What to See in the Tretyakov Gallery
There's no doubt that your acquaintance with Russia will be incomplete without plunging into its art and culture.
The Tretyakov Gallery is one of the most famous art museums in the world. Their collection covers a whole millennium of Russian cultural development, the Golden Age of Russian Art.
The Tretyakov gallery has an exceptional collection of icons dating back to the 11th century. Most rewarding are the masterpieces created by the great trio of Moscow icon painters: Andrei Rublev, Dionysius and Theophanes the Greek. These include Theophanes ’Uccelo-like Battle between the Novgorodians and Suzdalians, Rublev’s Zvenigorod Deesis of 1425 which still retains its vibrant blues, green and reds and Dionysius’ magnificent Christ in Glory of 1500.
You will enjoy works of the Peredvizhniki or Itinerants who were rebel artists of the 1870s who turned their back on the conservative Russian Academy of arts with the intention of creating a national school which drew on Slavic traditions. The subject matter of the itinerants whose founder memebers include Ivan Kramskoy, Vasili Perov and fedor Vasiliev is amazingly broad, ranging from portraints and vast historical canvases to religious paintings, landscapes and scenes depicting the horrors of war and exposing social conflict and inequality.
You will see great canvasses by the prolific Ilya Repin including “Ivan the Terrible and his Son”, Surikov’s dramatic historical canvasses, the most outstanding are “Morning of the execution of the Streltsy” and “Boyarina Morozova” and Vasili Polenov’s “Moscow Courtyard” that is a delicate evocation of old Arbat, works of Isaak Levitan specialized in serene landscapes as well as works of the outstanding Russian portraitist- Valentin Serov “Girl with Peaches” and darkly fantastic canvasses by the spiritually tortured Mikhail Vrubel, "Morning in a Pine Forest" by Ivan Shishkin.
The History of the Tretyakov Gallery
The Gallery that was a small private collection turned into the most famous museum of Russian art.
The founder was a Moscow merchant and industrialist who was also a great art expert, connoisseur and renowned patron – Pavel Tretyakov. He devoted his entire life to forming a collection. Every year he added what he considered to be the finest works of art to the gallery buying paintings directly from the artists or from exhibitions.
The already-famous gallery was opened to public view in 1881 during Tretyakov’s lifetime. In 1892 just a few years before his death Tretyakov donated his superb collection to the city of Moscow.
The famous colorful façade uniting the entire complex of buildings was erected after the death of Tretyakov between 1901 and 1903 to a design by eminent Russian artist V.Vasnetsov. This Russian-style structure is a symbol of national art.
Today the collection consists of more than 145 000 works of art displayed at the department of ancient Russian art from the 12th to 17th centuries, the department of graphics and sculpture from the 18th to early 20th centuries and the department of 20th-century art.
Tretyakov’s aim in assembling his vast collection was to tell the complete story of Russian art.
After October 1917, the museum's fund was enriched by the national collections and the works of contemporary artists, whose works illustrate the origin and development of Soviet art.