The Easel

Irina Antonova, legendary art historian who ran Moscow’s Pushkin Museum for 50 years

Antonova arrived at a dilapidated Pushkin in 1945 and departed in 2013 having turned it into a major cultural institution. She persuaded conservative Soviet leaders to show modern art to Moscovites. Efforts to amalgamate The Hermitage’s fabulous Impressionist art into the Pushkin’s collection led to a rare defeat. Controversially, she kept an iron grip on German art taken during WW2, describing these holdings as “the price paid for remembering”.