Abstract: Vasily Vereshchagin was the most famous Russian Orientalist painter in nineteenth century Europe. In the 1860s and the 1870s he worked under protection of Konstantin von Kaufman, the first Turkestan Governor-General. The main result of their collaboration was Vereshchagin’s Turkestan Series, completed in 1874. This article is focused on a little-studied part of early representations of Russian Turkestan – an album of photographic reproductions of selected paintings and drawings from the Series. The album was entitled Turkestan. Sketches from Life, by V. V. Vereshchagin and was published in 1874 ‘on behalf of the Turkestan Governor-General and funded by His Majesty’. It reflected as clearly as possible both the union and the mutual compromise of Veres chagin and Kaufman ambitions and is analysed here as an original and striking phenomenon of the complex interaction of political, economic and artistic interests.
Keywords: Vereshchagin, Kaufman, Turkestan, photos, reproductions, album
Vasily Vereshchagin was, probably, the most famous Russian artist in nineteenth century Europe. He had got a reputation as one of the most talented foreign students of Jean-Leon Gérôme, a leading French Orientalist painter.1 Both in Russia and abroad Vereshchagin organized many personal exhibitions, published substantial number of his own texts devoted to travels and artistic issues and attracted critics’ attention. He had influential patrons among Russian political establishment, and they helped him to realize his creative projects in Russia and beyond its borders. A very important factor for the successful beginning of Vereshchagin’s artistic career was that in the 1860s and the 1870s he worked under protection of Konstantin von Kaufman, the first Governor-General of Turkestan, the new Russian colony. Their collaboration was intensive, productive but not without mutual confrontation. Through the efforts of Kaufman Vereshchagin was generously supported by the Russian state both in terms of finance and administration.