With Hillwood’s A Boyar Wedding Feast (1883) as the centerpiece, the exhibition will bring to life the tableau vivant motif that was the inspiration for this painting and a foundation for Makovsky’s work. In the dramatically lit setting, exquisite objects and details from the painting will be brought to life through groupings of 17th-century objects of boyar life, such as intricately embroidered garments, pearl-studded kokoshniki (women’s headdresses), and gleaming silver, enamel, and ivory objects from Hillwood’s collection, supplemented with loans from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Walters Art Museum, and other lenders.
The exhibition is built around one of the most ambitious paintings from Makovsky’s boyar series and the path it traveled from St. Petersburg, through Paris, to the United States, where it was received with great enthusiasm. Konstantin Makovsky: The Tsar’s Painter offers a new perspective on the painter’s work and its popularity in Gilded Age America, where it satisfied the appetite for dramatic historical stories, exotic settings and costumes, and European art and culture.
A full-color, 144-page companion publication, Konstantin Makovsky: The Tsar’s Painter in America and Paris explores new perspectives on the art and career of Makovsky and the wider 19th-century enthusiasm for medieval Russian culture and boyar life.