The Russian School of Painting/Chapter VIII
< The Russian School of Painting
The Russian School of Painting by Alexandre Benois, translated by Avrahm Yarmolinsky
Chapter VIII.
The Contemporary State of Russian Painting
Mikhail Vrubel
E ought to have ended our work with the preceding chapter, treating of the art of yesterday, which is sufficiently remote from us to be correctly estimated. The art of Levitan and that of Syerov and Korovin who are now in the heyday of their powers—already belong to the past, and we can discuss this phase of the history of Russian painting without running the risk of losing the right perspective. These phenomena have already reached maturity and completely crystallised; they have passed through the stage of negation, through the second stage of indiscriminate enthusiasm, and now they are entering the celebrated phase of "re-valuation." Besides, the quiet, balanced art of Levitan and Syerov hardly needs any special viewpoints or any distance for its appreciation.
This is not the case with a series of phenomena in our painting, which are just now being born, or which are just receiving a definite shape and becoming conscious of themselves. It would be absurd to demand
an "historical" attitude toward them. We ourselves are in the very midst of the whirlwind which sways our contemporaries, and we can neither analyse it nor foresee into what it may turn, nor divine its future significance. Besides, modern art criticism is just now raising the question whether there is any sense whatever in weighing and estimating artistic phenomena. The basic principles of æsthetic theorising, such as the conception of beauty, of formal perfection, of "workmanship," are not only shaken in their definitions, but their very necessity is denied. At the same time the new æsthetic definitions which are suggested are confused and incomplete.
Guided by this consideration, we have thought it proper to abandon in the conclusion of this work the critico-historical method of treatment which has served us throughout it. In these last pages we shall endeavour to stake out the highest summits of modern Russian painting, without attempting to determine their absolute value, or forecasting their significance "before eternity." It is probable that we shall discuss magnitudes which in some ten years from now will prove too petty to deserve mention in a "History of the Russian School of Painting." Yet it is our belief that, upon the whole, those painters upon whom the attention of the artistic world is now centred, will
Mikhail Vrubel
also in the future be considered, probably with various reservations, the most typical representatives of the art of our times.
Is it possible to believe at the present moment in the existence of a "Russian School"?—Hardly. The school, in the sense of a uniform system or of a programme, does not exist any more. Individualism which furthered our emancipation from the fetters of the "Wanderers'" tendency and from the academic pattern—has at this time reached the moment of its extreme development, and has evolved its extreme conclusions. We have as many movements and schools as individual painters. And this is so not only in Russia, but throughout Western art. Each truly modern artist strives only toward one thing: to express as fully as possible himself alone. All influence, all borrowing is branded as plagiarism. The artist suffers if he notices that his manner recalls that of another.
Yet it is impossible that such a state of affairs should continue forever. Individualism as a protest is beautiful, but as a self-sufficient moral and æsthetic system it is bad, nay, horrible. Particularly, in the field of art, individualism leads to complete degeneration of forms, to ineffectiveness in work, and to poverty and ineptness of conception. However great our worship
of the individual human soul may be, this is nothing in comparison with the "psychic organism" of several souls. Only such an organic union of personalities possesses the real power, which can further the individual creation of works of true might, beauty, and usefulness. Proud isolation leads to impotence, hollowness, and nonentity. This is the great cosmical mystery. Only through Communion does Divinity manifest itself in us,—Divinity that gives us the necessary power for high deeds or guides us to revelations. But, of course, the mysterious laws of the "common soul" demand that this communion be one of life and freedom, that it should be neither a lifeless ritual like an Academy, nor an inner slavery after the manner of the "purpose painting" of the sixties.
It seems to us that individualism has served its time, and that it should cease to sway our art. This is all the more necessary because, though individualism is bad as a system, it is forever an attribute of human existence. In free communion the individual can by no means perish, for a truly masterful personality can at most be infected by another one, but never completely lost in it. We consider it desirable that the next phase of Russian art should restore the "School," that is, common work for a common aim. But, of course, we do not wish a programme forced upon our art even by
Konstantine Somov
the most well-intentioned social movement. Art must remain self-sufficient, above all it must seek for its own God, who is but a distinctive revelation of "Universal Divinity," Then the rest will naturally be added to art. Only an art, self-sufficient, but unified for a common purpose, only a school, both as technique and as ideas, can bear fruits of beauty, which will be worthy of those borne by the famous "schools" of former ages, and even surpass them in nutritive powers and in fascination. It is hardly necessary to insist, however, that these wishes are helpless in the face of life's decrees, and that the future of Russian art depends upon the unrevealed destinies of the Russian nation.

