Thousands of visitors are flooding the National Art Museum of China in downtown Beijing to experience the enriching world of Russian culture, history and society, as revealed through the eyes of the country's master painters.
The first of nine major art exhibitions in the Year of Russia in China which kicked off early last week, the "Russian Art in 300 Years" exhibition showcases 110 selected oil paintings by Russian master painters from the 18th to 20th centuries. These artists include Kramskoy (1837-87), Repin (1844-1930), Surikov (1848-1916), Levitan (1861-1900), and Shishkin (1832-98), who are well-known among Chinese artists and educators today.
The grand exhibition is divided into four parts: Russian art from the 18th to 19th centuries, from the 1870s, from the late 19th to early 20th centuries, and during the Soviet Union era.
Among the most eye-catching artworks on show are the portraits from masters such as Kramskoy and Repin, members of the so-called Society for Travelling Art Exhibitions or "Itinerants" who embodied and gave creative force to Russian art of the period.
The largest art show from Russia in China, the exhibition is co-organized by the National Art Museum of China and the Moscow-based State Tretyakov Art Gallery, Russia's national museum of fine arts.
The Tretyakov Gallery, founded in 1856 as a private collection, is the biggest museum of Russian fine arts. The rich collections of icons, paintings, sculptures, monumental canvases and jewellery pieces are gathered in the museum.
"Some 150 years ago, young Russian merchant Pavel M Tretyakov (1832-98) purchased the first artworks for his private collection. Before he died, he donated the artworks he gathered from over 40 years to the public. He is one of the most-respected men in Russian history," said Ekaterina L Selezneva, deputy director of State Tretyakov Art Gallery, at a recent press conference in Beijing.
"We hope that our exhibition in Beijing will attract attention from Chinese art enthusiasts, especially the younger generations." Along with the big show of Russian art in the past 300 years, an exhibition featuring contemporary Russian art is also being held at the same museum in Beijing, with some 100 selected pieces including oil paintings, sculpture, and installations.