Pavel Tretyakov


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(b Moscow, 27 Dec. 1832; d Moscow, 16 Dec. 1898).

Russian businessman and art collector. He made a fortune in the textile industry and devoted much of it to his passion for art. Initially he bought Western works, but he soon came to specialize in Russian art and by 1860 he had conceived the idea of a national museum: in that year he wrote, ‘Being a true and ardent lover of painting, I could not think of anything better than to set up a repository of works of art that would benefit many, please everyone, and be accessible to all.’ He wanted the collection to be representative, so he bought all kinds of pictures, not just ones that appealed to him personally; he also commissioned many contemporary artists to produce work (he gave much encouragement and assistance to the Wanderers). In 1874 his collection was opened to the public in a specially built gallery next to his Moscow mansion. After the death of his younger brother Sergei (1834–92), also an art lover, Tretyakov decided to present their combined collections to the city of Moscow; the reformed gallery opened in 1893 as the Pavel and Sergei Tretyakov Moscow City Art Gallery. After Tretyakov's death, his mansion was incorporated in the gallery, the structures being unified by a new façade (1902) designed by Viktor Vasnetsov in a picturesque ‘old Russian’ style. Following the 1917 revolution, the gallery was declared national property and renamed the State Tretyakov Gallery in 1918. Up to this time there had been a few foreign works in the collection, but these were now dispersed and it became devoted solely to Russian art. With the addition of works confiscated after the revolution, the collection grew to enormous size. A new wing was added in the 1930s, and in 1985–95 a huge new museum was built, incorporating the much-loved Vasnetsov façade into the structure. Modern works (from the time of the 1917 revolution) have been transferred to the New Tretyakov Gallery, specially built for this purpose in Gorky Park. Between them, the two galleries contain well over 100,000 works, mainly paintings and graphic art, although there is also, for example, a good collection of jewellery.

Subjects: Art.

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