Archive

Start Over

Nikolai Kluge

  • Given name:
    Nikolai
  • Last name:
    Kluge
  • Alternative names:

    Николай Карлович Клуге, Nicholas Kluge, Kliougé

  • Date of Birth:
    09-05-1869
  • Place of Birth:
    Odessa (UA)
  • Date of Death:
    01-10-1947
  • Place of Death:
    Istanbul (TR)
  • Profession:
    ArchaeologistArt restorerCopyistPainterPhotographer
  • Introduction:

    As a non-regular employee at the Russian Archaeological Institute of Constantinople before the Russian Revolution, Nikolai Kluge was perhaps the émigré artist most familiar with Istanbul.

    Word Count: 26

  • Signature Image:
    Nikolai Kluge (right) and Thomas Whittemore (left) at Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, 1944. Fonds Thomas Whittemore – Institut byzantin, Subgroup 01–Series 08 (© Bibliothèque byzantine, Collège de France).
  • Content:

    As a non-regular employee at the Russian Archaeological Institute of Constantinople before the Russian Revolution, employed there as an art restorer, copyist and photographer, Nikolai Kluge was perhaps the émigré artist most familiar with Istanbul. He continued to work in the same fields after the Revolution, but for the Byzantine Institute of America.
    As Olga Iodko, senior research assistant at the St. Petersburg branch of the Archive of the Russian Academy of Sciences, has correctly noted, in spite of his output he was never famous, so information about him is very limited. German by origin, he studied at the Odessa Art School and on graduation received a recommendation to enter Imperial Academy of Arts of the Russian Empire. Health problems prevented him from obtaining the title of painter, but he was qualified to teach and this was frequently a financial help to him (Iodko 2016, 197–198). He completed his first work as a copyist in 1897 in Madaba (Jordan), with a reproduction of a floor mosaic depicting a map of the Holy Land. From 1903, he worked as a painter at the Russian Archaeological Institute, actively assisting Fyodor Uspensky and Fyodor Schmidt by making measurements of objects, sketches and photographs. Since he was paid only for the work he produced, he had little security and the letters of colleagues attest that, in spite of his expertise, he lived poorly. All of this led to him being admitted to the Russian Nikolayevskiy Hospital in Istanbul in 1913, suffering from neurasthenia, cardiac disorders and insomnia (Iodko 2016, 204–205). His work gave him the opportunity to make copies of frescoes and mosaics in Istanbul (Chora Church), Chios (Nea Moni), Thessaloniki (Church of Saint Demetrius) and many other places. A written description of the Kariye Mosque (former Chora Church) mosaics was provided by Fyodor Schmidt, but they were cleaned, washed and sketched by Kluge. The sketches had been intended for publication by the Imperial Archaeological Commission, but the rapidly-moving events in the Russian Empire meant that they were never actually published. One of his last places of work was Trabzon, in 1917. Later, because of the Revolution, Kluge fled from Sevastopol to Istanbul. During his first years in the city, he conducted excursions for Russian-speaking émigrés (including Georges Artemoff and Lydia Nikanorova), providing them with detailed information about Byzantine monuments (1921) and later gave a couple of Saturday evening lectures at the so-called Narodniy University in Istanbul (1922). It is known that one of these lectures was devoted to Byzantine churches and was illustrated with his drawings (Anonymous, “Lektsiya N.M. Kluge”, 1922). In addition, he created decorations for charitable events, gave drawing lessons and hoped for the revival of the Russian Archaeological Institute, where he could finally work as a salaried employee, as he had always wanted (Iodko 2016, 209–210). He cherished these dreams until 1928, but the Institute never recovered. After living in Istanbul for some time, he became a Turkish citizen and started to work at the Byzantine Institute of America. As Gerol’d Vzdornov wrote: “It was he who uncovered and then copied the mosaics of St. Sophia of Constantinople. According to the testimony of the Institute’s officials, no other hand possessed greater sensitivity when copying these ancient artworks. What made his copies special was his strict exclusion of his own personal feelings, due to his boundless respect for and devotion to this art.” He continued to work at Hagia Sophia until a week before his death. Kluge died in the American Hospital, which was founded in 1920 by Mark Lambert Bristol in Istanbul, and is buried in the Greek cemetery in Şişli. One obituary referred to him thus: “With his straight, graceful figure, thin facial features, lively eyes, he was a familiar figure on the streets of Istanbul”. It also mentions that he spoke Turkish, lived somewhere in the suburbs, had a good temperament and “for more than half a century generously contributed to the development of Byzantine archaeology” (Anonymous,“Nekrolog”, 1947). But perhaps even more eloquent are the words of (presumably) Thomas Whittemore in his personal correspondence with his colleague that was found by me in the Boğaziçi University Archive: "My eldest and most prized craftsman, Nicolai Kluge, a Russian, in his eightieth year, who became famous in the time of the Imperial Russian Archaeological Institute before the First War and who has worked with me since 1930 is dead."

