12 most famous paintings of the Tretyakov Gallery

Review of the best according to the editorial board. On the selection criteria. This material is subjective, does not constitute advertising and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.

The Tretyakov Gallery is rightfully considered one of the largest museums of Russian fine art. More than 180,000 exhibits are presented in its halls and the collection is constantly growing. To see everything with your own eyes, it will take at least a few days, and for a detailed study and life it will not be enough. What should you pay special attention to in the variety of magnificent paintings? We have chosen a short route for you, including some of the most significant works stored in the Tretyakov Gallery.

Masterpieces of Russian painting: top 12 of the most famous paintings of the Tretyakov Gallery

Nomination a place Composition rating
Review of the most famous paintings of the Tretyakov Gallery 1 'The Appearance of the Messiah', A.A. Ivanov 5.0
2 'Princess Tarakanova', K. D. Flavitsky 4.9
3 'Unequal marriage', V.V. Pukirev 4.8
4 'Hunters at Rest', V.G. Perov 4.8
5 'The Rooks Have Arrived', A.K. Savrasov 4.7
6 'Unknown', I.N. Kramskoy 4.7
7 'Morning in a pine forest', I.I. Shishkin 4.7
8 'Heroes', V.M. Vasnetsov 4.6
9 'The Apotheosis of War', V.V. Vereshchagin 4.5
10 'Boyarynya Morozova', V.I. Surikov 4.5
11 'Morning of the Streltsy Execution', V.I. Surikov 4.5
12 'Ivan the Terrible and his son Ivan on November 16, 1581', I.E. Repin 4.5

'The Appearance of the Messiah', A.A. Ivanov

Rating: 5.0

The Appearance of the Messiah ', A.A.  Ivanov

Location in the Tretyakov Gallery: Hall 10

Almost the entire hall is dedicated to only one painting by Alexander Ivanov – a huge canvas occupies almost the entire wall. The remaining space contains numerous sketches, sketches, studies, of which a lot has accumulated over 20 long years of painting. The canvas depicts Jesus walking to people, surrounded by his future apostles – Peter, Andrew, John, Nathanael, etc.

Ivanov painted his colossal canvas while in Italy. Then, not without incident, he transported him to his homeland, to Russia. But there the picture did not win itself success: instead of a triumph, a magnificent plot awaited a strange disappointment. In addition, there were especially scrupulous viewers who criticized the picture for flaws (for example, the old man depicted on the far left is wearing a light bandage, and in the reflection it is red).

Soon after the presentation of the canvas, the author suddenly died of cholera. After his death, the picture was acquired by the Russian emperor, who instructed to build a separate pavilion in the Rumyantsev Museum specially for the 'Appearance of the Messiah', and in 1920 the picture got to the Tretyakov Gallery, where, by the way, a separate hall was specially added for it.

'Princess Tarakanova', K. D. Flavitsky

Rating: 4.9

Princess Tarakanova ', K. D.  Flavitsky

Location in the Tretyakov Gallery: Hall 16

To the right in the direction of travel in the hall is the famous painting by Konstantin Flavitsky, which depicts the legendary impostor – Princess Tarakanova. The history of its origin is shrouded in fog. In general, the Tarakanovs were called the allegedly illegitimate children of Empress Elizabeth Petrovna.

Only in the empire did they manage to suppress the revolt of one of such impostors – Yemelyana Pugacheva, when a beautiful adventurer appeared, who at first called herself Mademoiselle Frank, then Madame Tremuil, and then became Elizabeth of Vladimir – the daughter of the Empress and her favorite Razumovsky.

Catherine II instructed Count Orlov to deal with the impostor, who, pretending to be in love, achieved the beauty's reciprocity, and then kidnapped her under the pretext of a secret wedding on a ship. On it, the impostor was taken to prison: after the arrest, Tarakanova was sent to the Peter and Paul Fortress.

During its existence, St. Petersburg has experienced several major floods, one of which was the flood of 1777, when the water in the Neva rose by as much as 3 meters above the usual level. It is believed that it was then that the prisoner died, imprisoned in one of the cells. It is this tragic moment that the artist conveyed so brightly and terribly on his canvas. The official version of the death of Princess Tarakanova is death from consumption.

'Unequal marriage', V.V. Pukirev

Rating: 4.8

Unequal marriage ', V.V.  Pukirev

Location in the Tretyakov Gallery: Hall 16

On the left, in the same room as the previous canvas, there is a touching painting by Vasily Pukirev. The artist painted this picture, while still a student at the capital's school of painting, sculpture and architecture. It was for this work that he received the title of professor. And this despite the fact that the canvas is neither a battle scene, nor a large-scale historical plot. But how much tragedy, cruel and subtle irony, hidden meaning in this picture.

