Art A-Z: A – Abramtsevo Circle

(Art A-Z is a dictionary of Russian art)

Abramtsevo circle – fellowship of outstanding Russian artists (painters, sculptors, architects) emerged in mid 1870s in Abramtsevo, estate owned by famous philanthropist Savva Mamontov.

Rich entrepreneur Savva Mamontov bought Abramtsevo, situated not far from Moscow, in 1870, the estate was previously owned by a family of Russian writer, Aksakov.

Mamontov was connoisseur of art and financially supported a lot of artists, including prominent Russian singer Fedor Shalyapin.

In Abramtsevo, Mamontov gathered painters Viktor Vasnetsov, Vasiliy Polenov, Ilya Repin, Mikhail Vrubel, Valentin Serov, Mikhail Nesterov, scultptor Mark Antokolsiy and others. The fellowship did not have any charter or programme and was inspired by Russian history, folklore and fairy tales.

The group’s aesthetics was influenced by modern, symbolism and neo-Russian style, although  each representative had his own particular style.

мамонтов и ко
Left to right – Surikov (seating), Repin, Mamontov (at the piano), Korovin, Serov, Antokolskiy

Mamontov also paid attention to applied arts and created a ceramic workshop in Abramtsevo, which was transferred to Moscow at the beginning of 1900s when the fellowship split up. The workshop was the place where a lot of decorative panels were made for buildings in Moscow.

Tip 1

You can learn more about Savva Mamontov and some members of Abramtsevo Circle in the course of our Walking Tour.

Tip 2

Abramtsevo is open for visits, it is a very nice place to go in summer.


Anniversary of Tsaritsyno – Nice Way to Spend a Summer Day

Every year, on the 20th of August the Tsaritsyno Museum-Reserve celebrates its anniversary. This day in 1775 empress Catherine the Great signed an edict that officially changed the name of the territory that she bought to build a new residence in Moscow to “Tsaritsyno” (literally – “belonging to tsaritsa” – analogue of status of empress in Russia).

Today you can visit all exhibitions and buildings for free. Master classes and concerts are also a part of the programme. The celebration culminates by tasting of a huge cake.

Master-class of minuet in the Grand Palace

Architectural complex and beautiful park around it have peculiar history. Buildings of the residence have been initially designed by famous Russian architect Vasily Bazhenov, the author of Pashkov House and other master-pieces. Although the empress approved the design, she didn’t like erected constructions during her visit of the site and ordered to destroy them and elaborate a new design. This was the first time in the history of Russia when a country’s leader issued such an order.

Kitchen house – designed by Bazhenov

The new project was executed by Bazhenov’s former apprentice Matvey Kazakov who seriously redesigned the Grand Palace, which was the main reason of Catherine’s anger. But by the time works were almost finished, the empress died, and her heir Pavel I signed an edict to stop any further works on the site. Tsatitsyno never became Romanov’s official residence.

Restored Grand Palace’s design is a combination of two Kazakov’s varients, it was severely critisized for inacurate restauration
It was a sunny day!

Although the park was a popular leisure attraction of Moscow dweller, constructions gradually ruined.

In the 1980th, decision was made to restore the complex, and in 2007 renewed sight was officially inaugurated.

Statue of Catherine the Great in the Grand Palace