Konstantin Makovsky – The Kissing Ceremony (1895)

No one knows exactly how kissing came about, whether it was instinctive or learned behavior, yet its influence is hard to overstate. From greetings to displays of affection, signing papers (seal with a kiss) and marriage pronouncements, New Year’s celebrations and religious traditions, kissing has been part of many cultures for the longest time. And…

Ivan Shishkin – Rain in an Oak Forest (1891)

Given the monikers “Forest Tsar”, “Old Pine Tree” and “Lonely Oak” by his contemporaries, Ivan Shishkin enchanted everyone with his meticulous eye for detail and with his extraordinary skill in grasping the beauty and simplicity of nature. His highly realistic landscapes – usually rendering forests – belong to a larger movement at the time, called…

Natalia Goncharova – The Cyclist (1913)

Born into an aristocratic family descended from the poet Alexander Pushkin, Russian artist Natalia Goncharova was destined for greatness. Eccentric, audacious and fully aware of her capabilities, at only 32 Goncharova became the first woman and avant-garde artist to have a retrospective show in Moscow.  Ultimately, she would be known for co-founding Rayonism, a style…

Nicholas Roerich – Mount of Five Treasures (Two Worlds), 1933

He lived an extraordinary life. Not only a Russian painter, but a man of all humanities, he was a lawyer, an explorer, an archeologist, a poet, a historian, a philosopher, a scientist, an activist concerned with the preservation of culture. He was all that and much more. He was Nicholas Roerich. Deeply concerned with spirituality,…

Alfons Mucha – The Abolition of Serfdom in Russia (1914)

Born in the Austrian Empire, in present day Czech Republic, Alfons Mucha (1860 – 1939) was primarily known for his Art Nouveau posters and illustrations. Lesser known is his painting series “Slav Epic”, completed after a visit to Russia in 1913. Among the first paintings of the series was The Abolition of Serfdom in Russia…