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Coroplasts from Tanagra (part 2)

In St. Petersburg, they became interested in the offer. Different motives led the parties to the transaction. The Minister of the Court, Count I.I. Vorontsov-Dashkov, was preoccupied with external prestige and the possibility of infringing on German interests. He wrote to the Director of the Hermitage, Count A. A. Vasilchikov: “All the major European museums have now turned their attention to this collection. In the Berlin Museum we have a terrible rival. Our young Kizeritsky, who has seen the collection in Athens and in Berlin, says that every thing in it is worth its weight in gold … God spare us, so that this acquisition does not add new brilliance to already so rich Berlin museums … ”Saburov , for his part, turning to Vasilchikov, he “praises the goods” with all his might: “In London I was offered 15,000 francs for a woman sitting with Cupid in her arms, the most beautiful figurine that came out of the graves of Tanagra … apparently, in the coming winter they will be the stars of the St. Petersburg season! ”In another letter to the director of the Hermitage Sabur to predict: “Your Kerch room connected to my Tanagra, surpass in this respect, all the museums of the world!”

The transaction took place, and Saburov’s collection moves to St. Petersburg. In the spring of 1884, Polovtsov wrote with satisfaction in his diary: “I am going to look at the clay figures (Tanagra) of the Saburov collection exhibited in the Hermitage. I am very glad that I was able to help ensure that these things do not slip away from Russia, such a misfortune with works of art. ” Tanagryanki Saburova, as he predicted, become the darlings of the Russian public. Here is the impression of V. Serov: “On my last trip to St. Petersburg, I was in the Hermitage … for a long time I did not get such a beautiful, lively mood as the little Greek figures, almost toys, gave me, but you can probably give a good half for these toys Roman cold sculpture. ” Indeed, unlike the sublimely ideal images of Greek gods and heroes imprinted in marble, Hellas appeared in clay Tanagryanki unexpectedly close to modern times.

The ancient masters who sculpted from clay were called coroplasts (from the Greek “bark” – girl, “plastine” – sculpt). Not without reason among their works female figures prevail. How much inexhaustible imagination, ingenuity they show, working on this almost single topic. Having molded the figure, the master made casts from it, which later served as forms. And although there is an element of seriality in the technique of cororoplasty, we will not find a stamp, craft routine and boring monotony here. Forms were usually performed for the head, torso, arms, legs. From them, adding fashioned individual details, the master created a figurine. Each time he changed the rotation of the head, the rhythm of body movement, color. Thus, the creative moment was inherent not only in the act of creating the first figurine – “patrician”, but also in the free layout of casts obtained from forms – “matrices”. The dried casts were burned in the oven, and the word “terracotta”, from Italian – burnt clay, accurately conveyed the main in the technology of its manufacture. Firing made the figures durable. The painting completed work on the figurine.

Products of Tanagra coroplasts allow us to look into the female half of the Greek house, inaccessible to outsiders. Unpretentious pursuits indulge in its young inhabitants: playing ball, reading poetry, music, dancing. So, having raised a bunch of grapes to the sun’s rays, the girl crouching on the ground admires the translucent berries. Admiration for the beauty of the world swept her. The midday Mediterranean sun is invisibly present in the figurative system of this poetic figurine. In another terracotta, a young spinning woman began to dream and did not notice how winged Eros appeared on her lap. This idyllic scene is inspired by the song of the poetess Sappho:

Oh mother! The machine began to shame
And there is no strength to weave: passion breaks my heart,
Enchantment torment Cyprides tender …

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