Considerations of space compel us to give only a very brief sketch of the contemporary state of Russian painting,—that is, to enumerate and characterise those artistic personalities which are at present looked upon as most prominent, interesting, and valuable. Most of them must be considered as wholly independent phenomena, and we observe but rarely a certain involuntary influence on the part of the stronger artistic personalities, or a certain external grouping.
We have spoken already of Vrubel, as of Ivanov's sole worthy heir. But Vrubel's connection with Ivanov manifested itself only in his early religious
works; later on he came to occupy a totally separate place, and now the sphere of his art has nothing in common either with the artists of the past or with modern Western art. At the same time, Vrubel is, unlike his fellow-individualists, one of the greatest experts in his field. He is, above all, a master. But his craftsmanship has no definite connections with either the classics of technique or with the prominent masters of our times. In his academic years he was enamoured of Fortuny and rapidly became as skilful as the famous Spaniard; later on, in the period when he painted his icons for the Kirillov Monastery, he re-educated his taste and skill by the study of Byzantine mosaics; beginning with the nineties Vrubel chooses a new road, which leads him to a strange kingdom where everything: forms, colour, manner, images, are created by the artist himself. Vrubel's art can be likened to an enchanted garden where all the flowers, alive and fragrant, have been invented, created, and grown by the gardener-magician.
Vrubel paints everything. Along with most fantastic subjects we find among his works plain sketches from nature; alongside portraits—decorative patterns, alongside religious revelations—mythological "visions." At the same time, Vrubel is a sculptor, perhaps the best Russian sculptor of the last few decades,
Philip Malyavin
and an architect, a stage decorator, an original master of applied art. There are no weak points in Vrubel's artistic personality. He is everywhere the same magnificent virtuoso, the same phantast of a fiery temperament, the same genuine artist, never yielding to timid vulgarity, all flame and enthusiasm.
But at the same time Vrubel is a true décadent and herein lies the cause of his failure to achieve success not only among the public at large, but also among artists. We do not mean to say that Vrubel ever played antics to please the fad of the hour, or that he purposely distorted his art. Vrubel is just such a décadent as Beardsley, Somov, Gauguin, as Tiepolo and Watteau in former days, as the art of Rococo, and as that of the "flamboyant" Gothic style and of Romanticism. Vrubel is excessively exquisite, too refined, too far removed from common understanding. At the same time,—and this is a feature of the end of the nineteenth century—his magnificent art is full of inconsistencies, of chasms and oddities. Many see in these deficiencies the first signs of his insanity, but it appears to us that his disease was to a considerable degree caused by the consciousness of these deficiencies, which he could not correct, and which were rooted in the entire state of contemporary art. The struggle of a soul of an artistic genius with the inability to express
itself,—thus can the tragedy of Vrubel's life be characterised. The horror in this duel was all the greater in that his impotence seemed to mock at him,—in that it was not an organic quality of his nature, but rather a demoniac principle, which unexpectedly invaded his work.
Under the sign of décadence is also the art of Konstantine Somov, who is one of the most delicate poets and one of the most refined masters of modern painting. Somov's sphere is more limited than Vrubel's immense domain. Somov exists in a secluded circle. His art may be termed "the art of old age," for it is rich in wonderful mellowness. Only old collectors of vast experience can appreciate the enchantment and the preciousness of objects as delicately as Somov does the beauty of colours, the exquisiteness of forms, the delicacy of lines. At the same time the subjects Somov treats are "senile." His works are like memoirs written by one who has lived many a hundred years on this earth. Only with the decline of a culture do such figures appear as that of Somov. Their glance is ever turned backward to a past, which although it has not been lived by them, is presented with the veracity and convincing power of something actually experienced. There is something mysterious and
fantastic in the manner in which Somov evokes the very flavour of the dim past.
Somov reproduces bygone ages without any scientific pedantry; his themes are taken from commonplace, everyday life. Somov's personages are not human beings that love and suffer, they are rather marionettes, but such marionettes as had partaken of life's enticements and "would not taste of death." Somov's art is steeped in quiet sadness and scepticism. He loves his world infinitely, and at the same time he mocks at its vanity. In Somov's presentation life is a brilliant and delicate game with a very strange beginning and a disconsolate, gloomy end. Somov's talent is all impregnated with the mysterious power of inspiration and divination, but at the same time there is a note of despair in it; to his mind the riddle of life conceals no lofty meaning.
