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Peter the Great Examining a Statue of Venus in the Summer Palace. 1916

Kuchumov Vasily,
Oil on cardboard
69,5 x 102

State Russian Museum

Пост.: 1930 из Общества им. А.И. Куинджи (Ленинград)


Peter the Great was following the example of European monarchs when he laid out several summer residences in St Petersburg and its environs that would eventually become luxurious combinations of architecture and park land. Marble sculptures were purchased abroad to decorate the interiors of palaces and the alleyways in the parks, and one particular item that was brought to Russia during Peter’s reign was the famous statue of the Venus of Tauris (now in the Hermitage Museum). Pope Clement XI had himself placed a ban on the export of the statue from Rome, but the cunning Russian diplomat Savva Raguzinsky offered him in exchange the relics of St Bridget of Sweden that had been seized as a trophy in Reval. It would not be right for the Pope to prefer a sensual pagan goddess over a Catholic saint, so the Venus set off for St Petersburg in 1718. Vasily Kuchumov depicts the scene of the ceremonial “presentation” of the strange new acquisition to Peter the Great and the court nobility assembled in the Winter Palace. Next to the Emperor the artist has placed his African page, Abram Petrovich Hannibal (known as his “Moor”), who was the great-grandfather of Alexander Pushkin, the great Russian poet.

Author's Biography

Kuchumov Vasily

Kuchumov, Vasily Nikitich
1888, Dolgopolovo (Yaroslavl Province)– 1959, Leningrad
Painter, graphic artist, monumentalist. Studied at the School of Art in Penza (circa 1909) and at the Higher Art School of the Imperial Academy of Arts (1909–1916). Contributed to exhibitions (from 1913): Fellowship of the Independents (1913, 1916), Community of Artists (1917), Society of Travelling Art Exhibitions (1917–1922), ArkhipKuindzhi Society (1918–1930), First State Free Art Exhibition (1919), Petrograd Artists of All Directions (1923), Association of Artists of Revolutionary Russia (1924–1926) and Modern Leningrad Art Groupings (1928). Member of the ArkhipKuindzhi Society (1918–1930), Association of Artists of Revolutionary Russia (1924–1926) and Modern Leningrad Art Groupings (1928).

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