The Decomposing Dromomaniac, Proud Russian Art Snob
I am a huge fan of late-19th century Russian art. It’s true! Don’t pretend to be surprised. I’m not pandering to Russian art aficionados either. I have the purest of intentions and am hurt that you would think otherwise. Hurt! The power troika to see Russian art in the flesh is the Hermitage and Russian Museum in St. Petersburg and the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. (Here is a sampling of what the Tretyakov has from the period.)
My guy is intrepid traveller Vasily Vereshchagin, “Tamerlan’s Doors” a nice example of his work, but anyone could spend a chunk of time gazing at “Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks to Sultan Mehmed IV of the Ottoman Empire” by Ilya Repin, see the pathos in “The Unequal Marriage” by Vasily Pukirev, or laugh at “The Aristocrat’s Breakfast” by Pavel Fedotov. While I am at it, I love Zinaida Serebriakova’s self-portrait below from 1909. Reminds me of my sister.
They were talented artists who were also the photojournalists and chroniclers of their time, able to convey in one static painting the feeling of the era in Russia and other countries in the flash of a moment, doing great, exalted things with their time abroad.
Me? I run around collecting bottle caps.
St. Petersburg prides itself as a cultural epicenter: 200 museums, 100 theatres, 1200 libraries, 700 churches, and zero laundromats. Another FREE business idea, right in front of your face! And, as my nieces say, “Your face is a beast!”
My face is a beast. I have to shave more often. If I let it go for three days, I go from fresh-faced ingenue to homeless drifter in a snap. I’m tired, too. I’m more than eight months away now, and I’m decomposing. I am not ageing well either. Scientists have declared that the only two things on earth that can be seen from outer space are the Great Wall of China and my bald spot.
What were we talking about?
St. Petersburg! Yes, home of the Hermitage. I like what the director of the museum said: “I can’t say that the Hermitage is the number one museum in the world, but it’s certainly not number two.”
They moved all the impressionists out of the top floor of the main Hermitage building and put them across the square on the top floor at something called the General Staff Building. I am warm to lukewarm about impressionists, but the exhibition is fantastic. First Thursday of the month is free. Few people seem to know this. I was there on the free day and was surprised at how quiet it was. There was only one Chinese tour group, which is how all travel will be measured shortly.
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Loved all the malachite in the Hermitage. Something like 40,000 tons?
I got a hernia trying to weigh it all, and I saw only a small percentage of it.
So what was the reply of the Cossacks to the sultan ? One can surmise from the expression on their faces that it probably involved recommendations for carnal relations with himself or with some of his wooly livestock.
I will email it to you. I am too much of a gentleman to say it out loud here:
But your guess is correct!