Somov is a décadent not only in the philosophic import of his art, but also in his very technique and painting. But in applying to Somov the term "décadence" has the same meaning as it bore when characterising Vrubel's art. Somov is at one and the same time an ineffective painter and a virtuoso. At times we find in him something in the nature of intentional puerility, which is due to his proneness to satire, to
piquant ugliness, and in general to what it is customary in the artistic world to call by Hoffmann's phrase "scurrility." But sometimes Somov is as helpless as a child, unconsciously and against his own will, and this even in works where everything points to a tremendous skill, and to a consummate perfection of technique, a perfection unknown to the whole of Russian painting of the second half of the nineteenth century.
In virtue of all his merits and failings Somov may count together with Vrubel, upon one of the most prominent places in the history of Russian painting. It is highly probable that Somov's art, excessively spiced, suffocatingly perfumed, over-refined, and morbidly delicate as it is, will undergo a re-estimation in the future, but it can be safely predicted that no other artist of the beginning of the twentieth century has mirrored with greater faithfulness the peculiar charm of our super-refined epoch, which knows so much and believes so little. The very defects of Somov are but characteristic signs of the times: it is the reflection of the general senile decrepitude of our culture,—a decrepitude which has its immense horror and its most delicate fascination.
The third prominent Russian master is Malyavin. He is Repin's disciple, but he is to Repin as Goya is to Velasquez, or as Fragonard is to Watteau. The
sober, normal painting of Repin, his conscientious service of art, in the sense in which the school of the sixties understood it, his rationality have turned in Malyavin into a bacchic feast of colour, into most dashing display of skill, into a hazy and lax monomania. Malyavin has something in common with Bénard: by some peculiarities of his technique he approaches the Scottish artists; finally, his kinship to Zorn cannot be denied. Yet, technically Malyavin is weaker and at the same time more powerful and interesting than these artists. He has less conscious skill and culture; his views are more limited, the colours coarser, the painting more slovenly,—but there is more "authenticity" in his art; he is freer, more elemental; he is a true artist, savage, revelling in red fustian stuff like a Negro,—a genuine artistic temperament strange to cold calculations in his work. In this respect he approaches the Impressionists.​[1] Yet Malyavin is by no means an Impressionist. He has never aimed at studying colours in nature, never endeavoured to render the delicate charm of relationships, the stir of life, the poetry of the unexpected. Malyavin, the true, mature Malyavin is nothing but
"the singer of Russian peasant women." He paints them in all their ugly majesty and in all the richness of their dazzling colours. He loves the Russian "baba" (peasant woman) as the pagan does his idol; he worships her, with her red fustian cloth, her coarse coquetry, her haughty grin and all her clumsy appearance, which mocks all the canons of pulchritude and has yet a peculiar beauty. It is before this graven image that Malyavin kneels and burns incense,—a phenomenon marked with the imprint of spiritual degeneration, but not devoid of grandeur.
It has been already mentioned that Vasnetzov inaugurated a certain revival of the Old-Russian, "truly Russian" art. Vasnetzov's activity, like the entire movement started by the Slavophiles, has its obscure, recondite causes. One thing can be said with certainty: even here we don't stand quite apart from the West. Our Slavophilism was a somewhat belated reflection of the European nationalistic movement, which grew up in the shadow of Romanticism.
In architecture the return to old, mediæval Russia began—if we are not to reckon Ton's feeble attempts—with the buildings of Gornostayev, Hartman, Ropet, and Bogomolov. At the same time the first attempts were made—again, if we exclude the endeavours of Solntzev and Monigetti—to create furniture in the
Old-Russian style. All these efforts were, however, unsuccessful and bore no fruits of beauty. The artists have not succeeded in evoking the old, for it was inapplicable to modern life; it was simply outside the sphere of contemporary culture; and as for transforming the old into the new, they had not enough creative power and passionate love for the past. In the seventies and eighties the "Russian Style" meant something wildly grotesque, uncouth, motley, and by all means coarse. Only after Schwarz had restored in his illustrations the more or less accurate image of Old-Russian life, and a series of painstaking archeological investigations had been completed,—only after the Gagarin Museum at the Academy of Arts, and the Moscow Historical Museum had been established,—only then was the original beauty of Old-Russian life unveiled, and it became possible to create something artistically valuable on the basis of old authentic documents. This was done by V. Vasnetzov.
