVEST," by MIASSOYEDOV, "THE BRIDE'S EVENING PARTY," by KORSUKHIN, and "IN THE GARDEN," by KUSNETSOV - in all of which the technical problems involved are painters', rather than artists'. The first named can scarcely be called a composition, but it concerns itself with a very difficult sunlight motif, and will be of interest to the future historian of the manners and customs of Eastern Europe. The painting, which is of large size, and rather startling and aggressive in color and general effect, is a copy of the original which is the property of the Czar. More sunlight, and of a very well counterfeited brilliancy, may be found in Kusnetsov's group posing for their pictures among the bee-hives - not so valuable in the way of general ethnological information because the human types are less interesting. As technical work, however, it is of value, for the subject, this particular aspect and condition of nature, is excessively difficult to render in pigments. The work is dated 1889, and M. DECISY's etching of it is a brilliant example of the reproductive work of the aqua-fortist. In Korsukhin's "Bride's Party" there is more of a story, more action, and much less resolute facing of the camera. Just what these mysterious observances are that are supposed to bring good fortune to the bride - who interrupts her toilet to look through the doorway at them - we are not informed; they seem to include some drinking and much noise and, we will hope, will scare away all the bad influences and bring down all the good ones. The composition is ingenious and well ordered, though the painter's stout maidens are not very amusing in themselves, and the pleasant season of the year is well suggested in the trees and grass and ambient air. This painting is also owned by the opulent Academy, as it likewise the painter's second contribution, another study of contemporary peasant life. Among the plates will also be found a handsome reproduction of KARL BOGDANOVITCH VENIG's "RUSSIAN GIRL," dating from 1889 and the [66] property of the Academy, and which is calculated to give the untraveled visitor a very favorable impression indeed of the holiday costume and countenance of the young women over whom the Czar rules.

Against these generally serious and reliable statements of facts and appearances may be set the large and much embellished presentations of the two painters who stray off from these realistic paths. SIEMIRADSKY and CONSTANTIN MAKOVSKY are both well represented in these galleries, and attract their appropriate share of the popular attention. The former - most famous, probably, because of his "Nero's Living Torches," which procured him a medal of honor and the cross of the Legion of Honor at the Paris Exposition of 1878 - sends two large canvases to demonstrate the extreme range of his themes, "CHRIST IN THE HOUSE OF LAZARUS" and "PHRYNE." The latter sends three, the immense "BACCHANAL" reproduced by our photogravure, "ATTIRING THE BRIDE" and the portrait of a lady. There not being much religious fervor left in modern art we may not look for it in the work of a painter who takes such long jumps as from the feet of the guest of Mary and Martha to those of Phryne, showing herself naked on the sea-shore to all Greece, but there are certain arrangements to be painted over both titles, and M. Siemiradsky sets out to show us that he is the man to do it. For the first, he has set his scene - with a very good pictorial instinct - in one of those open, trellised Eastern courts which he haunts, as in the "Danse des Glaives," "Chanson de l'Esclave," and others; the conventional and academical figure of the Saviour sits in sun and shadow on the stone bench, the attentive sister - likewise conventional and academical - at his feet and the inattentive one, in the background absorbed in those household duties which she considered of so much importance. This painting, dated 1886, belongs to the Academy collection, while the "Phryne" is the private property of the Czar. The latter, an immense and crowded composition, is a learned and somewhat pedantic restoration of the famous incident of the most beautiful mistress of Praxiteles appearing on the sea-shore after her bath as Venus Anadyomene, from which incident the sculptor drew his inspiration for his statue, afterward the glory of the Cnidians. The Russian painter builds up his composition with great labor and ingenuity and great variety of incident, even to the preparation of a human Cupid in the foreground by the addition of wings and a bow to a pretty, smooth-skinned boy, but there is a certain lack of sincerity [67] and conviction in his work. His Eleusinian crowd takes the properly disposed attitudes of attention and admiration, but they are not very enthusiastic over the beauty's beauty; nor, indeed, does the passing tourist experience any very lively emotion for her. It may be noticed here that this Athenian lady is not to be confounded with she of the same who, when accused of impiety, promptly secured an acquittal by unveiling her bosom to her judges. Gerome, with a somewhat questionable taste, makes her unveil completely, with the same result, but the bewildered, bedazzles, almost awestruck, admiration of his old men before this vision may be contrasted with the correct academical grouping of Siemiradsky's populace.

