| Complete information about artwork |
|to do options|
|Name || ||Smolensk at night|
|Price, USD || ||2200.00|
|Status || ||For sale, check|
|Seller || ||Russian Art Gallery|
|| ||116.0 x 86.0 cm /switch|
|Artist || ||Gennady Pasko|
|Year made || ||2001-01-01|
|Edition || ||Original|
||Oil on canvas|
||Old Russian towns|
|Golden names of Russia 3|
|Summary of early history
Smolensk is like a mighty Russian knight (bogatyr). For many centuries this city had been serving its soldier's duty. In ancient times Smolensk was often called "the Key City", since it safely locked the gates of Moscow. Crowned with the merlons of the city walls, Smolensk stood as an impregnable fortress in the way of foreign invaders. Smolensk was one of the most ancient towns in Rus owing its importance to its location near the headwaters of the Dnieper flowing south to the Black Sea, close also to the Western Dvina River flowing west to Vitebsk and Polotsk and on to the Baltic, the Volkhov and Lovat Rivers flowing north into the Baltic, via Lake Ladoga, and the Volga flowing east and south to the Caspian Sea. At its maximum the principality reached Lake Seliger in the north, the upper regions of the Pakhra River in the east, the Ugra and Sozh Rivers in the south, and the Dnieper River to Orsha in the west. It was one of the major towns to which the Varangians assigned a ruler in the 9th century. The main older part of the town is enclosed with a wall and lies on the left bank. It is considered to have been the ancient capital of the Krivitchi. It was conquered by Oleg on his way from Novgorod to Kiev in the 9th century (ca. 882). Until 1054 it was ruled from Kiev. Yaroslav the Wise gave it to his son, Viacheslav, and, when he died after 3 years, it was fought over by the descendents in typical Varangian fashion. It was ruled by Vladimir Monomakh before he went to Kiev. It became an independent principality during the reign of Vladimir Monomakh's grandson, Rostislav Mstislavich (1127- 1159) and controlled a considerable territory between the Ugra River and Lake Seliger.
The Rostislavichi family ruled Smolensk and occasionally gained control of Kiev as well. Smolensk reached the zenith of its power under Mstislav Mstislavich Udaloi, Prince of Toropets and of Novgorod. He defeated Grand Prince Yurii Vsvolodovich of Vladimir in 1216 and defeated the Hungarians in Galicia in 1218. Their military ascendancy had its negative side in 1223, when they had to provide the largest contingent of Russian troops to defend against the Mongols and they were destroyed at the Battle of Kalka River. Vladimir Riurikovich survived the battle and went on to succeed his dead uncle as Grand Prince at Kiev. Decline set in with the death of Mstislav Davidovich in 1230. Smolensk was spared by the Mongols in 1238. In 1340 it was besieged by Muscovites and Tatars. The principality was subject to the usual internal and external struggles between the numerous princely Rurikovichi. This weakened its unity and exposed it to the competing pressures from Moscow and Lithuania. In 1274 Smolensk became subject to the Khan of the Golden Horde. The unity of the principality was broken and it fragmented into multiple appanages. During the 45 year reign of Ivan Aleksandrovich from 1313 to 1358, Smolensk became increasingly a pawn in the struggle between Moscow and Lithuania. During the first half of the 14th century many of Smolensk's subordinate princes and boyars switched allegiance to Moscow and in 1352 the Prince of Smolensk, Ivan Aleksandrovich, was also forced accept Muscovite control by Simeon I Ivanovich who used Mongol support to force Smolensk to submit. The next ruler, Sviatoslav Ivanovich was, killed in battle against the Lithuanians on 29 April 1386 near Mstislavl. His son, Yurii, was forced to swear allegiance to the Lithuanian ruler, Iagialo, at Vilno. The struggle against Lithuania intensified during the next 20 years. The princes of Smolensk sought to escape Muscovite ambitions by obtaining assistance from Lithuania only to find out that they had embraced another bear. Both the Lithuanian King of Poland, Iagailo, and the Grand Prince of Lithuania, Vitovt, had their hearts set on taking Smolensk. This Vitovt accomplished in 1395 and again in 1404. In 1401 the independence party recaptured the city. But in 1404 Grand Prince Vitovt of Lithuania captured Smolensk after a long siege. In 1408 it surrendered to the Lithuanians after a siege of 7 weeks.
