A painting remembered

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It was a deeply emotional experience, both awe inspiring and depressing at the same time…overwhelmed by the grandeur and beauty of it but also deeply depressed, knowing full well I would never attain to such heights. How can one painting be so impactful and the memory and associated experience of it still remain after 34 years? Like a beautiful piece of music it resonated its message to the very core of my being. Its beautifully orchestrated composition, perfect harmony and technical mastery all came together creating a visual poem that is not easily forgotten. (Click images to enlarge)

It was October 1990, a traveling exhibition from the Soviet Union called “The Wanderers” opened its two month stay at the Dallas Museum of Art in Dallas, Texas. The painting, titled “Spring Approaches” by Sergei Ivanovich Svetoslavsky (Veta-sloff-sky) – 1857-1931 stopped me in my tracks. No, it wasn’t the only painting, but like a few others, this one left its mark. (Could not, after much trying, find a photo of Mr. Svetoslavsky)

“Spring Approaches” – 34″ x 66″ – Oil (Sorry, but it’s the one and only image I could find…and it is of mediocre quality)


The exhibition catalog spoke of the painting as a depiction of “everyday life in the Russian countryside as observed through the curious eyes of the artist while being raised to the level of a poetic image.” The lyrical, emotional interpretation of everyday themes is expressed through Svetoslavsky’s understanding of the interrelationship of man and nature.

“Estate of the Artist” – 37″ x 30″ – Oil

“Spring Day, Apiary” – 54″ x 68″ – Oil

“The Yard in Spring” – 39″ x 54″ – Oil


“The Wanderers” exhibition, the first in the United States, was devoted to the art of the “Itinerant Society for Circulating Art Exhibitions.” Much like the Impressionist Movement in Europe, it rejected the artistic control of the State and sought to assert its right to artistic independence and self-determination. The “Itinerant’s” wanted to depict the life of the Russian people, their land, and history without it being politicized or romanticized.

“Estate of the Artist in Winter” – 39″ x 55″ – Oil


Svetoslavsky received his training in Moscow under some of the greatest names in Russian art…Vasily Perov, Vasily Polenov, and Alexei Savrasov. “From his teachers, he inherited a love for a yellow-gold color scheme.” That can be seen in “Spring Approaches.” His paintings show his clear artistic individuality and originality as well as faith in the best traditions of his teachers.”

“The Last Snow” – 33″ x 40″ – Oil


Svetoslavsky, not only had a great passion for painting the cityscapes of Kiev, where he lived most of his life, but also its surrounding landscape. He also was an active supporter in the creation of the Kiev Zoo. His lifelong friend, Pavel Tretyakov, an enthusiastic art collector and founder of the Tretyakov Gallery, backed him in the endeavor with a substantial donation. So dedicated to establishing the zoo, Svetoslavsky sold his estate and organized an expedition to Central Asia to capture animals for the zoo.

“View of the City” – 56″ x 67″ – Oil


Sergei Svetoslavsky’s career as an artist was cut short at the age of 53 when an incurable eye disease eventually forced him to quit painting….but what a collection of beautiful “music” he left for us to enjoy!!


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