The House-Museum of M. Gorky
The mansion was built in 1900-1903 by the order of S. P. Ryabushinsky, who was a banker and an industrialist. Stepan Pavlovich was a great lover and connoisseur of art, so the construction of the house was entrusted to his close friend, the architect F. O. Shekhtel. He designed completely the interiors and exterior of the building. The frieze of the building is lined with glazed bricks and tiles. The interiors of the house are planned rationally, the internal space is used with savings and it is expanded with the help of stained glass. Composition of rooms is grouped around a grand 12-meter ladder wave.
Shekhtel was a supporter of architectural symbolism. He combined the modern style and the interests of the owners. He created a world of images with a common theme of water: ladder-wave is a symbol of eternal movement of life, lilies and salamanders are a symbol of the struggle between good and evil. They are located on the column in the secret old believers ‘ chapel.
The house is decorated with many floral designs, images of insects and animals of the surface and underwater world: turtles, jellyfish, seahorses, shells, etc.
Windows of the lobby are decorated with stained glass in the form of a huge butterfly wing. The floor mosaic is depicted a water swell. The relief of molding is reminded a pond, covered with duckweed with a snail.
In this house S. P. Ryabushinsky kept a famous icons’ restoration workshop. In 1917 the Ryabushinskys family had to emigrate. The part of the icon collection was transferred to the Tretyakov Gallery. There was a State Publishing House in this mansion since 1919. Then there was All Union Society for cultural relations with foreign countries from 1925 to 1931.
Over these years we lost furniture and light fittings, which were made by Schekhtel’s sketches. The ventilation system was destroyed . The unique fireplace from Carrara marble was dismantled. In 1931, the mansion was transferred to Maxim Gorky. (Maxim Gorky is a literature pseudonym of Aleksey Maksimovich Peshkov.) It was opened the Museum here in honor of the writer later.
Gorky did not find and choose a house for himself. So, the unique stained glasses of windows; parquet, made of precious wood; picturesque ceilings, luxury chandeliers, molding of the house on Malaya Nikitskaya did not correspond with the tastes of the writer, sprung from the people. Maxim Gorky lived in this house on Nikitskaya street till the end of his life, until 1936. He settled on the ground floor. It was difficult for a sick writer to climb a twelve-meter ladder. And his family settled upstairs: his son Maksim Alekseevich with his wife Nadezhda Alekseyevna and his granddaughters, Martha and Darya.
The largest room served as a dining room. A permanent place of the writer at the table is marked with the tea set. Breakfast was usually held in a narrow circle. The lunch and evening tea was more bustling. Here Maxim Gorky received his guests, especially writers and artists. They discussed a lot about the method of Literature, known as a “socialist realism”. Almost all famous writers of the 1930-ies visited Gorky — his house replaced a literary club for them.
In the study- room the writer wrote his novels from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. This room is reflected the tastes of Maxim Gorky more than the others. The study – room was similar to the working rooms of the writer where he lived before: Sorrento in Italy, Teselli in Crimea, in his country – house outside Moscow in Gorki. In the afternoon he worked on manuscripts of the beginning writers, answered letters to numerous correspondents, was engaged in editorial work. There are curious cabinets along the walls. You can see a writers’ wide collection of the pieces, carved from the bones (netske). It was dated back from the XVIII to XX centuries.
The bedroom is quite simple and does not reflect the tendency of the writer. There are clothes and personal belongings of Maxim Gorky in the closet and the dresser.
A corner bookshelf is hanged by his request. The books were arranged there for the daily reading. There is a photo of Martha, the eldest granddaughter of Maxim Gorky, on the nightstand beside the bed . This is one of the last photographs, made by his son, who died on 11 May 1934. Gorky could not bear the loss of his son and died 2 years later.