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2024 №31

Author: Dany Savelli
About the author:

Dany Savelli — Assistant Professor (Maître de conférences), Department of Foreign Languages, Université Toulouse Jean Jaurès, 5 All. Antonio Machado, 31058 Toulouse, France.


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Before being denounced as a “crime,” ornamentation held a prominent place within debates that focused more on national identity than aesthetics. The present article revisits the controversy that took place around ornamentation as an expression of the national in the 1870s between the director of the Stroganov School, Victor Butovsky, and the art critic Vladimir Stasov. Shocked by the latter’s thesis, suggesting that Russian peasant embroideries had Asian origins, Butovsky attempted to counter by suddenly attributing considerable importance to Byzantine influence on Russian art, which he had previously denied. Moreover, he invited Eugène Viollet-Le-Duc to join this debate by commissioning a work from him. However, in “L’Art russe” (“Russian Art”), published in Paris in 1877 and translated into Russian in 1879, the famous French architect, in turn, defends the thesis of the Asian origin of Russian ornamentation. But if Butovski still raves about the book, it is because Viollet-Le-Duc asserts that the Russians drew their artistic originality from the most prestigious of the East, India; doing so, he endows the Russians with an Aryan genealogy that allows them to join the great European family. On his part, Stasov, concerned with a scientific approach that has led him to rethink Russia’s relationship with Asia completely, gives a mixed reception to the work, as he perfectly perceives its weaknesses.

Keywords: ornament, Russian art, national identity, mongol invasion, Victor Bukovsky, Vladimir Stasov, Eugène Viollet-le-Duc.
For citation:

Savelli, D. “The Ornament of the 1870s. In Search of Original Russian Art (Victor Butovsky, Vladimir Stasov, and Eugene Viollet-le-Duc).” Literaturnyi fakt, no. 1 (31), 2024, pp. 187–216. (In Russ.)


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