Opening The Door
People frequently tell me they want to get to know art or music,
but they just don’t know the best place to start.
Well, there is no best place to start. The important thing is to
start. You’ll be glad you did.
So let’s open the door to Russian Art.
5 Paintings to Start
Information about each painting follows.
The Holy Trinity (14th Century)
Rublev’s icon of the Holy Trinity is
beloved across the Christian world. He
depicted the Old Testament account of
Three Angels visiting Abraham and
Sarah, focusing solely on the trio of
angels. The placement of the angels
had enormous influence, resulting in
countless copies down the centuries.
Today Rublev’s Trinity is housed in
Moscow’s Tretiakov Gallery, which
brings up the complex question of
whether valuable holy images should
be secured in museums or returned to
their proper places in churches.
Rain in an Oak Forest (1891)
The forest matters deeply in
Russian culture, and no one
painted the forest better than
Shishkin. Gnarled tree
trunks, delicate birch leaves,
and translucent skies frame
small figures engaged in
ordinary life. Shishkin was
highly educated, studying
abroad to absorb the trends
of European Romanticism.
His paintings abound in crisp
detail and poetic softness.
Reaping, Summer (1827)
Peasants became popular subjects of
Russian art in the early 19th century and no
one captured them better than Venetsianov.
His peasants, however, were idealized.
Poetic in appearance, they appear at rest
or happily engaged in tasks. Society wasn’t
ready for the realistic paintings done by the
next generation of Russian artists, The
Barge Haulers on the Volga (1870-73)
Of the painters known as The
Wanderers, none surpasses
Repin. Barge Haulers on the
Volga shows in detail the
backbreaking labor of hauling
barges up a river—labor long
abundant in Russia due to the
enslaved bulk of the population
known as serfs. His paintings
often presented disturbing social
messages or shocking versions of
historical events. He also painted
famous figures of his day,
including fascinating renditions of
Tolstoy. Repin’s late works are
awash in Impressionism.
One of the most versatile of
the early 20th-century avant-
garde artists, Goncharova
captured the clang of factories
and the anxiety of modern
society. Her vivid sense of
color led her to design
exceptional sets for the
legendary Ballets Russe. She
was inspired also by old
Russian icons. After the
Bolshevik Revolution she
made her career in Paris.
The Circle of Scholars
Our Western Cultural heritage is not an elective. It’s a treasure!
All of Professor Carol’s courses in a single