December 27, 2002 marks the 170th anniversary of the birth of Pavel Tretyakov, the founder of the Tretyakov Picture Gallery. He was born in 1832 to the family of a merchant of the second guild. From the age of fourteen, he was engaged in trade activities. The Tretyakovs possessed at first small shops, then a big shop and later factories.
Having taken a great interest in art, Pavel Tretyakov started collecting Russian paintings using the advise of a well-known critic of that time Vladimir Stasov and other experts in art. The year 1856 is considered to be the beginning of his gallery when he bought Shilder's canvas "Temptation" and Khudyakov's "Smugglers." Later, he purchased the canvases of Aleksei Savrasov, Konstantin Trutovsky, Fyodor Bruni, Lev Lagorio, Karl Bryullov and other artists.
We can say that from the very beginning of his collecting activity Pavel Tretyakov had a clear idea of the aim of his work. In his will, which he made four years after purchasing the first canvases, he wrote: "There can be no better wish for me than to mark the beginning of a public depository of fine arts, accessibly to all that could be of benefit to many people and could bring pleasure to all." By his nearly 50-year collecting activity and support of the most talented artists, Pavel Tretyakov influenced the formation of the art culture in Russia in the second half of the 19th century and contributed to its flourishing.
In 1874, he built a splendid gallery for his collection and opened it in 1880 for a free visiting. In 1892, he presented his collection and the building to Moscow.
Till the end of his life Pavel Tretyakov continued to purchase pictures for his gallery and bequeathed the interest from his capital to the future replenishment of this collection, having thus marked the beginning of a museum of a world level. In 1893 he was elected a member of the Academy of Arts.
Pavel Tretyakov died in 1898.