Makovsky goes still further afield in his big canvas, the "Bacchanal," and although he is, generally, a painter of much less importance than Siemiradsky, it may be doubted whether he has not her come nearer the mark than his much better equipped rival. The problem to be faced in undertaking the representation of one of the wine god's orgies is, of course, that of reconciling the abandon of the subject with the restraints imposed by the "style" of good art. Here, an intelligent attempt has been made to do this, by the beauty of the sylvan amphitheatre in which the festival is set, the introduction of the ruined archway, the classic festoons, the statue of Pan, and the decorous group around old Silenus at the left. The dancers in the centre are enthusiastic enough probably, but many of them are neither Greek nor Roman in character or drapery. The two fauns are among the best studied figures, and do the most to preserve the antique flavor. This picture is very much better in every way than the "Judgment of Paris" which Makovsky sent to the Paris Exposition of 1889, and which was afterward purchased and transferred to this country by a misguided collector. The "Attiring the Bride" is of the same style as the "Russian Wedding Feast" and "Choosing the Bride," also owned in this country, the period chosen being that of the splendor of the old boyar families in Russia before the [68] time of Peter the Great. The barbaric magnificence of costumes, furniture and accessories supplies the painter with an opportunity to display the richness of his palette - richness which is frequently rather meretricious.

Among the canvases dealing with subjects taken from Russian annals three or four of the most characteristic have been selected for reproduction in this work. VALERIAN IVANOVITCH JACOBY is one of the older painters - having been born in 1834 - who rose to eminence in the reign of Alexander I., painters with more or less native talent which was more or less confounded by precepts derived from the study of the Italian old masters and of the German ones of the beginning of this century. Jacoby is much more Teutonic than Italian, but he has long enjoyed great honors in his native land, and the great Tretiakoff gallery contains at least one of his ambitious canvases. He has been addicted to subjects taken from the French revolution, but his present contribution, "THE ICE PALACE," has to do with a Muscovite story, and is from the Academy collection. One of the customs of these chilly carnivals at St. Petersburg in the eighteenth century was the perpetration of the grim joke here represented - the enthronement of an unfortunate couple who might have earned the displeasure of the Czar in gala attire in icy state within the wall of the palace till they were more or less frozen. Here we see a crowd of maskers trooping in with flowers and music and mock refreshments to do honor to their congealed Eminences - the court dwarf, muffled in furs, ironically presenting a fan to the lady who seems to have succumbed to the trials of her state. Her partner, his cocked hat protecting his feet from the icy footstool and his hands buried between his frozen thighs, seems entirely unable to appreciate the pleasantry. This sorry subject is treated much in the manner it deserves, without dignity and without any particular style of design or color.

Much more valuable as a work of art is the falcon picture by ALEXANDER DMITRIEVITCH LITOVCHENKO, also from the Academy collection. These noble birds of the chase, we are informed by the catalogue, are those of the Czar Alexey Mikhailovich, and the slim and youthful artist seated in the foreground engaged in depicting one of them is the Italian ambassador at the court of St. Petersburg, Calvucci. The falcons are held on the wrists of attendants in the Imperial livery, and the midmost one, proudly held high in the air and the object of the artist's attention, is the favorite bird of the Czar. The incident takes place in an apartment furnished with Oriental luxury, and is discreetly rendered. Among the full-page photogravures may be found a reproduction of a more turbulent scene, also taken from these early annals, the tearing off of Dmitri Donskoy's girdle from Duke Vassily, "the One-sighted" or "the Squint," at the wedding of the Grand Duke Vassily II., "the Dark" or "the Obscure," by the [69] Grand Duchess Sophia Vitovtovna, in 1433. The painter of this terrible scene is PAVEL PETROVITCH CHISTIAKOV, and as we pause before it we are reminded again, in the conventional scowls, the attitudinizing, the forcible-feeble action, of other fine old ambitious canvases of the turgid Teutonic school. The Imperial Academy proudly claims this masterpiece as one of its own.

