Interactions between vastly different cultures are always interesting to observe, especially when they are documented in the form of artwork. The recent research paper published by Fine Art Shippers investigates the authorship of a valuable collection of artworks depicting the daily life of Chinese people. “Russian Drawings of China” was compiled by G. V. Yudin, a 19th-century Russian bibliophile. In “The American Fate of the Chinese Collection of G. V. Yudin, Krasnoyarsk Merchant-Bibliophile,” Lyudmila Belgorodskaya, Nikolay Drozdov, and Vita Vonog raise the question of attribution of the works in the collection.
Russian Drawings of China: Investigation of the Collection of G. V. Yudin
G. V. Yudin was a bibliophile who sold his impressive collection of art and books to the Library of Congress in 1906. His art collection titled “Russian Drawings of China” consists of 333 drawings and sketches and is currently preserved at the Department of Photography and Engravings of the Library of Congress. While the place and time of the creation of said artworks have already been discovered, their authorship is still to be debated.
The research paper dives deep into the question of the attribution of drawings and sketches from Yudin’s collection. The authors have theorized that the pieces were made not by one, but rather by several artists from Russia and China, as they appear to be created at different times. One of the suspected creators of part of the drawings is L. S. Igorev, an icon painter who went to Beijing as part of the Orthodox Mission. During his stay in China, he sketched Chinese people and documented his cultural observations, which he would later publish in the form of memoirs. The authors of the paper note the similarities between features of artworks included in the collection of G. V. Yudin and sketches that Igorev created in China.
“The Russian Album of China” illustrates Chinese culture and society throughout several decades. The sketches and drawings that became the focus of the research paper are proof that Russian artists of the time established contact with Chinese locals. The study makes a number of interesting points on the state of Russian-Chinese cultural exchange in the 19th century. The authors of the paper urge other researchers of the Far East and Siberia to join forces in further exploring the ways Russian artists depicted the Chinese way of life.