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26 June 2019–06 October 2019

Moscow, State Tretyakov Gallery  

Organized by the State Tretyakov Gallery

Participants: State Tretyakov Gallery, State Historical Museum,  The Moscow Kremlin Museums, Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow State Integrated Museum-Reserve, State Russian Library

The display in the Tretyakov Gallery is dedicated to the influence of West European books with engravings on works of the Russian makers in the second half of the 17th century.

Engraved editions of the Bible printed in Western Europe were widely distributed in Russia from the mid-17th century. They belonged to ‘ouvrage’ (‘monumental work’) type, i.e. albums consisting of engravings with short captions.

In the 17th century, personal traits in art became more important—the emphasis shifts from the description of an event to the intimate experiences of the heroes. Ouvrage met new public demands, and that in the end provoked changes in the Russian traditional iconography.

West-European graphics notably affected decorative and applied art as well — ceramic, metal and ivory pieces on display are the evidence of that process. The Moscow Kremlin Museums are among the exhibitions’ lenders giving on loan two pieces from their collection—a silver bowl and a plate with the depictions tracing to engravings from the Bible of the Visscher’s family.

A silver-gilt bowl was made in the late 17th century. Biblical narratives about King Rehoboam adorn its white-enamelled inboard side with multicolour enamels. Those pictures are completed with syllabic verses by Mardariy Khonykov, monk, poet and translator, who wrote over three thousand explanatory notes in verse for the engravings from the Piscator’s Bible in 1679. Another item is a partly gilt silver plate with a chased composition created in the mid-18th century. It shows a scene from the Old Testament, depicting Naomi and her widowed daughters-in-law — Ruth and Orpah. An outstanding Moscow silversmith Pyotr Afinogenov perfectly coped with the task to engrave the scene on silver.

Along with a high artistic value, these objects have memorial significance. The bowl belonged to the member of an extremely noble family—Prince F.Yu. Romodanovsky. This bowl was presented to Empress Catherine II during her Volga River trip from Tver to Simbirsk in 1767.