    Word Count: 720

  • Media:
    Nikolai Kluge (right) and Thomas Whittemore (left) at Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, 1944. Fonds Thomas Whittemore – Institut byzantin, Subgroup 01–Series 08 (© Bibliothèque byzantine, Collège de France).
    Photo by Nikolai Kluge (The title page of the publication Kariye Camii. Album for the XI volume of Izvestia of the Russian Archaeological Institute in Constantinople, Munich, 1906).
  • Bibliography (selected):

    Anonymous. “Lektsiya N.M. Kluge.” Presse du Soir, 8 December 1922, p. 3.

    Anonymous. “Russkaya yolka na Proti.” Vecherniaia Gazeta, 16 January 1925, n.p.

    Anonymous. “Nekrolog.” Russkiye Novosti (Paris), 10 October 1947, n.p.

    Iodko, Olga. “Nikolai Karlovich Kluge (1869–1947) kopiist i restavrator vizantiyskih pamyatnikov.” Nemtsy v Sankt-Peterburge: Biograficheskiy aspekt XVIII–XX vv., no. X: Kunstkamera RAN, 2016, pp. 197–222. lib.kunstkamera.ru, http://lib.kunstkamera.ru/files/lib/978-5-88431-320-0/978-5-88431-320-0_13.pdf. Accessed 5 September 2020.

    Levitskiy, Valeriy. “Kariye Camii.” Zarnitsy, 17 July 1921, p. 12.

    Vzdornov, Gerol’d. “Russkiye hudojniki i vizantiyskaya starina v Konstantinopole.” Tvorchestvo, no. 2, 1992, pp. 30–32.

    Word Count: 91

  • Archives and Sources:

    Slavonic Library (Slovanská knihovna) in Prague.

    Bibliothèque byzantine, Collège de France, Paris.

    Boğaziçi Üniversitesi Arşiv ve Dokümantasyon Merkezi, Istanbul.

    Word Count: 25

  • Acknowledgements:

    I am grateful to Olga Iodko for her valuable comments and help. My deep gratitude also goes to Cengiz Kırlı and Mina Çakmak for making possible my work at the Boğaziçi Üniversitesi Arşiv ve Dokümantasyon Merkezi.

    Word Count: 41

  • Author:
    Ekaterina Aygün
  • Exile:

    Istanbul, Ottoman Empire/Turkey (1920–1947).

  • Known addresses in Metromod cities:

    Russian Archaeological Institute, Sakız Ağacı Street 11 (now Atıf Yılmaz Cd. 11), Hüseyinağa, Beyoğlu, Istanbul (place of work).

  • Metropolis:
    Istanbul
  • Ekaterina Aygün. "Nikolai Kluge." METROMOD Archive, 2021, https://archive.metromod.net/viewer.p/69/2949/object/5138-10437885, last modified: 14-09-2021.
  • Alexis Gritchenko
    PainterArt Historian

    During the two years of his life that he spent in Istanbul, Alexis Gritchenko produced more paintings dedicated to the city than many artists produce in an entire lifetime.

    Word Count: 29

    Portrait of Alexis Gritchenko by Turkish painter Namık İsmail, 1920. Private collection. Istanbul, Meşher Art Gallery, “Alexis Gritchenko – İstanbul Yılları” Exhibition (Photo: Ekaterina Aygün, 2020).
    Portrait of Alexis Gritchenko by Turkish painter Namık İsmail, 1920. Private collection. Istanbul, Meşher Art Gallery, “Alexis Gritchenko – İstanbul Yılları” Exhibition (Photo: Ekaterina Aygün, 2020).Istanbul, Meşher Art Gallery, “Alexis Gritchenko – İstanbul Yılları” Exhibition (Photo: Ekaterina Aygün, 2020).Byzantine Church Converted Into a Mosque, March 1920. Collection of the National Art Museum of Ukraine. Istanbul, Meşher Art Gallery, “Alexis Gritchenko – İstanbul Yılları” Exhibition (Photo: Ekaterina Aygün, 2020).Landscape with Domes, October 1920. Collection of the National Art Museum of Ukraine. Istanbul, Meşher Art Gallery, “Alexis Gritchenko – İstanbul Yılları” Exhibition (Photo: Ekaterina Aygün, 2020).Street in Eyüp, November 1920. Ömer Koç Koleksiyonu. Istanbul, Meşher Art Gallery, “Alexis Gritchenko – İstanbul Yılları” Exhibition (Photo: Ekaterina Aygün, 2020).Three Turks in a Coffeehouse, February 1921. Ömer Koç Koleksiyonu. Istanbul, Meşher Art Gallery, “Alexis Gritchenko – İstanbul Yılları” Exhibition (Photo: Ekaterina Aygün, 2020).
    Istanbul
    Georges Artemoff
    PainterSculptor

    It is difficult to say to what extent Istanbul was a fateful impact on Artemoff in terms of his artwork, but there he met his future wife, artist Lydia Nikanorova.