It was written at a time when the issue of a powerless woman's status, unequal marriages, when a woman without a dowry was forced to marry, became especially acute for Russia. At the exhibition, the canvas immediately made a tremendous impression on contemporaries.

At first glance, a modest sketch – a wedding in a small church, but how skillfully the range of feelings is conveyed. A tragic story in a frozen frame: a young bride with tears in her eyes, her titled groom – already an old man – is dissatisfied with her public tears. To the left of the groom and the priest are two figures: old women, dressed in wedding dresses and painted in a somewhat transparent form. One of the gallery's leading art historians suggested that they may be the shadows of the old man's past wives, who killed them with his cruelty.

In the background, in the best man pictured behind the bride, many saw the artist himself: it was believed that the canvas was partly autobiographical, because his allegedly failed bride was given for the prince. In 2002, this version was confirmed when the Tretyakov Gallery acquired a 1907 pencil drawing by Sukhov with the caption: 'Praskovya Matveevna Varentsova, with whom the artist V.V. Pukirev painted his famous painting' Unequal Marriage '44 years ago. Mrs. Varentsova lives in Moscow, in the Mazurinskaya almshouse. '

'Hunters at Rest', V.G. Perov

Rating: 4.8

Hunters at a Halt ', V.G.  Perov

Location in the Tretyakov Gallery: Hall 17

Perov once wrote a whole series of works on hunting, but this one became the most famous. The artist himself was an avid hunter, and in the characters of the paintings, many easily recognized his own acquaintances. Most critics and simply connoisseurs of good painting admired Perov's work, comparing 'Halt' with Turgenev's hunting stories. And some scolded the artist for the feigned theatricality of the plot and the unnaturalness of the characters.

In his work, Perov used an interesting technique: he made a special color accent on the faces and hands of the characters, as if highlighting them. Thus, he managed to give the facial expressions and gestures of the main characters of the picture a special liveliness. The whole composition is presented on the canvas: a seasoned hunter (the man on the left) tells a fictional story to a young hunter who sits on the far right and seems to sincerely believe in it. But the man in the center (also an experienced hunter) is rather skeptical and only grins.

It is noteworthy that in the Soviet Union, Perov's painting “Hunters at a Rest” was downright wildly popular. Her reproductions hung wherever possible. And if someone was an avid hunter, then he was certainly presented with this particular picture as a gift.

'The Rooks Have Arrived', A.K. Savrasov

Rating: 4.7

The Rooks Have Arrived ', A.K.  Savrasov

Location in the Tretyakov Gallery: hall number 18

The most famous painting by the eminent Russian landscape painter. It would seem that nothing special is depicted in the picture, but it was she who became truly cult and was even printed in school textbooks. At first glance, the landscape is rather inconspicuous: rickety huts, bare tree branches with black birds sitting on them. In addition, it was written in a very difficult period for the artist: together with his family he was kicked out of the state apartment, and at the height of the school year (at the art school they decided that Savrasov did not have enough students).

The artist went to the Volga, then to Kostroma and Nizhny Novgorod, where he made many magnificent sketches. The landscape painter began work on the 'rooks' when he arrived in Yaroslavl, and the final vision of the canvas was formed after Savrasov found the ideal view – the Church of the Ascension of Christ in the village of Molvitino.

For the first time, the painting was presented at the exhibition of the Itinerants and somehow imperceptibly turned into a classic example of a lyrical landscape. Ivan Kramskoy very accurately characterized the painting 'The Rooks Have Arrived': 'all other canvases have water, trees, even air, and the soul is only in' The Rooks '…'.

'Unknown', I.N. Kramskoy

Rating: 4.7

unknown ', I.N.  Kramskoy

Location in the Tretyakov Gallery: Hall 20

Hardly any of the most scandalous paintings in art history. The portrait of an unknown lady painted by Kramskoy was presented to the public at the March 1883 exhibition. The scandalousness of this canvas is that it was not written at all in the spirit of a fellowship of artists: firstly, the lady was luxuriously dressed to obsceneness (kid 'Swedish' gloves, a coat and muff made of expensive cloth, a fashionable beret), and secondly, the ladies from high society could not move independently (as shown in the picture) – this was considered the height of indecency.

