Timofeeva Tatyana

N. P. Sychev’s letters to a. D. Varganov (1955‒1959)

Timofeeva Tatyana (2020) "N. P. Sychev’s letters to a. D. Varganov (1955‒1959) ", Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta. Seriia V : Voprosi istorii i teorii hristianskogo iskusstva, 2020, vol. 39, pp. 173-186 (in Russian).

DOI of the paper: 10.15382/sturV202039.173-186


The article makes public eight letters of Nikolai Petrovich Sychov (1883–1964), the prominent historian of ancient Russian art, specialist in the theory and practice of restoration, to the outstanding architect and restorer of monuments in Suzdal, director of Suzdal Museum, Alexei Varganov (1905–1977). Previously, Sychov after many years of unlawful repression (Gulag and life in a small town on the Volga), worked in Vladimir and Suzdal for ten years. In the mid-1950s he was allowed to live in Moscow, from where he sent the letters to his friend. The introduction refers to the study of I. Kyzlasova (see her article in this issue of the journal), which describes the professional and human scale of Sychov’s personality and provides a brief bibliography on Varganov, who is less known in the scientifi c world. According to the memoirs of Varganov’s daughter, he called Sychov a “teacher”. In 1927–1930s, Varganov studied at the Institute of Art History in Leningrad, where Sychov taught; they could make an acquaintance there. This article outlines the content of the letters, i.e. a discussion of the attempt of one pseudoscientist to appropriate the results of the works of Vladimir Restoration Workshop, a request to show Suzdal to students of Moscow University, current events in Sychev’s life. A separate message is addressed to Varganov’s son Alik (Alexei), with some drawings: “Grandpa Kolya” is crying because of the boy’s poor school marks and dancing because of his excellent marks. Special attention should be paid to a letter in which Sychov writes about a remarkable fi nd, an inscription on the inner wall of the tent-shaped roof of St. Basil’s Cathedral in the Red Square (Sychov was one of the leading fi gures in its restoration). As a result, the exact date of completion of this unique monument of the 16th century was established. There is one more very interesting letter with a story about the life of the Russian Museum in Leningrad in 1921–1926, when Sychov was a director there. The letters are made public for the fi rst time; they show not only friendly relations with the addressee, but also (which is very important) disprove the orally expressed allegation about Varganov’s involvement in the third arrest of Sychev which took place in Vladimir in 1948.


Nikolai Sychev, Alexei Varganov, friendship, Vladimir and Suzdal Museum, restoration of architecture, Russian Museum, St. Basil’s Cathedral


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Information about the author

Timofeeva Tatyana

ORCID: 0000-0002-9249-695X;
Email: tata2010vl@mail.ru.