Friday, October 19, 2007

Tretyakov Gallery

The Tretyakov Gallery is well worth a visit if you are in Moscow. It is an enormous repository of Russian art, from very early icons to modern works. It is located in a pleasant part of the city, and the pedestrian street in front is a good place to walk. Admission is about $10 for adults. One of the most interesting exhibits is the large room dedicated to the unusual works of Symbolist artist Maxim Vrubel --I especially liked the decorated ceramic fireplace, and the large Dream Princess painting which dominates the room. You can see a sample of his work for free on the facade of the Metropol Hotel downtown.

The icons are another highlight of this museum, many with icon covers of gold, silver and various precious jewels. Jewelled Bible covers are also worth viewing. I'm no expert on Russian art, which is not particularly well-known in the West, but I enjoyed wandering through the various exhibits. I was especially struck by the works depicting the sufferings of the peasants in pre-Revolutionary Russia, and by one painting called Unequal Marriage, showing the wedding of a young girl to a very old man. I had witnessed a possible predecessor to a similar wedding in my hotel dining room, between a British man of late middle age and a Russian girl who looked to be no more than 25. The Russian bride business is still going strong, it seemed from their conversation.

There is a small cafe in the Tretyakov, where I partook of a lunch of a beer, a slightly stale pork and tomato sandwich, a red cabbage salad and a small dessert for about $8. The gift shop offers the usual art museum merchandise and books, but not all the books are available in English. Museum exhibits are labelled in both Russian and English, ortunately.