Founded in 1856, the Tretyakov Gallery is one of the greatest art galleries in the world. It houses a huge collection of paintings and sculptures by Russian artists from the 12th to early 20th centuries. Here you can see the masterpieces of Repin, Shishkin, Rublev, Brulov, Aivazovsky, Vasnetzov, Vrubel, Levitan, and more.
A 500-ruble ticket is definitely worth it! And for an additional fee you can take an audio guide (they are offered in many languages) and hear the most interesting stories of the painters and their creations. The stories behind these chef d'oeuvres seem to make them come alive!
It is not only for art’s sake that you should come here. The gallery is a perfect way to learn about the history of Russia and peer into the mysterious Russian soul.
Make sure to come well in advance as it will take you at least 6 hours to properly explore everything (the gallery closes at 6 p.m. sharp).
There are also good shops and a great restaurant with delicious local cuisine on the first floor.
The Tratyakov Gallery is a total must-visit when in Moscow!
Masterpieces not to miss in in the Tretyakov Gallery:
Morning in the Pine Forest by Ivan Shishkin. Created in 1889, the painting features four bears against a wild sunlit pine wood. The image is so realistic and detailed, it beats modern computer technologies. It was also used as a design for the wrapper of popular Soviet chocolate candies — Clumsy Bear.
Girl with Peaches by Valentin Serov (1887).
One of the most famous Serov’s paintings shows a girl sitting at a table in a country house. The girl is holding a peach and a few more peaches are around the table.
The Rainbow by Ivan Aivazovsky (1873). This masterpiece by the famous Russian seascape artist shows a ship wrecked in a storm and people trying to escape.
The Apotheosis of War by Vasily Vereshchagin. Created in 1871, the striking painting featuring a pile of human skulls and reflecting the artist’s own war experience never fails to grab everyone’s attention.
Alyonushka by Victor Vasnetsov (1881). The pensive girl sitting on a rock by the water seems to have come right out of a Russian fairy-tale.
Demon Seated by Mikhail Vrubel (1890). Inspired by Lermontov’s poem, the controversial avant-garde painting depicts a demon in a way where he looks more like a fallen angel.
The Rooks Have Returned by Alexey Savrasov (1871). Savrasov’s most famous painting is a beautiful ode to spring announced by the return of rooks.
The Unequal Marriage by Vasily Pukirev (1862). Inspired by the artist’s own sad experience, the famous painting shows a distressed bride with a much older wealthy groom.
The Appearance of Christ Before the People by Alexander Ivanov (1837—1857).
No time seems to be enough to understand all the intricate details, meanings, and symbols of this great masterpiece. No wonder it took its creator twenty years to complete it.
The Holy Trinity by Andrei Rublev, 1425-1427. Arguably the most famous icon in the world, the ancient painting from the great Russian religious artist no doubt deserves your attention.
Ivan the Terrible and His Son Ivan on 16 November 1581 by Ilya Repin. Made between 1883 and 1885, the realism-style painting is a pretty scary work portraying a sorrow-stricken tsar Ivan the Terrible holding the son he has just mortally wounded.
Portrait of A.S. Pushkin by Orest Kiprensky, 1827. According to Pushkin’s contemporaries, the painting was the best depiction of the outstanding Russian poet.
The Morning of the Streltsy Execution by Vasily Surikov, 1698. The tragic painting shows the execution of military people whose rebellion was severely suppressed by tsar Peter the Great.
Portrait of an Uknown Woman by Ivan Kramskoi, 1883. The woman with a calm and earnest look on her face was once seen by many as arrogant and immoral. Nowadays, it doesn’t seem to be the case, but anyway, the image is highly recognizable and popular among Russian people.
Bogatyrs by Viktor Vasnetsov, 1898. Depicting the three main mythical Russian knights (Ilya Muromets, Dobrynya Nikitich, and Alyosha Popovich), the canvas is one of Vasnetsov’s greatest works.
Boyarina Morozova by Vasily Surikov, 1884-1887. The highly emotional painting shows a noble ‘old believer’ woman on her way to an exile in a monastery.
Bathing of a Red Horse by Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin, 1912. The bright red horse in the famous painting is considered to be a symbol of the coming October Revolution.
Princess Tarakanova by Konstantin Flavitsky, 1864. The tragic painting depicts a grief-stricken imprisoned princess who realizes that no one can save her from the rising flood.