Moscow Guide: The State Tretyakov Gallery

The New State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, Russia is one of the must-see places for any teacher living and working in this huge metropolis. It is one of the best art galleries I've ever seen, and the layout, the curation and the historical quality of the pieces are unmatched!

To get there, take the Metro to Tretyakovskaya Station, or from Red Square take bus m5 and get off at the fourth stop.


The New State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, Russia is one of the must-see places for any teacher living and working in Moscow

The State Tretyakov Gallery is the main depository of Russian art. Founded in 1856 by a Pavel Tretyakov, a Moscow merchant who wanted to collect Russian art under one roof, it is today one of the top tourist attractions of this thriving city.

Admission costs 500 roubles.

The first time I went there I was not only pleasantly surprised by the warm, inviting atmosphere of this gallery, but I was blown away by the depth and quality of the collection.

Although I'm not too familiar with Russian artists, the layout of the gallery was well-planned.

Walking from room to room I was able to trace the development and increasing sophistication of the artists. For instance, in the 18th Century, only a few of the world's masters could properly paint facial features, which is why most portraits of European royalty and generals in this period look alike (round, pinkish faces and large oval eyes). This was also an imperial period in Europe and it was no different in Russia.

Large portraits of the Czars were everywhere and Catherine the Great was obviously the favorite personage of Russian artists at this time, judging from the amount of portraits and sculptures dedicated to her.

I was blown away by the depth and quality of the collection.

It's not until the 19th Century that Russian art takes on a life of its own. The complication of the artists becomes apparent and still-life scenes and paintings of rural, pastoral Russia is all the rage. This is interesting because Russian artists started painting impressionism fifty years before it became popular in western Europe, and the Russians were good at it!

My Favorite Piece In The Entire Gallery

There was one artist by the name of I. Kuindzhi who had a showcase room all to himself (he lived in the early to mid-1800s) and his use of light and shadows is amazing! I have never heard of this painter before but he's made the single best painting I have ever seen. It was a night scene of an almost neon-green moon over a river, and the way he played with the reflection of the moon was captivating. I want to find some reproductions of his works for my home.

I made it to the pre-revolutionary period of art which was very cubist and had a wannabe feel to it as the artists of this period attempted to mimic the masters in western Europe.

Russian art, in my opinion, hit its zenith in the early 19th Century and I don't think anybody can match what Russian artists were doing. This was probably because more Russians were being allowed to travel abroad while the Czars', wanting to bring Russia up to European standards, were attracting artisans and engineers from other countries as well as becoming sponsors of the arts. A sort of art-liberalism was allowed to flourish in Russia in this period, and it really shows in the works.

Want More?

Join Travel Teach & Play today and get access to my members-only resource guide...FREE!

About Nate Drescher

Nate spent 10 years teaching overseas before returning home to Canada to start his own publishing business. In that time he taught in South Korea, Thailand, Russia, Ukraine and Poland!

View all posts by Nate Drescher →

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *