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Abramtsevo Estate Museum
The Abramtsevo Estate Museum is located near the town of Sergiyev Posad, about 65 kilometers (40 miles) north of Moscow. Chronicles dating back to the 16th century remark on the region’s obramok or forested hill flanked by a river. The name of the area became Obramkovo and later in the 18th century it was softened to Abramtsevo. In 1843, the Russian writer Sergei Aksakov bought the country estate (built in the 1770ss); over the next 15 years it was frequented by many prominent writers, such as Gogol, Tyutchev and Turgenev. Here Gogol gave a reading of the first chapter from his second volume of Dead Souls, which he later burned at his home in Moscow. (His portrait hangs on wall of the central mansion). The writer Ivan Turgenev often came here to hunt and was mentioned in Aksakov’s popular Hunting Almanac. In 1847, Aksakov wrote his famous book, Notes on Fishing. In 1870, the railway and textile baron and art patron, Savva Mamontov, bought the estate and turned it into a popular meeting place and artist colony. Art heater, writing and pottery workshops were held, and Serov, Vrubel, Repin, Shalyapin and Stanislavaky all lived and worked here. Serov’s famous portrait The Girl with Peaches (1887) hands in the dining room (the original can be found in the Tretyaakov Gallery); it is of Mamontov’s daughter Vera, who is buried on the estate. Also gracing the walls are Rerpin’s portraits of Mamontov and his wife Elizaveta. The traditional long timber – framed house with fancy lacework gable was to be the model for Chehov’s manor house in The Cherry Orchard. Mamontov also opened a school for peasant children and taught their parents traditional folk crafts.
Standing in the park, the white Church of the Savior – Not – Made – By – Hands was designed by artist Viktor Vasnetsov and built in 1882. It was based on the Novgorod 12th – century – style Church of Savior in Nereditsa and other architectural schools. The interior icons were painted by Repin, Polenov and Vasnetsov. Valentin Serov painted the lovely Winter in Abramtsevo, the Church, as Winter in Abramtsevo, a House, both in 1886. The ceramic tiles that decorate the exterior were produced at the estate’s own ceramic workshop. In 1891, a small chapel was added to the northern side to commemorate the tragic death of Mamontov’s son, Andrei. Both Mamontov, who died in 1918, and his son are buried here. Vasnetsov also dreamed up the Izbush’kha na Kur’nikh Nozhkakh’ (Hut on Chicken Legs), the headquarters of the witch Baba Yaga in a popular Russian fairy tale.
The countryside is filled with birch groves, colorful gardens and woods, and greatly inspired the landscape artist Isaac Levitan, who often visited the estate. Abramtsevo is now a museum and displays the rooms as they were used by Aksakov and Mamontov. Painting and other art work executed on the estate, including many by Vrubel, are exhibited in the art studio. The museum is open from 10 am – 5 pm, closed Mondays, Tuesdays and the last Friday of the month. If the weather is pleasant, take a stroll about a kilometer north to the village of Khotkovo, where a convent was founded in 1308 (destroyed in the 17th century during the Time of Troubles and later restored in the 18th century). The recently restored Cathedral of the Intercession holds the remains of the parents of St. Sergius who founded the monastery at Sergius who founded the monastery at Sergiev Posad.