What secret is hidden by the canvas “Cornflowers” by Igor Grabar
Igor Grabar is known not only as an art critic and restorer, but also as a talented impressionist artist. Under his leadership, the Tretyakov Gallery turned into a world-famous museum complex, and the multivolume History of Russian Art was written by his own efforts. Much is known about the professional activities of Grabar, but the details of his personal life are still shrouded in mystery. The key to its solution can serve as his picture “Cornflowers”.
Art for Igor Grabar has always been the subject of knowledge and creation. As a child, Igor showed a passion for drawing. According to his parents, he harassed piles of paper and enthusiastically painted with paints. When the boy grew up, he began to take painting lessons, spent hours in the workshop. After – he entered the Lyceum of Tsarevich Nikolai in Moscow. Igor’s childhood passed in the Ryazan province, and moving to Moscow opened up new horizons for him.
Despite the fact that studying at the lyceum was difficult (Igor was perhaps the poorest of the students, lived on maintenance), the lyceum student began to devote time to visiting art galleries. In particular, he was attracted, like a magnet, by the Tretyakov Gallery. Could this boy even hope then that after years he will receive the position of trustee of this gallery?
After graduating from the lyceum, Igor Grabar entered Petersburg University at the Faculty of Law. Student years spent in the city on the Neva, he filled for life. Here he seriously took up painting, quickly entered the social circle of the St. Petersburg bohemia. From here – went on a tour of European countries, eagerly responding to the new that he saw in art.
Passion for painting did not allow to doubt that the next step for Igor Grabar should be studying at the Academy of Arts. True, after admission it became clear that the soul of a talented student longed for novelty, and not strict academicness. The path of Igor Grabar lay in the Munich school of painting … During this period, Grabar began active cooperation with Sergei Diaghilev, and his formation as a critic and art historian.
In subsequent years, Igor Grabar constantly combined painting classes with scientific activities. It took a lot of strength and energy. Working in the Tretyakov Gallery, Grabar conducted a complete inventory of all exhibits, cataloged them. His merit is a course of lectures on the scientific restoration of works of art.
And what about the personal life of the artist? Grabar met his future wife Valentina Mescherina at the Dugino estate, where his friend and artist Nikolai Meshcherin lived (Valentina was his niece). Valentina was a real beauty, her fiery red hair drove Igor crazy, and he soon proposed to her. The House of Grabari was a full bowl, two children were born in the family – Olga and Mstislav. It seemed to live and rejoice, but fate prepared them a difficult test. Valentina began to lose her mind, she was found to have a serious hormonal disease.
The treatment in the clinic for party workers did not produce results: Valentina returned to the family with a completely different person. There was no longer liveliness in her, nor energy. At home she lived quite a bit, and … disappeared. She left her husband and children. All attempts to find her were in vain.
After some time, the care of Igor Grabar and his two children was the sister of Valentina – Maria. The picture “Cornflowers” depicts both women – red-haired Valentina and dark-haired Maria. Both in different years were the wives of the artist.
As for the children of Igor Grabar, Olga and Mstislav, their fate is also noteworthy. Mstislav became a talented mathematician, and Olga – a biologist. Olga entered the university in 1940, and, three years later, voluntarily went to the front. At war, she served as a translator at first in intelligence, then in the rifle corps. Having returned from the front, she finished her studies, but she did not give up studying science. A few years later she defended her thesis, and later – a doctorate.
The Tretyakov Gallery became the life work of Igor Grabar, he is captivated by the artistic wealth that was in the museum. The secrets of the Tretyakov Gallery haunt modern art critics. Recently, an X-ray analysis of some well-known paintings was carried out, and the result was unexpected.