Valentin Serov ‘Girl with Peaches/ Девочка с персиками’ (1887)
On a sunny day in August 1887, 11 year old Vera, the daughter of entrepreneur and philanthropist Savva Mamontov, rushed into the house, grabbed a peach and sat down for a quick bite. Painter Valentin Serov, a frequent visitor to the house, was so impressed by her joyous look, that he immediately asked the girl to sit for him. To this day ‘Girl with Peaches’ is the artist’s most famous work and one of Russia’s most popular internet memes. You’ll find it in hall number 41.
Andrei Rublev ‘Holy Trinity/ Троица’ (1425–1427)
One of the most recognizable icons in the western world, Holy Trinity is a famous work by enigmatic Russian iconographer, Andrei Rublev. In the delicately allusive picture there are three angels seated under Abraham’s tree, this is how Rulbev chose to depict the nature of God, so in fact what we see is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. You can admire this masterpiece along with many other ancient icons in hall 60.
Mikhail Vrubel ‘Demon/Демон’ (1890)
Russian artist Mikhail Vrubel is known for the peculiar magnetism of his works and the famous ‘Demon’ is no exception. An illustration to the eponymous poem by Mikhail Lermontov, the image has a certain tactility to it and almost sculptural definition. The powerful but strangely melancholic demon, whom the artist himself described as “majestic and power-hungry” is watching the world transform before his eyes, which symbolizes the eternal struggle of tormented spirit. Beautifully designed halls number 32-33 are devoted to works by Mikhail Vrubel.
Vasily Vereshchagin ‘The Apotheosis of War/ Апофеоз войны’ (1871)
A haunting picture with a message “to all great conquerors, past, present and future”, the Apotheosis of War could have been named “The Triumph of Tamerlane”. The pyramid of skulls in the middle of a wasteland is what the 14-15 century conqueror Tamerlane usually left after himself. The artist decided that the picture conveys a much deeper meaning. Go to hall 27, if you want to see it with your own eyes.