Nevertheless, the French state still branded the Impressionists as charlatans when refusing a bequest of 60 canvases in 1894, and, with the notable exception of Kandinsky, the Petersburg and Moscow public was shocked by the handful of their canvases included in an 1896 exhibition of French art held to celebrate the Franco-Russian Alliance
. Shchukin, a man of great sangfroid, quickly developed a reputation in Moscow for his audacious collecting, which often demanded considerable personal courage on his part.
Mussorgsky's songs and Boris Godunov and Balakirev's Islamey are justly cited as notable exemplars whose exotic colors worked their way westward even before the Franco-Russian alliance
. Debussy and Ravel have long been cherished for their resplendently Hispanic music, though with Ravel the Spanish influence is more widespread in his orchestral and vocal music than in his works for the piano.
In them, he warns us against excesses of zeal: the Wilsonian imperatives that split up the Hapsburg Empire; the angered revanchism that pushed together the disastrous Franco-Russian alliance
; the misguided sympathies that Americans felt for the Russian revolutionaries, crudely projecting their notions of "democracy" and "freedom" upon them.
The French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71) and the later forging of the Franco-Russian Alliance
immediately transformed Russia from a menacing Asiatic country into a wholesome and, implicitly, European nation.
Ironically, just when events such as the triumphant reception for Russian sailors at Toulon in 1893 and the Franco-Russian Alliance
(1893-1914) indicate the most marked rapprochement between the two countries, French literature disrupts the comforting Russian universe represented by these character types.
The Danes had repaired their city and their fleet in the meantime, but late in July 1807 the new British Foreign Secretary, George Canning, received intelligence that the Franco-Russian alliance
signed at Tilsit had included a secret agreement to force Denmark and Sweden into Napoleon's continental blockade of British trade.
His handling of the Franco-Russian alliance
is the best aspect of the book, beyond the literature review at the outset.