Tue, 09 Aug 2022

The Russian Caucasus in the paintings of artists

RBTH
22 Mar 2022, 06:55 GMT+10

For Russians, the Caucasian mountains are their Alps. And they, too, have caught the imagination of many artists and poets.

"Snowy peaks and glaciers, sometimes lost in the moving masses of clouds, sometimes dazzlingly shining in the blue of the sky, gorges, precipices, cliffs illuminated by the bloody glow of sunset, steppe foothills like giant frozen waves overgrown with azaleas," wrote famous Russian artist Apollinariy Vasnetsov about the North Caucasus.

His colleague Boris Kustodiev also shared his impressions of the Caucasus Mountains: "When you reach the river, in the distance [you can see] mountains with white snakes on their tops - it's snow; below - a continuous forest of plane trees, oaks with bushes of red rhododendron and azaleas scenting up to a headache, below - streams are running along the bottom of multicolored stones..."

The Russians arrived in the Caucasus at the beginning of the 18th century and had to defend their right to this land for the next two centuries in numerous wars against the Ottoman Empire and Iran. In addition, local tribes who sometimes managed to form powerful coalitions and put forward strong leaders such as, for example, Imam Shamil, leader of the so-called North Caucasian Imamate, also resisted.

The war against the highlanders of the North Caucasus lasted for almost half a century and generally ended in the mid-1860s. Often, artists were sent to the location of the Russian troops to depict not only the beautiful nature of the region, but also those cruel and fateful events in their paintings.

View of the Caucasus with Kazbek in the distance, 1868 г.

View of the Caucasus with Kazbek in the distance, 1868 г.

Ivan Aivazovsky Cossacks at a mountain river, 1892.

Cossacks at a mountain river, 1892.

Franz Roubaud/The State Russian Museum Darial Gorge, 1890s.

Darial Gorge, 1890s.

Arkhip Kuindzhi/The State Tretyakov Gallery Mount Kazbek, 1897-1898.

Mount Kazbek, 1897-1898.

Vasily Vereshchagin/The State Russian Museum A Forest in the mountains, 1890s.

A Forest in the mountains, 1890s.

Alexander Kiselev Summer camp of the Nizhny Novgorod Dragoon Regiment at Kara-Agach, 1840.

Summer camp of the Nizhny Novgorod Dragoon Regiment at Kara-Agach, 1840.

Grigory Gagarin/The State Russian Museum In the Caucasus Mountains, 1879.

In the Caucasus Mountains, 1879.

Lev Lagorio/Kharkov Art Museum A Caucasian horseman, 1800s.

A Caucasian horseman, 1800s.

Konstantin Filippov Harvesting grain in the North Caucasus, 1840s.

Harvesting grain in the North Caucasus, 1840s.

Grigory Gagarin The Mountain Path. 1887 г.

The Mountain Path. 1887 г.

Arseny Meshchersky In the Mountains of the Caucasus, 1906.

In the Mountains of the Caucasus, 1906.

Alexander Kiselev The battle between the Russian troops and the Circassians at Akhatl on May 8, 1841, 1841-1842.

The battle between the Russian troops and the Circassians at Akhatl on May 8, 1841, 1841-1842.

Grigory Gagarin Pyatigorsk, 1837-1838.

Pyatigorsk, 1837-1838.

Mikhail Lermontov Mountain Lake, 1852.

Mountain Lake, 1852.

Leo Lagorio/Kaluga Museum of Fine Arts The Assault on the Akhty Fortification, 1860s.

The Assault on the Akhty Fortification, 1860s.

Polidor Babaev/Dagestan Museum of Fine Arts Near the shores of the Caucasus, 1885.

Near the shores of the Caucasus, 1885.

Ivan Aivazovsky/The State Tretyakov Gallery Frosty Morning, 1880s.

Frosty Morning, 1880s.

Ilya Zankovsky A Caucasian view. Mount Elbrus at sunrise. 1837-1838.

A Caucasian view. Mount Elbrus at sunrise. 1837-1838.

Mikhail Lermontov General Kluge von Klugenau's meeting with Shamil in 1837, 1849.

General Kluge von Klugenau's meeting with Shamil in 1837, 1849.

Grigory Gagarin/The State Tretyakov Gallery View of Gunib, 1859.

View of Gunib, 1859.

Ivan Alexandrovsky A Caucasian still life, 1918.

A Caucasian still life, 1918.

Yevgeny Lanceray/Tatarstan State Museum of Fine Arts Rural Caucasian scene, 1850s.

Rural Caucasian scene, 1850s.

Konstantin Filippov Chains of the Caucasus Mountains. View from the Karanai Mountains to Temir-Khan-Shura on the Caspian Sea, 1869.

Chains of the Caucasus Mountains. View from the Karanai Mountains to Temir-Khan-Shura on the Caspian Sea, 1869.

Ivan Aivazovsky/Yaroslavl Art Museum In the Caucasus. The Sitting Highlanders, 1889.

In the Caucasus. The Sitting Highlanders, 1889.

Konstantin Korovin/The State Tretyakov Gallery Storming the fortifications of Gunib, 1867.

Storming the fortifications of Gunib, 1867.

Theodore Gorschelt Abandonment of an aul by highlanders at the approach of Russian troops, 1872.

Abandonment of an aul by highlanders at the approach of Russian troops, 1872.

Peter Gruzinsky The Caucasus Gorge, 1893.

The Caucasus Gorge, 1893.

Leo Lagorio/The State Tretyakov Gallery The Darial Gorge on a moonlit night, 1868.

The Darial Gorge on a moonlit night, 1868.

Ivan Aivazovsky/National Gallery of Armenia The Old Men, 1988.

The Old Men, 1988.

Said-Khusein Bitsiraev/Museum of the Memorial Complex of Glory

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