Studies of Fine Arts. Teaching History of Art at Imperial Moscow University in the Mid 19th – Early 20th Century

11.10.2017 – 25.01.2018

Ivan Tsvetaev Educational Art Museum

The exhibition “Studies of Fine Arts. Teaching History of Art at Imperial Moscow University in the Mid 19th – Early 20th Century” is being held in recognition of the 170th anniversary of Ivan Tsvetaev’s birth and the 20th anniversary of the foundation of the Ivan Tsvetaev Educational Art Museum at the Russian State University for the Humanities (RSUH).

Unique publications from the holdings of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts will be exhibited for the first time. These were all used by university instructors at lectures and workshops for decades. Many reproductions, atlases, illustrated editions, and glass transparencies still have the stamp of the Cabinet of Fine Arts and Antiquities of Moscow University (founded in 1851–1852).

The scientific and educational publications clearly illustrate the development level of art history and archeology as sciences, as well as the growth of technical capabilities for the most precise reproduction of monuments. The hand-made nature and the special grace of prints reproduced using pre-existing techniques are demonstrated, for example, by lithographs from the set “Parthenon: Materials for Restoration issued in 1848 in Paris by Léon de Laborde, conservator of sculptures at the Louvre, or sheets with colored lithographic images from the 1872 publication “Wall Painting of Pompeii.” This is a work by Giulio De Petra, a famous Italian archaeologist who led excavations of Pompeii for many years.

Over the years, photographic images became preferable as a more precise method for monument reproduction. Examples of such publications are photographic reproductions by Alinari, a famous Italian company. These images will also be displayed at the exhibition. A central focus is the three-volume publication prepared by Ivan Tsvetaev – “Educational Atlas of Ancient Sculpture for Students of Imperial University of Moscow” (Moscow, 1890–1894).

When Ivan Tsvetaev started teaching his course on the history of ancient art at the Department of Theory and History of Art in the autumn of 1889, he quickly realized that the publications available at the Cabinet of Fine Arts were not totally sufficient. Therefore, he promptly drew up a plan for a new schoolbook. The Atlas of Ancient Sculpture for Students of Imperial University of Moscow contains photographic reproductions of more than 500 monuments. The publication was highly rated at the 1st International Congress of Historical Sciences held in Rome in 1903.

Of course, even the best photograph cannot be compared with a 3D image of a monument – a cast. Thus, the next task that Ivan Tsvetaev took on was to create an educational museum of casts. It took him more than 20 years to implement his idea. Finally, the Fine Arts Museum, which its founder called “an anthology of art in monuments,” opened its doors in Moscow in 1912. The high-quality casts collected by Tsvetaev are still relevant today. They were acquired more than a century ago for the Alexander III Fine Arts Museum; today, they are exhibited in both the Main Building and the Ivan Tsvetaev Educational Art Museum, which is located at the Russian State University for the Humanities (RSUH) at 15 Chayanova Street and takes part in the “Education through Art” program together with other university departments. That is why the exhibition dedicated to the history of classical art studies will be held in the Big Antique Hall (the Hall of Apollo) of the Educational Museum.

Tsvetaev’s collection of casts is one of the main topics at the scientific and practical conference “Tsvetaev Readings,” which is dedicated to the 170th anniversary of the Museum’s founder, Ivan Tsvetaev, and the 20th anniversary of the “Ivan Tsvetaev Educational Art Museum” department  of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts.  On October 9-10, conference presentations will be given by researchers and experts from the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, the State Hermitage, the Russian Academy of Arts, the I.N. Kramskoy Voronezh Regional Museum of Fine Arts, the Ostankino Museum-Estate, and the State Museum of Urban Sculpture (St. Petersburg), as well as from major universities such as RSUH, Moscow State University, Higher School of Economics, and so-called “Tsvetaev” museums, including the house museum of the Tsvetaevs in Novo-Talitsy and the house museum of Marina Tsvetaeva in Moscow. Their reports will be dedicated to various aspects of the Museum’s history, methods of teaching the history of art based on the Museum’s collections of casts, restoration work, and research and storage – both at the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts and other museums possessing casts and plaster sculptures.

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