The State Memorial and Natural Preserve "Museum-estate of Leo Tolstoy "Yasnaya Polyana"
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Exhibition “A Sacred Ideal”
yasenevoBeginnin August 3, 2014 
"Yasnaya Polyana" Gallery, Tula 

Opening of the exhibition is taking place on August 2 at 18:00 

The exhibition “A Sacred Ideal” is devoted to Maria Tolstaya (neé Volkonskaya), Leo Tolstoy’s mother. “… In my imagining of her there is only her spiritual figure,” Tolstoy recalled, “everything I know about her is beautiful.”  

Visitors to the exhibition will learn about the history of the Volkonsky family, with the everyday life of Moscow and St. Petersburg in the early 19th century, and will come to know how, due to the efforts of the “intelligent, proud and talented” Prince Nikolai Volkonsky and his daughter Princess Maria, the village of Yasnaya Polyana was gradually becoming a corner of Eden where the main virtues were the ideas of Enlightenment and humanism, love for God and love for one’s neighbor.  

At the exhibition, you can see original manuscripts of Maria Volkonskaya, books, sheet music with signatures and owner's notations; family heirlooms that belonged to Maria and were carefully preserved by her son, including a crystal candlestick, jewelry boxes, icons, old engravings, and ancestral portraits (copies done by unknown peasant artists of the early 19th century).  


Most of the exhibits are original and memorial objects from the collections of the Yasnaya Polyana Estate-Museum and the State Leo Tolstoy Museum in Moscow.

Tolstoy did not remember his mother. But asking his older relatives about her and reading her letters (as if finding consolation in this "mystic” communication with her), he came to the conclusion that his mother’s character had three main qualities: indifference to other people’s judgments, absence of the desire to judge anyone else, and the truthfulness and simplicity of her tone in letters – the quiet nobility of people who live in harmony with nature and who manage to absorb its purity and wisdom.  

The world of Yasnaya Polyana is shown at the exhibition through paintings of the previous century that reveal the lyrical and delicate image of Maria Volkonskaya in all of her many manifestations, showing her as a loving daughter, wife and mother, and a well educated upper-class lady; as an owner of Yasnaya Polyana and a lover of “botanical walks;” as an admirer of Rousseau and a deeply religious Russian woman; and as a shining representative of the tender and splendid century that is sometimes referred to as the Golden Age of Russian culture.  

At the opening of the exhibition, there will be a presentation of the catalogue “M.N. Tolstaya (neé Princess Volkonskaya), Leo Tolstoy’s Mother. Catalogue of Materials from the Collection of the State Leo Tolstoy Museum. Moscow. 2014.”

In the photos:

– the Church of St. Apostles Peter and Paul in the village of Yasenevo, where Leo Tolstoy’s parents were married on July 9, 1822;

– the crystal candlestick that belonged to Maria Volkonskaya; 1st half of the 19th cent.  

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