The population of Smolensk reached 200,000 in the 16th century. The capture of Smolensk remained a major Muscovite goal for Ivan III and Vasilii III, who recaptured it in 1514.
It was held by Ivan IV and then extensively fortified by Boris Gudonov. It was the locale for numerous campaigns and battles, most notably the heroic defense by Russian troops against the Polish army of 22,000 troops of Sigismund III who besieged it for 19 months in 1609-1611. The Poles took the city during the "Time of Troubles" and its recovery was the central mission of the Russian Tsars, until it was the focal point of the "Smolensk War" in 1632-34. By September a Polish relief army under King Vladislav IV surrounded the besieging Russian army. The remaining walls date from Boris. Here is a map showing the sections and towers and locations from which we took the photos listed below.
It was near Smolensk where the destiny of Russia was settled in 1812 and where the decisive battles of 1941 took place. Today the defensive fortifications erected during the two Patriotic Wars of Russia are restored and could be observed in their original design. The real masterpiece of fortification architecture stretching for 2.7 km. is now a majestic monument to the valor of Russian people. The walls are 30-50 ft high and 10-20 ft thick. Only 16 of the original 38 towers remain. Smolensk has many monuments erected to immortalize the glory of Russian troops, with most of them devoted to the events of the Patriotic War of 1812 and the Great Patriotic War of 1941-45.
The five-domed Cathedral of the Assumption dominates the entire city. It was founded in the early 12th cent and destroyed by the Poles in 1611, but restored in 1772.
Defense of Smolensk in 1609-11:
Between 1596 and 1602 Boris Gudonov entrusted the fortification of Smolensk to Fedor S. Kon'. Over a million bricks were used in one of the largest and most expensive building projects in Eastern Europe.
In 1608 and 1609 King Sigismund III of Poland assembled an army to attack Smolensk. He had 5,500 infantry, 3,500 Polish hussars, 1,500 cossacks, 1,130 foreign mercenaries and also the private troops of the Polish and Lithuanian nobility. According to intelligence reports, Smolensk was defended by only 200 service dvoriane and 300 strel'tsi under command of the voevode, M. B. Shein. Sigismund initiated the offensive at Orsha on 5 September 1609. By 26 September the Polish advance party reached the region near Smolensk, where they came in contact with Russian troops. The Russians burned the northern suburbs across the Dnieper to deny their shelter to the Poles. The Poles moved into the western suburbs from which they attempted a surprise attack on the 26th. During October the Poles began building earthworks around the city. They conducted another assault on 5-7 October. They then continued building siege works, especially near the Bogoslovskaia tower, in which the Russian mounted cannon. The Polish artillery fired against this tower and the Piatnitskie Gates continuously from 9 to 12 October. On the 12th they brought the earthworks closer and fired hot shot into the city. The siege commander, Hetman Stanislaw Zolkiewski, then built additional redoubts containing large siege guns near the Bogoslovskaia Tower.
The Poles began mining operations under the Shurilovskii Moat in October and continued their efforts throughout November, December and January. Sigismund realized a long siege would be necessary and called for additional heavy siege artillery. Within the city food was in short supply and living conditions deteriorated. The Russians dug countermines. The underground battle developed and on 19 January the Russians blew up the main Polish gallery. Russian success in destroying Polish mines continued throughout the month and into February.
The Polish heavy artillery arrived from Riga on 29 May. Meanwhile the temporary Russian government at Moscow nearly surrendered to Polish demands. Jan Potocki took over the command at the siege and Zolkiewski was sent with troops against Moscow. Russian relief efforts were ended at the battle of Klushino on 24 June 1610 with the death of the best Russian commander, M. V. Skopin-Shuiskii. On 3 July the Polish heavy artillery opened fire against the Granovitaia Tower in support of an assault. The Polish troops suffered heavy casualties and gave up the attack. By 26 July more Russian countermines reached the main Polish redoubts, which were partially destroyed. On the 29th German mercenaries were sent against the Granovitaia Tower, which had already been severely damaged by artillery fire. Simultaneously Cossacks attacked the city walls unsuccessfully. The Germans managed to gain a foothold in the tower. On 1 August Potocki sent in his best troops. All the Polish forces were thrown out under heavy fire from the adjacent bastions. A second assault on 4 August was also unsuccessful.