Seeing the painting, Tretyakov for some reason refused to acquire it for the gallery, and the canvas wandered for a long time among different owners, bringing them, according to legend, misfortune. The main secret, nevertheless, is still considered the identity of the stranger depicted in the picture. Everyone saw something familiar in her face, but no one ever found out who this woman was. According to one version, this is a commoner Matryona Savvishna, whom Count Bestuzhev fell in love with and married her, and then, disappointed, left. She died on the way back to the service of the lady.

The most likely version is that the painting depicts the Georgian princess Varvara Turkestanova, whose portrait Kramskoy saw on a cameo and, impressed by the beauty, as well as the history of the girl's fate, depicted her on the canvas. The maid of honor Maria Feodorovna (widow of Paul I) stood out for her beauty and intelligence. She immediately won the heart of Emperor Alexander I. But a secret relationship brought her only misfortune: trying to find solace in the love of another, she married, gave birth to a child, but, unable to withstand the shame, committed suicide.

'Morning in a pine forest', I.I. Shishkin

Rating: 4.7

Morning in a pine forest

Location in the Tretyakov Gallery: Hall 25

What names were given to this picture: both 'Morning in a pine forest' and 'Bears in a pine forest' and simply 'Bears'. The last name, apparently, was assigned to the picture after the image of Shishkin bear cubs was printed on Soviet sweets for a long time. It is noteworthy that it was the bears that Shishkin did not write on this canvas: it is believed that two artists worked on the picture at once. And the forest dwellers were drawn by Shishkin's friend, Konstantin Savitsky.

There are several versions of the disappearance of Savitsky's signature from the canvas. According to one of them, he removed it with his own hand, thereby giving up authorship in favor of a friend. According to another, Tretyakov erased the signature immediately after purchasing the work. One way or another, the landscape depicted on the canvas is excellent. Rumor has it that to work on his 'forest paintings' the artist moved to a hut for several months and lived in the Bryansk forests. And his wife suggested adding live characters to Shishkin, although moose or wild boars were planned in the original version.

'Heroes', V.M. Vasnetsov

Rating: 4.6

Bogatyrs', V.M.  Vasnetsov

Location in the Tretyakov Gallery: Hall 26

One of the most famous paintings by Viktor Vasnetsov actually became a symbol of Russian heroism and a living memory of those times. The well-known heroes of Old Russian epics are brave fellows, ready at any moment to meet the impending danger with their chest. On the canvas, they are depicted all together, and many mistakenly believe that the three heroes drove around like a proud troika. In fact, such a meeting could only occur on the artist's canvas.

Dobrynya Nikitich, Ilya Muromets and Alyosha Popovich actually lived at different times: when Ilya was the age on the canvas, Dobrynya was a very old man, while Alyosha was a child at all. But for the author himself, the three heroes became a vivid symbol. He put a lot of energy into the work, his soul and as many as 20 years of his life.

The huge canvas, almost 3×4.5 meters in size, until its final completion in 1898 followed the artist's family everywhere: from the capital to Kiev or to the dacha during the summer vacation. And how much time was spent to create heroic images! They are truly collective. Relatives, friends and even simple peasants posed for numerous sketches for Vasnetsov's canvas. And in the fields near the stables of the famous philanthropist Savva Mamontov, they brought horses more than once specifically to pose for the artist.

'The Apotheosis of War', V.V. Vereshchagin

Rating: 4.5

The apotheosis of war ', V.V.  Vereshchagin

Location in the Tretyakov Gallery: Hall 27

Perhaps the most unusual detail of this picture can be considered the inscription on its frame: “Dedicated to all the great conquerors – past, present and future.” It was believed that all of Vereshchagin's works were, so to speak, reportage: that is, the artist depicted on his canvases only what he saw with his own eyes, participating in the tsarist military campaigns. The “apotheosis of war” is an exception. Only here he portrayed more ancient events, also having a historical basis, but rather symbolic.

According to one of the versions, Vereshchagin associated the painting with Tamerlane, whose soldiers often left such pyramids made of skulls. Allegedly, once the women of Damascus and Baghdad turned to the great commander, complaining about unfaithful husbands. Then Timur ordered each soldier from his 200,000-strong army to bring one head of the traitor. And then fold all the heads into pyramids.

According to another version, the artist created the canvas under the impression of the story of how the ruler of Kashgar once beheaded a European traveler and ordered his head to be placed on top of a pyramid, which was made from the heads of local executed. At that time, the artist was in Turkestan, where he participated in Russian campaigns of conquest and saw enough of his death.

