The émigré Aleksandra Pogosskaia (1848-1921) (known as ‘Madame Pogosky’) was a prolific exporter of Russian arts and crafts to Britain from around 1899 until the early 1920s, through her exhibition and sale business, ‘Russian Peasant Industries’. Indeed, it was once claimed that knowledge of Russian art in Edwardian Britain began and ended ‘with a visit to Mme. Pogosky’s depot … on Bond Street’. Although her work related to the visual arts, Pogosskaia’s focus on the peasantry linked her with the wider community promoting Russian causes in Britain from the late Victorian period onwards. No personal archive has yet been traced, thus piecing together and analyzing the life and work of this enigmatic and sometimes controversial figure remains challenging.
Louise Hardiman has recently completed a PhD research project at the University of Cambridge, entitled ‘The Firebird’s Flight: Russian Arts and Crafts in Britain, 1870-1921’ (supervised by Dr Rosalind Blakesley). Her research examined the rich history of British engagement with Russian visual culture in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a subject that has often been overshadowed by discussion of British interest in Russian literature and music. During this period, it was the decorative arts, and arts and crafts in particular, which captured British attention and set the agenda for the much-discussed crescendo of British interest in Russia which occurred during the 1910s.
The Anglo-Russian Research Network organises termly reading groups for those interested in the interactions between British and Russian culture and politics in the period 1880-1950. These are informal events with plenty of discussion and wine. More details of this and the previous reading groups, including podcasts, are available online here: https://anglorussiannetwork.wordpress.com/
Please download the readings from the Anglo-Russian Research Network site, using the password ARRN032015, at https://anglorussiannetwork.wordpress.com/news-2/
A.L. Pogosky, Revival of Village Industries in Russia (London: Theosophical Publishing House, 1918), pp. 1-33
‘Art Handiwork’, Art Journal (February 1906), 49-56
Louise Hardiman, ‘Infantine Smudges of Paint… Infantine Rudeness of Soul’: British Reception of Russian Art at the Exhibitions of the Allied Artists’ Association, 1908-1911’, in A People Passing Rude: British Responses to Russian Culture, ed. by Anthony Cross (Cambridge: Open Book Publishers, 2012), pp. 133-47