9 Sep 2004 - 11 Sep 2004 All day CRASSH


CRASSH, 17 Mill Lane, Cambridge, CB2 1RX

Conference supported by
The British Academy
CRASSH (University of Cambridge)
The National Gallery


Rosalind Polly Blakesley (University of Cambridge)

David Jackson (University of Leeds)

This conference will accompany the major exhibition of Russian landscape painting at the National Gallery in London in 2004, the first major show if its kind in the West. Encouraging interventions from social, political, literary and philosophical thought, it will enable scholars from various disciplines to expose, question and debate the complex and challenging contribution which landscape has made to the Russian arts.

The landscape of Imperial Russia has long been a potent site of individual and collective aspiration in shaping a national identity. Its celebration in folklore, song and literature as symbol and metaphor for patriotic sentiment and loyalist pride has been the subject of considerable research. In contrast, its production and dissemination within the visual arts has been largely unexplored. The exhibition at the National Gallery provides a timely opportunity to redress this balance by examining different readings and expressions of landscape in Imperial Russian culture.

Landscape has been assigned a variety of roles in the Russian arts: it has carried the burden of representation, it has been promoted as a vehicle for liberal-reformist aspiration, and it has been appropriated as an emblem of conservative Slavophilia, to mention just three. At the same time the genre has been a space of progressive stylistic experimentation; it has served as the fulcrum for contentious debate concerning the worthiness of indigenous subject matter, and the authenticity of the encounter with the “native”; and it has been both a forum for national assertiveness, and a testing ground for academic and progressive trends in Western European art. By focusing exclusively on landscape or by taking it as a point of departure, this conference aims to explore these and other ideas, shedding light on the many ways in which representations of the land reflected and shaped intellectual preoccupations which ranged from theocratic, aristocratic and democratic interests to artistic and aesthetic debates.

The conference will begin in Cambridge, with the opening remarks and first panel on Thursday 9 September 2004, followed by four panels, a drinks reception and the conference dinner on Friday 10 September. On Saturday 11 September delegates will travel by bus to London, to view the exhibition and attend the final panel in the National Gallery.


Tel: +44 1223 766886
Email enquiries@crassh.cam.ac.uk