What can a picture tell, which shows only a porch and several people in festive clothes? Just a story of one artist, three ancient villages, and now a couple of districts of Moscow, three churches and one park. We look at the picture of Vereshchagin Trinity day. Village Kolomenskoye” and walk around the museum-reserve.

The outstanding Russian artist Vasily Vasilyevich Vereshchagin was sometimes offended that he was called a battle painter. He himself emphasized that on the canvases he simply depicts the life of Russia, not embellished with anything. Still, of course, Vereshchagin was a man of the world and a traveler – he organized exhibitions and lived for a long time in Paris, London, the USA, the Far East, Japan, Palestine, Cuba, India and the Philippines. But for some reason, even the most dedicated admirers and art critics, when talking about the artist’s life, often forget about the Moscow period. Perhaps he seems boring to them, too blissful and measured. But it was in Moscow, or rather, near Moscow, near the village of Nizhnie Kotly, that Vereshchagin spent the last years of his life, built a house, happily married and had children. Here he painted “pictures of Russian life” so beloved by him.

In the 1880s, Vereshchagin met the talented pianist Lidia Andreevskaya in the United States, married her and settled near Moscow. The new house had to meet several requirements – to be far from the city (otherwise visitors would be distracted from work) and stand on a hill (Vereshchagin could not live in the lowlands and swamps because of his health). In 1889, such a site was found – it was located behind the Serpukhovskaya Zastava, in Nizhniye Kotly. However, later the son of the artist Vasily in his memoirs specified that they did not live in the village itself, but rather on the outskirts – on a high hill between Nizhniye Kotly and the village of Kolomenskoye, in the Danilovskaya Sloboda. Vereshchagin did not buy, but rented a plot for 99 years from peasants from the village of Novinki. For the construction of the house, he enlisted the support of the Moscow architect Nikolai Nikitin, whom he met in 1888. Judging by the drawings from the Russian Archive of Ancient Acts, Vereshchagin built a wooden workshop house in the style of traditional Russian architecture. In a letter to Pavel Tretyakov, he called the house “a hut on chicken legs” because of the hipped turrets in a typical Russian style, a gable roof and a carved porch. Otherwise, it was a huge building with a winter workshop, a room for servants, a bathhouse, a barn, a stable and everything necessary for twelve people to live – in addition to his wife and the artist himself, three of their children, Vereshchagin’s mother and servants lived here.

The village of Nizhnie Kotly itself was a specific place. At the turn of the 19th-20th centuries, the construction of factories and factories began here. At the same time, these places acquired a bad reputation. The territory was close to Moscow, but was not under the control of the Moscow police. There was no street lighting in the village, but there was an extensive cave system where it was easy to hide, and cheap taverns where it was easy to get drunk – all this made the area attractive to criminal elements.

“And besides, Danilovskaya Sloboda, especially in the area of ​​​​the brick factory, where passportless vagrants were also employed, enjoyed such bad fame that city cabbies very often refused to go there,” Vereshchagin’s son Vasily recalled. “The only adult male was my father. When he was at home, no one was afraid. But if it was not there, then on dark autumn and winter nights and evenings, when only some rooms were poorly lit by kerosene lamps, the sudden loud barking of dogs caused in the inhabitants, or rather, in the inhabitants of the house, understandable anxiety.

The village of Kolomenskoye, which was a couple of kilometers from Nizhnye Kotlov, was completely different. He was very fond of the rulers and leaders, and the most diverse, from Ivan Kalita to Alexei Mikhailovich. By the beginning of the 20th century, Kolomenskoye had become a religious center thanks to the ancient churches and their shrines.

After the death of the artist, his widow was left without a livelihood, and the house had to be sold. The new owner demolished the building. For a long time no one remembered that the artist lived in these places. And only in 2011, Muscovite Alexei Orlov, having studied the memoirs of Vereshchagin’s son Vasily, determined that the building of the estate was located between the preschool department of school No. 978 and library No. 159 of the Nagorny district. For some time, Moscow activists even led excursions to these places.

