The staff of the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg, have began packing up 78 paintings by Ilya Repin (1844-1930) to participate in an upcoming Ilya Repin exhibition at the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow.
The most prominent of the paintings in the exhibition is one of the most significant and largest paintings from the collection of the State Russian Museum: the large-format canvas “Ceremonial Meeting Of The State Council 7 May 1901 …,” measuring 4 by 8 meters.
“The Ceremonial Meeting Of The State Council 7 May 1901” – a collective portrait with 81 figures, was painted one hundred and sixteen years ago (1903), in which Repin was paid a large fee. The customer of the canvas, Emperor Nicholas II, was pleased with the result.
The century-old frame of the picture will be left in St. Petersburg – it was decided not to expose it to the dangers of transportation. Only the canvas itself will be carefully packed and transported to Moscow in a special temperature and humidity controlled truck. Then, after careful preparation of the exhibition hall, the painting will be set in a new frame for the exhibit.
Founded by Tsar Alexander I (1801-1825), the State Council celebrated its centenary with a ceremonial sitting in the Round Room of the Mariinsky Palace in St. Petersburg on 7 May 1901. All the members of the State Council and the State Chancellery attended in full-dress uniform. Tsar Nicholas II (1894-1917) and senior members of the Imperial family are flanked by their ministers. Repin painted the scene from behind the chairs on the right (next to the columns).
He rapidly sketched the original modello on a canvas on which the perspective of the hall had already been marked out, working from a previously selected point. The artist later turned this study into a large picture with the help of two students from the Imperial Academy of Arts Boris Kustodiev (1878-1927) and Ivan Kulikov (1875-1941). Every member of the State Council is depicted in natural and diverse poses, with strong physical resemblances.
The Ilya Repin exhibition will include works from 26 museums in Russia and abroad, as well as from a number of private collections. The exhibit opens in the New Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow on 16 March, and runs till 18 August 2019.
© Paul Gilbert. 12 February 2019
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