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Konstantin Makovsky: The Tsar's Painter

Konstantin Makovsky: The Tsar's Painter

February 13th 2016 to June 12th 2016

Explore the color, romance, and extravagance of boyar life that captivated late nineteenth-century Russia, portrayed in exquisite detail by painter Konstantin Makovsky.

The Exhibition

For the first time, a special exhibition at Hillwood will focus on the one of the most ambitious paintings from Makovsky’s boyar series and the path it traveled from St. Petersburg, through Paris, to the United States, where it was received with great enthusiasm. Konstantin Makovsky: The Tsar’s Painter offers a new perspective on the painter’s work and its popularity in Gilded Age America, where it satisfied the appetite for dramatic historical stories, exotic settings and costumes, and European art and culture.

With Hillwood’s A Boyar Wedding Feast (1883) as the centerpiece, the exhibition will bring to life the tableau vivant motif that was the inspiration for this painting and a foundation for Makovsky’s work. In the dramatically lit setting, exquisite objects and details from the painting will be brought to life through groupings of seventeenth-century objects of boyar life, such as intricately embroidered garments, pearl-studded kokoshniki (women’s headdresses), and gleaming silver, enamel, and ivory objects from Hillwood’s collection, supplemented with loans from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Walters Art Museum, and other lenders. 

Publication

A full-color, 144-page companion publication, titled Konstantin Makovsky: The Tsar's Painter in America and Paris will be published in December 2015. Co-published with D Giles, Ltd., the book will explore new perspectives on the art and career of Makovsky and the wider nineteenth-century enthusiasm for medieval Russian culture and boyar life. Contributors to the book are Wendy Salmond, professor of art and art history, Chapman University; Wilfried Zeisler, associate curator of nineteenth-century art, Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens; and Russell E. Martin, professor of history, Westminster College, New Wilmington, Pennsylvania. 

Sponsors

The exhibition is supported by: The Marjorie Merriweather Post Foundation, Bonhams, Ellen MacNeille Charles, Kyra Cheremeteff and Thomas W. Richardson, Mr. and Mrs. Dale Church, Mrs. Daniel P.Davison, Dr. Cyril and Mrs. Elke Geacintov, Mr. and Mrs. Scott Phares, and Susan and David Thoms.

Memorial gifts in honor of Anne Odom were made by: Brig. Gen. and Mrs. Mark Odom, Evelyn and Leonard Coburn, A. Kenneth and Nina Gradia, Angela and Bruce Meyer, and Liana Paredes.

All exhibitions and programs are funded in part by the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts through the National Capital Arts and Cultural Affairs program.

  • A Boyar Wedding Feast (detail), 1883
    Konstantin Makovsky (1839-1915)
    Oil on canvas
    93x154 in.

  • A Boyar Wedding Feast, in The Tsar's Painter, at Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens in Washington, D.C.