It was in Turkestan that a whole series of (of the same name) paintings was created, where Vereshchagin depicted not only military battles, but also the life of the inhabitants of Central Asia. 'Apotheosis of War' became the brightest work of that creative period of the artist. The canvas depicts a whole mountain of skulls against the backdrop of a hot, scorched steppe, destruction and devastation. Around the skulls, only crows curl, and the bones themselves are covered with scars from sabers and arrows. This emphasizes even more sharply the main creepy idea of ​​the picture: the victims in any war are absolutely meaningless.

'Boyarynya Morozova', V.I. Surikov

Rating: 4.5

Boyarynya Morozova ', V.I.  Surikov

Location in the Tretyakov Gallery: Hall 28

One of the last halls of the Tretyakov Gallery houses, perhaps, one of the most important and most significant of her paintings – Surikov's Boyarynya Morozova. The plot is based on a real historical fact and his character is also real: Feodosia Morozova, a close associate of Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich, was the supreme noblewoman. Widowed at the age of 30, she managed to maintain her power and wealth. During the period of the advancement of church reforms by Patriarch Nikon, she refused to accept them. The adherent of the Old Believers followed the Archpriest Avvakum and took the secret monastic tonsure. She paid for her religious beliefs.

On a huge canvas measuring 3.04×5.87 meters, a tragic moment is depicted – the boyaryn is being taken across the capital square to the place of detention. As a sign that her faith did not break, Theodosia Morozova threw up two fingers. If you look closely, you can see a beggar beggar sitting in the snow, also raising two fingers up in solidarity.

The artist himself once recalled the image embodied on the canvas: 'Once I saw a crow in the snow. A crow sits in the snow and one wing is set aside. Sits like a black spot in the snow. So I could not forget this spot for many years. Then I wrote 'Boyaryn Morozov'. According to history, in November 1674 the Old Believer was sent to prison in the monastery land prison, where she died a year and a half later.

'Morning of the Streltsy Execution', V.I. Surikov

Rating: 4.5

Morning of the Streltsy Execution ', V.I.  Surikov

Location in the Tretyakov Gallery: Hall 28

The second equally epic canvas by Surikov is in the same hall. 'Morning of the Streltsy Execution' is another historical plot that has been embodied in the artist's painting. In 1698, the Strelets' regiments led by Princess Sophia rebelled against the unbearable military hardships and were defeated. One of the possible reasons for the revolt is also considered by historians to be the desire of the shooters to elevate Princess Sophia to the throne, who at that time was regent under the young Peter and Ivan.

The Streletsky revolt was brutally suppressed: about 1000 people were executed, almost 200 of them – right under the windows of the cell of the princess herself, exiled to the Novodevichy Convent. It is noteworthy that the families of the archers who rebelled against the tsar were expelled from the capital with a ban on providing them with work or giving alms (in fact, the families were doomed to starvation).

On a canvas of impressive size (~ 2.2×3.8 m), the artist depicted the most tragic moment: not the execution of the rioters, but their farewell to their relatives before death. There is a version that initially the picture, however, depicted the executed archers. But one day the artist's servant, entering the studio and seeing the picture, fainted. Surikov, who did not want to shock the public, decided to make changes to the then draft.

It is noteworthy that the historical buildings depicted in the picture are very close together: the Cathedral of St. Basil the Blessed and the Kremlin wall are at a much greater distance from each other than is shown on the canvas.

'Ivan the Terrible and his son Ivan on November 16, 1581', I.E. Repin

Rating: 4.5

Ivan the Terrible and his son Ivan

Location in the Tretyakov Gallery: Hall No. 30

This impressive canvas by a Russian painter depicts a tragic episode, the authenticity of which is questioned by many historians. Nevertheless, the legend still lives that Ivan the Terrible, in a fit of strong anger, killed his son, hitting the temple with a rod. Moreover, the anger was caused either by the fact that the sovereign suspected the tsarevich of treason, or by the fact that his wife dared to appear in the male half of the mansion with her head uncovered.

The painting depicts the moment of the evil already done: a father, distraught with a perfect thing, holds in his arms his dying son, whose face is frozen in peace. The artist himself said that the tsar's gaze frightened him greatly, so he always hid the picture or turned it against the wall, but something pulled him to the canvas, and he continued to work like a man possessed. The emotions reflected on the face of Ivan the Terrible really seem to border on insanity.

By the way, the picture itself survived a real attempt. In 1913, an act of vandalism was committed by one of the visitors: with a shout of 'Enough blood!', One of the gallery's visitors rushed onto the canvas, splitting the canvas with a knife. The damaged canvas was rescued by several restorers and the artist himself, in a hurry rushed from his country house from Finland.


Attention! This rating is subjective and does not constitute an advertisement and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.

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