(All-Russia since 1994) Museum Association of the State Tretyakov Gallery
was founded in 1986. The Gallery’s main building is on Lavrushinsky Pereulok in the Zamoskvorechye where merchants traditionally settled in the 19th century. The Tretyakov family
bought a house on Lavrushinsky Pereulok at the end of 1851. In 1856 Pavel purchased the first paintings which started the famous collection. As his collection grew special outbuildings were built as wings attached to the main building’s living quarters which housed works of art. When Pavel died (1898) and the building exterior was reconstructed to V.Vasnetsov’s design (1902-1904), the private house was finally transformed into the public museum visited by numerous generations since.
The Tretyakov Gallery on Lavrushinsky Pereulok is a huge museum complex today.
The Gallery’s historical building houses Russian art from the 11th to the early 20th centuries. In the Old Russian Art section it is possible to view art by both unknown and famous icon painters from the 12th-17th centuries (including Theophanes the Greek, Andrei Rublev and Dionysius). Halls of the 18th - the first half of the 19th century display paintings by famous Russian masters, such as F.Rokotov, D.Levitsky, V.Borovikovsky, K.Bryullov and A.Ivanov… An exhaustive collection of Russian Realism from the second half of the 19th century is on display at the Gallery. Its masterpieces include famous paintings by I.Kramskoy, I.Repin, V.Surikov, I.Shishkin, V.Vasnetsov, I.Levitan and many others. The brilliant display of works of art from the turn of the 19th-20th centuries include creations by M.Vrubel, V.Serov, masters of the World of Art, Union of Russian Artists and the Blue Rose groups.
The "Treasury" which displays works made in precious metals and stones produced between the 12th to the early 20th century is a special part of the exposition. It displays unique gilt and silver icon mounts (Kirill Ulanov. "The Assumption of the Virgin". 1702. Mount. Master M/LS, early 18th century); embroidery in silk, gold and silver, pearls and precious stones; stone carving (The Prophet Elijah in the Wilderness, underside - St Nicholas. Double-sided icon. Late 12th century), bone, wood carving, jewellery (C. Richard. Portrait of Catherine II as Minerva, 1789); miniatures (A.Chernov, Portrait of Grand Duchess Maria Fyodorovna, 1779) in gold frames, abundantly decorated books and church utensils (G.Master, Chalice, 1835).
Many exhibits are not only amazing works of art, but also give testimony to historical events, artifacts and records which express the aesthetic outlook of the Russian nation. The exposition presents a unique Byzantine mount from the late 13th - early 14th century for the Russian icon which depicts "The Virgin of Hodegetria" (late 15th- early 16th centuries) which was kept in the Trinity Monastery of St Sergei, most probably by Sophia Paleologue. The embroidered "ubrus" and "podvesnaya pelena" from the 16th century produced in Anastasia Romanovna’s workroom, Ivan the Terrible’s first wife were the "offered" gift by the Tsar and Tsarina to the Suzdal-Pokrovsky monastery in their hope for an heir. They were a part of the decoration of the venerated icon of the "Our Lady with Child". This decoration also comprised the pectoral cross, the precious tsata and the tiara and necklace from the 17th century. Works by the old Russian masters impress the viewer not only with their profound piousness, but also by their intricate method of production. A wide array of ornaments is characterized by (the icon; "St John the Baptist as the Angel of the Wilderness". Unknown artist, late 17th - early 18th century) the icon mounts, Bibles and church vessels from the 17th century. The highest traditions are preserved in work by the 18th - early 19th century masters. The development of the precious metal industry in the late 19th century generated, besides the famous Faberge company, a number of outstanding workshops where artists mastered all the intricacies and styles of decorative applied art. Examples of their work are displayed in the Treasury, F.Ya. Mishukov (The Tabernacle, 1912).
A special section in the Gallery is devoted to graphic art which cannot be subjected to direct light. The halls are equipped with soft artificial light. Yet, even in these favourable conditions, it is not possible for the exhibits to be displayed on a permanent basis due to the delicate expertise and materials used. Nevertheless the Gallery has the largest collection of graphic art from the 18th – early 20th century in Russia. It comprises more than 20,000 drawings, water colours, pastels, numerous albums, more than 3,000 engravings and a small, just over 300 items, but extremely valuable collection of portrait miniatures. The Gallery’s most valuable collection is a historical reflection of Russian drawings and works by famous Russian artists.
The graphic art stores have rare examples of drawings from the 18th century. These rarities include pieces by A.Losenko, S.Shchedrin (Landscape with Ruins, 1799) and other masters who were at the forefront of the Russian drawing school. The Gallery’s collection boasts remarkable works by artists from the first half of the 19th century, such as: O.Kiprensky (Portrait of Prince S.P. Buturlin, 1824), K.Bryullov (Horsemen. Portrait of E.I. Mussard and Y.I. Mussard, 1849). The Gallery is also proud of its tremendous collection of A.Ivanov’s legacy which includes his nature studies, preparation drawings, genre and landscape water colours (Arbour Covered with Vines, 1840s – 1850s), his famous Biblical Sketches.
