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Greco-Scythian Art and the Birth of EurasiaFrom Classical Antiquity to Russian Modernity$
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Caspar Meyer

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199682331

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199682331.001.0001

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Classical Art and Russian Identity

Classical Art and Russian Identity

(p.39) Two Classical Art and Russian Identity
Greco-Scythian Art and the Birth of Eurasia

Caspar Meyer

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the reception of Greco-Scythian art in imperial Russia, focusing on the court museum built by Nicholas I, known as the New Hermitage, in the mid-nineteenth century. It first considers Peter the Great's collection of Greco-Roman marbles and the role it played in endowing the naturalistic figures of classical art with political meaning. It then analyses the various interpretations of Greco-Scythian artefacts as they entered the Russian visual culture predetermined by Peter's project of westernisation and the growing nationalism of the post-Napoleonic era. It also looks at the social and psychological conditions of the pre-Revolutionary Russian intelligentsia which gave rise to Russian scholar Mikhail Ivanovich Rostovtzeff's work on Black Sea antiquities. In particular, it discusses Rostovtzeff's Hellenism and the Scythianism of the poet Aleksandr Blok as two radically opposed alternatives in conceiving Russia's historical identity and destiny.

Keywords:   classical art, Greco-Scythian art, Russia, Peter the Great, Mikhail Ivanovich Rostovtzeff, antiquities, Hellenism, Scythianism, Aleksandr Blok, identity

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