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Museum Brings Rare Images to Light

Published: December 25, 2013 (Issue # 1792)



  • Ivan Saltiels photograph of D.G. Burylin with his family in Egypt, 1913.
    Photo: State Russian Museum / For SPT

  • An anonymous photograph of May Day celebrations in Aleksin, Tula Province.
    Photo: State Russian Museum / For SPT

  • A photograph by K. Kamprad shows a scene from provincial religious life.
    Photo: State Russian Museum / For SPT

  • I.S. Liebermans photograph of a hungry village cook in Samara.
    Photo: State Russian Museum / For SPT

Starving orphans huddling around a wooden table with several large clay pots and a few chunks of bread on it, aristocratic balls and military parades in the pre-revolutionary era, breeding horses, peasants hard at work in the fields and the first trains arriving at provincial railway stations are just some of the images that can be seen as part of the Second Biennial of Historic and Archive Photography at the Marble Palace of the State Russian Museum.

The new exhibit opened on Dec. 18 and explores how the technology of photography developed over time by showcasing a number of techniques used since its invention in the mid-19th century. Daguerreotypes, silver prints, bromoil prints and early experiments with the use of color are all on show.

In mounting this extensive display, the Russian Museum brought together images from a number of archives and libraries in Russian towns to create a journey through the past 150 years, as documented by the countrys most talented photographers.

Some of the most remarkable shots in the show come from Maxim Dmitriev, whose images of Russia are no sugar-coated postcard idylls. Rather, his photographs tell stories, and often heart-breaking ones at that. One of the founders of documentary photography in Russia, Dmitrievs sobering images attracted significant public attention as he touched on some of societys most pressing issues: Poverty, starvation and epidemics. They also helped make a difference by focussing the attention of the government to the plight of the populace.

Dmitrievs photography was impossible to ignore. This man was able to make himself heard, said Svetlana Zinchenko, a curator with the Russian Museums photography department. His photographs frequently appeared in the pages of Russian and foreign publications alike.

Dmitriev remains a source of inspiration to this day for photographers who work in the field of reportage.

The first photo biennial held by the Russian Museum took place in 2011 and focused on images of Moscow and St. Petersburg. That exhibition showcased 400 incredible prints, including fascinating views of serene city landscapes from the pre-revolutionary era by Karl Bulla and shots by Alexander Chekhov, the elder brother of the writer Anton Chekhov.

This time out, the museum is pushing the geographic boundaries in venturing far beyond Russias two main cities and presenting images of life in central Russia. Hundreds of prints traveled to St. Petersburg from the Russian Photography Museum in Nizhny Novgorod, the Saratov State Arts Museum, the Tver Picture Gallery, the State Archive of Tula, the Borovichi History Museum, the Arkhangelsk Regional Museum and the Novgorod State Museum Estate, to name a few.

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Thursday, Apr. 17


Expocenter Eurasia at 13 Ulitsa Kapitan Voronin is the sight of Goods on the Way, a five-day event starting today showcasing the latest in the industrial products industry. Bags, backpacks, swimsuits and much, much more will be available to attendees hoping to update not only their style but their accessories for the upcoming summer.


Friday, Apr. 18


Teachers and students alike shouldnt miss the opportunity to establish lasting contacts with Russian and foreign institutions during the 21st Education and Career Fair at LenExpo, beginning today and finishing tomorrow. Learn more about education in Russia and connect with your fellow scholars.


The Tromso International Film Festival, Norways largest, brings a short festival to St. Petersburg for one day only during Scandinavian Oddities, starting at 7 p.m. today at Rodina Cinema Center. Tickets for the event are 100 rubles ($2.80).


Sunday, Apr. 20


Celebrate Easter at Pavlovsk during the Easter Fair that begins today and continues through next Sunday. Visitors will have the chance to paint Easter eggs and children can take part in games as well as help decorate a tree in honor of Christianitys holiest day.


Today is one of the final days to see the exhibit Cacti Children of the Sun at the Peter the Great Botanical Garden. Starting Apr. 17, budding botanists will marvel at the variety and beauty of the deserts most iconic plant.


Monday, Apr. 21


Improve your grasp of Neruda, Bolano and Marquez at TrueDAs Beginners Spanish Lesson this evening at their location on the Petrograd Side. An experienced teacher will be on hand to help all attendees better understand the intricacies of the language and improve their accent.


Tuesday, Apr. 22


SPIBAs Breakfast with the Director event series continues as the association welcomes Andrei Barannikov, general director of SPN Communications, to the Anna Pavlova Hall of the Angleterre Hotel this morning at 9 a.m. Attendees must confirm their participation by Apr. 21.


The AmCham Environment, Health and Safety Committee Meeting is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. this morning in the their St. Petersburg office.