Russian Art and Architecture Books
The works of Russian painters, draftsmen, sculptors, designers, and architects constitute a rich branch of world art. Bronze Horseman imports monographs, albums, catalogues, and reference books that unfold the history of Russian art and architecture from its wellsprings in tenth-century Kiev to its latest forms in twenty-first-century Russia.
Art in Russian Collections
Ancient are, Islamic art, Asian art, and especially Western European art abound in Russian collections for several reasons. Traveling in Western Europe in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries Peter the Great became the first major Russian collector: he acquired Dutch seascapes, Italian sculpture, and scientific curios, founding in his new capital Russia’s first public museum, the Kunstkamera. Westernizing tendencies introduced by Peter, the affluence and culture of the Russian court, and an interest in collecting among the nobility, merchants, and antiquarians were all conducive to amassing art collections in Russia. Alexander S. Stroganov’s trips to Europe in the 1750s and 1770s were momentous for future Russian museum collections; he and his agents purchased paintings by Botticelli, Rubens, van Ostade, and van Dyke, to name a few of the many great artists whose works came to Russia thanks to the collecting and patronage of the Stroganov family. Catherine the Great’s ardor for collecting also enriched the Hermitage: in 1779, for example, she acquired 198 paintings from Robert Walpole’s collection. Art collecting in imperial Russia culminated with such collectors as Sergei Shchukin and Ivan Morozov, who sometimes sensed before their Western European counterparts which artists and styles of the late nineteenth century marked advances in the history of art. Fortuitous events such as the marriage of Grand Duke Alexander Alexandrovich (the future Alexander III) to the daughter of Danish king Christian IX, the future Empress Maria Fedorovna also enriched museum collecxtions. Thanks to Maria Fedorovna’s collecting, the Peterhof Palace-Museum has the best collection outside Denmark of Art Nouveau pieces from the Royal Copenhagen Porcelain Factory.
Bronze Horseman also imports monographs and catalogues on specific themes: schools and regional styles, particular collections and artists, technique and preservation, the history of collecting, and evolving art historiography. Research on icons and frescoes, for example, has flourished in the last two decades. As opposed to the Soviet period, scholars have been free to study works of religious art from all points of view. Various periods of Soviet art are also fertile areas of new research: for much of the twentieth century censorship and government clampdown on art perceived by the Kremlin as subversive meant that many works were never exhibited publicly — only now are the gaps being filled.
Bronze Horseman books travels to Russian and international book fairs several times a year to select books on world art and Russian art and architecture based on the interests of customers in North America including museum and university libraries, galleries, and art historians. Customers frequently ask for a specific book that they've seen or heard of, but cannot find. Bronze Horseman Books often finds these gems in Russia and imports them.
During these book-buying trips, Bronze Horseman emphasizes initiating and fostering ties with museums and publishers bringing out new research and visual documents valuable to scholars in the West. Last year, for example, Bronze Horseman formed ongoing collaborations with the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, a new and exciting venue for current Russian and world art; the State Mayakovsky Museum, which stands out for its collection of avant-garde book art and photography of the 1910s and 1920s; and Rosphoto State Museum and Exhibition Center in St. Petersburg, which specializes in photography exhibitions and has just published the first volumes of a comprehensive catalogue of daguerreotypes in Russian museums, archives, and private collections.
These book-buying trips enable Bronze Horseman to see the books before offering them to scholars and libraries. Seeing the books is important when the subject is art: we can check the production standards and the quality and range of illustrations, which often determine the usefulness of the book. We can also gauge the level of a book, determine whether it publishes research, brings works of art together in a new way as in most exhibition catalogues, or offers illustrative material not available elsewhere. Bronze Horseman is continuously broadening and enriching its selection cultivating sources whose books are difficult to get in the West or never even enter the radar of American and Western European researchers and libraries.
From the beginning of its work importing books from Russia Bronze Horseman has emphasized giving a clear idea to libraries and readers what they are getting when they order one of our books. First of all, Bronze Horseman describes in detail each book it offers. Ordering from bare lists of titles it is easy to get a book that does not meet your expectations and, vice versa, fail to order a book that matches your interests. Libraries are welcome to download these descriptions to their catalogues to make the books more discoverable. Second, Bronze Horseman exhibits regularly at ARLIS, CAA, and the annual Slavic conference. And, finally, Bronze Horseman is willing to bring a generous sampling of books to show to library book committees, museum curators, and collection development librarians around the country.