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The Dining Room

Sviatoslav Richter was not a collector in the ordinary sense of the word, but he had an excellent knowledge and great love of painting. He organised displays of work by his favourite artists at his own home. Sometimes it was painters who were not recognised in official circles. For example, he held two exhibi­tions of Dmitri Krasnopevets. And this was not so much recognition of the artist's talent, as support for the young master, because writers, producers and many other figures from the arts were invited to these events. Richter's large collection of pictures consists mainly of gifts from the authors.

In 1978 the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts held an exhibition entitled “The musician and his encoun­ters in art”. It consisted of portraits of people Richter knew and loved. He compiled the catalogue himself. His captions under the portraits prompted Irakly Andronikov, and others too, to speak of Richter's literary talent. He was a master of the written word, able to sum up a person's character or work in a few revealing strokes.

Here is one of his blitz-portraits of Picasso: “I shall never forget this man with the red-hot eyes; he was over eighty, but younger than all of us. He raced up the stairs like a young boy, showing us his divinely untidy rooms and rejoicing at the sight of a plant creeping over the wall. I came away from this visit with a portrait of Frederic Joliot-Curie, a drawing from a superbly precise pen in a firm unfaltering hand”.