From these examples of the historical school of contemporary Russian art it is a relief to get back again to the more unpretentious domestic genre and landscape, or even hunting pieces. Of the latter there are a few excellent examples in both the Russian and German galleries, the painters of both nations frequently making the most of the very brilliant and paintable effects to be gotten from the snowy wastes over which the bear or the wolf is pursued. The subject selected for these pages is, however, more novel, and may be considered as something of a tax on credulity by tarry-at-home hunters. The artist, M. ALEXEY DANILOVITCH KIVSHENKO, assures us that it is possible to ride a wolf down, over these long grassy plains, leap from your horse on his back and bear him to the ground, avoiding his ready jaws by a good grip on each of his ears. What you are to do with him then he does not further explain, especially when your dogs are as unwilling to interfere in the controversy as these long-nosed hounds evidently are. Probably the bold chasseur will have to maintain his grip and his sear until his comrades come up from the rear and cut Isegrim's throat. The catholic Academy also owns this canvas, as it does another of the painter's here shown, very different in theme, the COUNCIL OF WAR held at Phily in 1812, at which it was decided to abandon Moscow to the French invader.

Nor is this all, the versatile painter exhibits two more works each different from all the others. One is a sort of L'Assommoir subject, a workshop interior scene with women quarreling fiercely over their task of sorting feathers, and the other is an equally well rendered Eastern landscape, reproduced on page 60, the "CRATERS OF LEDGI," or Lediasi, or Ledja. This volcanic plateau, the Argob of the Hebrews and the trachonitis of the Greeks, derives its modern name from the innumerable fugitives who have sought shelter in its inhospitable wastes, the limestone and clay of its original soil being [70] covered, it is said, to the depth of two hundred metres by the lava vomited from the cones of Haouran, and this surface, still smoking, tormented by constant explosions of gas and rent in every direction by the chasms caused by the contraction of the lava, offers almost inaccessible defiles to the hunted. And yet it possessed in ancient times, according to the Hebrew chronicles, numerous cities and very many villages. It lies in the northern part of Palestine, on the other side of the Jordan, between Anti-Libanus and the Arabian Mountains. MM. BODAREVSKY and DMITRIEV-ORENBURGSKY are concerned with things nearer home, and their literal, realistic relation of incident, or detail of manners and customs, is noticeable even in these galleries. The former sends only one painting, the "WEDDING IN LITTLE RUSSIA," and the latter, three, from which we select the "SUNDAY IN A VILLAGE." The former is particularly exact and painstaking in its rendering, the intervention of the painter between the subject and the spectator being scarcely apparent; the latter is more evidently "arranged" a little, but not too much and the succession of types and individualities and incidents seems exceedingly plausible and natural. To stand before this canvas is to have very much the sensation of being set down in a Russian village on a Sunday afternoon. ISAAK ASKNASIY is represented by three paintings all concerned with the history or ritual of his people, the most original in conception being probably the "PARENTS OF MOSES," reproduced for these pages. The "daughter of Levi" has prepared the ark of bulrushes, daubed with slime and pitch, for the goodly man child of three months, whom she can no longer keep concealed and, having deposited him therein, kneels for a farewell prayer beside it. The man child himself sucks his thumb in tranquility, but keeps an attentive eye on his mother; the father, knotted and bowed with the toil on Pharaoh's pyramids, sits and looks on. It may very well have happened much in this way.

With the exception of IVAN CONSTANTINOVICH AYVASOVSKY, none of the Russian artists contribute more than three or four works, and most of them only one or two. This painter, however, whose name is much better known generally in Europe than those of most of his compatriots, sends no less than nineteen canvases, five of them illustrating incidents in the life of Columbus. Being a marine painter, these subjects are rendered with a fine, big accompaniment of sea and sky, as in the "ARRIVAL OF THE FLOTILLA ON THE AMERICAN SHORE," reproduced for these pages. KOVALEVSKY's "EXCAVATIONS IN ROME," reproduced for these pages, a work representing an immense amount of labor, is generally well painted, in some parts better than others, but suffers even rather more than is necessary from the lack of concentration and composition so difficult to overcome in these works in which the interest is so scattered. The variety of incident, attitude and type is well maintained, and the good drawing and [71] faithful study of nature in men, horses and landscape, is commendable. This artist, born in 1843, has been professor of battle painting in the Academy since 1881. VASILY GOLINSKY, a much younger man, but a "class artist of the first degree," is represented by another large canvas, "MUSHROOM GATHERERS RESTING," also the property of the Academy - a picturesque group seated and lying in a little cleared space in the forest and listening, rather incredulously, to the eager assertions of the youngest that she knows where a still more fruitful harvest of fungi may be found.

