After a series of e-mail exchanges, the staff of RGALI (the Russian State Archive of Literature and Art) has let me know that the documents I’ve requested are being set aside for me and will be available when I make my first visit on June 14th. Here are some examples of what I will be looking at and their significance:
“The Moscow Expulsion 1891-1892. Impressions, Memoirs” by the physician and social commentator Solomon Vermel. Levitan, as a Jew without permanent resident status, was expelled from the city in the fall of 1892. He was allowed to return to Moscow temporarily in December through the intercession of Dmitri Kuvshinnikov, a police physician whose wife Sophia had been having an open affair with Levitan for years. Levitan was understandably reluctant to say much about his expulsion (he had previously been expelled in 1879). Vermel was an acquaintance of Levitan and his family, and wrote one of the earliest monographs on Levitan, which will be available in State Library.
Unpublished correspondence among those within Chekhov’s and Levitan’s common circle of friends. Here I will be searching for references to the two artists in the hopes of being able to flesh out the nature of their relationship with each other and with their common friends. The correspondents include Tatiana Shchepkina-Kupernik, Lidia (Lika) Mizinova, Maria Chekhova, Franz Shekhtel, and Lidia Yavorskaya, all of whom play major roles in Antosha and Levitasha.
Sophia Kuvshinnikova’s album and diary notes. Those who attended Kuvshinnikova’s soirees, which included Levitan and the Chekhov siblings, were encouraged to write and draw in her album. It contains sketches by Levitan and Kuvshinnikova, and verse by Shchepkina-Kupernik and Yavorskaya. The album is a talisman that I hope will help me bring that world back to life.
On to Moscow! В Москву!
Serge — That album sounds grail-like in its significance to your work. Good luck & bon voyage!