Nikolai Bogdanov-Belsky (1868–1945)
Paintings from collections in Latvia and Germany
An exhibition of works by painter Nikolai Bogdanov-Belsky has opened at the Art Museum RIGA BOURSE. The artist is well known in both Russia and Latvia. There is constant interest in his art and his paintings are highly valued by art collectors as well being in demand at auctions in Latvia and abroad.

An exhibition of works by painter Nikolai Bogdanov-Belsky (Николай Петрович Богданов-Бельский) has opened at the Art Museum RIGA BOURSE. The artist is well known in both Russia and Latvia. There is constant interest in his art and his paintings are highly valued by art collectors as well being in demand at auctions in Latvia and abroad.

 

The more than 50 works on show in the exhibition come from the collection of the Latvian National Museum of Art, the artist’s family’s collection in Germany and from private collections.

 

In 1921 Bogdanov-Belsky emigrated from Russia to Latvia and remained here for 23 years becoming a recognised painter. For his significant contribution to the culture of Latvia, in 1936 the artist was decorated with the Order of the Three Stars. In 1944 Bogdanov-Belsky and his wife emigrated to Germany where he died in Berlin in 1945. Many of his paintings and archive documents remain in Germany and this legacy is looked after by the artist’s descendents. For the first time in Latvia, this exhibition will feature works from the family collection offering viewers a unique opportunity to become familiar with as yet unseen masterpieces created by the artist.

 

Nikolai Bogdanov-Belsky’s artistic style developed in the 1890s. Thanks to his talent and persistence, the young man from a poor peasant family managed to attain a good art education and became one of the most popular Russian painters of his day. The visual expression of the artist’s painting has its roots in realism, the desire to depict the reality of life. Over the years realism was enriched by the characteristic techniques of Impressionism, practised in plein-air studies, which provided the opportunity to accent the significance of colouring in his paintings more brilliantly. Already during his study years, the artist turned to the main theme of his art – the depiction of children. Peasant children in various situations of life became the leitmotif of his creative work.

 

The exhibition features both the painter’s early works as well as genre paintings produced in Latvia in the 1920s and 1930s. The painting The Future Monk (1889) is the starting point of the development of the young artist’s creative activity. The location of this painting is unknown but on show is a variation of the work painted a year later. The core of the exhibition is formed by paintings from the series Children of Latgale. The paintings feature our little heroes depicted movingly with great love and landscapes of primeval nature.

 

Bogdanov-Belsky has also painted portraits, landscapes and still lifes. The artist’s masterfully painted portraits were popular and in demand by the upper echelons of society. Commissions were even received from the Imperial family. On show are the portraits of Grand Duke Dmitry Pavlovich, Konstantin Stanislavsky, Maria Yemelyanova, the artist’s wife as well as his self-portrait. A special place in this gallery of portraits is occupied by the image of the famous Russian singer Fyodor Shalyapin.

 

Landscapes, on the other hand, reveal the artist’s love for the beautiful nature of Latgale – its lakes, rivers and meadows.

 

The exhibition is supplemented by documents and photographs from the LNMA, the artist’s family archives and private collection. They give us a deeper understanding of the artist’s creative work and shed light on unknown facts in his biography.

 

EXHIBITION CURATOR:

Ksenija Rudzīte, Curator of the Foreign Painting Collection of the Latvian National Museum of Art

 

 

PROJECT PARTICIPANTS:

Latvian National Museum of Art

N. Bogdanov-Belsky family collection / Germany

Private collections / Latvia

 

COORDINATORS:

Zane Lūse, Vita Birzaka, Dagmar Raab

 

RESTORERS:

Natālija Kurganova, Dita Murziņa, Aleksis Osmanis, Liene Muceniece, Zigmunds Lūsis

 

SUPPORTED BY:

 

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