Bunin's confession, friendship with Zdanevich and fairy tales. Seven stories told by Konstantin Paustovsky Museum

October 28, 2019

Archival documents, clothes, furniture and paintings, all the things at the Paustovsky Museum tell about life and personality of the Soviet writer and journalist. Chief curator Irina Pakhomova has chosen seven favourite items from the holdings and permanent exhibition of the Memorial Museum.

Irina Pakhomova, chief curator of the Paustovsky Museum

Postcard from Bunin

In 1947, Ivan Bunin who by the time had been living in France for almost 30 years, read a chapter from the novella 'Distant Years' in the magazine 'Around the World'. The chapter, published as a story titled 'Tavern on Braginka', impressed the Nobel laureate so much, that he immediately sent a postcard to Moscow. In a short note written on its back, he called Paustovsky his dear fellow, and 'Tavern on Braginka' was praised as of the best stories of Russian literature.

This piece of cardboard is a unique historical document. We know well enough that the 'Russian exile', as Bunin called himself, was very strict in his assessment for other writers' works, especially Soviet ones.

The Museum got the postcard in 2017, during the celebration of the 125th Paustovsky's birthday anniversary. The Museum also holds letters written in the 1960s by the emigrant writer’s widow Vera Bunina Paustovsky was in friendly relations with.

Kirill Zdanevich’s Painting 'Acrobat on a Horseback'

Paustovsky met the renowned Georgian avant-garde artist in Tiflis in the early 1920s, when he rented a room in a house belonging to the Zdanevich family. Paustovsky told about this time in his autobiographical book 'Rush to the South':

‘The Zdanevichs lived in an old house with spacious mazy wooden terraces overlooking the courtyard, with dim, cool rooms, faded Persian carpets and cracked furniture. The stairs on the quivering terraces swayed underfoot, but no one cared. The terraces offered the view of the snow covering the Central Ridge on the horizon. From morning till late at night, the Zdanevichs' rooms were full of piano sounds, women singing, poetry readings and noisy disputes and arguments.'

In 1961, the story was published in Sovetsky Pisatel publishing house. Kirill Zdanevich became both one of the characters of this book, and its designer. Aella Damayunova-Mrozovskaya, Kirill and Ilya Zdanevich's relative, donated the painting 'Acrobat on a Horseback', reminiscent of the writer's and artist's friendship, to the Museum.

K. Zdanevich. Acrobat on a Horseback

Binocular glasses

This exhibit is a reminder of another important person in Paustovsky's life, artist Henri Matisse's secretary, Russian translator Lydiya Delektorskaya.

They first met in 1956 in Paris, in the Louvre. There was a friendship struck up between them that lasted for many years. They wrote a lot of letters to each other. Lydia Delektorskaya was always a welcome guest in the writer's house in Moscow and in Tarus. Lydia Delt (her pen name) translated the best Paustovsky's books into French: all parts of 'Tale About Life', 'The Golden Rose', and many of his stories.

Delektorskaya’s gifts to Paustovsky were donated to the Museum by the writer's heir, Galina Arbuzova. There is an unusual item among them presented at the Museum’s permanent exhibition, that is binocular glasses. The writer was an avid angler, and these glasses were perfect for field conditions. They helped to see both close and remote objects.

Greek amphora

Konstantin Paustovsky loved all sorts of curiosities he often brought from his travels or received as a gift from friends and admirers. One of such gifts — an ancient Greek amphora — was presented to him by the Bulgarian poet Slavcho Chernyshev in 1959. Now you can view it in the Museum's permanent exhibition.

The ancient vessel inspired the writer's story 'Amphora', in which he described his short stay in the fishing port of Sozopol (Bulgaria):

'During winter fishing, Sozopol fishermen pulled it out in the net. Those times, Chernyshev used to go to the sea with the fishermen. They gave him the amphora to express their affection for poetry. The recovered amphora looked like a large ball made of mussel shells. But as soon as it dried up,  mussels fell off in layers, to show the amphora's harmony and purity. But its slightly rough surface still had whitish traces of mussels'.

Portrait with Funtik 

In 2017, along with Bunin's postcard and other memorabilia, the Museum's collection acquired a graphic portrait of Paustovsky by the famous Soviet artist Anatoly Yar-Kravchenko. The portrait was displayed at the Museum's exhibition 'Konstantin Paustovsky. Uncut' dedicated to the 125th Pustovsky's birthday anniversary.

The painting has the writer sitting at his desk. There is the Order of the Red Banner of Labour on his jacket's lapel Paustovsky was first awarded with in 1939 for his contribution to the development of literature. But the chief hero of the painting is a dog Konstantin holds in his arms. Funtik the dachshund was Paustovsky's favourite pet featured in several works of his Meshchersky series.

I. Kravchenko. Portrait of Konstantin Paustovsky

Unfinished portrait

Boris Sveshnikov painted another portrait of the writer.  The young artist offered Paustovsky to paint him, and he agreed. According to the memoirs of Paustovsky's stepdaughter Galina Arbuzova, the artist 'kept on visiting, but suddenly disappeared. Konstantin began to worry'. The painting was never finished: the hand Paustovsky props up his head with is an undercoat. Some time later, Boris Sveshnikov told Galina that he had not finished the portrait, because he thought that Paustovsky did not like his work.

After Konstantin's death, his widow Tatiana Paustovskaya hung this portrait in the living room of their house in Tarus. It is still there.

B. Sveshnikov. Portrait of Konstantin Paustovsky. 1958

Fairy-tale Illustrations 

The Museum also holds  illustrators' works. For example, Tatiana Yeryomina's illustrations readers love so much. She illustrated Paustovsky's books for children — 'Steel Ring' and 'Dishevelled Sparrow' fairy tales. One of the three editions of 'Steel Ring' with Tatiana Yeryomina’s drawings was translated and published in almost all languages of the world. Some illustrations were donated to the Museum in 1985 by the artist.

Yeryomina used to visit the writer. He once gave her an autographed book as a token of gratitude for her work, saying that he 'had always wanted such a beautiful, tasty and heartwarming design for his fairy tales.'

By mos.ru and Mosgortur Agency

Source: mos.ru

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