Drawing occupied an important place in the creative work of leading painters in the second half of the 19th century. The Gallery’s collection contains a lot of graphic art by I.Repin (Portrait of the Italian Drama Actress Eleanor Duze, 1891), V.Surikov (With a Guitar. Portrait of S.A. Kropotkina, 1882), I.Shishkin (The Pine Tree, 1890), A.Savrasov, F.Vasiliev (After the Rain, 1870), V.Serov et al.
The work of M.Vrubel deserves particular attention (The Rose, 1904), an unsurpassable drawer and master of water colours who had rare talent for imagination, impeccable taste and sharp individual manner.
The new period in the history of Russian graphic art is associated with names of the masters from the World of Art group, such as A.Benois, K.Somov (The Harlequin and the Lady, 1912) M.Dobuzhinsky, L.Bakst et al. The work of these artists is characterized, on the one hand, by nostalgia for the past, for the jubilant theatrical quality of the 18th century, and on the other by a search for a new illustrative language and interest in theatre, book illustration and monumental decoration.
To ensure that the extensive collection of graphic art is put on display a conveyor-like system of changing exhibitions has been devised. The visitor then has the opportunity to view the huge collection of graphic art.
The Tretyakov Gallery comprises the Museum Church of St Nicholas in Tolmachy, a unique combination of museum exhibits and a functioning church.
In 1697 at the junction with the Bolshoi and Maly Tolmachevsky Pereuloks where originally the wooden Nikolskaya Church stood, Dobrynin merchants constructed a stone five-domed church. Its main altar was dedicated to the celebration of the Holy Spirit Descending upon the Apostles. However, popular tradition gave the church the name of St Nicholas after the new south side-chapel which was dedicated to him. The northern side-chapel dedicated to the Intercession of Our Lady was built in 1770. The construction of the new bell tower and gallery in 1834 gave the church its present appearance. In 1845 the gallery was decorated with paintings.
Pavel Tretyakov was a permanent member of the church congregation at St Nicholas in Tolmachi. In 1872 the church choir prayed where the first extension to the living quarters was due to be built to house the gallery. The burial service for P.Tretyakov was conducted in the church in 1898.
The church was closed in 1929, becoming part of the Gallery in 1932 and was converted into the museum storage facilities. Its reconstruction started in 1983 and church services were resumed there in 1993.
Today the church enjoys the status of home church for the Tretyakov Gallery. Its decoration mainly comprises exhibits from the Gallery’s collection. These are icons from the main and side iconostasis, including the St Nicholas and The Holy Spirit Descending upon the Apostles icons, dorsal crosses and ceremonial utensils (M.O. Master The Chalice, 1838). Here a special display case contains the most sacred Christian icon and world famous work of art, the pride of the Gallery collection, the icon The Virgin of Vladimir (12th century). Its presence in the church museum helps to harmoniously combine the aesthetic and the spiritual characteristics of this work of art.
The museum complex on Lavrushinsky Pereulok includes the Engineering Building. The building’s name, built during the Gallery’s latest reconstruction, is taken from the engineering maintenance services which maintains the museum’s running (climate, security). It also has a conference hall for scientific conferences and symposiums.
The second and the third floor of the Engineering Building are due to hold regular exhibitions of classic and contemporary art by Russian and foreign artists. In recent years it housed exhibitions entitled Peter I and Moscow, The Amazons of Avant-Garde, The Holy Land in Russian Art, etc. The project "The Golden Map of Russia" is administered in the Engineering Building halls. This project’s aim is exhibiting art collections from regional museums across Russia to Moscow’s visitors. Exhibitions from Tula, Saratov, Perm, Penza, Saransk, Krasnodar, Kursk and a number of other museums have been held here.
A special entrance leads to the lecture centre which was designed for lectures accompanied by slide and video demonstrations. From this entrance it is also possible to access the Tretyakov Gallery’s children’s studio.
The Depository - the Gallery’s storage facilities – is where works, not on display, are stored and is linked to the other side of the main Gallery building.
Further away to the embankment, building No. 4 located on a former 17th –19th century urban estate contains the Manuscript Department, the Tretyakov Gallery’s archive.
A large red brick building rises at the other end of Lavrushinsky Pereulok near the Kadashevskaya embankment. This building is known as the "widows’ house" (Lavrushinsky Pereulok, 3). It is a former shelter for widows and orphans of "poor Russian artists", the land and money to build it was bequeathed by P.Tretyakov. The building was constructed between 1909-1912 by architect N.Kurdyukov; it was reconstructed by engineer I.Kurdyukov in 1931.