Alexander Pushkin’s bust would be best characterized as a memorial portrait, the genre favoured by 19th-century Russian painters and sculptors whose goal was to create a series of portraits of prominent Russians. The genre of the memorial portrait accounts for the obviously classicist style of the bust of Pushkin – the stiff symmetry of the composition, its chiselled buttress on top of a cylindrical plinth, the austere semi-circular frame delicately overlapped with the lapels of the frockcoat, and the moderation of the forms. Only the exalted language of classical art can empower an artist to create the desired image of the genius illuminated with a spark of divine talent. The face does not reflect raw emotions; all the feelings, as the focused look on the face and the undistracted eye demonstrate, have an inner narrative, but are also ready for “universal sensitivity”. The achieved portrait likeness, which the artist takes for granted, is not an aim in itself. It was important for the sculptor to use the available material, including the posthumous mask, undoubtedly familiar to him, to create a timeless image of absolute authority. All that is personal, human and biographical fades into the background when contrasted with the unwavering veneration of Pushkin’s legacy. Patinated bronze lends a historical feel to the image, reasserting the absolute value of the sought-for ideal, the “forever contemporary” Alexander Pushkin.


Brief annotations to the image

PUSHKIN, ALEXANDER SERGEEVICH (1799 — 1837), is the greatest Russian poet and writer, playwright, social commentator, critic, founder of modern Russian literature, creator of Russian literary language. He defined his creative method as a “deep, careful examination of the truth” and analysis of “the eternal contradictions within essentiality”. Pushkin’s oeuvre has been translated into nearly every language of the world.