1. Portrait of the Prima Ballerina Aleksandra Balashova (1922-23). Filipp Andreevich Maliavin (Russian, 1869-1940). Oil on board. Mead Art Museum at Amherst College.

    Balashova was a principal dancer at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow until she immigrated to Paris in 1921. Maliavin connected the elegance and sensuousness of turn-of-the-century art with blotchily applied paint and energetic brushstrokes. On his canvases, the color splotches have a powerful expressive force, a quality characteristic of the avant-garde, although the artist remained true to figurative art throughout his career.

  2. Portrait of a ballerina E.A. Svekis (1923). Zinaida Serebriakova (Russian, 1884-1967).

    Young dancer Svekis is portrayed in the costume for her role in Sleeping Beauty. In keeping with her character, Svekis posed standing as though preparing for her upcoming role in the ballet. Very beautiful and svelte, she proudly holds her head high. This is a dancer already experienced in the glory of success, plunged in the excitement of the theatrical scene, graceful and feminine.

  3. Portrait of A. G. and A. A. Lobanov-Rostovsky (1814). Vladimir Borovikovsky (Russian, 1757-1825). Oil on canvas. Russian Museum, St. Petersburg.

    In 1795 Borovikovsky became a member of the St Petersburg Academy of Arts; he was also closely connected with many of the chief exponents of Russian culture in the city. His sitters included members of the imperial family, courtiers, generals, many aristocrats and figures from the Russian artistic and literary worlds. Most of his portraits are intimate in style.

  4. In the Theatre I (1906-07). Marianne von Werefkin (Russian, 1860-1938). Tempera and gouache on paper laid down on board.

    Werefkin created a distinctive style by assimilating the ‘surface painting’ of Paul Gauguin and Louis Anquetin with the ideals of Der Blaue Reiter, which included a desire to express spiritual truths through their art and a firm belief in the connection between visual art and music. This work reflects Werefkin’s interest in the French Impressionist school, capturing urban entertainment venues such as operas, theatres and cafés.

  5. Pygmalion and Galatea. Konstantin Makovsky (Russian, 1839-1915). 

    Aphrodite visited the home of the sculptor and was delighted to see the ivory Galatea who looked much like herself. Indeed, Pygmalion had fashioned his ivory lover after Aphrodite. Pleased and flattered, she immediately brought the statue to life. When the sculptor returned to his house and kissed Galatea as was his custom, he was startled at her warmth. As he showered her with kisses he was beside himself with joy at discovering that slowly the ivory was turning into flesh. Galatea smiled down at him and spoke adoring words to her loving creator.

  6. Portrait of Wife, V.N. Perelman (Russian, 1892-1967), Savitsky Art Museum, Nukus, Karakalpakstan, Uzbekistan.

    Perelman believed that the images and the lives of workers should be documented and depicted in art. He also applied this to the portrait genre, which is usually intimate; however, he believed that portraits should take on an epic monumental stylistic approach. Here, painting wife and dog, the intimate approach prevails.

  7. The Flower Girl (1878). Alexei Harlamoff (Russian, 1840-1922). Oil on canvas. 

    A contemporary critic wrote: “Something ethereal, elegant and tender emanates from Harlamoff’s heads.” These words apply equally to the visual composition of his The Flower Girl. Sitting half turned, the young girl is deeply absorbed in her reading; a graceful bunch of just-picked flowers is in a basket at her left. The girl’s figure, simply clothed, is drawn as an elegant and beautiful silhouette on the dark background.

  8. Two Ladies Looking at Prints (1872). Konstantin Egorovich Makovsky (Russian, 1839-1915). Oil on canvas. 

    This elegant depiction of two young women studying engravings is typical for Makovsky. His father was a passionate collector of antique engravings, which the young Konstantin copied at the beginning of his creative life. Although it has not been possible to identify the lady in the blue dress, the lady in the dark dress, however, bears a great resemblance to Makovsky’s first wife, Elena Timofeevna Burkova.

  9. Russian ballet (Pavlova and Nijinsky in “Pavillon d’Armide”), 1907. Serge Sudeikin (Russian, 1882-1946). Oil on panel.

    Le Pavillon d’Armide was first presented on 25 November 1907 at the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg, with staging and costumes by Alexandre Benois. Principal dancers were Anna Pavlova in the role of Armida, Vaslav Nijinsky as her slave, and Pavel Gerdt as the Vicomte René de Beaugency.

  10. Portrait of Princess Catherine Alekseevna Dolgorukoi (1798). Vladimir Lukich Borovikovsky (Russian, 1757-1825). Oil on canvas. State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow.

    In 1795 Borovikovsky was made a member of the Academy of Arts. At the turn of the 18th-19th centuries he became more and more influenced by classicism. It was then he painted a number of magnificent ceremonial portraits, including this of Princess Dolgorukoi.

  11. Love Letter (2001). Georgy Kurasov (Russian, 1958-).

    Kurasov’s artwork combines surrealism and abstraction and yet, it is narrative and iconic. Although a challenge, he has found a balance in all these elements of artistic expression.

  12. #194. Woman reading book with orange. Georgy Kurasov (Russian, b.1958).

    Kurasov’s artwork combines surrealism and abstraction; and yet, is narrative and iconic. He has been able to find a balance in these elements of artistic expression. In spite of his work being very geometric, it is also dynamic and textural.

  13. Portrait of Countess Maria Hilarionovna Worontsov-Dachkova (1919). Nikolai Bekker (Russian, b.1877). Oil on canvas laid down on board.

    Maria Hilarionovna Worontsov-Dachkova was the grand-daughter of the last Viceroy of the Caucasus. In 1922 she married Prince Nikita Alexandrovich of Russia. Nikolai Bekker was not an internationally renowned artist but he enjoyed popularity among the aristocratic society of St Petersburg for his refined portraits.

  14. The Zaporozhian Cossacks write a letter to the Sultan of Turkey, detail (1880–1891). Ilya Repin (Russian, 1844–1930). Oil on canvas. State Russian Museum.

    The Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Mehmed IV, demanded that the Cossacks submit to Turkish rule. The Cossacks, led by Ivan Sirko, replied in an uncharacteristic manner: they wrote a letter, replete with insults and profanities. The painting exhibits the Cossacks’ pleasure at striving to come up with ever more base vulgarities.

  15. Reading a Letter (1892). Nikolai Bogdanov-Belsky (Russian, 1868-1945). Oil on canvas. Sumy Art Museum, Ukraine.

    Bogdanov-Belsky painted mostly genre paintings, especially of the education of peasant children, portraits, and impressionistic landscapes studies. He became pedagogue and academician in 1903. He was an active Member of the Academy of Arts in 1914.