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Exhibition plan of Russian artists' works

The Sette Giugno monument by Boris Edwards at the Santa Maria Addolorata Cemetery. Picture reproduced from A Journey Through the Centuries: Historical discoveries in Russo-Maltese relations.

The Sette Giugno monument by Boris Edwards at the Santa Maria Addolorata Cemetery. Picture reproduced from A Journey Through the Centuries: Historical discoveries in Russo-Maltese relations.

As far back as collective memory goes, refugees have drifted to Malta's shores over the years, both by accident and by design.

Two of the more famous of these arrivals were artists Boris Edwards and Nikolay Krasnov, who joined the exodus of Russians following the 1917 Bolshevik revolution that toppled the Czar.

Various examples of the works of these two prolific artists are kept at the Fine Arts Museums and in private collections.

The seminal idea has now been sown to have an exhibition of their works in one of the state museums early next year.

The initiative for this intriguing exhibition came from Valentine Vlasov, ambassador of the Russian Federation, and Elizaveta Zolina, director of the Russian Centre for Science and Culture in Merchants Street, Valletta.

This idea is being supported by Judge Giovanni Bonello and historian Albert Ganado.

All those who have any memorabilia about these two artists, including original paintings, sculptures, photographs and documents are being asked to contact Achille Mizzi, executive secretary of the committee set up to organise this cultural event.

Further information may be obtained by phoning 2122 2030 during morning office hours or by e-mail: rcscmalta@waldonet.net.mt

In her 2002 book A Journey Through the Century: Historical discoveries in Russo-Maltese relations compiled and edited by Dr Zolina, and printed by Progress Press, the author wrote that the presence in Malta of Russian refugees is a revealing episode in Russo-Maltese relations.

In one of the chapters from the book, Dr Ganado provides an extensive history of Russian refugee artists in Malta, including Edwards and Krasnov.

A descendant of British merchants who had settled in Russia, Edwards was born in Odessa on May 27, 1860. As a sculptor he studied in Russia and Paris, and made a number of monumental sculptures in Russia.

Soon after his arrival here, he lived with other Russian refugees at St Ignatius College in St Julian's. He died of apoplexy at his residence in Birkirkara, aged 64, and is buried at Ta' Braxia cemetery.

Two of the more popularly known works by Edwards are the medallion to Maltese politician Fortunato Mizzi, which is affixed to the façade of the house at 15, Old Mint Street, Valletta, and the monument at the Santa Maria Addolorata Cemetery to the four Maltese men who were shot by British soldiers during the bread riot known as the Sette Giugno uprising in Valletta in 1919.

Dr Ganado records that the architect/painter Nikolay Krasnov was born on November 23, 1864 near Moscow. He gained international fame for his design of the Imperial Palace in Livadia and in 1911 was appointed Imperial Court architect.

Krasnov gave art lessons and during his stay here he was engaged to give lessons to Princess Nathalie Putyatin, another Russian refugee, then 16, who eventually settled in Malta and established a school of ballet.

"During a three-year stay on the island, Krasnov painted the Malta scene with great vigour and extreme sensibility. Almost invariably he painted in watercolours," Dr Ganado wrote.

Krasnov moved on to the former Yugoslavia where he died on December 8, 1939.

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