Polenovo - A Unique and Living Legacy of 19th Century Russian Art, Craft and Community. Polenovo Estate Museum

Language: In English

Exhibition starts from the 1st till 12th October 2012 daily from 4pm till 7pm

This fascinating exhibition presents Polenovo, the unique estate museum and centre of Russian art heritage, established by the great painter, Vasily Polenov, in 1892. A special feature will be the exhibition of fine prints , never before seen outside Russia, of portraits drawn by his mother, Maria Alekseevna Polenova in the 1840s and 1850s.

These striking portraits by Maria Alekseevna Polenova (1816-1895) offer a fascinating glimpse into life on a provincial Russian estate in the mid 19th century. Maria Alekseevna depicted, with loving attention to detail and texture, the wholesome beauty and exotic folk costumes of young country women, the weathered faces and piercing gazes of elderly men, and the bright eyes and silken hair of young children. Her ability to capture mood and facial expression demonstrates the remarkable psychological insight with which she approached her work. Maria Alekseevna was a gifted and professionally trained artist, yet as a gentlewoman, she always worked as an amateur. For this reason, her remarkable drawings of family, friends and simple country folk have seldom been published or exhibited.

Maria Polenova’s exquisite portraits provide an insight into the artistically rich atmosphere surrounding the Polenov family, which undoubtedly assisted the development of her children into artists of national importance. Her son, Vasily Dmitrievich Polenov (1844-1927) ranks amongst Russia’s greatest painters of the 19th century and is most renowned for his captivating landscapes, among them the celebrated Moskovskiy Dvorik (A Moscow Courtyard) painted in 1878 and now held in the State Tretiakov Gallery. Her daughter, Elena Dmitrievna Polenova (1850-1898) was a talented watercolourist and illustrator of children’s fairytales, and became a leader of the Russian Arts and Crafts Movement.

In 1892, Vasily established a spacious family home at Borok, an idyllic rural location high on a hillside overlooking the Oka river, in Tula Province. Here, he would support his extended family, nurture the new generation of artists, and serve as a mentor, benefactor and leader to his local community. The property would also serve to house and display a remarkable collection of paintings and rare ancient archaeological objects collected by his distinguished family over several generations and would become the first museum in the province.

Today the Polenovo Estate Museum is unique in Russia, not only as a rare surviving example of an artist´s country estate from the pre-Revolutionary era, but also because its rich art collections and original nineteenth century interiors have been meticulously preserved. The museum holds many family possessions of the Polenov family, who care for and manage the property to this day, and perpetuate Vasily´s commitment to art and community.

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