The Poles again turned to mining operations. The siege dragged on into the fall again. Some of the Polish leaders, such as Sapieha and Zolkiewski, favored giving up the siege and concentrating forces against Moscow. By November 29 another mine was ready, but its detonation on 1 December failed to produce sufficient results to warrant an assault. During the winter the city inhabitants continued to suffer more and more, but resolutely refused all compromises and demands to surrender. Polish assaults were renewed in May. The Poles received significant assistance from knowledgeable Russian defectors. On 2 June another heavy artillery bombardment was directed against the western walls. German mercenaries were able to capture one tower of the Avraamevskie Gates and support a Cossack entry into the gate. Another attacking force broke through on the river side. As the Polish forces entered the city Shein retreated to the Kolomenskaia Tower. Many defenders attempted to shelter in the cathedral. The Polish troops continued to attack, so the defenders blew themselves up with the powder stored under the cathedral. Shein was eventually captured and taken to Warsaw as a trophy. The 19 month defense of Smolensk succeeded in holding up the main Polish army, enabling other Russian forces to concentrate and eventually drive the Poles out of Moscow.
Polish Defense of Smolensk in 1632-34
during the War of Smolensk:
During the Thirty year's War Tsar Michael Romanov's government got the idea of alliance with Sweden and the Ottoman Empire against Poland in order to recover the territories lost during the Time of Troubles. The alliance fell through when Gustavus Adolphus died at Lutzen in November 1632. But the Russians had already decided in June on taking the offensive in coordination with a Swedish attack from Prussia. The Russian operation was delayed by an attack by the Crimean Tatars and the Swedish operation commanded by Marshal Karl Wrangel did not contribute much. But in September the Russian troops were deployed on the western border. The main attack was entrusted to the chief voyevod, Michael. B. Shein, the hero of the defense of Smolensk in 1610. His route of advance was through Viaz'ma and Dorogobuzh. Shein advanced on 10 September to Viaz'ma where he halted until 20 October. He left Mozhaisk September 10th. A supporting army was deployed at Rzhev and Kaluga to bypass Smolensk and protect the flanks of the main army. The Russians had about 40,000 troops including 3,000 foreign mercenaries.
The Russian main army reached Smolensk on 5 December as other units captured many towns in the region. Shein blockaded the city in hopes of starving the Poles into submission. The formidable fortifications proved just as strong in Polish hands as they had been for the Russians and Shein's assault in June 1633 failed. The Russian forces were depleted because many of the dvoriane had rushed off to defend their homes from the annual Crimean Tatar summer raids. Meanwhile a peasant and Cossack uprising further weakened the Russian forces.
The Polish king, Wladyslaw IV, organized a relief army. Polish forces arrived and by September 1633 had encircled the besieging Russian army. Shein found his army being destroyed by famine and sickness. He surrendered on 15 February 1634. Under terms he left most of the cannon but was allowed to march the army out under arms. The Poles were unable to exploit their success because other Russian forces still held Mozhaisk. However, Shein was not allowed to rest on his heroism of 1610. He was accused of treason and beheaded in 1634.
Russian recapture of Smolensk
in the Russo-Polish war of 1654-67:
The Russian government did not forget the defeat of 1633. In 1648 a Cossack rebellion in Ukraine against Poland-Lithuania set the stage for new Russian operations. Internal troubles delayed the offensive until 1654. Russia and Poland were again at war during 1654-1667 and this time Moscow succeeded in retaking Smolensk. Bogdan Khmel'nitskii swore allegiance to Tsar Alexei in January 1654, followed by the citizens of Kiev. This enabled the Russians to secure Ukrainian forces in support. The Russian army was ready, having been considerably modernized after the defeat of 1633. The Tsar himself went with the army. The commander of the main army was Ya. K. Cherkasskii. He captured Belaia and Dorogobuzh and besieged Smolensk in July with 40,000 troops. After defeating the Polish relief army at Shklov and capturing Orsha they took Smolensk in September. Meanwhile another Russian army under V. P. Sheremetev captured Nevel, Polotsk, and Vitebsk. The third army commanded by A. N. Trubetskoi, operating in the south, took Roslavl, Mstislavl and Shklov. The Ukrainian Cossacks captured Gomel and other towns. However, in the rest of Ukraine the Poles and Crimean Tatars were victorious over both Muscovite Russian and Ukrainian armies. The scene of major fighting for the rest of the war shifted southwest into the Ukraine and north into Lithuania.
