The exhibition covers five centuries of European drawing: from the late 15th to the mid-20th century. The best pieces of various national schools – Italian, French, German, Dutch, Flemish, and Russian – were selected from the Museum’s rich collection of drawings. Visitors will see rarely displayed artworks by masters such as Dürer, Veronese, Poussin, Rembrandt, Rubens, Watteau, Fragonard, Tiepolo, David, Ingres, Daumier, Friedrich, Bryullov, Degas, Renoir, van Gogh, Vrubel, Kandinsky, Marc, Nolde, Picasso, Léger, Matisse, Malevich, and Chagall. The exhibition gives insight into the variety of graphical methods and different drawing styles and demonstrates the change of styles and artistic schools in the history of drawing, which reflects the general trends of European art over several centuries.
The Pushkin State Museum is famous for its collections of paintings both in Russia and around the world. However, its holdings of Western European and Russian graphic art are less known to the general public. The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts actually boasts a rich compilation of drawings that has been formed over one and a half centuries and includes many different collections. Along with the State Hermitage Museum, the State Tretyakov Gallery, and the State Russian Museum, it is one of the biggest holdings of drawings in Russia. It includes around 27,000 pieces from different national schools and covers the most significant periods of art history. The core of the compilation is the collection of the Rumyantsev Museum’s Printing Cabinet. It has been consistently supplemented by means of gifts, acquisitions, and transfers from other museums and state institutions.
The Museum regularly displays individual drawings or assemblages, as well as different sections of graphical collections at Russian and foreign thematic exhibitions and expositions dedicated to national schools. An important milestone in the history of the Moscow drawing collection was the exhibition held in 2019 at the Fondation Custodia in Paris. To date, it was the most representative display of the Pushkin State Museum items in a foreign museum. This large-scale exhibition was also notable for its integration of artworks by Russian masters into the European perspective. The newly opening exhibition “From Dürer to Matisse. Selected drawings from the collection of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts” can be regarded as the second phase of this project.
Despite some differences in composition and exhibition approaches, the Moscow presentation pursues the same goal of demonstrating an integral, though far from complete, image of the drawing collection of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts. While selecting exhibit items, the curators did not try to build a model of the Moscow collection in miniature, but they maintained the proportion and balance of its parts and sections. The selection process was driven by the desire to represent the history of European graphics throughout five centuries as coherently as possible with a focus on the strongest features of the Pushkin State Museum’s collections.
The exhibition is arranged chronologically, starting with graphic art works by artists of the early German school. These include pieces by Albrecht Dürer and Italian artists of the Renaissance , Mannerism and Baroque periods (V. Carpaccio, Veronese, Parmigianino, D.L. Bernini, etc.). The second section is dedicated to artworks created in the 17th century in Holland, Flanders, and France (Rembrandt, P.P. Rubens, N. Poussin, etc.), and the third section—to the French and Italian graphic art of the 18th century (A. Watteau, F. Boucher, J.-H. Fragonard, H. Robert, J.-B. Greuze, J.-L. David, G.B. Tiepolo, etc.). Farther on, the exhibition embraces different milestones of the 19th century’s history of drawing in Germany, France, and Russia: from romanticism to impressionism and symbolism (C.D. Friedrich, E. Delacroix, K. Bryullov, J.-A.-D. Ingres, J.-B.-C. Corot, H. Daumier, A. von Menzel, E. Degas, P.-A. Renoir, V. van Gogh, H. de Toulouse-Lautrec, M. Denis, O. Redon, M. Vrubel, etc.). Starting from the 19th century, works by Russian graphic artists are presented near pieces created by Western masters to demonstrate their integration in the general European art context. Moreover, this section displays the only graphic artwork by Vincent van Gogh housed in a Russian museum —”Portrait of a Young Girl,” which relates to the painting known as “La Mousmé” stored in the National Gallery in Washington.
The White Hall features drawings by masters of the 20th century. In this era, national differences were mainly lost: artists from France, Germany, Russia, Spain, and Italy equally formed the modern artistic language, and the collection of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts makes it possible to show various aspects of this international phenomenon. Visitors will see drawings by F. Marc, E. Nolde, M. Pechstein, P. Klee, W. Kandinsky, K. Malevich, P. Picasso, F. Léger, H. Matisse, M. Chagall, M. Larionov, N. Goncharova, D. de Chirico, P. Filonov, A. Rodchenko, A. Deyneka, and other famous artists.
In addition to the main composition of the exhibit, some items will be presented in special showcases found in the permanent exhibition halls alongside paintings. More than 40 drawings will be placed in sections with corresponding themes. This exhibiting approach creates a more comprehensive impression of the graphic collection of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts.
A catalog has been prepared for the exhibition, as well as an electronic guide (developed in partnership with VTB Bank), which can be downloaded for free using a QR code located in the exhibition.
Curator: Vitaly Mishin, Lead Researcher of the Department of 19th and 20th Century European and American Art