The State Memorial and Natural Preserve "Museum-estate of Leo Tolstoy "Yasnaya Polyana"
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Exhibition devoted to Leo Tolstoy’s sister Maria Tolstoy

August 19 – October 28, 2012 

Yasnaya Polyana Art Gallery (Tula, Oktyabrskaya 12)

The exhibition tells the story of the long and complicated life of the great author's only sister Maria (1830 - 1912).

Having inherited traits of character of her both parents – such as honesty, sincerity, and frankness – Maria was very close to her brother Leo Tolstoy in many respects, and their correspondence clearly demonstrates that.

Married off at an early age, Maria lived at her husband's estate of Pokrovskoye, a beautiful but secluded place. Fortunately, there were interesting people among her neighbours; one of them was the famous writer Ivan Turgenev who devoted one of his works to Maria Tolstoy.

At Pokrovskoye, three of Maria's children were born – Varvara, Nikolai, and Elizaveta. But her marriage turned out very unhappy, and she finally left her husband. After their break-up Maria travelled in Europe where she met the future father of her youngest daughter Elena.

After her return to Russia, Maria lived at the estate of Pirogovo (which she inherited from her parents) and often visited her brother Leo at Yasnaya Polyana. At the age of about fifty, she entered a completely new stage in her life: she sincerely turned to faith, decided to take the vows, and lived at the Shamordino convent since then. In spite of Leo Tolstoy's attitude to the Orthodox Church, the relations between brother and sister remained as tender and affectionate as before, and probably even more so. Once Tolstoy signed a letter to his sister in the following way: "Your brother in blood and in spirit – don't abandon me... I love you so much." Their last meeting took place in Maria's cell at the convent right after Leo Tolstoy left his home for good shortly before his death.

Not so many of Maria's personal things have been preserved. Our exhibition shows some of those precious objects, as well as photographs, letters, and other documents from the collections of the Yasnaya Polyana Museum, the Tolstoy Museum in Moscow, the Local History Museum of Kaluga, and the Shamordino Convent.
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