Art and Faith

Monday, 25 February 2008

Ilya Repin. A Portrait of the Art Critic Vladimir Stasov. 1873

Filed under: 19th century,fine art,human study,Russian — 01varvara @ 00.00

A Portrait of the Art Critic Vladimir Stasov (Ilya Repin, 1873)

Art critics of the proper sort DO serve a purpose… they do, Bill, shut up, and listen!

Vladimir Stasov (1824-1906) was the towering figure in both the art and music worlds in Russia in the last half of the nineteenth century, and he had as much influence as any practising artist or musician, his “backdoor” influence being exceeded only by the art professor Pyotr Chistyakov (the teacher of most of the early Peredvizhniki).

He was one of the first to see the revolutionary impact of the composer Mikhail Glinka and he was the patron of the so-called Krepki Pyatom (the Mighty Five): Cesar Cui, Aleksandr Borodin, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Modest Mussorgsky, and Mily Balakirev. Thus, he was, so to speak, the “midwife” of the birth of the Russian national school in music. Russian composers incorporated the motifs of Russian folk song and liturgical chant into their work, making their oeuvre completely distinct from that of the West.

He equally far-seeing in his art patronage. He played the same role with the Peredvizhniki (Wanderers) as he did with the Krepki Pyatom. Thusly, he played as an important role in the foundation of a truly Russian national school of art as he did in the formation of a distinctive Russian musical style. Russian artists abandoned classical themes and looked for inspiration in the life of the Russian peasantry, who preserved the Old Russian way of life and customs more so than the urban population. Artists such as Ilya Repin, Vasili Surikov, and Ivan Kramskoi were his friends and beneficiaries of his influence.

Without Stasov’s labour, there may have not been a Russian national school of art and music. All we Russians owe his memory an indelible debt. Vechnaya pamyat, rab bozhii Vladimir! Eternal Memory, servant of God Vladimir!

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