October 30, 2021

The Best Dostoyevsky Artwork at the Russian Museum



The Best Dostoyevsky Artwork at the Russian Museum
Exhibit poster and model of Dostoyevsky's first Petersburg home, St. Michael's Castle. Amanda Shirnina

In honor of the upcoming 200th anniversary of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's birthday (November 11, 2021), the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg has an exhibit on for one month only – from October 14 to November 15. The exhibit is called "Dostoyevsky in Fine Art from the Collection of the Russian Museum." If you can't make it to St. Petersburg yourself by November 15, here's an overview.

First, the exhibit is staged at a very important place in the Petersburg life of Dostoyevsky: St. Michael's (Mikhailovsky or Engineer's) Castle. It is a branch of the Russian Museum but just happens to be Dostoyevsky's first residence in St. Petersburg when he arrived as a 15-year-old military cadet. It was a creepy place to live and felt haunted by the ghost of Paul I, who was murdered in its halls prior to Dostoyevsky's arrival.

Reflection of St. Michael's Castle
Reflection of St. Michael's Castle in the moat Paul I built around it to protect himself from assassination; it does not work when the plotters live among you. | Amanda Shirnina

Five pieces of artwork on display can be seen on the museum's advertisement for the exhibit.

The showing includes some of the Russian Museum's best pencil sketches, paintings, and marble, bronze, and wood sculptures of Dostoyevsky himself. But the majority of the artwork was inspired by his writing, used as cover art for his books, or used to imagine how the stage might look when various of his novels were turned into plays.

Dostoyevsky's shadow
Shadow of bronze statue F.M. Dostoyevsky, Leonid Mikhailovich Baranov, 1986. | Amanda Shirnina

Two different artists, Alexandra Nikolaevna Korsakova (Rudovich; 1950s-1960s) and Fyodor Denisovich Konstantinov (1945), envisioned Rodion Raskolnikov as having very wide eyes with the whites showing in the extreme.

In 1981, Leonid Izrailovich Lamm perceived Dostoyevsky's The House of the Dead in a series of lithographs as being overwhelmed by Orthodox religiosity. Of course, it was Soviet times.

Also on display is a series of paintings that shows modern-day Pitertsy what Haymarket Square really looked like in the nineteenth century. It was flooded with people, horses, carriages, and a truly gigantic church that no longer exists.

Dostoyevsky's dark mode comes across well in the gathered artwork inspired by the novelist and is sure to leave visitors to St. Michael's spooky castle both depressed and inspired.

One part of a wood triptych inspired by Dostoyevsky, Mikhail Alexeevich Makhov, 1971. | Amanda Shirnina

 

You Might Also Like

All a-Twitter
  • November 01, 2013

All a-Twitter

In our Trends section, editor Maria Antonova looks at Twitter accounts by dead writers, sex ed through literature, and poll results at psychiatric facilities in Moscow...
Russia's Greatest Crime Novel
  • April 02, 2017

Russia's Greatest Crime Novel

When you set out to write a murder mystery in Russian – or even in another language, but set in Russia – you should be mindful that you are following in the footsteps the greatest Russian crime fiction writer of all times, Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
Dostoyevsky's Birthday in 10 Dark Quotes
  • October 30, 2019

Dostoyevsky's Birthday in 10 Dark Quotes

In honor of the writer's 198th birthday, here are 10 quotes to celebrate the life and writings of Fyodor Dostoyevsky. They may not be cheerful, but they sure are profound.
Like this post? Get a weekly email digest + member-only deals

Some of Our Books

Jews in Service to the Tsar

Jews in Service to the Tsar

Benjamin Disraeli advised, “Read no history: nothing but biography, for that is life without theory.” With Jews in Service to the Tsar, Lev Berdnikov offers us 28 biographies spanning five centuries of Russian Jewish history, and each portrait opens a new window onto the history of Eastern Europe’s Jews, illuminating dark corners and challenging widely-held conceptions about the role of Jews in Russian history.
Driving Down Russia's Spine

Driving Down Russia's Spine

The story of the epic Spine of Russia trip, intertwining fascinating subject profiles with digressions into historical and cultural themes relevant to understanding modern Russia. 
Marooned in Moscow

Marooned in Moscow

This gripping autobiography plays out against the backdrop of Russia's bloody Civil War, and was one of the first Western eyewitness accounts of life in post-revolutionary Russia. Marooned in Moscow provides a fascinating account of one woman's entry into war-torn Russia in early 1920, first-person impressions of many in the top Soviet leadership, and accounts of the author's increasingly dangerous work as a journalist and spy, to say nothing of her work on behalf of prisoners, her two arrests, and her eventual ten-month-long imprisonment, including in the infamous Lubyanka prison. It is a veritable encyclopedia of life in Russia in the early 1920s.
The Moscow Eccentric

The Moscow Eccentric

Advance reviewers are calling this new translation "a coup" and "a remarkable achievement." This rediscovered gem of a novel by one of Russia's finest writers explores some of the thorniest issues of the early twentieth century.
Life Stories: Original Fiction By Russian Authors

Life Stories: Original Fiction By Russian Authors

The Life Stories collection is a nice introduction to contemporary Russian fiction: many of the 19 authors featured here have won major Russian literary prizes and/or become bestsellers. These are life-affirming stories of love, family, hope, rebirth, mystery and imagination, masterfully translated by some of the best Russian-English translators working today. The selections reassert the power of Russian literature to affect readers of all cultures in profound and lasting ways. Best of all, 100% of the profits from the sale of this book are going to benefit Russian hospice—not-for-profit care for fellow human beings who are nearing the end of their own life stories.
Bears in the Caviar

Bears in the Caviar

Bears in the Caviar is a hilarious and insightful memoir by a diplomat who was “present at the creation” of US-Soviet relations. Charles Thayer headed off to Russia in 1933, calculating that if he could just learn Russian and be on the spot when the US and USSR established relations, he could make himself indispensable and start a career in the foreign service. Remarkably, he pulled it of.
Faith & Humor: Notes from Muscovy

Faith & Humor: Notes from Muscovy

A book that dares to explore the humanity of priests and pilgrims, saints and sinners, Faith & Humor has been both a runaway bestseller in Russia and the focus of heated controversy – as often happens when a thoughtful writer takes on sacred cows. The stories, aphorisms, anecdotes, dialogues and adventures in this volume comprise an encyclopedia of modern Russian Orthodoxy, and thereby of Russian life.
Survival Russian

Survival Russian

Survival Russian is an intensely practical guide to conversational, colloquial and culture-rich Russian. It uses humor, current events and thematically-driven essays to deepen readers’ understanding of Russian language and culture. This enlarged Second Edition of Survival Russian includes over 90 essays and illuminates over 2000 invaluable Russian phrases and words.

About Us

Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.

Our Contacts

Russian Life
PO Box 567
Montpelier VT 05601-0567

800-639-4301
802-223-4955