In 1655 the Russians captured Vilna, Kovno, Grodno, and Minsk. By the fall combined Russian and Ukrainian forces were at Lvov and Lublin. But the Crimeans attacked again in the fall, forcing the Ukrainians and Russians to withdraw from Lvov. In November they defeated the Crimeans at Ozernoe.
The Swedes seized the opportunity of Poland's war with Russia to invade in the summer of 1655. They captured Warsaw and Krakow. This uninvited incursion into their party so distressed the Russians that they broke off combat against the Lithuanians in April 1656 in order to fight Sweden. The Russians took on the Swedes in May and even signed an anti-Swedish alliance with Poland in October. By late 1658 the Russians gave up trying to wrest a Baltic seaport from the superior Swedish forces. Meanwhile the Poles recovered and renounced their agreement with Russia. Khmel'nitskii died in 1657 and the new Cossack Hetman signed a treaty bringing Ukraine back under Polish control.
The Russians returned to war with Poland in October 1658. The Ukrainians came to the Lithuanian support by besieging the Russian garrison in Minsk and attacking their forces near Vilna. From then to 1667 an incredibly complex war continued between Russia, Poland, the east and west bank Ukrainian Cossacks and the Crimean Tatars in which each party sought to undermine all the others. Finally everyone was exhausted and fearful that the Ottoman Turks were going to come into Ukraine to clean up, so they signed the Armistice of Andrusovo. This finally confirmed Russian ownership of Smolensk.
Battle of Smolensk
4-6 August, 1812:
The two Russian armies of Bagration and Barclay de Tolly joined at Smolensk in August 1812. The French Army advanced and crossed the Dnieper near Liada. Napoleon had about 180,000 in his central army. He planned to gain the rear of the Russian army, capture Smolensk, and cut the Russians off from Moscow. On 2 August the Russian detachment lead by D. P. Neverovskii held the French advance guard led by Ney and Murat at Krasnyi for 24 hours. The Russian Seventh Corps then advanced in support of Neverovskii. On 4 August the 13-15,000 Russians held off the French before Smolensk. That evening the Russian First and Second Armies of about 120,000 men reached the city. General Barclay de Tolly decided to abandon Smolensk rather than risk his army. He ordered the Second Army to retire toward Moscow under cover of the First Army holding Smolensk. The Second Army began withdrawing during the night of 5 August. The badly damaged Seventh Corps was replaced by the Sixth, commanded by D. S. Dokhturov. On 5 August the French attempted to enter Smolensk from the south. They were driven off, but returned to a general assault at noon. That afternoon Davout's corps succeeded in forcing the Russians at the Molokhovskie Gates to retire into the city. During the night of 6 August the Russian First Army began to withdraw east as the French occupied Smolensk. The combat continued on the 7th as the French unsuccessfully continued to attempt to cut off the First Army's withdrawal. The French lost about 20,000 to the Russian losses of 10,000 men.
Defense of Smolensk in 1941:
The Soviet Western Front commanded by Marshal of the Soviet Union S. T. Timoshenko, the Reserve Front commanded by General of Army G. K. Zhukov, the Central Front commanded by Colonel General F. I. Kuznetsov, and the Briansk Front commanded by Lieutenant General A. I. Eremenko all took part on the defense of the Smolensk region against the German Center Army group commanded by General-Fieldmarshal F. Bock. The operations lasted from 10 July to 10 September 1941.