    Word Count: 30

    Georges Artemoff in Moscow, 1910 (Private Archive of Marie Artemoff-Testa).
    Georges Artemoff in Moscow, 1910 (Private Archive of Marie Artemoff-Testa).Anatolian Hills by Georges Artemoff. Most likely created in the Ottoman Empire in 1921/1922 (Stearns Family Papers. Archives & Special Collections. The College of the Holy Cross).Émigré artists at Caveau Caucasien in Paris, 1923. From left to right: Sandro Minervine, Serge Pimenoff, Georges Artemoff, Lydia Nikanorova (Private Archive of Marie Artemoff-Testa).Georges Artemoff, L'Espagnole (© Ville de Castres – Musée Goya, musée d’art hispanique)Georges Artemoff, Saint-Hubert, around 1945 (© Ville de Castres – Musée Goya, musée d’art hispanique)
    Istanbul
    Lydia Nikanorova
    Painter

    In Istanbul, Nikanorova worked at copying the mosaics and frescoes of the Kariye Mosque, and met her future husband, Georges Artemoff, also an émigré artist from the former Russian Empire.

    Word Count: 30

    Lydia Nikanorova and her husband Georges Artemoff in Clamart, France (Private Archive of Marie Artemoff-Testa).
    Lydia Nikanorova and her husband Georges Artemoff in Clamart, France (Private Archive of Marie Artemoff-Testa).Georges Artemoff painting Lydia Nikanorova’s portrait in Istanbul (Private Archive of Marie Artemoff-Testa).Émigré artists at Caveau Caucasien in Paris. From left to right: Sandro Minervine, Serge Pimenoff, Lydia Nikanorova, Georges Artemoff (Private Archive of Marie Artemoff-Testa).Self-portrait by Lydia Nikanorova (Private Archive of Marie Artemoff-Testa).Small house in Clamart, France, by Lydia Nikanorova (Private Archive of Marie Artemoff-Testa).
    Istanbul
    Roman Bilinski
    PainterSculptorCollectorArt restorer

    At the beginning of the 1920s, a member of the Union of Russian Painters in Constantinople, Roman Bilinski was known as a sculptor. At the end of the 1920s–beginning of the 1930s – as a sculptor, painter and connoisseur of local antiques.

    Word Count: 42

    Self-portrait by Roman Bilinski. Turkey, 1936 (Private Archive of Diana Bilinski).
    Painter Dimitri Ismailovitch with his bust created by Polish sculptor Roman Bilinski, Istanbul, Summer 1922. Source: Scrapbook “To Mr. and Mrs. Stearns from Russian Painters”, p. 8 (Stearns Family Papers. Archives & Special Collections. The College of the Holy Cross).Formal letter of thanks to Martha Stearns from the members of the Union of Russian Painters in Constantinople, 1922. One of the signatures is Roman Bilinski’s. Source: Scrapbook “To Mr. and Mrs. Stearns from Russian Painters”, p. 9 (Stearns Family Papers. Archives & Special Collections. The College of the Holy Cross).Bilinski's monument to the Polish poet Adam Mickiewicz in Polonezköy was demolished but its plaque has been preserved (Postcard from Polonezköy, 2021).Adampol (Polonezköy) by Roman Bilinski (Private Archive of Diana Bilinski).Adampol (Polonezköy) by Roman Bilinski. Turkey, 1935 (Private Archive of Diana Bilinski).Adampol (Polonezköy) by Roman Bilinski. Turkey, 1936 (Private Archive of Diana Bilinski).Adampol (Polonezköy) by Roman Bilinski. Turkey, 1936 (Private Archive of Diana Bilinski).Adampol (Polonezköy) by Roman Bilinski. Turkey, 1936 (Private Archive of Diana Bilinski).Adampol (Polonezköy) by Roman Bilinski. Turkey, 1936 (Private Archive of Diana Bilinski).Work by Roman Bilinski. Turkey, 1936 (Private Archive of Diana Bilinski).Work by Roman Bilinski. Yugoslavia, 1936 (Private Archive of Diana Bilinski).The cover of the book by Marco Farotto, Roman Bilinski - Un artista cosmopolita nel Ponente ligure. According to the author, Bilinski used to walk around dressed in this way.
    Istanbul