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Museum of Stepan Erzya in Saransk

The Mordovian republican museum of fine arts named after Stepan Erzya is on Communist Street, not far from the Cathedral of St. Theodor Ushakov. You must visit the museum if only to see the most interesting collection of the works of Stepan Erzya, an outstanding wood carver and sculptor.

The collection of his works occupies the entire second floor of the museum. The works of Erzya are various wood sculptures. Sometimes they were the busts of famous people such as Lenin or Stalin but mostly they were just the busts of women and men such as «The Head of the Mother», «Mordovian Peasant», «Michelangelo», «Christ», «Socrates», «Alexander Nevsky», «The First Kiss», «The Flying». The most significant of them is the huge head of Moses, as well as the sculptures «Dance», «Passion» and «Eve».

Stepan Erzya (Nefedov) was born in the family of a Mordovian peasant in Bayevo village in 1876. From 1906 through 1914 Erzya lived and worked in Italy and France but after the revolution he returned in Russia. However, in Russian the conditions were very intolerable for his work so in 1926, with the consent from Lunacharsky, Erzya emigrated to Paris, France, and then moved to Argentina. There Erzya lived to 1950 until he obtained from the Soviet government a permission to return to the motherland.

In 1951 Stepan Erzya returned to Russia and brought with him a large collection of his works: 180 sculptures from wood, plaster, bronze and marble with a total weight of 175 tonnes. The work of Erzya was appreciated in the Soviet Union and he was assigned a creative workshop. In 1959 he died in Moscow and was buried in Saransk.

Apart from the works of Stepan Erzya, at the Saransk museum of fine arts one can see the pictures of the Russian painters of 19-20 centuries. For example, there one can see the canvases of such painters as Shishkin, Savrasov, Aivazovsky, Makovsky, etc. At the hall of the modern art of Mordovia there are many pictures of Fedot Sychkov (1870-1958), the people`s artist of Mordovia.