For our second day in Moscow Janna and I faced appalling weather – it was very cold and raining heavily. We decided to find something we could do indoors and Janna took me to the Tretyakov Gallery, a collection of Russian art started in the 19th century featuring all of Russia’s great portrait and landscape artists, as well as modern and graphic artists and sculptors.
Many other people had the same idea and we had to wait in a queue of umbrellas to get into the gallery. Once inside though it was a beautiful building and we went through gallery after gallery listening to the audio guide (in English for me!).
We saw portraits of Pushkin, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky and Chekov and many beautiful paintings. The audio guide told me many interesting facts about the artists, but I cannot remember which ones were which. However I do remember some interesting tidbits about Russian history, such as the Streltsi rebellion and the resistance to Patriarch Nikon’s changes in the Orthodox church.
It was intriguing to see the method of artists too – as well as finished (and unfinished!) works, the gallery showed sketches and studies where you could see elements of the final work being prepared, often in a slightly different form, before all being put together in the final composition.
By the 38th gallery we were starting to flag and in need of sustenance. We went through the final galleries with a bit more haste (the more modern and Soviet art was not really so interesting). After the gallery we sought refuge from the rain in an Italian restaurant and ate pizza. We had spent 5 hours wandering through the Tretyakov and were both tired so decided to go back to the hotel for an early night.