For a great military empire, the absence of battle pictures in this exhibit may be considered surprising, and the only important military painting here refers to one of the greatest disasters in Russian history - the burning of Moscow. In a large canvas that versatile painter, KIVSHENKO, has represented the gloomy council of war held in a peasant's hut in the village of Phily, near Moscow, after Borodino, at which it was decided to evacuate the ancient capital. Nearly half the Russian army had been left on the banks of that fatal stream, and the remnant, closely pressed by Napoleon, found the only position available for defending the city so cut up by ravines and encompassed in the rear by the river Moscowa as to threaten the defending force with extermination in case of another defeat. The Russian commander, General Prince Kutuzov, summoned this final council, and the artist has endeavored to present the firmness with which he pronounced his decision to make nor further stand, and the consternation with which his generals heard him. A long beam of light from the little window traverses the dusky room, lights up these serious countenances, and is reflected from the gilded haloes of the Virgin and Child in the picture above. Notwithstanding this somewhat obvious artifice the picture is effective and not without a grave historical air. A much more conventional presentation is that of VASILY PEROV's of the court of Pugatchov, the Don Cossack, who, taking advantage of his extraordinary personal resemblance to the murdered Czar, Peter III., pretended to have escaped from his prison and found himself at the head of such formidable forces as to threaten the Empress Catherine's power. He was finally taken and beheaded at Moscow, in 1775. The artist represents him seated in state, brutal and lowering, while his victims fall into the somewhat familiar attitudes of despair and terror before him.

A very good example of what might be defined as the unpleasant domestic genre may be found in NICOLAY PETROVITCH ZAGORSKY's "AT BREAKFAST," - given the subject, the forcibleness with which the artist has presented his little incident is not to be denied. The two children, eyeing scornfully the berated tutor, are a trifle overdone, but the volubility and vulgarity of the mistress of the household, [72] and, especially, the meekness and the inefficient dignity of the unlucky poor gentleman obliged to submit to this ignoble martyrdom, leave but little to be desired. Any particular charm of color or of technical treatment would not be congruous in a canvas of this kind. The painter's second contribution, also somewhat conventional in color, gives another version of the old, old story - a younger woman weeping on the neck of an elderly one because of some man. This latter is the property of the Academy. A more cheerful theme has been found by CONSTANTINE COROVIN for his two pictures, one of which, here reproduced, and very simply black and white in color in the original, represents two graceful "SPANISH WOMEN," against a window frame. A more intricate color scheme has been attempted by LEONID PASTERNAC in his much larger canvas, a young widow returning sorrowfully home, her baby on the nurse's knee beside her. The vacant, indifferent countenance of the latter, and her cheerful costume, white bodice, red skirt, blue head-dress and blue necklace, contrast appropriately with the mourning figure of the mother.

The display of Russian sculpture is very slight, the entire exhibit numbering only some sixteen pieces, very nearly all of which are statuettes or busts. The largest piece, a group in bronzed plaster, the figures the size of life, is by Vladimir Beclemichev, a young man and a pensioner of the Academy. His "Fugitive Slave," a nearly nude figure, the iron collar of his servitude still riveted around his neck, turns fiercely at bay, club in hand and clasping to his side his little son. Three-fourths of the entire sculpture exhibit is signed by Ilia Jakovlevitch Gintsburg, born in 1859, his two most important bronze groups being the property of the Academy. His most popular one, however, in plaster, stands in the centre of the gallery, two wet and naked little bathing boys, the vehemence of whose chilly shivering is extremely well rendered. Among the sculptor's statuettes and busts are two of Count Tolstoi, one of Rubenstein, and a much more spirited one of M. P. T. Tchaikovsky, standing and writing at a desk.

The Russian commissioners, in common with those of France, Belgium and Norway, declined to submit their exhibits for competition, and consequently no medals were awarded in any of these galleries.

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