Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The female nude in nineteenth-century Russian art: A study in assimilation and resistance
by Samu, Margaret, Ph.D., New York University, 2010, 383; 3408353
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation traces the production and reception of images of nude female figures in Russia during the nineteenth century. It argues that in the Russian art world, the female nude was the subject most emblematic of Western culture. Focusing on paintings, prints, and sculptures, this project traces the change in attitudes toward images of the nude female form as nationalist sentiments began to undermine westernizing impulses over the course of the nineteenth century. It addresses works by Karl Briullov, Aleksei Venetsianov, Fedor Bruni, Timofei Neff, and Konstantin Makovskii as sites for artists and collectors to display their familiarity and identification with western artistic culture.

By focusing on the female nude in art as a marker of westernization, this project examines the large issue of Russia’s position in the geography of European art. It calls into question long-held assumptions about Russia readily assimilating Western artistic traditions, showing instead patterns of both assimilation and resistance. This project also addresses Russia’s role as both an artistic center for all of Eastern Europe and a cultural outpost on the distant periphery of Europe as a whole.

The dissertation opens by tracing the development of a Russian market for images of the nude female figure by examining elite aristocratic art collectors such as the Stroganov and Yusopov families in the eighteenth century, and new classes of collectors, including Pavel Svinin and Pavel Tretiakov in the nineteenth. The second chapter focuses on artists such as Karl Briullov and Fedor Bruni, whose nudes produced in Rome in the 1820s-40s created an incentive to artists who remained in Russia to create similar works. The third chapter uses the work of Aleksei Venetsianov as a springboard to investigate the issue of female models in Russia. The fourth chapter examines the change in critical reception of the nude brought about by the Realist movement that began in the 1860s. The fifth chapter highlights the efforts of artists such as Konstantin Makovskii, who sought to create a distinctly Russian nude by using national folklore as a pretext for their imagery.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Nochlin, Linda
Commitee: Crow, Thomas, Lubar, Robert, Valkenier, Elizabeth K.
School: New York University
Department: Institute of Fine Arts
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 71/07, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Art history, Womens studies, Slavic Studies
Keywords: Art collecting, Art criticism, Artists' models, Briullov, Karl Pavlovich, Realism, Venetsianov, Aleksei Gavrilovich
Publication Number: 3408353
ISBN: 978-1-124-04471-2
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