Museum of Modern Western Art

HistoryChronology1892–1917  1898

Politics and Culture

In the year of Pavel Tretyakov’s death the Russian Museum of Emperor Alexander III opened in St Petersburg. Rapidly establishing itself, it developed in parallel with the Tretyakov Gallery as the two great collections of the national school in art. 

A key Russian cultural phenomenon at the turn of the century was the appearance of a new artistic group in St Petersburg, the World of Art, organised by Serge Diaghilev and Alexandre Benois. Its members wished to revitalise cultural life across the country as a whole, promoting aesthetic principles that would, they felt, bring Russian art closer to the latest trends in France and across the European continent. Now social criticism seemed old-fashioned, out-of-date. The World of Art first emerged after Diaghilev organised an Exhibition of Russian and Finnish Artists in the Museum of the Baron Stieglitz School of Technical Drawing. Participants included Mikhail Vrubel, Benois, Eugene Lanceray, Konstantin Somov, Isaac Levitan, Andrey Ryabushkin, Apollinary Vasnetsov and Valentin Serov. 

Until 1904 the World of Art produced a journal of the same name [Мир искусства], subsidised by Savvia Mamontov and Princess Maria Tenisheva, which was to make an important contribution to Russian cultural life. Never before in Russia had there been such a periodical, presenting literary and artistic news, reviews and articles, plentifully illustrated. It marked a clear transition to a new age in design and to a time of greater artistic understanding.  The first number looked at the art of Edgar Degas, Gustave Moreau, Aubrey Beardsley and James McNeill Whistler.

Première at the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg of Alexander Glazunov’s ballet Raymonda, based on medieval tales of courtly love. 

Пьерина Леньяни в партии Раймонды в одноименном балете К. Глазунова

Huge success greets the première of Anton Chekhov’s play The Seagull at the Moscow Arts Theatre. 

Афиша премьеры «Чайки» в МХТ
17 декабря 1898

Anton Chekhov writes a number of short stories including Ionych and Man in a Case.

Edmond Rostand completes his verse drama Cyrano de Bergerac

Эдмон Ростан в мундире Французской Академии

After the death of Gustave Moreau, the fate of his pupils – Henri Matisse, Georges Rouault, Albert Marquet etc – was to diverge. Matisse came under the influence of the Impressionists and Vincent van Gogh (e.g. Sunflowers in a Vase, Hermitage Museum; Corsican Landscape. Olive Trees, Pushkin Museum) while Gustave’s favourite, Rouault, entered a period of crisis and produced little.

Ambroise Vollard holds a second exhibition of the works of Paul Cézanne, publishing a brief catalogue 

One-man show by Claude Monet at the Galerie Georges Petit: 61 paintings including views of Norway and Pourville and the series Morning on the Seine

Émile Zola sends an open letter to the President of the French Republic in defence of Alfred Dreyfus

Открытое письмо Эмиля Золя «Я обвиняю», напечатанное в газете L’Aurore
13 января 1898 

А. Костеневич