The State Memorial and Natural Preserve "Museum-estate of Leo Tolstoy "Yasnaya Polyana"
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Exhibition: Needlework at Russian Country Estates

_03September 12 - November 1, 2015
Yasnaya Polyana Gallery

Opening of the exhibition takes place on September 11 at 17:00

The exhibition will show unique objects, which visitors to the Tolstoy House do not usually see, as they are kept in closed drawers, folders, boxes and caskets. These items include 18th-19th-century publications related to needlework, patterns and specimens of various types of embroidery and stitchwork, and old sewing notions. They demonstrate that the world of the needlework of the time gone by is so complicated that it shouldn’t be treated as an unimportant subject. At the opening of the exhibition, there will also be a presentation of the book “Needlework at Russian Country Estates: NOBILIS Culture” by our colleague Svetlana Lyakisheva, a research assistant at Yasnaya Polyana.


The Tolstoy family was always engaged in doing needlework. Embroideries by the author’s aunts T.A. Yorgolskaya, A.I. Osten-Saken and P.I. Youshkova, and his uncle V.I. Youshkov have been preserved. In the Tolstoy House, there also are knitted bed-covers and clothes done in various techniques by Tolstoy’s wife Sophia and his sister Maria, works by his children, and tape measures, crochet needles, reels, and printed patterns for needlework. The world of needlework in both noble and peasant families is well represented in Leo Tolstoy’s works.

In Russian country estates, needlework was not just something related to everyday home life, it was a complicated social phenomenon. On the one hand, the country estate culture of needlework was based on secular culture that developed according to its own laws and thanks to the circulation of specialized publications, technical innovations, and adopting foreign experience in needlework through everyday contact with governesses from different countries. On the other hand, that culture reflected the original folk art with all the special features of the needlework of the serfs. 

The exhibition will be open from Wednesday through Sunday from 11:00 to 19:00. The cost of a ticket without a guided tour is free for those up to 16 years of age; for discount categories of tickets, 15 rubles; and 30 rubles for a full-price ticket. The cost of a ticket with a guided tour: 30 rubles for discount tickets and persons up to 18 years of age; 45 rubles for a full ticket.

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