Russia’s Golden Age: 19th-Century Art, Literature, and Music


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Join us on this trip to Mother Russia to explore a vital time and place in cultural history: the Golden Age of Russian art, from about 1850 to 1910. You know the great writers and composers: Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekhov, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff. Less known in the West are the extraordinary 19th-century painters Repin, Levitan, and Kramskoy. (Re)discover them on a tour that combines the best of past and present in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Above the Eternal Tranquility<br /> Isaac Levitan
Above the Eternal Tranquility
Isaac Levitan

Through talks and museum visits, our leader Sean Forester, a painter and art historian, and local guides will bring to life this period of intense creative activity. Against a backdrop of social and political unrest, writers, painters, and composers developed powerful realist and romantic styles. They hoped their art might serve as a vehicle for reform and help develop a national consciousness. It was this golden age in the arts that paved the way for the later revolutionary wave, with its unforeseen consequences. Our seminar readings of short works by Pushkin, Dostoevsky, and others will help us understand how Russia’s Golden Age artists were united in their exploration of life’s profound questions: What does it mean to live a fulfilling life? Is there a God? What is a just society?

View of the Red Square and St. Basil’s Cathedral

From our initial base in Moscow, we’ll visit the iconic Red Square and St. Basil’s Cathedral. We’ll get an insider’s view of the home where Tolstoy wrote Anna Karenina. After admiring the icons in the golden-domed Cathedral of the Assumption, Russia’s religious centre for six centuries, we’ll take in Moscow’s flourishing contemporary art scene. The cultural capital of St. Petersburg offers the rococo Catherine Palace and the unparalleled collections of the Hermitage. Come evening we plan to attend a world-class performance at the Mariinsky Theatre. In both cities we’ll savour the lively food scene, sampling traditional dishes and perhaps a few surprises.

Don’t miss this unique celebration of the intensity and splendour of Russian art, literature, and music. For more information, see our detailed itinerary.

“The immensity of Russia, the absence of boundaries, was expressed in the structure of the Russian soul. The landscape of the Russian soul corresponds with the landscape of Russia, the same boundlessness, formlessness, reaching out into infinity.”

– Nikolai Berdyaev



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Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia

September 14–25, 2019

Pushkin Hotel, Moscow; Helvetia Hotel, St. Petersburg

Selections by Pushkin, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and others

Sean Forester is a Bay Area-based painter and art historian with a passion for 19th-century art and literature. He has led past tours on Dante’s Florence, Belle Epoque Paris, and Russia’s Golden Age. He especially loves the tender yet robust paintings of artists such as Ilya Repin and Nikolai Fechin.

US$5,395 per person
US$895 single supplement

Cost includes guides, readings, accommodation, two meals a day, discussions, ground transportation, walking tours, talks, excursions, admissions, and taxes and gratuities.

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