While some Russians openly express disdain for workers from Uzbekistan, the capital of the CIS state has now got an impressive claim to fame. One painting at the Tashkent Art Museum has long been ascribed to an unknown artist. It is now declared to be the original Paolo Veronese’s La Pieta (The Mourning of Christ). Veronese was a celebrated master of the late Italian Renaissance. The image currently shown by RIA Novosti website does indeed resemble Veronese’s manner and lighting:
|Paolo Veronese, La Pieta (RIA Novosti)|
The painting that used to hang on the third floor of the art museum was brought to Tashkent by the Grand Duke Nikolas Constantinovich (1850-1918). His diary mentions that this was an original painting, most likely brought from one of his journeys to Europe in 1860-70s. However, it was only the restoration work that led to revisiting the diaries, conducting analyses and eventually declaring that Tashkent State Fine Arts Museum happens to own the painting by the great Italian.
The leader of the restoration project Dilshod Azizov said that more “important announcements” were to made at a later stage.
The initial announcement came earlier in November, and the Radio Liberty correspondents and art historians from the West were not quite sure the canvas could indeed belong to Veronese, although they did not doubt its Venetian origins.
The Grand Duke Nikolas was an eccentric member of the Russian imperial family, and Tashkent museum holds another testimony of the love for Italian art on the part of this Romanov. During one of his voyages to Europe with his beloved Fanny Lear, a divorcée from America, he visited the villa Borghese where he saw a nude sculpture of Polina Borghese, Napoleon’s sister, by Antonio Canova. The Grand Duke was so impressed that he commissioned a similar sculpture to an Italian master Tommaso Solari, but obviously with Fanny’s face instead of Polina’s. The exact copy was later sent to St. Petersburg where it stood in a park for a number of years. When the Grand Duke was already in exile, forever separated from his beloved American, his mother found the sculpture during a walk in the park and decided to send it to Tashkent.
So the exact copy of Canova’s sculpture commemorating an American woman who, inadvertently perhaps, led the Grand Duke to ruin, can now be seen in full glory at Tashkent State Fine Arts Museum. But a Western or Russian traveller needs not to go so far to see it: a smaller copy is displayed at the Yussupov Palace in St. Petersburg. And of course, there are other Italian Renaissance paintings in Russia, but to see the original Paolo Veronese La Pieta you will now need to go to Uzbekistan.
|Tommaso Solari, a copy after Antonio Canova,
Tashkent State Fine Arts Museum (Wikipedia)
Other posts in Renaissance Painting archives.