“Return of Stolen ‘Vrubel’ Exhibition opened in Yerevan”
On March 14, the Yerevan Russian Art Museum hosted opening ceremony of exhibition dedicated to the return of genius painter and Russian modern art patriarch Mikhail Vrubel’s stolen painting ‘Demon and Angel with Tamara’s Soul’ .

Mikhail Vrubel masterpiece ‘Demon and Angel with Tamara’s Soul’ was stolen from the Russian Art Museum (Professor A. Abrahamyan’s collection) 23 years ago in 1995. And in March 2017 the painting put on the international wanted list, was detected by the Russian intelligence services. Later, on November 15, 2017 in scope of the Armenian Days in Russia events, Russian President Vladimir Putin handed it to Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan in Vrubel Hall of the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. However, before the painting was returned to the museum, it was restored for over 8 months at the Tretyakov Gallery by Inna Konstantinovna Solovova.

Along with its artistic value, Vrubel’s painting is also of historical interest. It was created for the complete illustrated collection of M. Lermontov’s works to mark the 50th anniversary of his death (1891). Within that order, Vrubel made 36 drawings, 11 of which were dedicated to ‘Demon’ poem.

The Media Center held a press conference in the Russian Art Museum on opening of the exhibition. The press conference was attended by Armen Amiryan, RA Minister of Culture; Marine Mkrtchyan, Director of the Russian Art Museum; Inna Solovova, restorer of Mikhail Vrubel’s ‘Demon and Angel with Tamara’s Soul’ painting; and Constantine Orbelian, Honored Artist of the Russian Federation, Director and Art Director of the National Academic Opera and Ballet Theater after A. Spendiaryan.

RA Minister of Culture Armen Amiryan highlighted the return of the famous masterpiece to Armenia and mentioned that this was a divine and an angelic gift to the museum.

"Now, we can present the picture to the public again and also increase the number of visitors to the museum. We are sure that the brand package we developed for the Museum on this Vrubel painting will become a very strong motive to give the museum a new breath," Armen Amiryan said.

To thank the Director of the Tretyakov Gallery and the restorer of the painting, Armen Amiryan awarded them with a gold medal, the highest award of the RA Ministry of Culture.

"The fact that the painting was stolen and restored proves its historical and cultural value. We have prepared a series of events to tell the entire history of the painting starting from its creation till its revival," Marine Mkrtchyan, Director of the Russian Art Museum, said.

According to her, Vrubel’s painting was first acquired by famous Russian entrepreneur and art patron of the early 20th century Savva Mamontov who later presented it to Yekaterina Geltser, famous ballet dancer of those times. Then, the painting was acquired by a doctor collector Aram Abrahamyan whose collection served basis for setting up the Yerevan Russian Art Museum in 1984.

Inna Solovova, restorer of Mikhail Vrubel's ‘Demon and Angel with Tamara’s Soul’, shared the story of how she restored the painting.

"As they brought in the painting in a box and left it on my desk, I was about to burst crying. The painting was divided into pieces, some of them were just some millimeters in size and some others were a bit bigger... But we were to restore the previous look of the painting without damaging it as Vruble is still more sacred. It was a complicated and time-consuming work; it took me 7 months to restore it. The picture was not torn; it seemed rather that something heavy was put on it or maybe someone sat on it. But that was better as we succeeded in connecting its parts almost unnoticeably. While examining it, we also realized that some other people had tried to restore the painting before," Solovova said.

Constantine Orbelian, Director and Art Director of the National Academic Opera and Ballet Theater after A. Spendiaryan, said that he considered the loss and return of the painting an amazing story as he was also present at the ceremony of its return.

To mark the return of the painting, on March 16, 7 pm, the National Academic Opera and Ballet Theater after A. Spendiaryan will host ‘Lermontov-Rubinstein-Vrubel’ literary and musical performance.

"Lermontov, Rubinstein and Vrubel - here we present 3 geniuses together, and in collaboration with foreign museums, namely Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow Theater Museum after Vakhrushin and the National Museum of Kiev, we collected the remaining 11 paintings in 3D animation digital format… I must say that it’s essential that the 2 cultural institutions, the Museum and the National Academic Opera and Ballet Theater cooperate. This is also our 1st attempt of a joint presentation," Marine Mkrtchyan summed up.

Also note that the exhibition will be open for the public at large from March 20 to November 20, 2018. 

Lilit Arakelyan, Media Center Project Editor/Coordinator

To contact the author, please email her: [email protected] 

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