House of Vasily Vereshchagin
The place where Vereshchagin’s house was located

Painting by Vereshchagin “Trinity Day. The village of Kolomenskoye “is now stored in the State Central Museum of Musical Culture. M. I. Glinka. And she, if you think about it, is one of the most mysterious paintings of the artist. There are no descriptions of its creation. Art historians admit that the woman and two children depicted in the foreground are Lydia, the artist’s wife, and their children. A great theory, but it breaks down on the date of the painting – 1875. Then Vereshchagin traveled around India and was married to another woman who bore him a daughter who soon died. What is it? Dating error? Or was Vereshchagin already looking at these places in the 1870s, finding something special in them? Mystery.

But with the background of the picture a little easier – this is the porch of one of the oldest churches in Kolomenskoye. True, in order to understand which one, I had to go to the village and look at the shrines with my own eyes.

What changed

Well, that is, no longer in the village, of course. In the 20th century, Kolomenskoye became part of Moscow with all the amenities: a green metro line was laid here, electric buses run here, shopping centers operate, and high-rise buildings stand. The central place here is occupied by the park, or rather, the Kolomenskoye Museum-Reserve. Which, by the way, is not entirely fair: it is located on the territory of not only the village of the same name, but also the village of Dyakovo, no less ancient and interesting.

What is preserved

On the territory of Kolomenskoye, three ancient churches have been preserved, which, in theory, Vereshchagin could write. The first of them (if you go, like me, from the Kashirskaya metro station) is the Church of the Beheading of John the Baptist, a white-stone, strong and slightly squat building. It was founded in 1529, its architects are unknown – perhaps they were the legendary Barma and Postnik or Italian architects. The temple was erected on the site where Grand Duke Vasily III, while returning from a hunt, found out about his wife’s pregnancy – she later gave birth to the future Tsar Ivan IV the Terrible. To be honest, not even the building itself is impressive, but the mosaic on the gate in the form of the head of John the Baptist and the ancient cemetery around. Some gravestones are completely overgrown with moss, which is not surprising: the oldest of them date back to the 14th century. One of the beautiful old tombstones belongs to an adult who was buried with a child – guests of the park leave jewelry and coins on it. Blue flowers grow abundantly around – well, even Novalis said that they symbolize immortality. Probably a good sign.

The temple is beautiful, but it is located on the territory of the former Dyakovo, and it does not have a noticeable porch. Vereshchagin did not write him.

The temple on the other side of the ravine, on the high bank of the Moskva River, is the Church of the Ascension in Kolomenskoye, built in the 16th century, the first hipped temple in Russia. It was designed by the Italian architect Ivan Fryazin (Pietro Antonio Solari). The church was one of the tallest buildings in the Moscow principality, its height is more than 60 meters. For a long time it served as a watchtower. Here historians tried to find the famous library of Ivan the Terrible. Here, in March 1917, the Sovereign Icon of the Mother of God was discovered, and its list is now kept here.

The stairs of the church from afar are similar to the one that Vereshchagin wrote, but upon closer inspection they are strikingly different.

And, finally, the third cult building is the temple of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God. Blue domes in gold stars, beige walls, and under them … it! A conspicuous porch with a white stone staircase and pillars – one to one as in the picture, only over the decades it managed to change color. Inside, a book is on sale dedicated to the history of the temple, from which I learn that it was built under Tsar Mikhail Fedorovich in the 1630s, in the middle of the 17th century it became brick (before that it was wooden). The temple is dedicated to one of the most revered icons of Our Lady of Kazan in Russia, with the intercession of which sovereigns from the Romanov family associated their election to the kingdom. The Sovereign Icon of the Mother of God and the wooden sculpture “Christ in Prison” are also kept here, which is curious in itself – sculptures are unusual for the Orthodox, this is a feature of Catholic churches. The temple itself now stands in the scaffolding, but repairs do not interfere with regular services.

Temple of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God

There is no abundance of grass near the porch, as in the picture. The area around is paved with tiles, there are benches opposite, tourists are walking around. Nearby is a monument to Peter I, next to his house – yes, Peter was here too. I repeat, the kings loved Kolomenskoye with a special love.

The study of such a simple picture as “Trinity Day. The village of Kolomenskoye”, left more questions than answers. Why did the artist, who gravitated towards atheism, decide to paint the end of an Orthodox holiday? Why did he limit himself to only the porch, without starting to write out excellent blue-star domes? Don’t know. Let us dwell on the fact that Vereshchagin strove to honestly write the life of his country, and what could be more Russian and vital than a festive service in an old church.

Photo: pastvu.com, Tatyana Ryzhkova