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13 February 2019From Russia with Love
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From Russia with Love Brian Healey BA (Hons) Dip.Interior Design Wednesday 13 February 2019

This lecture is to be held on Wednesday the 13th February at 11 am at Appleby Market Hall. Members are free, there is a small charge of £8.00 to guests. Everyone welcome.

Following the changes that came about through the auspices of the "Peredvizhniki" or "Wanderers" movement, the focus of Russian painting changes from academic rigour to the many moods and characteristics of the Russian landscape itself. No longer would this merely provide a background to lofty themes, but would itself take centre stage, capable of telling its own story as powerful and as moving as any historical or mytholical drama. Artists such as Savrasov and Levitan, Shishkin and Kuindzhi to name but a few, found a haunting and elegiac beauty in this hitherto neglected but vast subject matter. From her majestic forests and moonlit marshlands, her snow bound villages, gigantic skies, endless horizons and unstoppable rivers, artists such as these from the latter half of the 19th century distilled the very essence of the Russian landscape and gave it a voice we only have just begun to appreciate.

Brian Healey has always loved art and painted but studied and taught foreign languages. Later in life he studied for a diploma in interior design and eventually in 2003 decided to focus on his first love of painting. Brian has had a number of solo and shared exhibitions and has exhibited widely from Devon to the Lake District.

Image is of painting by Savrasov - View of The Kremlin from Krymsky Bridge in inclement weather.

Lecture Report by Gillian Stoddart.

Brian Healey, lecturer for the February meeting of The Arts Society Appleby-in-Westmorland, said his love of Russia had sprung from his cruises to the Baltic Sea. He was clearly deeply interested in and knowledgeable about Russia and her art, and held the interest of his audience from start to finish.

Up until the early 19th century, Russian painting consisted almost entirely of academic styles and subject matter dominated by the West, Paris in particular. Czar Nicholas 1's promotion of 'national trends' began to change the focus towards more home grown themes, such as the status of the Russian peasant. By then the serfs had been libeated and by mid 19th century the class sysem and village structure, dominated by the landowner and the orthodox church, were under critical scutiny. Vasily Perov, whose 'Easter Procession in a Village' showing drunken clergy and peasants, was considered so shocking a view of modern Russia that he was nearly jailed for it. 'Peasant Holding a Bridle' shown above, was painted by Ivan Kramskoi in 1883. Kramskoi was one of many artists now painting smaller pictures that could easily be transported to Russians in the countryside, and showing real life figures - the peasant in the picture was Mina Moiseyev, who was often used by the artists. Kramskoi regarded the creation of collective images of the common people as one of the most important tasks of modern art.

In the latter half of the century the focus of Russian painting changed to the many moods and characteristics of the Russian landscape. Changes came about through the auspices of the 'Peredvizhniki' or 'Wanderers" movement. The Wanderers were a group of painters specializing in archetypal Russian views such as pine forests, wheat fields and water meadows. The dramatic landscape now took centre stage, telling its own story. Artists such as Savrasov and Levitan, Shiskin and Kuindzhi, showed their love of Mother Russia in their portrayal of its forests, snowbound villages, huge skies and endless horizons; Of all these artists Isaak Levitan is considered to be the one who most captured the character of Russian landscape.

Brian Healey revealed the fascinating insight into this moving story by showing us the paintings of more than a dozen superb artists, whose work is still relatively unknown in the West.