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Westminster College Professor Publishes Research on Russian Painter

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Posted on Friday, February 19, 2016

Dr. Russell Martin, Westminster College professor of history, was featured in the Arts and Entertainment section of the Huffington Post this week for his contribution to the book, Konstantin Makovsky: The Tsar’s Painter in America and Paris.

Konstantin Makovksy was an influential Russian artist who became the painter to the Tsar’s court in late nineteenth century St. Petersburg. Makovsky has been called the "painter to the tsars" because so many of the members of the House of Romanov chose him to do their portraits.

Martin highlights the historical content in Makovsky’s paintings, which depict scenes from Russia in the seventeenth century. Martin also analyzed the paintings and deciphered what original historical sources the artist relied on to create some of his more important historical paintings.

“This project gave me the opportunity to go beyond the narrow contents of the paintings and say something as well about Russian political culture in the seventeenth century,” said Martin. “So this book in a way continues and links up to my other work on Russian history.”

“I’m teaching a modern Russian history course this semester, and I’ll certainly show the images in the book of Makovsky’s paintings to my students in the course,” said Martin. “Westminster is known, rightly, as a student-centered, teaching institution; but good teaching requires an active research life on the part of the faculty.”

As a historian of the Romanovs, Martin has known about and been attracted to Makovsky’s paintings for a long time. Makovsky had done a portrait around 1880 of Grand Duke Kirill, the first cousin of the last tsar, Nicholas II, who then became the Head of the House of Romanov after the Russian Revolution. Grand Duke Kirill is the grandfather of the current Head of the House of Romanov, Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, for whom Martin does translation work. Martin has also been appointed a member of Her Imperial Highness's Own Chancellery and was knighted by the Grand Duchess in 2010.

For more information, contact Martin at or (724) 946-6254.