1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. #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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. Costume design for Salomé in ‘Dance of the Seven Veils’ (1908). Leon Bakst (Russian, 1866-1924). Oil on canvas. Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow.

    Ida Lvovna Rubinstein (Russian, 1885-1960) was a wealthy and beautiful actress, dancer, patron and Belle Époque figure who had, by the standard of Russian ballet, little formal training. Nevertheless, she proposed her role as Oscar Wilde’s Salomé, in which she would strip nude in the course of the Dance of the Seven Veils. Tutored by Mikhail Fokine, she made her debut in 1908 in a single private performance in which she stripped completely.

  13. A Woman at the Grand Piano (1914). Natan Altman (Russian, 1889-1970).

    Fascinated, like many of his contemporaries, by revolutionary ideas, from 1917, Altman edited the first Soviet journal on the questions of art, ‘Art of the Commune.’ He directed the establishment of the Museum of Artistic Culture, and he created portraits of prominent Bolsheviks (notably, a bust of Lunacharsky). 

  14. Self-Portrait with a Palette (1880). Marie Bashkirtseff (Russian, 1858-1884). Chéret Museum of Fine Arts of Nice.

    Bashkirtseff shows herself soberly dressed, palette in hand, her gaze purposely directed at the viewer. Her professional identity is stressed here, undermined only by the insertion of the harp behind her, which threatens the seriousness of her painting by making it signify as one among a number of female accomplishments.

  15. A Letter from My Beau. Konstantin Razumov (Russian, born 1974).

    Razumov has painted all kinds of subjects, from nudes to landscapes. His bright colours, the smoothness of the skin in his nudes, the expressive features of his characters, distinguish his paintings. Razumov has a vibrant shimmering brushstroke plus a mastery of light and excellent draftmanship.