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The loudest scandals in the history of the Tretyakov Gallery: theft, forgery, speculation
The loudest scandals in the history of the Tretyakov Gallery: theft, forgery, speculation

This year marks the 165th anniversary of the founding of the Tretyakov Gallery. Her story begins in the spring of 1856. It was then that the Moscow entrepreneur and connoisseur of works of art Pavel Mikhailovich Tretyakov bought the first two canvases for his collection. They were: "Temptation" by Nikolai Karlovich Schilder and "Clash with Finnish smugglers" by Vasily Grigorievich Khudyakov. From this purchase, the idea of ​​creating a large museum of Russian art in his estate arose in Tretyakov's head.

By the way, it houses the main building of the gallery to this day. And already since 1867, the doors of the museum, where there were already more than a thousand works, were opened to visitors. Over the entire existence of the gallery, there have been many incidents: theft, vandalism, disputes, forgeries and other scandals.

Difficulties and controversies when painting a portrait of Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy (1869-1877)

For four years, the creator of the art museum Pavel Tretyakov and the artist Ivan Kramskoy asked the writer Leo Tolstoy for permission to paint his portrait for the gallery. To persuade him, various influential people of art were involved. Finally, Lev Nikolayevich surrendered, but on one condition: if he didn’t like the portrait, it would be destroyed.

Portrait of Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy, Ivan Kramskoy

Moreover, while painting the picture, the writer prevented the artist from creating, constantly moving, getting up, spinning. So Ivan Nikolaevich was able to paint only his face from the model, and only then from memory he completed the body of the writer. After four years of negotiations, Lev Nikolaevich needed the same amount of time to think about whether this portrait was worthy to hang in the gallery.

The first theft terribly upset Pavel Tretyakov (1891)

Perhaps, wherever the works of great masters are kept, theft is inevitable. People are so arranged that the thirst for profit prevails over conscience and honesty. So the Tretyakov Gallery was not spared theft. The first theft happened here a year before the gallery was transferred to the ownership of Moscow. During the inventory, four canvases were missing.

What kind of history is silent, but it is only known that two of them were found a few years later, but the location of the other two is still unknown. This incident greatly upset the founder of the gallery that he even decided to close the museum for a while. But a few years later, its doors opened again for visitors.

Damaging the painting (1913)

A terrible incident happened in the winter of 1913. It happened with the world famous painting by Repin "Ivan the Terrible and his son Ivan on November 16, 1581". Many people know this work of art under a different name - "Ivan the Terrible kills his son." The act of vandalism was the work of the twenty-eight year old icon painter Abram Balashov. The man screamed at the canvas with a knife, making three long cuts in the image on the canvas, disfiguring both characters.

Damage to the painting

To check his mental state, the man was sent to a mental hospital. It soon became clear that his brother and sister were also being treated for similar ailments. True, Balashov did not stay there for long, he was pulled out of there by a wealthy and influential father. But the artist had to actually re-restore the faces of the characters in the picture.By the way, this terrible incident resulted in more victims. The gallery keeper and Russian landscape painter Georgy Khruslov threw himself under the train, learning about what had happened.

Counterfeit Canvas Trades (2004)

At an auction in Sweden in 2003, unknown people bought a canvas by the Dutch artist Marinus Adrian Kukkuk. The new owners of the painting removed several key details from it, and then signed it by the Russian artist Ivan Shishkin.

After that, the canvas, under the guise of Shishkin's work "Landscape with a Stream", was sent to the Tretyakov Gallery for experts to confirm its authenticity. They recognized its authenticity and put it up for auction in London. But then the canvas was excluded from the auction, as soon they nevertheless noticed retouching on it.

The icon that caused a scandal at the Tretyakov Gallery (2005)

In the fall of 2005, the head of the museum, Valentin Rodionov, confiscated the painting by Alexander Kosolapov "Icon-caviar". This happened at the exhibition "Russian Pop Art", located on the Crimean shaft. Parishioners of several Moscow Orthodox parishes and residents of the Russian capital were outraged by this work, claiming that the feelings of the believers were offended by the image of the golden setting of the icon filled with black caviar.

