Why did the Peredvizhniki disown the artist Bodarevsky and remove his paintings from the opening day
Peredvizhniki – a special caste of Russian artists who left behind a valuable legacy in the Treasury of world art. Who does not remember the names of the most prominent of them. But today I would like to remember the forgotten name of the Peredvizhnik, whom colleagues in the shop considered a complete stranger in their environment. And, if it were the will of some of them, to be a gifted portraitist Bodarevsky Nikolai Kornilievich expelled from the Association. For what he fell into disgrace to his colleagues and why they could not exclude the” negligent ” artist from their ranks-further, in the review.At the turn of the 19-20 centuries, Nikolai Bodarevsky was one of the most popular artists. His paintings were reproduced in print runs on prints and postcards. The master portrait painter had no end of customers. However, many Peredvizhniki would like to show him the door of their Partnership. They could not tolerate him, but according to the Charter they could not exclude him from their midst, and Bodarevsky himself never broke with them, remaining a member of the Partnership until 1918. It was from that time that much effort was made to make his name forgotten, although some of his works are well known even now, although sometimes without authorship.
What was the reason for such disagreement and hostility among creative people, you ask? After a century, from the point of view of the modern viewer and critic, this will seem so insignificant and even ridiculous, but then such a confrontation was a matter of honor, and sometimes it came to the point that the paintings of Bodaevsky were literally removed from the exhibitions just before the opening of the exhibitions.
So still, what was the artist’s fault and what was wrong with his work?
A bit from the biography of the disgraced artist
Nikolay Korniliyevich Bodarevsky was born in 1850 in Odessa in a noble family that considered themselves descendants of the Moldavian lords Chegodar-Bodareskul. Despite the pedigree, lived Bodarevsky very modestly, as my father was an ordinary official, occupying the low rank of titular counselor. The son’s talent for drawing appeared early, and his parents tried in every possible way to develop the boy’s artistic abilities. Therefore, Mykola received his first art education at the Odessa drawing school of the society for the promotion of fine arts.
As a 19-year-old boy, bodarevsky entered the St. Petersburg Imperial Academy of arts, where He proved to be one of the best students. In 1873, he was awarded two gold medals for the painting “David plays the harp before Saul”, and in 1875, he received the title of class artist of the 1st degree in historical painting for the canvas “the Apostle Paul explains the tenets of the faith before king Agrippa”.
In 1880, a talented young man joined the Peredvizhniki and began to exhibit his paintings at Traveling exhibitions. Having proved himself admirably, in 1884 he became an official member of the Association of Traveling art exhibitions. The painter’s career began to develop rapidly and in 1908 Bodarevsky was awarded the title of academician, and in 1913 his personal exhibition was held in St. Petersburg.
As mentioned above, Bodarevsky remained loyal to the Peredvizhniki Association until 1918. Although with many colleagues in the “mobile shop” for many years, he did not have a working relationship. Our hero was radically distinguished by his views on art, the ideological content of his paintings, and the approach to painting itself, which determined the perception of his work in a narrow circle, and later, in the entire artistic community. But most of all, he irritated some colleagues with his unusual appearance and unusual behavior.
“Tall and rather handsome, with a gold pince-nez and a haughty expression on his face, Bodarevsky pretended to be an artist-master of some higher brand. An unusually pompous and parlor tone, French speech with ladies, kissing their hands, courting money people and, despite a fairly significant income, constant debt… And his ideas were absurd: he built a house-Villa near Odessa of some stupid style, considering it to be Arabic, and made a tunnel in the rock to the sea. There was confusion and artistic vulgarity in everything.”- this is how it was described in the memoirs of T. L. Shchepkina-Kupernik.
Many Peredvizhniki saw in him a master who specialized only in female portraits and pornographic “Nudes”, and godlessly idealized. It was also believed that his beauties exactly descended from candy or cigarette boxes, only in an enlarged form. And the portraits of influential people, including the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna herself, were immensely embellished and flattering.
Among colleagues, the main opponent of Nikolai Kornilievich was Efim Volkov, a medium-talent landscape painter, now completely forgotten. The very sight of bodarevsky made him hate Him fiercely, and he did not miss an opportunity to bring the incident to a fight. “The exhibition did not open without Volkov falling out with Bodarevsky, and very big. It got to the point that some sometimes feared that Volkov and Bodarevsky would fight, ” – from the memoirs of one of the Peredvizhniki.
Moreover, the initiator of the carnage, as a rule, was Volkov. He, speaking in the face of Bodarevsky Frank, extremely offensive words for the author’s self-esteem, ordered the workers to take pictures that were not allowed under the Charter of the Association, which fell strikingly out of the General range of the exhibition. And, of course, that the heated atmosphere was discharged by a thunderstorm, which often reached fisticuffs.
Interestingly, most of the Peredvizhniki were on the side of Volkov. In their opinion, almost every time when preparing the exhibition of TPHV, the pictures of our hero-large, bright and “loud”, spoiled the entire face of the upcoming exhibition. And one day the members of the Association appealed to Repin, as the most revered and authoritative member of the society, with a request to clear the exhibition of Bodarevsky’s paintings. Repin was very upset and tried to calm the rebels: “Oh, Oh, Oh… you can’t… somehow it is necessary… in a comradely way… God help him-let him hang!”Everyone somehow calmed down, and the next day, making the last rounds before the opening day, Repin could not stand it: he went to Bodarevsky and, pulling his sleeve, said in a pleading tone:” Nikolai Kornilievich! Take it away, don’t be angry, take it away… Spoils everything… and spoils you!”
In fairness, it should be noted that Bodarevsky, as an artist, had a wide creative range – he was equally excellent at painting canvases on historical and religious themes, landscapes, portraits, including salon, genre scenes and piquant “Nudes”… It was not confined to the narrow limits of any genre, it was constantly developing and improving. However, to some of his colleagues, less talented and less successful, such a scale seemed fickle, not allowing them to hone their skills within a certain direction.
But the most important claim to the artist’s work was the theme. Peredvizhniki, following the rules, tried to capture the “real life” of the common people, which is often seen in the image of poor peasants, beggars, drunkards, religious fanatics on Church holidays. Therefore, the scene on Bodarevsky beach, where the mother and baby are taking a sun bath, they absolutely did not seem vital. By the way, even Bodarevsky’s peasants looked quite happy with life, singing and dancing (“Little Russian wedding”). Although some colleagues admitted that the subject matter of such works generally coincided with the directions and goals of traveling exhibitions, they were terribly critical of the artist for the lack of social acuteness in his paintings.
And when the artist managed to paint a girl with a cat and a girl with a flower, it was perceived by the Association as a standard of vulgarity and a mortal, unforgivable sin for a Peredvizhnik. This cat Nikolai Kornilievich practically signed his own “sentence”… But he was an old member of the Peredvizhniki Association, and it was very difficult to get rid of him. The Charter of the community did not provide for exclusion from membership for non-compliance of artistic means and techniques in creativity.