Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Come with me to Russia!

You don't even have to pack a bag! My husband and I had the pleasure of travelling to St. Petersburg last December. It was a trip I will never forget, and I look forward to sharing some of my photos with you this week.
I found these luggage tags at Target!!!
Below are a couple of cute books about Russia that I bought for my goddaughters.  They are a great introduction to young children about this beautiful country and its customs and costumes...
Have you heard of Dover Publications?  I love the little sticker books! They're small format and VERY affordable at only $1.50. Besides the Nesting doll sticker book, I found an "Anastasia from Russia" sticker book pictured below with Look What Came From Russia, part of a series of books by Miles Harvey.

I have to admit that I was a bit surprised that Look What Came From Russia covered history, inventions, food, clothing, and art, but left out religion.  Much of Russia's architecture, customs, celebrations, and history are steeped in the traditions of the Orthodox Church.

Many of the photos that I took during our visit to St. Petersburg were in beautiful churches, museums, and palaces - we saw beautiful byzantine iconography everywhere.

I'll be sharing pictures of churches we visited in another post - below are some of my photos from The Russian Museum in the Mikhailovsky Palace. 
Our first day touring around St. Petersburg was bright and sunny (but COLD!)
Note: We went through the icon exhibit first, and unfortunately, I thought the camera with the line through it meant "no photography".  Later we realized it meant "no flash photography".  So I don't have any photos of the icons, but you can see some of them here and here.

We saw very traditional Russian paintings...
current day art,
and some modern artwork...

We also saw the art of one of my favorite Russian artists, Mikhail Nesterov.  I was so excited to see his beautiful art in person.  From the Museum website:  "The creative oeuvre of Mikhail Nesterov (1862-1942) that was connected with religious and philosophic searches of the so-called Silver Age of the Russian culture revealed to a viewer the wonderful poetical world of the Orthodox monasteries and Old-believing cells, fascination of the nature of Middle Russia and the inspired beauty of the national character."

Below is a painting that Nesterov did of the Monk Sergius, who became St. Sergius of RadonezhNesterov's most famous painting was Vision of the Young Bartholomew  It features Sergius as a young boy (his name was Bartholomew before he became a monk). You can read my blog post with his story and see that painting, here
"St. Sergius of Radonezh"

Inspiration was found on the banks of the cold sea for Nesterov's next well-know work: Holy Russia. The painting was exhibited in 1902 in Kiev.  It depicts Jesus Christ surrounded by pilgrims, standing against a winter landscape.
"Holy Russia"

The sad painting below shows Tsarevitch Dmitry, Ivan IV the Terrible's youngest son, thought to have been killed while still a child by Boris Godunov (who allegedly wanted to get rid of the last heir to the throne and ascend it himself). It was never proved, but people blamed Boris.  Nesterov depicted the tsarevich as an innocent child in a very emotional and mysterious portrait.  God is looking down upon him and blesses his soul from above. Can you see the image of Christ in the upper left-hand corner of the painting?
"Tsarevitch Dmitry"
There were so many other wonderful things we saw at The Russian Museum - sadly space won't allow me to show you all the historical paintings, statues, folkart.

More about my travels to St. Petersburg soon...I hope you stop by again!


  1. I didn't know you went to Russia! I went there 14 years ago, for the whole month of May and lived with a Russian family in a "kvartira" small 2 bedroom apartment. Oh the memories!

    1. Martha - I would love to go back in the summertime! It must have been nice in May - or maybe that's springtime for them?

  2. So awesome. A visit to Russia is high on my wish list.

  3. Yay! A month of visiting Russia with you? Sounds awesome! I have always had an infatuation with Russia, I think stemming from hearing a Russian fairytale in elementary school and then I became really interested in the ROmanov story as a teenager (i'd read books about them, have nightmares, but still kept reading, crazy I know!) I've also really fallen in love with the art and folk lore of the place and the art you've shared is amazing. I LOVE these portraits. They are an interesting mix of realism and romanticism. What gorgeous, gorgeous pieces. They inspire me to paint!
    Thanks for sharing all this!~! heather

    1. Heather - you're right- there is something both realistic (also a little bit sad?) and romantic (the costumes, scenery, and whistful faces) of the paintings that is SO Russian. If you google the artwork, I'm sure you'll see much more clarity than I got in my photos. But even my little digital camera caught the beauty! Glad you liked them - paint away!!!! :)

  4. I'm so glad you're doing this! On our brief visit a few years ago, I was left with the impression that Russia has more than its share of REALLY talented artists. Even the street artists did lovely work, and some of the handcrafted items in the gift shops should have been in a museum, in my humble opinion. Although you don't always see the kind of work they can do in things like the nesting dolls (which have a formula look, and are just too sappy for my liking), I would love to see more of their children's books. So many thanks for letting us spend the month there! :-)

    1. You're so right, Grace. The Russians are artisans - I always figure besides pure talent, they developed lots of folkart down through the ages during the dark winter nights when they had to be inside! :) And - by the way - I've seen some very unique nesting dolls! I have a beautiful natural unfinished wood one that is exquisite! But I agree that lots of them are "formula".

    2. Grace - this made me think of you! :)