Eugeny Lancere Chiseled Horses And Drank Koumiss


Anna ZENINA

There is a picturesque town on Volga. Rybinsk, and it was mentioned in chronicles since Xlth century. It became famous as one of the biggest, central Russia, river ports. Now, the town manufactures air plane engines, constructs ships, processes wood, produces matches, known to all the country...

I've discovered an exhibit in the Rybinsk art-and-history museum and it made me just attack local guides with questions about its author.

Eugeny Lancere. Kirghiz with horses, a bronze sculpted composition, moulded in 1880 at the bronze foundry of Chopin, that's what was said in the inscription below. Perhaps, beauty and naturalness of any real piece of art could hardly be properly described. It should be seen, they say. Kirghiz looked alive, and the miniature horses just asked to be played with their manes. It was such an impression, that the bronze equestrian is about to get on his horse and hurtle far away, to the horizon. Arabs, Kirghiz breed, hot Caucasus and Bashkir horses, varmint Russian troikas...

They say, that Lancere's statuettes may serve well to learn breeds of horses. Who's he, this passionate lover of horses' figures, the number one master, talented sculptor with this magnificent French name? Eugeny Lancere was born in the middle of XlXth century in Russian town of Morshansk. The French name inherited he from his grandfather, who had once been in Napoleon army, until he was badly wounded in the battle of Smolensk.After the wound had been cured, he looked around and liked the surroundings so much that he decided never come back to his motherland. By then, he hadn't even dreamed that he's going to leave a legacy, consisting of dynasty of artists, to Russian culture. Sculptor Eugeny Lancere, the master of the so called smaller forms, was the first to begin later known as Lancere's family line. Lancere's childhood was spent in his uncle's country seat. There his passion for horses appeared for the first time and never vanished his entire life. In his eleven, he made his first wax troika of horses and presented the sculpture to the heir of Russian throne, future emperor Alexander III. Eugeny's father showed his son's works to marine painter Aivazovsky and sculptor Klodt. whose horse composition decorates Anichkov bridge in St. Petersburg. The pro-fessionals highly estimated Eugeny's works, but didn't recommend him to follow courses in the Art Academy: academic education may have leveled originality of the talent. Probably, due to their advice Lancere further became a nonpareil master in sculpting. Autodidact in art, in life he was a lawyer with University diploma. In spite of possibilities to build his career in legal arts, Lancere never betrayed his passion. Horses were his inspiration until his last days. And his remedy. The thing is that he early was diseased with tuberculosis and the horse milk - koumiss -literary held over his life. Eugeny Lancere died when he was 38, but he had gained broad recognition in public and art ambience. The Art Academy repeatedly awarded him with various prizes. Lancere's works were exhibited in Vienna, London, Philadelphia, Paris.

That time's vogue dictated the so called cabinet plastic. Following the fashion, a sculptor worked out models of dishware and writing sets which were selling like Banbury cakes. Recognized bronze moulding firms considered a honour to work with him. As a rule, Lancere modeled his compositions from wax, which then were moulded by factories in bronze or silver in ten or more copies. There happened private orders. For instance, during Lancere's trip about Middle East countries, he made a horse sculpture out of gold and silver for an Arab sheikh. Lancere traveled a lot. Russia, Caucasus, Crimea, Kirghiz sftppe, Bashkir steppe, Algeria... Being abroad, he not only created pieces of art, but medicated himself. Moreover, owners of bronze moulding firms, who knew his illness, often sponsored his trips.

But the artist's heritage consists of not only horses. He took themes in Russia's past, from the war with Turkey, from the game, and even depicted sport events. All in all, Lancere created more than four hundred pieces of art. In Russia they are kept in Morshansk area study museum, Russian Museum, Tretyakov Gallery, the Art Museum of Sevastopol, Rybinsk Museum-resort, private collections. The life seemed to just begin when it's end was so close. Lancere felt it also, but never gave up. He fought death till the last day of his life, till the last hour. When he was even a young guy, he looked very gaunt and stooped, - with fingers almost transparent, old, old man. He worked hours with no break. Sometime, his cough was so uneasy that it seemed agonizing, and Lancere held over a figure of a horse or a man and walked around his room, fighting his fits of coughing. Isn't it strange, that this very man even in his last year felt sometime so good, that he walked to swim in a chilling water of a river or take far tours ahorse about his country seat? He never lost agility in hopping in his favourite horse and taking out of the gate with a look of a sporty Circassian. Lancere died in his estate Neskushnoye, in the vicinity of Chabarovsk. He left huge pos-terity - six children. They inherited the art genes of the father... and their mother, the daughter of architect Nickolai Benua and granddaughter of architect Albert Kavos, Ekaterina Benua who was also an artist. Three of them, kids of Lancere-Benua, treaded the parents' footsteps and further even outdazzled their celebrity. Zinaida, the daughter, was famous as colourist. Nickolai, the son, was an architect and art historian. Eugeny, another son, or, as he is called -Eugeny the Second, became an academician of painting, he was one of the founders of the Art Alliance The World of Art, he plied graphics and monumental murals. Few of his murals were finished after his death by his son - Eugeny Lancere, the Third. Now, Eugeny Lancere the Fourth belongs in the family line and keeps up the tradition. He is a sculptor, as the founder of this art dynasty. They are called en famille by numbers - Lancere the First, the Second, the Third and the Fourth. Well, would this distinguished dynasty confer us a reward of Lancere the Fifth?