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Russian Drawings

Russian drawings are a unique treat to aficionados of Soviet history and lovers of art history, as they draw from both Russian and Western Europe artistic traditions. Early 19th-century Russian drawing drew heavily on the aesthetics inherent to the Romanticist traditions of France and Britain, but re-contextualized their meaning.

While French and British artists of the 19th century viewed Romanticism as a rebellion against the conventions of classical art, Russian painters and draftsmen recapitulated this artistic sensibility as a reversion to a bygone Arcadian era. Much of this sensibility was due to the influence of literary greats such as Lermontov and Pushkin.

Russia’s rich literary tradition along with the severe climate and requisite resilience of its inhabitants were formative influences on the tradition of Russian drawing. Some of the most famous producers of Russian drawings include Marc Chagall, Alexej von Jawlensky, and Natalia Goncharovna, whose respective contributions have forever altered the trajectory of the visual arts.

Contemporary artists keep the tradition of Russian drawing thriving today. These include Natasha Kinaru, a masterful draftswoman who makes photorealistic portraits, among other works.

Quick Facts

  • One of Marc Chagall’s drawings, "Couverture du Catalogue Pierre Matisse Gallery 1968," executed in pen, brush, and ink sold at Christie’s in October 2015 for $62,500
  • The pastel drawings of Alexej Von Jawlensky, with their colorful expressionist palates, remain as contemporary looking today as when they were created about a century ago, testifying to their timeless aesthetic
  • Natalia Goncharova is an important and under-appreciated artist in the history of Russian drawing. Her prolific body of work embodies a range of styles from Futurism to Neo-Primitivism

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