If you’re looking for Russian art … Rome is normally not the place to find it. But that has changed dramatically for a couple of months, thanks to a spectacular exhibition taking place in Vatican City.
“Pilgrimage of Russian Art: From Dionysius to Malevich” is actually a gigantic “thank you” to the Vatican from the museum curators of Moscow’s Tretyakov Gallery. It comes in response to a very different exhibition held in Moscow a couple of years back, of priceless works of art from the Vatican. One good turn deserves another–and since Russians were afforded the opportunity to view masterpieces from the Vatican’s collection, it’s appropriate that Romans (and tourists visiting the city too, of course) can now see some of Russia’s greatest artworks.
The quality of the paintings that were selected for the exhibition is startlingly high. The Tretyakov Gallery has sent the best of the best, like Nikolai Yaroshenko’s famous Life is Everywhere (1888), seen here.
But what is almost even more impressive is the clever manner in which the Russian curators selected a combination of medieval religious icons (traditionally found in Orthodox churches) and more modern artworks, many of which depict scenes of life in Russia. Ilya Repin’s Religious Procession in Kursk Province (1881-1882) is a famous, emotionally powerful work showing the tremendous faith that average Russians have traditionally put in divine intervention through icons. It’s difficult to describe this fantastic painting–you have to see it for yourself!
Incredibly, this exhibition is free. But there are only a few weeks left, after which these fine paintings will be heading home to Russia. So unless you plan to fly all the way to Moscow in the future, the time is now! Russia has come to Rome.