From the 18th century to the 20th, this book gives a panorama of Russian painting not equalled anywhere else. Russian culture developed in contact with the wider European influence, but retained strong native intonations. It is a culture between East and West, and both influences in together. The book begins with Icons, and it is precisely Icon-painting which gave Russian artist their peculiar preoccupation with ethical questions and a certain kind of palette. It goes on the expound the duality of their art, and point out the originality of their contribution to world art. The illustrations cover all genres and styles of painting in astonishing variety. Such figures as Borovokovsky, Rokotov, Levitsky, Brullov, Fedatov, Repin, Shishkin and Levitan and many more are in these pages.
The sublime imagery of the great icon painters, the portraiture of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the paintings of sea, snow and forest, the scenes of peasant life and the historical works of the Itinerants, the stylishness of the World of Art movement, the bold experimentation of the artists of the early twentieth century… To anyone unfamiliar with Russian painting, its richness and diversity may well come as a surprise or at least an exciting revelation. Indeed, the creative energy of Russian artists over the past two and a half centuries has been such that a book of this size cannot hope to offer a comprehensive overview of their output. Its aim is therefore to provide a representative selection of Russian painting from the eighteenth century to the start of the post-Revolutionary period (plus some glimpses of more recent work), but without attempting to do more than briefly allude to Russia’s rich heritage of icon painting or giving in-depth coverage of Soviet era art.