Mikhail Shemyakin. An entirely different artist - Russian impressionism museum
Temporary exhibition

Mikhail Shemyakin. An entirely different artist

13 October - 16 January

From October 13 to January 17, 2017 the Museum of Russian Impressionism hosts the Mikhail F. Shemyakin retrospective – Russian Impressionist artist of the first half of the 20th century. The exposition will include more than fifty works of the painter from Russian museums, Russia’s “near abroad” and Moscow private collections. Of these, there will be the State Tretyakov Gallery, the State Russian Museum, the Nizhniy Tagil State Museum of Fine Arts, art museums of Astrakhan, Penza, Tula, Ryazan and many others. Some works will be exhibited for the first time.

With this exhibition the Museum of Russian Impressionism refers to its mission to speak about the Russian Impressionists. We will talk about the master, whom Konstantin Korovin compared with Raphael, and Vladimir Mayakovsky recognized as the "realist-impressionist-cubist", — about Mikhail Shemyakin. Not our contemporary, but “an entirely different artist”.


Mikhail Shemyakin studied under Valentin Serov and Konstantin Korovin at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture. From the tutors the young artist adopted the love to the portrait genre and bold impressionistic manner of painting. The skill of the draftsman Shemyakin improved in Munich, in the studio of Anton Ažbe. One of the last drawings "Monk", made by the artist in the school of Ažbe, will be presented at the exhibition. This painting was noticed and appreciated by Feodor Chaliapin, who once visited Jan Hřímalý 's apartment. The artist’s son recalled: "Approaching the drawing, without looking back, he silently examined it. Then he looked back, and guests saw two "Monks": one on the picture, and the other perfectly Chaliapin "played". There was a friendly applause. "It's great!" Chaliapin said and shook my father's hand. "

It is interesting that at this time Mikhail Shemyakin prefers a three-color monochrome palette, thereby filling the painting with a special pearly light. The artist handled with ceruse, light ocher and black ivory, giving warm black. Subsequently, Mikhail Shemyakin will devote several years of life to the study of black color and its shades.


In 1901, the artist married his fellow student Lyudmila Hřímalý, daughter of the renowned Czech violinist Jan Hřímalý. For many years, Shemyakin lived in his father-in-law’s apartment, located in the right wing of the Moscow Conservatory. In the living room the master repeatedly wrote his relatives, who were musicians, and their friends, who often visited a hospitable family. Mikhail Shemyakin was called the "musical Moscow’s chronicler" of the first half of the 20th century, and therefore the portraits of musicians were given a central place at the exhibition. visitors will see a series of portraits of great performers, among them the artist’s father-in-law Jan Hřímalý, composer Alexander Goedicke, violinist František Ondříček, cellist Anna Lyuboshitz, singer and soloist of the Bolshoi Theater Nadezhda Salina.

Mikhail Shemyakin. Violinist’s portrait


A separate part is a series of family portraits. Mikhail Shemyakin loved to paint his wife Lyudmila Hřímalý, sons Feodor and Mikhail (also artist in the future). Shemyakin was able to convey the joy of motherhood, the charm and significance of everyday household chores, the serene peace of the child brightly and poetically. The portrait of the famous grandfather of the artist - the manufacturer Alexey Abrikosov – is particularly racy. The portrait was so similar that the stoker with the bundle of firewood, who entered Abrikosov's office in the morning, moved back, saying: "Excuse me, Alexey Ivanovich, I did not know that you awoke." After entering the museum funds, this painting has never been exhibited. The Tretyakov Gallery, where the portrait is now kept, gave the Museum of Russian Impressionism the right to present the canvas for the first time to the public.

Mikhail Shemyakin. The Portrait of Alexey I. Abrikosov (1902


Shemyakin's female portraits deserve special attention. Among them are numerous images of the artist's wife, the sumptuous "Lady in White" - a portrait of Lyudmila Shemyakina's sister, Anna Egorova. But the most attractive are the images of models. Shemyakin often painted Valentin Serov's favorite model - Vera Kalashnikova. Her expressive gray-green eyes and a stench of dark hair are instantly recognized and attract the eye. The master was dissatisfied with his first sketch from Vera: he threw a cardboard into the corner of the workshop, where it lay for almost 20 years, until Apollinary Vasnetsov . Etude so pleased the artist that he hung it over the bed. A year later Mikhail Shemyakin made another attempt to portray Vera Kalashnikova. The drawing turned out to be unusually subtle, for which the painter deserved approval from the very chary of praise Valentin Serov, and Konstantin Korovin did not hide his delight: "Raphael!"

Mikhail Shemyakin. The Model (1905)


It is impossible to imagine an exhibition of Mikhail Shemyakin without hyacinths. The artist had a special love to them: he often painted these tender flowers, which always appeared in his house for the New Year. It was customary for the Czech tradition to decorate houses for Christmas with spring flowers. The son of the artist, Mikhail Shemyakin, recalled: "The tree was big. There were many ornaments on it. Colorful candles burned. Multicolored glittering glass spheres and figures shone with glare <...> There were many living plants and flowers in the living room: large ficus, hydrangeas, cacti, hyacinths. The children, my elder brother and me, were waiting at the door in a large adjoining room-the "hall." Dad opened the high doors, and in front of us was a tree, in all its brilliance and radiance! My father <...> wrote it in the painting "Hyacinths by the Christmas Tree". Leo Tolstoy once presented a wicker basket with hyacinths in pots, which the artist depicted, to Jan Hřímalý.

Mikhail Shemyakin. Hyacinths at Night (1912)


The life story of Mikhail Shemyakin is full of similar details. Fate brought him with many outstanding contemporaries, each of whom could not remain indifferent to the artist's work. Once, while collecting mushrooms with children near Akulova mountain, where Shemyakins rented a house, the artist met Vladimir Mayakovsky. Together with Lilya Brik, they often came to their courtyard for pink peonies. "Suddenly, a tall, broad-shouldered figure without a shirt, in smoothed trousers, with a towel on the shoulder, grew up in front of us”, - the artist's son Mikhail recalled. -  "Ah, Shemyakin!" - Said the poet. – “I saw your work at the exhibition. You are a Realist - Impressionist - Cubist. " This paradoxical characteristic is surprisingly perceptive. As a realist, Shemyakin did not allow himself to simplify and distort nature for the sake of a picturesque effect. Like the cubists, he always approached nature at the same time analytically and with fervent curiosity - as if he had seen the face of a man or a bouquet of hyacinths for the first time. But from the very beginning of the creative path and until the end of his life, the methods of impressionism were his most beloved.

An illustrated catalog with previously unpublished archival materials will be published for the exhibition.

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