"Russian Woman in Engravings and Lithographs"
Exhibition of the Russian Fine Art Publication Lover's Society
(1911)

The Russian Fine Art Publication Lover's Society was a bibliophile organization, established in Saint Petersburg in 1903 and closed in 1917. Members of the Society published a magazine, organized art exhibitions. The exhibition Russian Woman in Engravings and Lithographs, held in 1911, contained an arresting display of engravings and lithographs from several private collections. This selection of approximately 200 portrait prints of members of the royal household, high society and stage conjured up a romantic picture of the glamour and elegance of the two previous centuries.

Baron N.N.Vrangel, who has written an introductory essay for the publication of the exhibition catalogue, noted that:
Taken together, these portraits have one thing in common: they all evoke the ideal image of woman that is a favourite source of inspiration for artists. And step by step, year by year, they reveal a picture of the changing ideals and ever new dreams of artists. Viewed in its totality, the gathering of so widely varying personalities, who in former times caused strong feelings in their devoted admirers and made them feel happy or sad, is interesting and highly amusing The time brought them together, and the apparent differences between them, that were meaningful to their contemporaries, now have no importance to us. The portraits show the ideal female in accordance with how artists of the period from Peter the Great's days to the latter half of the 19th century saw and represented a feminine beauty. The prints in the exhibition form an assemblage of visual range and great historical import. They are historic in the sense that they are testament to the changing fashions and tastes of Russian people.

The standards of beauty were evolving over the two centuries, in accordance with the evolution of the society. That is why these feminine portraits are essential to an understanding of their time.


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