THE TRETYAKOV GALLERY

The Tretyakov Gallery, founded by Pavel Mikhailovich Tretyakov
(1832-1989), a Moscow merchant and art patron, is a national treasury
of Russian pre-revolutionary and Russian art.

The Gallery’s centenary was widely celebrated throughout Russia in May
1956. Tretyakov spent his life collecting the works of Russian painters
which reflected the spirit and ideas of all progressive intellectual of
his day. He began his collection in 1856 with the purchase of
«Temptation» (1856) by N.Shilder and «Finnish Smugglers» (1853) by
V.Khudyakov. These paintings are on permanent exhibition. In order
that his collection better reflect the centuries-old traditions of
Russian art he acquired works of various epochs and also began a
collection of antique icons. Tretyakov was one of the few people of his
time who realised the great intrinsic value of ancient Russian art. He
was on friendly terms with many progressive , democratic Russian
painters, frequenting their studious, taking an active interest in
their work, often suggesting themes for new paintings, and helping them
financially. His collection grew rapidly; by 1872 a special building
was erected to house it.

Tretyakov was aware of the national importance of his vast collection of
Russian art and presented it to the city of Moscow in 1892, thus
establishing the first museum in Russia. An excerpt from his will
reads: « Desirous of facilitating the establishment in my beloved city
of useful institutions aimed at promoting the development of art in
Russia, and in order to hand down to succeeding generations the
collection I have amassed I hereby bequeath my entire picture gallery
and the works of art contained therein, as well as my half of the
house, to the Moscow City Duma. By special decree of the Soviet
Government, Issued on June 3 1918 and signed by V.I. Lenin, the Gallery
was designated one of the most important educational establishments of
the country. It was also decreed that the name of its founder be
retained in honour of Tretyakov’s great services to Russian culture.

The Gallerie’s collection has grown considerably in the years since the
Revolution. In 1893 it consisted of 1805 works of art, but by 1956 the
number had increased to 35276.The early Russian Art department and
the collections of sculpture and drawings were considerably enlarged,
and an entirely new department- Soviet Art- was created. By a
Government decision of 1956, a new house is to be built for the Gallery
within the next few years.

At present, the more interesting and distinctive works, tracing the
development of Russian art through nearly ten centuries, are exhibit in
the Gallery’s 54 halls.

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