A worshipper of the Russian past and of all that is customary to term purely Russian culture, Vasnetzov, was well fit to undertake this work of the restoration of the past; he had the talent and the right attitude. Both this talent and this scrupulous, almost pious attention to his work are reflected in his paintings. He abandoned the superficial smartness of Hartman,
Bogomolov, and Ropet and pointed out several essential principles of Old-Russian beauty: its noble picturesqueness, purposefulness, strength, calmness, and simplicity. But even Vasnetzov could not achieve the impossible. Unable to resuscitate the dead, he made nothing but an approximate pasticcio, which for a time charmed all the dilettantes, eager for new impressions. Vasnetzov's art, respectable in its intentions as it is, was in the eighties and nineties nothing but a Moscow fashion. It was a more attractive fashion than the Petrograd fad for the works of artists like Ropet and Hartman, yet it was a fashion, that is, something essentially ephemereal and unreal. Nowadays—O irony of fate!—Moscow is enthusiastic over the Russian "Empire," the "décadent style," and Somov, as she was, yesterday, over Vasnetzov, Old-Russian palaces, cupboards, fairy-tales, and "bylinas" (old hero ballads).
Vasnetzov did not stand alone in his endeavour to evoke the Old-Russian beauty. In the eighties there worked in the same field the talented, but not very skilful amateur. Count Sollogub, responsible for amusing illustrations and several decorative works. Later on, the camp of painter-nationalists grew more populous. It included Miss Polyenov, Davydov, Malyutin, Korovin, Roerich, Golovin, Bilibin, and many others. At one time, Vrubel, too, fell under the
Sergyey Malyutin
influence of nationalistic ideas, but he either radically transformed them, or was swayed by them, and then created things that belong to his weakest works. Helen D. Polyenov (1850-1898) is one of the most honourable representatives of Russian art. An untiring worker and a truly cultured woman, she turned searchingly, like Vasnetzov, to the study of the principles of national Russian beauty. At the same time Miss Polyenov attentively followed the evolution of Western applied art. Following the example of the English and of Grasset she turned to nature. It is also the English who led her to study the Russian peasant art, in which the popular taste found its fullest expression. These studies resulted in her decorative experiments, which are not very successful and in her charming illustrations to fairy-tales, in which the decorative element plays a considerable part.
In the nineties Miss Polyenov's success was great. It is she who is partly responsible for the art industry of the "zemstvos," Abramtzev's Pottery, Stroganov's School, and the carpet factory of Mme. Choglokov. It is she also who inspired other artists, such as Mary Yakunchikov, Malyutin, Mme. Davidov, Roerich, Korovin, Golovin, and Bilibin. But nowadays her art seems old-fashioned. Her dependence on the Western art-nouveau​, the excessive lightness of her execution, a
slight affectation in colouring, the superficiality inherent in illustrations, and blunders in drawing strike the eye which has grown callous to the merits of her works. Best of all are some of her illustrations to fairy-tales, and her purely realistic sketches, which reveal a delicate understanding of nature.
Malyutin has little in common with Vasnetzov, but it is beyond doubt that he was led by Vasnetzov in his search for "true Russia." At first Malyutin was a sober and direct realist, and only in the middle of the nineties he developed into that bizarre uncouth phantast-decorator, who at one time enjoyed an outstanding success among artists and amateurs, but who has now, like Miss Polyenov, lost a considerable portion of his charm because of a trite and frivolous repetition of the same rather hollow formula. Strangest of all, Malyutin, as a realist, was a genuine master. His landscapes, "intérieurs," and portraits of the eighties belong to the finest works of his time. But having entered the field of popular and fantastic art, he, for some unknown reason, took leave of all his technical skill and feigned, out of sheer conviction, to be but a half-witted, helpless, and puerile dilettante.
Candour possesses great charm. But studied naïveté especially if it lasts for years, becomes something quite intolerable. We don't mean to say that Malyutin is
Ivan Bilibin
a mime or a clown. A more sincere, enthusiastic artist can hardly be found. But, unfortunately, his sincerity and enthusiasm are misplaced. When one admires Malyutin's amusing fancy, his sense of colour, his true artistic character, one regrets that all these high qualities are absolutely distorted and maimed by a wholly wrong theory, which is deeply rooted in the artist's mind; namely, that the fundamental principle of the Old-Russian æsthetics is coarseness, absurdity, puerility, and superficiality. For many years Malyutin has been obstinately sticking to his "truly Russian" attitude, to this traditional manner of botching up, doing things at random. This feature in a talented, and naturally very delicate painter can be accounted for only by the general morbid state of our culture.
