Saving masterpieces: Documentaries about the restoration of unique icons and canvasses at Manezh

Saving masterpieces: Documentaries about the restoration of unique icons and canvasses at Manezh
Documentaries about the restoration of unique works of art to be shown at Manezh on 10, 17 and 23 November.

Three documentaries will be shown at Manezh as part of Treasures from Russian Museums, an exhibition currently taking place. The documentaries are included in Manezh’s Russian Masterpieces Saved for the Nation film and lecture programme. They help people to find out more about how Russian restoration workers saved unique paintings and old icons. Guest speakers who are experts in this field will clue the public in on the finer points of the restoration process.

The first lecture will be held on 10 November. Film director and playwright Yury Starikov, PhD in History, will tell the story of how the restoration process evolved, including the creation of the first restoration workshop in the Moscow Kremlin back in 1918, as well as already demolished decorative and applied arts landmarks, famous restoration workers and museum collections. A documentary that will be shown after the lecture is dedicated to unique textiles, many of which have never been exhibited and only custodians of museum collections are able to appreciate them.

On 17 November, people will be able to attend the premiere of a documentary about paintings that have been restored or are held in various collections. The documentary narrates the story of skilled restoration workers who breathed new life into The Siege of Sevastopol Panorama that was seriously damaged during the Great Patriotic War (1941–1945). During the bombing and artillery shelling of Sevastopol on 25 June 1942, a fire ripped through the building housing the panorama and part of the canvass was burned. The surviving fragments were shipped to Novorossiisk. However, the ship’s hold that contained the valuable cargo was flooded. Soviet artists have recreated the panorama. To do this, they first had to restore the surviving fragments and examine photos, original sketches and study material, old booklets and other archival data. The panorama was unveiled again in 1954 ahead of the 100th anniversary of the first siege of Sevastopol that faced heroic resistance from the besieged.

Russian restoration workers also helped their colleagues abroad. For example, specialists from the Academician Grabar National Artistic and Research Restoration Centre have restored paintings from the Dresden Gallery. The documentary is based on rare archival documents, photos, news films together with stories told by restoration workers.

The theme of the third lecture is the Restoration of the Bogolyubskaya Icon of the Mother of God. On 23 November, Alexander Gormatyuk will talk about the remarkable history of this icon and its restoration. Alexander Gormatyuk, PhD in Art History, is a leading artist-cum-restoration worker at the tempera painting workshop, the Academician Grabar National Artistic and Research Restoration Centre. The lecture will be followed by a documentary about efforts to preserve the most outstanding Russian icons.

More information can be found on the website.

An exhibition, Treasures from Russian Museums, opened at the Manezh Central Exhibition Hall on 4 November. It showcases about 280 of the most remarkable items from 50 museums from all across Russia. What is so amazing about the exhibition is its geography and the period of time it spans, which is several centuries – from old icons all the way up to 20th-century works of art. The exhibition will be on until 25 November.