Russian Museum technological research department experts found the portrait of Alexander Pushkin, by famous Russian painter Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin, which was considered to be lost, the museum press service told TASS on Tuesday.
The portrait, which the painter himself considered unsuccessful and decided to destroy, turned out to be under the later picture of Petrov-Vodkin's "Collective Farm Women".
"During the survey of the picture "Collective Farm Women ", stored in the collection of the Russian Museum, the employees of the technological research department found an earlier image under the top layer. The study showed that this is a portrait of A. Pushkin, previously considered to be lost," museum press service told TASS.
As representatives of the museum noted, the outlines of the earlier image can even be guessed by simply looking at the picture, but in order to find out what was depicted under the top layer, it was necessary to study the picture with the help of technology. "We were attracted by the fact that it was immediately visible that it was painted on top of another image. Further, with the help of equipment, studies were carried out that allowed us to look under the top layer using infrared radiation. It turned out that this is a portrait of Pushkin," the press service quoted the head of the Russian Museum Technological research department Sergei Sirro. According to him, art critics knew that Petrov-Vodkin painted a portrait of Pushkin, and didn't like the result. "It was believed that the portrait was destroyed because the remains of it were found. But in fact, the painter just cut off the lower part of the canvas and painted these women farm workers," said Sirro.
It was a portrait that Petrov-Vodkin painted of Pushkin in the 1930s. The painter thought that it was not good enough, and destroyed it, cutting the canvas and drawing on top of the image, a sketch for the Collective Farm Women, made between 1937-39. Memories of this episode are in the diaries of the daughter of Petrov-Vodkin, which are referred to in the materials by representatives of the All-Russian Museum of Alexander Pushkin. A photo of the lost picture is posted on the museum's website and an excerpt from the diary of Elena Petrova-Vodkina is shown.
"I remember very well how I looked at my dad, and he was in a bad mood, he said, "Something doesn’t stick with Pushkin in me. "That image cannot convey it at all. He feels the image, and then, all of a sudden he takes a knife and cuts the picture," she wrote in her memoirs.
The press service of the All-Russian Museum of Pushkin confirmed for TASS that the image of the painting is kept in the museum funds, and it will be possible to compare it with the picture obtained by the Russian Museum experts.
Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin (1878-1939) is one of the most original Russian artists of the first decades of the 20th century, born in the family of a shoemaker in the Saratov province, Petrov-Vodkin began to paint independently under the influence of icon painters that he knew. He later received an artistic education at the St. Petersburg Stieglitz Central School of Technical Drawing and then at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, where he studied with the artist Valentin Serov. He also traveled to study in Europe.
He developed his own original style of painting, which combines the features of modernism, symbolism and other trends. Among the most famous works of the artist are the Bathing of the Red Horse, Death of the Commissioner, Dream, Mother, Our Lady of Tenderness of Evil Hearts, Petrograd Madonna.
In the summer of 2018, the Russian Museum hosted an exhibition dedicated to the 140th anniversary of Petrov-Vodkin, which featured 236 paintings and drawings from collections of various Russian museums.