SPRING 2018

Auction has ended

When describing Sobakevich’s drawing-room in “Dead Souls”, Gogol points out the engravings on the walls: “In every such picture there were portrayed either young men or Greek generals of the type of Movrogordato (clad in a red uniform and breaches), Kanaris, and others; and all these heroes were depicted with a solidarity of thigh and a wealth of moustache which made the beholder shudder with awe. Among them there were placed also, according to some unknown system, and for some unknown reason, firstly Bagration – tall and thin, and with a cluster of small flags and cannon beneath him, and the whole set in the narrowest of frames – and, secondly, the Greek heroine, Bobelina, whose legs looked larger than do the whole bodies of the drawing-room dandies of the present day. Apparently the master of the house was himself a man of health and strength, and therefore liked to have his apartments adorned with none but folk of equal vigour and robustness”. And so, this Bobulina was Greek, leading her own fleet at the time of the Peloponnese insurrection against the Ottoman empire. Considering that Russia supported the Greek rebels, the Emperor Alexander I awarded her the title of admiral of the Russian fleet. Later on, women admirals only appeared in the 20th century in the USA, but Bobulina was the first and only one. As Chapaev, she was a semi-mythical character – little was known of her, and in Russia very few people had seen her, but nonetheless she was very popular and was often the heroine of paintings and of luboks. Sobakevich criticises all the people holding power and on his walls hang portraits of Greek revolutionaries, so as it turns out, he is in fact a radical and practically a political activist. And all of this can be understood from one painting!

Konstantin Zvezdochetov

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