Apartment of Alexander and Lyubov D. Blok

             Lakhtinskaya Street 3, Apartment 44

 

             Blok and his wife moved into their new apartment on Petrograd Side in August of 1906; it was their first apartment together, as they had previously lived with Blok's mother. The apartment was on the fifth floor in a newly constructed building. They had three small rooms with a view into the courtyard, in which a barrel organist played music. One visitor recalled a table piled with books, an icon in the corner, and Blok's incessant smoking of cigars.

 

             As might be expected, the Bloks' apartment quickly became a social hub. The actresses would come over after rehearsals and stay until 3 or 4 in the morning. Other artists and writers often stopped by; Andrei Bely was one of their first visitors.

 

Alexander and Lyubov Blok Alexander Blok
Alexander and Lyubov Blok   Alexander Blok
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             It was at this apartment in March 1907 that the artist Konstantin Somov (the painter of the Commedia dell'arte image on the opening page) painted Blok's portrait for the Moscow journal The Golden Fleece (Zolotoe Runo). The sittings also served as something of a salon; many visitors from Blok's circle of friends came to watch the artist work, among them Kuzmin, Chulkov, and Verigina.

 

Somov Somov's Blok
Konstantin Somov   Somov's Portrait of Blok
(Click on image to see a larger version)

 

             All agreed, however, that the portrait was unsatisfactory. Blok's mother and aunt were very disappointed, and Volokhova was convinced that Somov had taken Blok out drinking on the nights before the sittings in order to make him look ill and tired in the painting. Verigina viewed Blok's face in the painting as a mask that had something of a Dorian Gray effect, presenting all of the physical evidence of Blok's spiritual crises, while he himself remained young and vibrant.

 

             Despite the disappointing outcome of the portrait, it nonetheless marked the conclusion of the magical winter of The Puppet Show. Verigina and the other actresses left for their tour of the provinces, Lyubov Dmitrievna went to the Blok family's country house, and Blok himself left for Moscow. The enchanted masquerade had come to an end.