An Exhibition of drawings and water colours by Prince Alexei Saltykov (1806-1859) from the collection of the State Russian Museum (St. Petersburg) was inaugurated jointly by Dr. Karan Singh, M.P. Rajya Sabha, President of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, and H.E. Mr. Alexander M. Kadakin, Ambassador of the Russian Federation to India, at the Russian Centre of Science and Culture in New Delhi on October 29, 2012.
The exhibition will remain open for general public from October 30 to November 30. The function was attended by an elite gathering.
The book “Prince Alexei Saltykov’s Journeys across India”, comprising the first-ever English translation of Prince Alexei Saltykov’s travelogue “Letters from India” was also released on the occasion. Talented Russian artist, inquisitive and spirited writer, Prince Alexei Saltykov travelled throughout India, from the Himalayas to Cape Comorin and to Ceylon, in 1941-43 and 1845-46.
The exhibition, jointly organized by the Embassy of the Russian Federation in India, the State Russian Museum and the Russian Centre of Science and Culture in New Delhi, with the financial assistance from JSFC Sistema and MTS India, is held to mark the 65th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations between Russia and India.
Remarks of H.E. Mr Alexander Kadakin, Ambassador of Russia to India, at the inaugural ceremony of the exhibition of Prince Alexei Saltykov’s paintings and release of the book, “Journeys across India”. New Delhi, October 29, 2012.
Tracing the background of the Russian State Museum, Mrs. Evgenia Petrova, Deputy Director for Science of the State Russian Museum (St. Petersburg), noted that it is a treasure-house of world importance, where all the wealth and variety of Russian figurative art is superbly represented. She mentioned that the 23 art works which formed the present exposition by Prince Alexei Saltykov is a tiny part of the immense heritage preserved by the State Russian Museum. Mrs. Evgenia Petrova said: “Art works and letters of Prince Alexei Saltykov are interesting both from the artistic and historical points of view. He worked honestly and tirelessly. In the course of time, his drawings and letters, emotional and unbiased, have become a valuable source of information for historians, art critics, scholars and thinkers”.
In his address, H.E. Mr. Alexander M. Kadakin said: “In Saltykov’s ‘Letters’, India is presented with its riddles and enigmas, attractions and aversions. The artist’s sharp eye grasped the true beauty of the land where most foreigners saw only ‘barbarism’ or ‘hideousness’—in India’s countryside, towns and villages and most of all—in her people’s soul. Without any racial or religious prejudice, typical of the then European thought, he looked at Indian with open, keen and sympathetic eyes, trying not to pass judgements, but to understand and comprehend. Those whom the ‘white sahibs’ despised for every conceivable defect, the Prince viewed as ‘more refined and more skilful than Italians’, brave, wise, hospitable and above all endowed with ‘quite nobility’ and a sense of personal dignity. Indians, from maharajas to poor palanquin bearers, responded to the kindness of the Russian guest with ‘truly motherly care’”.
Describing the event on the art exhibition and book-release as exquisite, the Ambassador pointed out that Prince Alexei Saltykov’s letters with his collection of drawings became one of the most quoted texts in the European literature about India. Referring to the publication of the book, the Ambassador recalled the keen interest shown by the then Prime Minister of India Mr. Atal Bihari Vajapaye during his visit to Russia in 2001 in the portraits and sceneries depicted by the Russian traveller and his enormous desire to display these masterpieces in India. He added that it was a dream come true.
“Saltykov’s letters and drawings are another gem in the Russian-Indian chronicle of mutual affection traced back to the journey of Afanasy Nikitin and the settlement of Indian merchants in Astrakhan, followed by travellers of the 19th and 20th centuries, like the Roerichs”, the Russian Ambassador concluded.
Hailing the Indo-Russian cultural affinity, Dr. Karan Singh underlined the significance of the Art Exhibition by the distinguished Russian artist, writer and traveller Prince Alexei Saltykov and the release of his memorable book on his historic travels across India.
Touching upon the aesthetic aspects of the artistic exposition of the Russian genius Prince Alexei Saltykov, Mr. Balmiki Prasad Singh, Governor of Sikkim, underscored the lasting impact that his drawings and letters leave for the future generation which would go a long way in solidifying Indo-Russian interactions.
Mr. Vsevold Rozanov, President and CEO of MTS India, in his address, acknowledged the response from the people of India on the Art Exhibition.
In his address, Mr. Fedor Rozovskiy, Director, Russian Centre of Science and Culture, said that it is the second huge exhibition project organised jointly with the State Russian Museum. The first one was held in 2010 to mark the 45th Anniversary of the Russian Centre of Science and Culture in New Delhi. The exhibition comprised 33 paintings of the world-known Russian artists of the 18th and 19th centuries.