Iosif Braz, Anton Chekhov, 1898 /Copyright: State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

From the late 1860s Pavel Tretyakov began collecting and commissioning portraits of all the great figures in the cultural life of Russia. It was a fortunate coincidence that the era fron 1867 to 1914 was a remarkably creative one in literature, the theater, and music, as well as being the golden age of Russian portraiture. It enabled Tretyakov to put together a striking collection of masterpieces, which he later presented to the city of Moscow; today it is the State Tretyakov Museum. Now the Tretyakov Museum is exchanging for a time key portraits with Britain’s National Portrait Gallery. The Russians will be...

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