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Museum Brings Rare Images to Light

Published: December 25, 2013 (Issue # 1792)



  • Ivan Saltiel’s 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. Lieberman’s 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 country’s 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, Dmitriev’s sobering images attracted significant public attention as he touched on some of society’s 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.

“Dmitriev’s photography was impossible to ignore. This man was able to make himself heard,” said Svetlana Zinchenko, a curator with the Russian Museum’s 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 Russia’s 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. 24


Learn more about Denmark during the Danish Business Delegation’s visit to SPIBA this evening starting at 5:30 p.m. at the Danish Culture Institute. Danish Consul general Klaus Sorensen will be in attendance and the buffet following a presentation on Danish companies in Russia will be the perfect opportunity to network with the assembled businessmen.


AmCham’s Human Resources Committee Meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. this morning in their St. Petersburg office. Check their website for more details.



Friday, Apr. 25


Light Music presents the main events for their Cultural Kitchen project at Loft-Project Etagi today. A B2B event that focuses on Finnish food, arts, travel, music and design, the evening will conclude with a dinner by chef Jyrki Tsutsunen and dancing to music by Aino Venna. The event, which began yesterday with presentations by tourism and cultural institutions, concludes today with a preview of Finland’s Flow festival and other musical events. Invitations are available from www.culturalkitchen.fi.



Saturday, Apr. 26


At 6 p.m. this evening, stylist Liliana Modigliani offers 50 simple ways to up your style quotient with beauty tips at the Galeria shopping center on Ligovsky Prospekt. The event is part of the final day of the shopping mall’s Fashion Saturday sales event, this week focusing on top brands located on the ground floor as well as presentation from fashion experts on sprucing up your spring look.



Sunday, Apr. 27


Families shouldn’t miss Childhood Planet 2014, the trade fair that started yesterday and concludes today at LenExpo. Not only will goods and services be provided for children and families but the event hopes to promote Russian brands and eco-friendly products using the latest technology available in the childcare industry.



Monday, Apr. 28


The Hotel Indigo will be the site of SPIBA’s Acting Skills for HR and Other Managers master class this morning starting at 9 a.m. The event will begin with coffee before moving on to the class itself and conclude with a tour of the recently opened hotel. Confirm attendance by Apr. 24.



Tuesday, Apr. 29


Improve your English at the British Book Center’s Interactive English Lesson tonight at 6 p.m. Students at pre-intermediate and intermediate levels are welcome discuss topics that are selected to help learners master the more difficult aspects of English grammar and vocabulary.