Visiting the marvelous Russian capital and are in two minds how to enrich your experience? There’s no doubt that your acquaintance with Russia will be incomplete without immersing into its incomparable art and culture so, while in Moscow, don’t miss the chance to explore the legend - the gallery that, previously being a small private collection, turned into the most famous depositary of Russian art on the planet. Welcome to the State Tretyakov Gallery!
How it all started…
Founded in 1856, the world's largest collection of Russian paintings and sculptures grew out of some private collections of the brothers Pavel and Sergey Tretyakov. It is known that they came from an old but not very rich merchant family and were engaged in family business from a very young age. Later they took an active part in charity and the social life of the country. Both brothers were keen on collecting some valuable works of art, however, Sergey did it more like an amateur while Pavel saw it as his life mission.
The year 1856 is considered to be the gallery’s birth year as that’s when Tretyakov purchased the first paintings by Russian artists. Since then, the fund was constantly replenished and expanded.
Pavel put his beloved collection in a family owned house in Zamoskvorechye, in the Lavrushinsky Alley, which later became the famous main building of the museum.
The estate itself was rebuilt several times for the needs of the growing exposition, and the most significant part is that its facades were decorated according to the project of one of the most outstanding Russian artists, Victor Vasnetsov.
Immediately after the Gallery was established, Tretyakov decided to present it to the city of Moscow in order to make his impressive collections available to the public domain. Can you imagine that Pavel even refused the title of nobility granted for this by the emperor? This modest philanthropist didn’t want any honor and was just sincerely glad that he was able to do something really worthwhile for Russia. After all, he agreed to accept the title of the honorary citizen of Moscow awarded to him by the City Duma (City Council) as a sign of high distinction and gratitude for his high achievements in the preservation of Russian artistic culture.
What to see in the Tretyakov Gallery
It goes without saying that the collection can be described colorfully and emotionally many times but it’s way better to see it with your own eyes at least once. First of all, the Tretyakov Gallery keeps the most complete collection of icon painting and masterpieces of the second half of the 19th century.
Pavel Tretyakov was, perhaps, the main buyer of the works of the Wanderers, the artists who formed their own cooperative in protest of academic restrictions.
The paintings of the golden age of Russian painting of such geniuses as Perov, Kramskoy, Savrasov, Kuindzhi, Vasilyev, Vasnetsov, Surikov and Repin are the true pride of the museum.
Apart from the works of the Wanderers, the Gallery beautifully represents the art of Nesterov, Serov, Levitan, Malyavin, Korovin, Vrubel, and Roerich, which have no equals in the whole world.
What is more, after October 1917, the museum’s fund was enriched by the national collections and the works of contemporary artists, whose canvases illustrate the genesis and development of Soviet art, its official trends, and the underground avant-garde.
Even if you have little idea of what Russian art is, the Tretyakov Gallery is definitely worth visiting just to see the real classics and such most famous gems as “Trinity” by Andrey Rublev, “Girl with Peaches” by Valentin Serov, “The Appearance of Christ before the People” by Alexander Ivanov, “Ivan the Terrible Killing his Son” by Ilya Repin, “Bogatyrs” by Victor Vasnetsov, and “Morning in a Pine Forest” by Ivan Shishkin.
It’s important to mention that the collection of the Tretyakov Gallery continues to replenish its funds, currently having about 4000 items. Since the beginning of the 21st century, a department of modern trends has been collecting works of contemporary art. In addition, the Gallery boasts a large collection of graphics and sculptures as well as a valuable archive of manuscripts.
When to go to the Tretyakov Gallery
It’s not hard to imagine that one of the main Russian museums meets an impressively high demand. Consequently, you have to plan your upcoming visit carefully and in advance! Remember, the Tretyakov Gallery is open every day, except Mondays.
The working hours depend on the day of the week: you can see the collection from 10 a.m. till 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, and till 9 p.m. on Thursday and Friday.
Naturally, the best time to visit the Gallery is the morning hours or the evening of Thursday and Friday when you have the opportunity to catch the time with less touristy crowds.
On the contrary, if you want to go during the afternoon hours, get ready for the risk to face incredibly busy halls with long queues or not to have a glimpse of the famous exhibition at all.
To sum it up, the Tretyakov Gallery is one of Russia's main classics that receives more than 2,5 mln visitors per year. So there’s no doubt why the famed throve of Russian art should be on your Moscow travel itinerary, isn’t it?