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Caian art historian receives prestigious Pushkin Medal

  • 15 January 2018

Caian art historian and Russian art and culture specialist Dr Rosalind Polly Blakesley has been awarded the Pushkin Medal of the Russian Federation in recognition of her scholarship and curatorial work.

The Medal is a state decoration granted by the Russian government to recognise contributions to Russia in the arts and culture, education, humanities and literature. Named in honour of the Russian author and poet Alexander Pushkin, it has been granted only rarely to UK citizens. It was awarded to Dr Blakesley (nee Gray) in recognition of her work, including the exhibition 'Russia and the Arts: The Age of Tolstoy and Tchaikovsky' which she curated at the National Portrait Gallery in 2016, and her book 'The Russian Canvas,' which won the Pushkin House Russian Book Prize in 2017.

Established in 1999 by former Russian President Boris Yeltsin, the Pushkin Medal commemorates the 200th anniversary of Pushkin's birth. Previous winners include Dmitry Likhachev, the renowned scholar of the humanities, and George Soros, the American philanthropist. Dr Blakesley was presented with the medal at a ceremony at the Russian Embassy in London by the Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Alexander Yakovenko.

Dr Blakesley, who studied History of Art with Modern and Medieval Languages at Caius from 1989-92, is Head of the Department of History of Art at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow and Director of Studies in History of Art at Pembroke College. She said: "The study of Russian painting, which I began as an undergraduate at Caius, has been the driving passion of my career. To be honoured with the Pushkin Medal for work which I find so endlessly engaging is a tremendous privilege."

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