Why was Nikolai Bartram called a fanatic, playing with dolls until old age?
Can you imagine that in the post-revolutionary hungry and cold Moscow people, saving even their own food, create a Toy Museum?
The name of this enthusiast who tried to prove in practice that all the best should belong to children, Nikolai Dmitrievich Bartram. By this time he was already a famous artist, a historian of arts and crafts, the author of several books.
And collecting of toys, objects of applied art and national life has turned for him from hobby into the business of all life. It is thanks to him that we can now see what kind of toys children enjoyed 100 and 300, and 500 years ago. Nikolai Dmitrievich was born in the family of watercolor painter Dmitry Ernestovich Bartram on August 24, 1873 in the small village of Semenovka, Lgovsky district, Kursk province. From an early age, his father instilled in the boy a love of art.
As a child, Nicholas loved to sit in the workshop, watching how under the chisel new wooden toys were born in his father’s hands or sheets of thick paper covered with intricate watercolor. He himself learned early to own carpentry tools and draw well. Nicholas studied at home under the close supervision of his mother, and when the time came to determine his future profession, he did not hesitate to choose the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, but due to poor health he could only study in it for two years. In 1891, he had to return to his native estate.
Country air, honey, fresh milk and medicinal herbs could do what the doctors in the capital could not do. Nicholas noticeably grew stronger and in 1893, in order not to sit idle, he created a training workshop for toy-joinery production. He led this workshop for ten years, supporting and developing folk arts and crafts, preparing masters of arts and crafts.
During this period, Nikolai met with Ivan Yegorovich Zabelin, an honorary academician of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences, who had a great influence on him. Creator and director of the Russian Historical Museum, Zabelin was fascinated by Russian antiquities. He inculcated his passion for the past, for the monuments of antiquity, presented by artless objects of folk art, to the beginning artist. It is worth noting that Nikolai was lucky to have good people. Acquaintance with an amazing woman, professor-ethnographer Vera Nikolaevna Kharuzina helped him to better understand the deep cultural processes developing in the popular environment, to see the original art of the Russian peoples in everyday objects of everyday life.
In his workshop, Nikolai began to recreate not only folk household items, but also old children’s toys. The world of folk toys attracted a young man, he began to study their history and features of production, began to collect a collection of toys, and with them a variety of Russian antiquities. Search for toys and objects of national life captured Nicholas, he began to travel around Russia with enthusiasm, to visit handicraft centers. The collection was quickly replenished, and in it appeared old peasant clothes from various provinces of Russia, and pottery products – from primitive clay whistles to irrigated figurines, and gingerbread boards.
But with a special interest, the passions of childhood had an effect – he collected wooden carved toys. Soon his collection of toys became the best in Russia. Bartram was interested in the toy industry. In order to get to know her better, he made several long trips abroad in 1900-1903. Nikolai visited France, Switzerland, and Germany. Customs officers were surprised at the baggage of a strange Russian traveler: why does a normal person have so many toys?
And he was carrying them from abroad full suitcases. In 1904 ND Bartram finally moved to Moscow, settling in Kaloshin Lane on Arbat. His house quickly turned into a kind of museum. Imagine what an interesting life his children had: a full house of toys and all of them can be taken for playing, playing out whole puppet shows. Nikolai Dmitrievich and found the service in Moscow related to his hobbies.
Taught in handicraft educational workshops. In 1907−17 he served in the Handicraft Industrial Museum of the Moscow provincial zemstvos (now the Museum of Folk Art), where he founded and headed the department of samples. Thanks to his efforts, a workshop for the production of toys was created at the museum, these days they would be called copyright or exclusive. It turns out that at the beginning of the last century there were quite a few lovers in Russia who willingly bought up such toys. Particularly popular dolls in folk clothes of various provinces of Russia.
And Nikolai Dmitrievich got a new hobby – an architectural toy. According to drawings, engravings, drawings and own measurements of historical buildings in the workshop, they began to make toy models that reproduced old buildings, cathedrals, fortress towers and even small corners of old Moscow.