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Exposition at the Tretyakov Gallery

One man’s dream and hobby grew into one of the greatest treasures of Russia. A private collection ended up as the State Museum. The Tretyakov Gallery, one of the most popular Russian tourist attractions of Moscow, had its modest beginnings in 1856. That was when a rich twenty-four year old Russian businessman in Moscow bought his first painting, Nikolai Schilder's The Temptation.

Over then next decade the young merchant, Pavel Tretyakov collected whatever caught his fancy among the contemporary works of Russian artists. It was the beginning of a historic and patriotic mission and resulted in the greatest collection of Russian art. Among his early purchases were paintings by Vasily Perov and he continued to buy the very best paintings of artists from Moscow and St Petersburg. He sought the assistance of well known artists in his quest and Tretyakov's collection became the hub of Russia's artistic world.

His collections included works of outstanding artists at different stages of their careers. He progressed to collecting works of earlier artists, first from the early 19th century and then to works of little known painters of the 18th century. He also invested in the works of young unknown artists of his times. Thus Pavel Tretyakov’s collection is a reflection of the history of Russian paintings and his growth as a collector. His brother Sergei also developed an interest in art but did not restrict his interest and collection to Russian artists. He collected works of Dutch and French artists too.

Their collection grew so much that their house had to be extended six times to house it. In 1902 the facade of the Gallery we see today was added to the Tretyakov mansion. Pavel presented his collection to Moscow city in 1892 and remained its curator till his death in 1898. Igor Grabar was appointed the Gallery's Curator in 1913 and he restructured the exhibition sequence of the paintings: While the gallery earlier had represented the growth of the Tretyakov collection it was now displayed in different sections for different artists in chronological order. It was converted into the State Museum and today houses over 130,000 exhibits.


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