The same discouraging feature mars the art of another admirable Moscow painter—Golovin. He is one of the richest colourists of modern Russian art, less original, but perhaps more delicate than Vrubel. Golovin's favourite colour gamut, light, silvery, with fascinating streaks of fresh, vernal green, hazy azure, and patrician red, fascinates like soft music. But this music flows on not in the finished form of lucid accords or clear strains, but as an elemental, confused roar. Golovin's art is like a hint at a fascinating but veiled beauty.
Golovin is at his best in his stage settings. His decorations for the "Ice House," are admirable but especially beautiful, grandiose and poetic are his stage-settings for the "Women of Pskov." His sketches for Ibsens's "Lady from the Sea" are painted throughout in charming "northern" tones. Some of his stage-settings for "The Magic Mirror" and "Ruslan" are replete with that softness and musical throbbing that fills springtime evenings in old gardens and parks. In his inventions pertaining to theatrical costume he is a real virtuoso. He lavishes on his costumes all the splendour of his colourful fancy, invents fabulous fashions, and combines historical forms. But it can be said even about his best productions, that they are afflicted with annoying defects. Golovin is too dissolute; he is a typical representative of the Russian variety of the artistic Bohème. He will leave very little behind him: a few sketches, two or three paintings, several portraits. All this is distinguished by a genuinely artistic character, a splendour of colours, and a delicate taste, yet it is all nothing but hints and promises, which Golovin will hardly want to keep.
Golovin's stage settings are entirely different from those of Bakst. Golovin's work consists for the most part of improvised sketches, rash and superficial; Bakst's attitude toward his work is on the contrary, one
Arkady Rylov
of strict and careful consideration. He ponders each detail and organises the ensemble. He undertakes most serious archeological investigations, without sacrificing the directness of the mood and the poetry of the drama. His mises-en-scène of the classical tragedies, though not so easy and brilliant in colour as Golovin's, can be considered ideal, so much careful thought and delicate understanding of poetry is in them. Of an entirely different type is his mise-en-scène of the ballet "The Dolls' Fairy," which Bakst transformed into a charming Hoffmannesque tale. Bakst is properly destined for a stage where his role would be one of an intelligent and arbitrary commentator. Unfortunately, the Imperial Theatre does not fully utilise Bakst, who is not only an excellent decorator, an intelligent and exquisite costumer, but also a resourceful stage manager, wide-awake, and rich in fresh ideas.
Beside his work for the stage, Bakst expressed himself also in the field of book illustration. But, strange to say, in this branch which demands the talent of a commentator above all, Bakst displays great independence and is often loath to accept the rule of imposed ideas. Hence, his illustrations rarely correspond to what he illustrates, but they always show him as a virtuoso and a master of style. Bakst is a wonderful,—the most wonderful next to Somov,—"calligrapher" of
Russian art,—that is why the best he did belongs to the field of purely ornamental illustration, such as vignettes and head-and-tail pieces. His ornamental resourcefulness is inexhaustible, and his firm knowledge of the human body enables him to master easily the most complex compositions. In addition, his gift for assimilation is wonderful: he mimics artistic manners with absolute precision. This trait reveals also the weakness of this highly gifted artist: he does not meet the first requirement of modern individualistic æsthetics, he is not original; he is rather something like a "Bolognese" master, a virtuoso speaking all the languages of the globe, but who has no style of expression of his own. It is difficult to forecast the future attitude toward Bakst. If times will change and the thirst for individuality in art will be quenched, then, perhaps, such personalities as Bakst, such masters of extraordinary technique, will be duly appreciated and given the praise which now only eccentric artists enjoy.
The same qualities of high culture and exquisite skill are possessed by several other young Petrograd artists. Therein lies the essential difference between Petrograd and Moscow art. It is also characteristic that all these artists: Somov, Bakst, Lanceray, Dobuzhinsky, Bilibin,—of Petrograd, and Zamiraylo and Yaremich, of
Kiev are almost exclusively book-decorators. They have brought a quickening stream of talent into the musty atmosphere of our book industry, and owing to them we are witnessing now a sort of rebirth, or rather birth, of the Russian book.
