An actual look at the Russian artistic process of the 19th century is largely determined by the experience of Soviet art history, which, in turn, appealed to the authority of the critic Vladimir Stasov (1824–1906). One of the plots that allow us to assess the tendentiousness of his interpretations is related to the question of the Russian Style in the architecture of post-reform Russia. Now the subjectivist and contradictory nature of Stasov’s judgments about national and democratic art is reflected by researchers. However, as the author of this article shows, the reading of Stasov’s texts by Soviet architectural historians was also biased.
This can be clearly seen in the example of the idea developed by Evgenia I. Kirichenko about what the confrontation between two different versions of the Russian Style, reflecting the political opposition of the official nationality and the diverse intelligentsia allegedly took place in architecture in the 1870s and 1890s. Indeed, one can find an opposition between two alternatively versions of nationalized architecture that runs through Stasov’s texts. But a closer reading of them, it becomes clear that the critic distinguishes not synchronously developing official and democratic versions of the Russian Style, but two artistic eras — associated with the reigns of Nicholas I and Alexander II, respectively.
Stasov’s apologia for the Russian Style of Victor Hartman and Ivan Ropette, as opposed to the state-official architecture of Konstantin Thon, had a socio-political tone, but there was no connection between the ropetovshchina and the radical intelligentsia’s views. On the contrary, the pathos of his speeches consisted in great sympathy for the cause of the reforms of Alexander II, a quarter-century of whose reign was described by Stasov as a period of unprecedented liberation of Russian creative spirit. The making difference of the Russian Style according to the “party affiliation” of architects and artists is counterproductive, since this affiliation itself is very doubtful. Periodization, in the opinion of the author of the article, is a much more adequate method of systematizing the materials of the Russian Style.
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