The Anglo-Russian Research Network will be holding its spring reading group at 5:30 on Friday 20 March at Pushkin House, Bloomsbury (www.pushkinhouse.org).
The discussion will concern the introduction of Russian arts and crafts to Britain at the turn of the century, and will be led by Louise Hardiman, of the University of Cambridge. The readings can be downloaded from the links below. The talk will focus on the history of the Russian émigré Aleksandra Pogosskaia (1848-1921) (known in Edwardian Britain as ‘Madame Pogosky’). Pogosskaia was a little-known but prolific exporter of Russian arts and crafts to Britain from around 1899 until the early 1920s, through her exhibition and sale business, ‘Russian Peasant Industries’. The musicologist Rosa Newmarch, claimed in her book The Russian Arts (1916) that in Britain, ‘knowledge of Russian art begins and ends with a visit to Mme. Pogosky’s depot for Peasant Industries on Bond Street’. Although Pogosskaia’s work pertained to the visual arts, her focus on the peasantry linked her with the wider community promoting Russian causes in Britain during the late Victorian and Edwardian periods. No personal archive has yet been traced, thus piecing together and analyzing the life and work of this enigmatic and sometimes controversial figure remains challenging.
Louise Hardiman recently submitted her PhD at the University of Cambridge, entitled ‘The Firebird’s Flight: Russian Arts and Crafts in Britain, 1870-1921’ (supervised by Dr Rosalind Blakesley). It argues that there is a rich history of British engagement with Russian visual culture in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries which has been overshadowed by discussion of British interest in Russian literature and music. Moreover, from the late Victorian period it was the decorative arts, and arts and crafts in particular, which captured British attention and set the agenda for the much-discussed crescendo of British interest in Russia which occurred during the 1910s. Two of the most influential mediators of artistic exchange, Aleksandra Pogosskaia and Netta Peacock, are examined in case studies.