The most many-sided of these artists is Lanceray. The field of his art is large. He is very successful in purely decorative subjects, which he executes, either in some definite old style or in the manner created by himself by means of the most delicate study of nature. But Lanceray is equally a master in his illustrations,—figurative commentaries to the thought of a poet or scientist. In this sphere he reaches a keenness of impression, a dramatic power, a mastery of masses, and an historical penetration which remind one of Mentzel. His best illustrations have so far been those to Kutepov's "Czars' Hunt" and to our own book, "Tzarskoye Selo." Serious consideration should be given, also, to his scenes of old Petrograd, his various vignettes in the periodical Mir Iskusstva (The World of Art) and in other editions of Dyagilev's, and even the "Breton Tales"—the work of his youth.
Bilibin is the Petrograd version of the artistic current which was represented in Moscow by Miss Polyenov. Early in his career Bilibin even imitated her, acquiring from her merits as well as defects. By and
by, however, Bilibin found his own way, and, although Miss Polyenov's fairy-tales were his point of departure, he left his prototype far behind him; so that there is ground to believe that in the future this conscientious and gifted artist will succeed in creating a distinctive place for himself and in producing harmonious, original productions of a high degree of perfection. Meanwhile, Bilibin is passing through a transitory phase. He is gradually freeing himself from dilettanteism, and is developing his palette and technique; at the same time he drinks from the well of popular motives, which he studies with great assiduity. A few more efforts which would increase his effectiveness, dramatic power, and stylistic harmony, and which would help him to get rid of misplaced pedantism and a certain dryness in execution—and we shall have in Bilibin an admirable artist.
Roerich is also a Petrograd painter, but by his nature and his intentions he is closely related to V. Vasnetzov. By the intentional coarseness of his technique, by the character of his colouring which reminds one of Russian gingerbread and round loaves, he incontestably belongs to the Moscow group. Roerich is a very gifted man, but of an undeveloped taste, a half-barbarian like his prototype, Vasnetzov. He too readily recurs to cheap effects, certain that in the confusion of our artistic life
it will pass unnoticed. But sometimes he reaches a considerable height, and some of his works breathe a vigorous, truly epical spirit. Very good also are his unassuming, direct studies from nature.
The following Petrograd painters must be mentioned here: the decorator and landscapist Dobuzhinsky, whose modest but admirably delicate sketches present for the most part, views of Petrograd, or quiet, deserted nooks of provincial towns; the classically strict Yaremich, the greatest expert in printing-types, who is equally excellent in his printing works and in his placid, silvery landscapes; the admirable calligrapher and decorator Zamiraylo; the wood engraver Miss A. P. Ostroumov, whose prints present charming and pictorially delicate landscapes, of an admirable style, and another lady, Mme. Lindeman, who is a worthy successor of Mary Yakunchikov in the sphere of "​paysage intime" and painting for children.
Here must also be named Musatov (died in 1905), whose art is the Moscow modification of the artistic formula represented in Petrograd by Somov. This excellent master chose the epoch of the forties and fifties of the past century as the object of his delicately fragrant and fascinating art. Despite a certain analogy with Somov, he followed a wholly distinctive road. Somov is the artist of intimate moods, and of
over-refinement, whereas Musatov housed the temperament of a fresco painter. His original and noble style, his silvery quiet colours waited for walls and broad surfaces, to unfold their full power and splendour. Untimely death has snatched away the artist and deprived Russian art of a master whom we could ill spare.

Here our investigation must be concluded. We shall not dwell on the latest phenomenon of Russian painting: the Moscow phantasts and symbolists, Sudeykin, P. Kuznetzov, the two Milioti, and others. Their artistic personalities have not crystallised as yet. One thing can be already said about them: they are all very gifted men, their art is absolutely genuine, and it is highly probable that in the nearest future they will come to hold the central place on the stage of Russian painting. In concluding this book on the Russian School of Painting, let us express the wish that these young artists do not forget the "school." Formed in the period of the wildest confusion in the field of æsthetic theorising, deprived of the guidance of well-tried principles, without either mature knowledge or firm intentions, they are doomed to perish, if they will not understand in time all the falsity of the artistic doctrine which confuses "school" with lack of
originality, scrupulous attitude toward art with pedantism, and preaches "free inspiration," forgetful of that fact that freedom without knowledge is the most bitter slavery.
As has been seen, Impressionism has not as yet appeared on the Russian soil. Only lately Russian residents of Paris and München, such as Tarkhov and Yavlensky, have been converted to the Impressionistic faith. The Impressionistic æsthetics guide Grabar, at least to some extent, in his latest pictures. (Author's note.)
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