Fine Art Shippers has published a research paper titled “The American Fate of the Chinese Collection of G. V. Yudin, Krasnoyarsk Merchant-Bibliophile.”
Fine Art Shippers published an article titled “The American Fate of the Chinese Collection of G. V. Yudin, Krasnoyarsk Merchant-Bibliophile.” It was authored by researchers of Siberian Federal University Lyudmila Belgorodskaya, Nikolay Drozdov, and Vita Vonog. The article poses the question of attribution of drawings and sketches collected by the Russian merchant and bibliophile Gennady Yudin (1840-1912). The ethnographic materials that the collection contains are also the focus of the research paper.
G. V. Yudin was a successful merchant in pre-revolutionary Krasnoyarsk, Russia. His collection included around 80,000 books and around 500,000 documentary materials, which makes it the largest and most valuable private library of the time.
It is apparent that Yudin’s interest in China inspired him to add books on Chinese history and geography. Apart from scientific literature, the bibliophile kept a collection of 333 drawings and sketches, titled “Russian Drawings of China.” The album was sold to the Department of Photography and Engravings of the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, where has been preserved to this day. One of the reasons for this relocation was Russian politics: the revolution of 1917 forced many art collectors to give up their possessions and send them overseas.
The images found in the Chinese collection of Yudin seem to mostly focus on documenting the daily life of Chinese people and its different facets: Chinese nature, urban environments, and various activities and cultural practices that Chinese people participated in. Detailed portraits of Chinese nobles and common people seem to represent a major part of the sketches in the collection. The time of their creation is particularly interesting, as it was the era when Western influences started to penetrate the fabric of traditional society.
The authors of the paper suggest that the images in the analyzed collection were created by a mixed group of Russian and Chinese artists. While the drawings vary in time of origin, it is possible to point out specific artists based on style and other visual characteristics. It was concluded that some of the drawings were made by L. S. Igorev, an icon painter who joined the 14 Orthodox Ecclesiastical Mission to China as an artist. Certain images appear to have been drawn from a “bird’s eye view” perspective. There is reason to believe that their author was the topographer Y. G. Shimkovich.
The importance of this article for future studies of Chinese culture, the Far East, art history, and ethnography cannot be understated. The authors suggest that further research on the “Russian Drawings of China” collection is needed in collaboration with Chinese, Far Eastern, and Siberian scholars.
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