Northern Illinois University Press


From Realism to the Silver Age

New Studies in Russian Artistic Culture

Edited by Rosalind P. Blakesley and Margaret Samu

“[This] book serves as a necessary corrective to the vestigial Soviet-style narrative that still persists as an official reading of Russian art of the nineteenth century. With forty-eight illustrations of rare images and photo-documentation interspersed among canonic works of art, the investigatory nature of this project covers much ground to fill the vast void of Russian presence in nineteenth-century art studies as a whole.” —The Russian Review

“In wonderfully varied ways, this collection meaningfully complicates some conventional views of Russian art of the period and makes a serious contribution to our understanding of Russia’s cultural history.” —Slavic and East European Journal

From Realism to the Silver Age is a wide-ranging collection that seeks to introduce continuity, depth, and complexity to the history of 19th-century Russian art, which the editors rightly claim has suffered from marginalization and simplistic categorizations. It will find a ready audience not only among students of Russian and European art history, but also among intellectual and cultural historians and has the markings of a fundamental work in the field.-Richard S. Wortman, Columbia University

This volume of 13 essays presents rigorous new research by western and Russian scholars on Russian art of the 19th and early-20th centuries. More than three decades after the publication of Elizabeth Valkenier's pioneering monograph, Russian Realist Art, this impressive collection showcases the latest methodology and subjects of inquiry, expanding the parameters of what has become an area of enormous intellectual and popular appeal. Major artists including Ilia Repin, Valentin Serov, and Wassily Kandinsky are considered afresh, as are the Peredvizhnik and Mir iskusstva movements and the Abramtsevo community. The book also breaks new ground to embrace subjects such as Russian graphic satire and children's book illustration, as well as stimulating aspects of patronage and display.

Collectively, the essays include a range of approaches, from close textual readings to institutional critique. They also develop major themes inspired by Valkenier's work, among them: the emergence and evolution of cultural institutions, the development of aesthetic discourse and artistic terminology, debates between the Academy of Arts and its challengers, art criticism and the Russian press, and the resonance of various forms of nationalism within the art world. These and other questions engage multiple disciplines-those of art history, Slavic studies, and cultural history, among others-and promise to fuel a vibrant and ascendant field.

Rosalind P. Blakesley is reader in Russian and European Art at the University of Cambridge, a fellow of Pembroke College, Cambridge, and founder and co-director of the Cambridge Courtauld Russian Art Center. Her publications include An Imperial Collection: Women Artists from the State Hermitage Collection, The Arts and Crafts Movement, and Russian Art and the West: A Century of Dialogue in Painting, Architecture and the Decorative Arts (Northern Illinois University Press, 2007). She has curated exhibitions in London, Moscow, and Washington, DC.

Margaret Samu teaches art history at Yeshiva University's Stern College for Women in New York City, and lectures at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Her publications include articles on Russian and American art from the 18th through early 20th centuries in Women's Art Journal, Experiment, and Nineteenth-Century Studies, as well as the book, Women and Things: Gendered Material Strategies.

June 2014, 230 pp., 48 color illus., 8.5x11
ISBN 978-0-87580-703-4
$40.00x Paper

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ISBN: 978-0-87580-703-4
Paper $40.00