On a visit to Russia in the fall of 2005, I entered the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow expecting to find a few treasures. What I discovered there blew my mind. Turning the corner into a nondescript gallery was a stunning work by an artist I had never heard of.
I studied that painting intently, not knowing if I would ever return to Russia, nor if I would ever find out any more about this artist who was hidden behind the Iron Curtain and shunned by the avante guarde critic and historian for centuries. I scribble the name and sketched the image to recall it later.
But the gods of inspiration were shining down on me that day, for during my mandatory browse through the museum book store at the end of the visit, I inquired with the staff about Siemiradski. A kind lady smiled and retrieved a book on the artist! The only biography I have since discovered on the artist. Unfortunately it is in Russian, but no matter, it was a like striking a vein of gold, long hidden and eager to be mined.
Siemiradski (1843-1902) was a Polish Orientalist and a master of dappled light and narrative mass figure groupings. I can only imagine what his studio must have looked like when he was painting the Burial of a Varangian Chieftain, 1883, below.
A wonderful collection of his images has been assembled on this site: http://www.abcgallery.com/S/semiradsky/semiradsky.html
And brief Biography on Wikipedia for those interested: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henryk_Siemiradzki
Enjoy a bit of this Russian treasure from Moscow!