Collection / Russian


The collection of the Russian sculpture of the Gallery is small but rich in outstanding names. One or two and sometimes more works of each of these famous masters comprises the general collection of yhe eighteenth-twentieth centuries’ Russian sculpture.

Secular sculpture originated and flourished in Russia in the eighteenth century. One of the second half  students of the St. Petersburg Academy of Fine Arts Fedot Shubin (1740-1805) worked in the half of the century and added a brilliant page to the history of this new branch of art. He is known mainly as a portraitist among whose subjects were the Empress Catherine and  the Court elite. Neverheless Shubin did not beautify his characters, smooting away negative features, instead he psychologically analysed the person and endowed the image with unique individual traits, which he keenly noticed. Such is the bronz bust of Catherine II, in which vivid sculptural motion going back to the Baroque is interlaced with strict classical architectonics and sense of proportion.

Shubin’s fellow-student at  the Academy was Feodor Gordeev (1744-1810). His favourite subject-matters in sculpture were historical and mythological topics. Gordeev created his work “Prometheus” in 1769 in Paris. It is inspired with a lofty idea, the hero’s selfless exploit for the sake of happiness of mankind. The composition is strict, with stressed diagonals, and the interpretation of  the naked figure foresees the new conception of human beauty.

In the first decade of the nineteenth century high standards and monumental-decorative sculpture inspired by patriotic ideas were created. This was connected to the liberation that resulted from the War of 1812. A brilliant example of this kind of work is the group of sculptural works “Minin and Pozharsky” in Moscow by the most famous representative of Russian Classicism Ivan Martos (1754-1835). His work frequently synthesized sculpture with architecture and grave monuments.

Among the sculptors of the second half of the nineteenth century Marc Antokolski (1843-1902) enjoyed great fame. One of his works concerned with historical subject-matter is the profoundly psychological statue “Ivan the Terrible”, for which the sculptor was awarded the title of an academician.In 1872, on the occasion of the two hundredth anniversary of Peter I, Antokolsky created Peter’s sculpture. Its small variant is exhibited in the Gallery. The full-length figure of the emperor is endowed with inner self-discipline, purposefulness, and severity.

In the same period of time Evgeny Lanceray (1848-1886) worked in the field of small scale sculpture. In the second half of the century, while monumental-decorative sculpture was in decline, small scale and stand sculpture were at the peak of artistic production. Strengthening its position, Realism began penetrating into the realm of small sculpture that depicted scenes of everyday life. A famous sculptor Lanceray’s wax models were bought by various private firms, who then cast them in bronze and sold them.Three works in the Gallery’s collection with various subject-matters, namely the “Amazon”, “Dobrinya Nikitich”, and the “Cossack and Cossack Woman” are marked by harmony of composition, and fresh and original solutions.

Mikhail Vrubel (1856-1910) and Dmitry Stelletskii (1875-1947) were among the late nineteenth-early twentieth centuries artists, who focused on folk and decorative art, with the intention of widening the potention of sculptural art through artistic exploration. In particular, great attention was paid to majolica, porcelain, and plaster cast. The gifted artist Mikhail Vrubel (1856-1910) in his sculptural works applied folk stylistic devices and carving manner. Of special significance are his majolica works, among which the “The head of Pan”, “The Head of Medusa”, and the “The Head of an Egyptian Woman” are noteworthy. The first two, in contrast with other works by the artist, were not produced in dozens of copies, and are therefore especially valuable.

Dmitri Stelletskii (1875-1947) coloured or painted his wooden and plaster cast works. In the collection of the Gallery this kind of sculpture is represented by the plaster cast decoration of the fireplace. In this work the stylized modeling of the figures and their decoration with floral ornaments resulted in an original combination of the traditions of folk and professional art.

In the mentioned period, new artistic trends spread in Russian and European art. Impressionism in particular, introduced fresh and vivid influencies into Russian sculptural arts. Under this influence Anna Golubkina (1864-1927) and Serguei Konenkov (1874-1971) paved their own way. The great master of psychological portrait Anna Golubkina (1864-1927) constantly revealed the emotions and passions of her models. Her wooden bust of A. Brokard is marked by a profundity of characterization and bold comprehensiveness.

Interest towards folk images, a fervent manner of modeling, strength and expressiveness of the sculptural form are the characteristic features of Serguei Konenkov’s (1874-1971) works. His achievements in the field of reviving the wooden sculpture are considerable. His “Figure of a Woman” and “The Woman with a Mask” are characterized by true virtuosity.

During the first decades of the Soviet period, alongside with already acknowledged sculpors, Ivan Shadre(1887-1941), Sarah Lebedeva (1892-1967), Matvey Manizer (1891-1966) and others manifiested their skill in various forms and genres of sculpture.

The art of the 1920’s reflected the work and everyday-life of the Soviet people, as well as the life of the Red Army. A considerable place in the exhibitions is occupied by pictorial and sculptural portraits of revoluationary and state figures.In Ivan Shadr’s (1887-1941) sculptures, both stand and monumental, those topics obtained a symbolic meaning. Maxim Gorky’s portrait is probably the initial variant of the monument to the writer, erected later in Moscow. Nevertheless the romantic and emotional power of this bronze sculpture and its resolute and convincing modeling endow it with completeness.

Human personality in all its originality and psychological complexity is the focal point of the works of Sarah Lebedeva (1892-1967). Working only from a model, with surprising exactitude she finds compositional schemes and sculptural solutions in accordance with the character of each model. This is witnessed by the excellent portraits of pilot Valery Chkalov, painter Mariam Aslamazian, and writer Konstantin Paustovsky.

The creator of many monumental sculptures, Matvey Manizer (1891-1966) is represented in the collection by the expressive portrait of violinist H. Nalbandyan.

In the collection of Russian sculpture one can find interesting works by Rimma Pantsekhovskaya (1928), Ernst Neizvestny (1931), Oleg Komov (1932), who were active participants in the artistic life of the 1960’s to 1970’s.