Kyiv National Museum of Russian Art is holding an exhibition “Gardens of the Silver Age”. A spectacular show has begun at the entrance already – there has lined a queue in front of the porch of the museum. This has happened due to the famous names on the poster: Somov, Korovin, Benoit, Serebryakov, Katarbinsky, Nesterov. All of them are unconditional stars. Yet, Mikhail Vrubel, whose 160th Anniversary is celebrated this year, is obviously the highlight of the program.

Six-winged seraph, 1904 year

The exhibited gardens are extremely diverse. It is hard to understand, whether it is already the lost Paradise, or if it is still the desired Eden. Gardens by Benoit are Versailles, monumentality and splendor. A small garden by Nesterov is a shelter from curious eyes, the anthem to quiet coziness. Borisov-Musatov pays tribute to the old estates passing to the oblivion, and Konstantin Somov shows gardens as a field of love victories of his playful marquise.

Demon Seated, 1890 year

So, why gardens after all? This can be explained by the fact that the end of the 19th century, which is the start of the Silver Age at the same time, is characterized by a desperate search for beauty and harmony. It seems that there was something in the air which let people feel that this amazing epoch would not last for long. And indeed, this beautiful epoch ended with the bloody war. It was then that modernist style proclaimed itself powerfully and distinctively, though acquiring different names in different countries – Art Nouveau, Jugen style, Secession. And the creativity of Mikhail Vrubel became the absolute, authentic, enchanting implementation of the Art Nouveau.

Swan Princess, 1900 year

Vrubel was a famous, yet an undervalued artist. He sold his marvelous, amazing “Swan Princess” for 300 rubles only to art collector Morozov. Just compare: Tretyakov paid Repin 10,000 rubles for his “Religious Procession in Kursk Province”. Surely, it is obvious that “Religious Procession…” is a great work, but I can’t look at it endlessly. At the same time, as for “Swan Princess” – I can do it… Though, here I am stating my humble subjective opinion.


The event also exhibits the icon “Oranta” by Vrubel, and the unfinished sketch of St. Cyril’s Church. There was even a scandal around this church, as the artist depicted the face of the Virgin with the features of his beloved – Emilia Prakhova. And the noble audience did not want to pray to the face of a living woman. Just imagine what it feels like when you come to the church and see the face of your neighbor Mary. So, the confusion of Kyiv dwellers is quite explainable.


Generally speaking, one must go to the exhibition, as well as to honor the memory of the greatest creator closely connected with Kiev. Sometimes I feel really annoying, as when you go down Vienna streets you can see Klimt everywhere: from whistles to climate control systems (Klimt is the brightest representative of the Secession). Surely, this is over-the-top. Yet, I would like to see more memories about his brilliant fan in Kiev. About the artist, whose soul and creative impulse gave birth to eternally beautiful images, which were admired before us, and which, I hope, will be admired after us as well.