A Quest for Identity: Russian Art in the Second Half of the 19th Century

From September 20th, 2005 to January 08th, 2006
Victor Vasnetsov-Ivan Tsarevitch et le loup gris
Victor Vasnetsov
Ivan Tsarevitch et le loup gris, 1889
©A. Sergeeva, 1998/DR

During the second half of the nineteenth century, many Russian artists, feeling moved to develop a national art, rejected or questioned the Western models taught in the Saint Petersburg and Moscow academies. The resurge in interest in Slavonic sources, myths, history and folk art, and the specifics of the contemporary social and political conditions, all lent themselves to the emergence of an identifiably "Russian" art. The movement attracted painters, notably Repin, Kramskoy and Savistsky, and photographers such as Boldirev, Dmitriev and Mazurin.
This quest for identity reached its peak in the Neo-Russian movement which drew-in all artistic disciplines and revolved around two centres of creativity: Abramtsevo near Moscow, and Talashkino near Smolensk. During the years 1905-1910, the Neo-Primitivist movement took up the baton with painters Goncharova, Larionov and Malevich and wood sculptors Golubkina and Konenkov.
The effect of these artists was to assure that the emerging avant-garde movements were rooted in the fecund heritage of ancient and modern Russia.

Find all the information in the detailed presentation.

Read the detailed presentation


  • Edouard Papet, curator, Musée d'Orsay, Marie-Pierre Salé, curator, Musée d'Orsay
  • Curator of the architecture and photography sections
  • Dominique de Font-Réaulx, curator, Musée d'Orsay
  • Exhibition organised by Musée d'Orsay and the Réunion des musées nationaux , thanks to the support of Gazprom and Gaz de France
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  • To order the catalogue
  • vpcmo@rmn.fr
  • To order the catalogue
  • vpcmo@rmn.fr