Having driven the Soviet forces in Belorussia back by 1 July, the German command was confident that it could complete the breakthrough to Moscow. The Center Army Group was given from 51 to 62 divisions and ordered to surround the Soviet forces defending the line of the Western Dvina and Dnieper Rivers around Orsha, Smolensk, and Vitebsk. The Soviet High Command concentrated its second strategic echelon along these rivers during June. At a distance of 210 to 240 km further east they deployed the 24th and 28th Armies between Nelidovo and Briansk and placed the 16th Army near Smolensk. By the start of the battle the Russians had deployed 24 divisions in the first defensive positions. On 10 July the German Second and Third Panzer Armies reached the Dnieper and Western Dvina, but their Ninth and Second Armies were lagging far behind. Thus the German attack on Smolensk began with 29 divisions, including 9 panzer and 7 motorized. They outnumbered the Russians by 1.6 to 1 in manpower and 7 to 1 in tanks.
During the first phase from 10 to 20 July the Germans were able to break through the right flank and center of the Soviet Western Front. The German Third Panzer Army drove forward some 150 kms. The German Second Panzer Group then bypassed Mogilev to the north and south advancing 200 km to capture Orsha, Smolensk, Yel'na, and Krichev. The Soviet 16th and 20th Armies were encircled around Smolensk and part of the 13th Army was encircled in Mogilev. The Soviet 21st Army then conducted a counteroffensive that paralyzed the main elements of the German Second Army.
During the second phase from 21 July to 7 August the Soviet Western Front launched counteroffensives against Smolensk. Two major battles developed, one around Smolensk and Yel'na and the other between the Berezina and Dnieper Rivers. This counteroffensive was unable to destroy the German forces in the sector, but it did force the Germans onto the defensive and assist the 20th and 16th Armies to escape from Smolensk. Both sides reorganized. The Germans diverted forces to the south to assist with the encirclement of Russian forces at Kiev and in Ukraine.
The third phase was from 8 to 21 August. The main German operations shifted to the south where they advanced 120 km to Gomel and Starodub. The threat of encirclement forced the Soviet command to order withdrawal of forces across the Dnieper. The Soviet 24th Army opened another counteroffensive on 18 August and inflicted heavy losses on the Germans near Yel'na.
The fourth phase was from 22 August to 10 September. During this period the German Second Panzer Group and Second Army continued their offensive against the flank and rear of the Soviet Southwestern Front. By 10 September the Soviet Western, Reserve, and Briansk Fronts assumed the defensive.
The significance of the Smolensk Operation is that the Soviet counterattacks and stubborn defense of Smolensk delayed the German strategic offensive and forced the redeployment of significant forces from other axes, such as the Third Panzer Group, which was diverted from the Leningrad axis. The time that was bought paid a large dividend in December when the Soviet defenses held in front of Moscow and Leningrad.
In addition to the immense fortifications there are interesting churches and cathedrals worth visiting. The most impressive is the main Cathedral of the Assumption (Uspenski) located on a commanding hill near the center of the fortress. Vladimir Monomakh built a church heree in 1101 and it remained until destroyed by the Poles during their occupation after 1609 and replaced by a Catholic church. After the Russians regained the city theye build a new and very impressive cathedral starting in 1677. This was not completed until 1740. Nearby is the Bogoyavlenski (Epiphany) Cathedral built in 1784. On the same hill is the Church of St. John the Precursor, dating from 1703 and the Church of the Annunciation from 1774. Close to the central hill is the Troitski (Trinity) Monastery of which the belfry and cathedral remain. Noxt door is the Anno-Zachatievski Church from 1767. Close to the eastern wall stood the Spasso-Avramiev Monastery of which the Transfiguration Cathedral of 1753 remains. Among the other churches are the Nishni-Nikolskaya Church over a city gate by the river and on the north side of the river, the oldest building in Smolensk, the Church of Saints Peter and Paul from 1146 near the railroad station. Close to this is St Barbara's Church. On the south side are the Church of St John the Divine (1160-80 but rebuilt), Svirskaya Church (1180-97), Voznesenski (Ascension) Church and convent from 1515, St Catherine's Church, of 1765 designed by Matvei Kazakov, the Akhirski Gate church (1830)
| Offer price|
If the price for the artwork is out of your budget, feel free to make an offer.
We will contact you as soon as possible and try our best to find the consensus.|