1. Nude with a Book (1940). Zinaida Serebriakova (Russian, 1884-1967). Oil on canvas.

    After 1934, Serebriakova would from time to time return to her favourite topic, delighting art connoisseurs with Nude with a Book and similar works, full of internal movement and featuring dreamy models, particularly potent in eliciting the quintessential “Russianness” of these girls – a feature so poeticised by the artist.

  2. Winter Twilight (1916). Konstantin Korovin (Russian, 1861-1939). Oil on canvas. Kaluga Art Museum.

    A colourist by nature, Korovin made colour the principal means of expression both in his theatrical work and in his easel painting. ‘Colours and form combine to give harmony of beauty,’ he wrote. ‘Colours can be a celebration for the eyes, and your eyes speak to your soul of joy and delight…’

  3. Lady in Black. Nicolai Fechin (Russian, 1881-1955).

    The Fechin portrait of a lady in black has a certain stylishness and was painted while the artist still retained a zest for the performance, but nevertheless clever brushwork does not conceal lack of profundity. Fechin’s exuberant use of line and color to define form creates an immediate impression of energy and purpose. 

  4. The Painter and the Model. Nicholas Bodarevsky (Russian, 1850-1921). Oil on canvas.

    Bodarevsky graduated from the Odessa drawing school, which was run by the Imperial Academy of Arts. From 1869 to 1873 he studied at the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts. During his studies, he won four silver medals, and two small gold medals. In 1875 Bodarevsky was awarded the title of the first class artist.

  5. Young woman reading (1919). Sergei Vinogradov (Russian, 1869-1938). Oil on canvas. 

    Vinogradov took part in the creation of the “Union of Russian Artists” in 1903. It united Russian painters of the beginning of the 20th century and, being based on the achievements of 19th century Russian art in landscape and genre, enriched the country’s painting with a new understanding of color and light that was close to Impressionism.

  6. Costume sketch for the street dancer from the ballet Petrushka by Igor Stravinsky (1911). Alexander Benois (Russian, 1870-1960). Watercolour, pencil and silverpaint on paper.

    Benois began his career at the Mariinsky Theatre as a scenic designer, and quickly expanded his role to be at the forefront of ballet set and costume design. His most famous production was Petrushka, in 1911, a production in which he also co-wrote the libretto with composer Igor Stravinsky. 

  7. Russian ballet (1930). Konstantin Somov (Russian, 1869-1939). Bodycolour within a delineated border in black ink on cream paper. Ashmolean Museum.

    After emigration to France, Somov continued to draw amorous scenes of 18th century subjects, which made him known in St. Petersburg. Also, Somov painted portraits and drew a series of watercolors dedicated to the Russian ballet, of which this is an example.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.