MASTERPIECES PASTELS FROM THE TRETYAKOV GALLERY
The collection of the State Tretyakov Gallery holds about 800 pastels, some were purchased by PMTretyakov.
Pastels must be kept under glass. She is very vulnerable: she is able to crumble from a concussion, all kinds of travel are dangerous to her, she is affected by the action of direct sunlight, temperature drops, excessive dryness or humidity. Constant concern for the safety of “loose” pastel works does not allow them to be often and continuously exhibited. To see them in the halls of the museum is a rare and significant event.
The word pastel (pastello) comes from the Italian pasta – pasta or dough. So they call the material for drawing, the technique in which the artist works, and, finally, the artwork, drawn with pastel pencils.
Pastel is colored chalk, pressed into sticks of finely ground mixture, which includes three ingredients: a coloring pigment, a mineral filler (chalk or a special kind of clay) and a binder (in most cases, gum arabic). Pastel has more than one thousand six hundred and fifty shades.
Pastel appeared in artistic practice at the end of the 15th century. The rarest example of its use is in an etude by Leonardo da Vinci to the portrait of Isabella d’Este Mantuan (1495), filled with black chalk, sanguine and pastel in several places for a slight shading of the black pattern. New technique Leonardo calls colorire a secco (dry-painted) and identifies with pastel. According to the artist, the French poet and court painter Louis XII – Jean Perreal introduced him to this technique.
At the beginning of the XVI century pastel took a firm place in artistic practice. Recall the French pencil portrait that emerged at this time, a special type of bust portrait à troi crayons (in three pencils — black chalk, sanguine and pastel), performed from nature in one or two sessions. In Italian, this combination of drawing materials was called a pastello. For several centuries, similar methods of drawing, leading to the very origins of pastel technology, persist.
Loose pastels are poorly maintained on the surface, so it requires a special rough base. Pastel sticks work on special grades of paper, such as torches, sandpaper, on loose, fleecy cardboard, suede, parchment, canvas. Diverse and working methods. Pastel touches are rubbed with fingers, palm, special feathers (from the elder core), leather rollers, silk square brushes, brushes, soft tampons. Pastel combines the possibilities of painting and drawing. She can draw and write, work as a hatching or painting spot, with a dry and wet brush.
The pastel technique gained wide popularity and reached its heyday in the 18th century. However, artists are constantly worried about the problem of the preservation of works, which has become the subject of many scholarly treatises. Various fixatives were invented, but even the most perfect of them changed the pastels tone, distorted its original color range, ruined its natural velvety and fluffyness.
D.Dydro also expressed to the famous pastelist M.K. de Latour has his own fears that the flapping of the wings of time will not leave anything of the glory of the great master and the precious dust will disappear from the surface, and part of it will dissipate into the air. Fortunately, his fears were not justified. The pastel was hardy enough. This is confirmed by the ancient pastels stored in the museums of Europe, which still amaze with the freshness of their colors, like the famous “Chocolate Girl” by J.E. Liotar from the Dresden Gallery.
In the pastel portraits of the 18th century there is always a pressing note, a taste of original doom, precisely because of the fragility of the technique itself – delicate, like pollen on the wings of a butterfly, and just as short-lived and disappearing from careless touch. Easily destroyed pastel vividly embodies the idea of the frailty of human existence. It is no coincidence that A.R. Mengs, a German artist and art theorist of the 18th century, compared pastels with “butterflies in the flower garden of art”.
In Russia, pastels appeared in the second half of the 18th century, but never reached such popularity as in Europe. The first known pastelists were invited foreign masters – G.-F. Schmidt, V.Eriksen, Gagelgans, I.-G.Shmidt, I.Bardu and their younger contemporary K. Barda. Many of them were portrait painters. Their works are performed at a good professional level, in the tradition of desk portrait art. They are characterized by a pictorial solution, they carefully draw up individual features, finely modeled faces, powdered wigs, details of clothes, fine foam of laces, the mysterious glitter of orders, pastel-like soft shimmer of tones, carefully conveyed. In these small, often paired, family portraits that once adorned the walls of Russian noble nests, lively human faces, famous and unknown, appear in front of the viewer — faces that have gone down in history but have not sunk into oblivion, thanks to artists who have preserved their appearance for posterity.