“The Quiet Hour”. Сanvases from the collection of the State Tretyakov Gallery and the National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus
15.11 - 15.12.2018

On November 15, “The Quiet Hour” exhibition of works by Vitold Bialynitsky-Birulya, one of the best landscape painters of the first half of the twentieth century, and artists he was connected with not only by friendship, but also by their common work in Udomlya vicinity. They include Stanislav Zhukovsky, Igor Grabar, Abram Arkhipov, Nikolay Bogdanov-Belsky, Alexei Stepanov, Alexander Moravov, Fyodor Modorov and others. The exhibition also features paintings by Isaak Levitan.

More than 40 canvases from the collection of the State Tretyakov Gallery and the National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus will be presented.

Isaak Levitan wrote about his later work “Over the Eternal Peace”: “Everything I am, all my mind, all I have to say is here...”. The landscape that became a milestone in Russian art was created in 1893 at the Udomlya Lake (Tver Province). A little later, the Udomlya vicinity also became part of the creative biography for a number of young painters. And for one of them – Vitold Bialynitsky-Birulya – it became his life.

As a student of the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, a native of the Mahilioŭ Province, Vitold Bialynitsky-Birulya worked hard to develop his own style, listening to Levitan’s advice, participating in exhibitions. In 1892, his small painting “From the Pyatigorsk Neighborhood” (State Tretyakov Gallery) was purchased by Pavel Tretyakov. It witnessed the recognition of talent in the young landscape painter. At the beginning of the twentieth century Vitold Bialynitsky-Birulya was already an artist with a name. He was admitted to the Society for Travelling Art Exhibitions and to the Union of Russian Artists.

Visit to the Udomlya Lake was the turning point for Bialynitsky-Birulya. There he built his dacha “Chajka” in 1912. He spent there a lot of time for the rest of his life. Other artists, such as Stanislav Zhukovsky, Alexei Stepanov, Abram Arkhipov, Nikolay Bogdanov-Belsky, Fyodor Modorov, Alexander Moravov and Igor Grabar, also came there to work, socialize and hunt. Not belonging to the radical trends in art, the named painters, like many of their contemporaries, had their own author's creed.

The signature theme for Stanislav Zhukovsky was manor interior (“In May”, 1916, National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus, “The Red Living Room”, 1939, State Tretyakov Gallery). In his works, everyday life becomes an aesthetic category. Painting “In the Room” (1912, National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus) by Alexei Stepanov resonates with the work of Zhukovsky. Alexei Stepanov is a versatile artist who traveled the path of creative evolution, reaching great freedom and expression in composition, color and style of painting. The artist's strengths were animalier art and subtle understanding of nature. These two aspects often merged into elegiac touching images (“Departure”, 1914, State Tretyakov Gallery).

The creative heritage of Abram Arkhipov is impossible to imagine without the bright life-affirming images of peasant women that combine the documental and poetic (“A Smiling Girl”, 1920, National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus). Nikolay Bogdanov-Belsky creates images of peasant youth on the border of two great life stages (“Waiting for the Ferry”, 1915, National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus, “Children at the Piano”, 1918, State Tretyakov Gallery). Alexander Moravov gives his own cheerful interpretation of the “peasant theme” (“Peasants”, 1910s, National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus).

One of the major representatives of Russian impressionism, Igor Grabar, stands out with his meticulousness, combining textured strokes into an indivisible whole of the expressive artistic image (“The February Azure”, 1904, National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus, “Rowan-Tree”, 1915, State Tretyakov Gallery).

Many artists of the early twentieth century were inspired by the strict, majestic beauty and traditional life principles of the north Abram Arkhipov “In the North” /1909–1910, State Tretyakov Gallery/ Alexander Moravov “At the Severnoye Lake” /1910, State Tretyakov Gallery/ Vitold Bialynitsky-Birulya “The Winter Dream” /1911, National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus/; Fyodor Modorov “Market in the North. Study” /1917, National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus/).

To a certain extent, we can see a complex panorama of the development of the Russian art at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. Realistic school which started with a deliberate rigoristic approach and, according to Ivan Kramskoy, arrived at the need to “move towards light, color and air” became the basis of all the art movements presented at the exhibition.


Alexey Khoryak, Deputy Director General

for Scientific Work

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