"Icon-caviar" by Alexander Kosolapov offended the feelings of believers

They sent an angry letter to the management of the museum, asking them to deal with this work. In order not to incite religious and social enmity, the painting was removed, because the state museum should sow good and a sense of beauty, and not social conflicts.

By the way, this picture by Alexander Kosolapov is not the only one of its kind. Since the 1970s, many of his works have had the artistic direction of Sots Art, which ironically overturns the minds and clichés of Soviet people. For example, he portrayed Cheburashka in the image of the leader Lenin, who promotes cola. And he presents the scandalous black caviar as a deified symbol of the desires of a person born in the Union.

About a hundred fake paintings (2008)

At all times, fake paintings have been a fairly common occurrence, on which fraudsters earn huge sums. When the Federal Service for the Supervision of Compliance with Legislation in the Field of the Protection of Cultural Heritage published three volumes of catalogs of counterfeit art products, the Tretyakov Gallery also began to verify its collection for the authenticity.

In the course of a thorough study of the exhibits, a huge number of specialists' mistakes in assessing the authenticity of the works were revealed. The analysis was carried out among the paintings that were in the mentioned catalog. More than two hundred paintings got to the Tretyakov Gallery for evaluation, one hundred and sixteen of which were awarded a negative expert opinion, since the alleged authorship of these masters was not confirmed. And in ninety-six works the experts made a mistake.

Employees speculators (2016)

In the winter of 2016, an unpleasant incident happened in the gallery. The director noticed that the employees of the Gallery bought tickets to view the works of Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky, in order to then sell them for a larger amount. But thanks to the director's investigation, it was possible to find careless employees who were speculating in tickets. They were fired with a scandal so that others would be discouraged to do something like that.

The second damage to the canvas by Ilya Repin (2018)

In the spring of 2018, the work of Ilya Repin, which was mentioned above, was again attempted. Just before the museum was closed, the drunk excursionist took a metal post from the fence and threw it into the canvas. From the impact, the protective glass shattered into fragments. As a result, the author's frame was damaged, and three cuts appeared in the picture again, but in the place where the son of Ivan the Terrible is depicted.

Fragment of a reproduction of the painting "Ivan the Terrible and his son Ivan on November 16, 1581", 1883-1885. Artist Ilya Repin. State Tretyakov Gallery

This time, the faces of the heroes of the canvas were not damaged. But the total damage caused by the drunken vandal was estimated at thirty million rubles.According to the man who damaged the painting, he did it because this work is historically unreliable and offends the feelings of believers. After the trial, the man was sentenced to two and a half years in prison.

Dissatisfaction with museum rules (2018)

In the summer of 2018, a new rule was established in the gallery, according to which it is forbidden to discuss exhibition work between visitors. Such a ban was established in order to suppress illegal excursions. To do this, the staff of the Tretyakov Gallery approached the chatting visitors with a request to end the conversation, and in some cases even asked to leave the premises.

The first scandal associated with the new rule occurred when the history teachers of Moscow State University came to the museum with their students. And, of course, they were forbidden to tell the students anything about the paintings. So, as a result, the teachers sent a letter of complaint about the Tretyakov Gallery to the Ministry of Culture. The situation with this rule reached the point of absurdity, when employees asked the woman to leave the premises for telling her children about the paintings. In addition to these cases, there were many more situations, but the gallery responds that they are able to distinguish ordinary visitors from guides who illegally provide information to visitors.

The abduction of the canvas (2019)

Abduction of Kuindzhi “Ai-Petri. Crimea ", fortunately, was quickly revealed

In the winter of 2019, a man took Kuindzhi's work Ai-Petri. Crimea". As it turned out later, this work was not insured, it was not even connected to the alarm. Fortunately, literally a day later, the kidnapper was detained, and the canvas was returned to the museum. In court, the man tried to justify himself by saying that he did it spontaneously, because of large debts, but he admitted his guilt and is ready to suffer a fair punishment. For this act he was given three years of strict regime.

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