Moscow, Day Four. -- I spent much of the day in the company of the historian Galina Klimova who introduced me to the life and work of Valentin Serov (1865-1911). The *New Tretyakov Gallery* currently has a special “Jubilee Exhibition” with almost all of his best-known paintings, and Galina had booked tickets over the internet. This was a stroke of genius; the cue was three-hundred meters long. -- Serov was primarily a portraitist: of two Czars, other members of the aristocracy, wealthy merchants and their family members, lawyers, composers, painters, poets, dancers, and actors. To walk through the exhibition was thus to be introduced to many of the leading lights of Russian culture between 1885 and 1910. Galina was a patient and incredibly well-informed teacher. Serov’s most famous picture is “The Girl with Peaches” (1887). It is a wonderfully harmonious composition of sunlight flooding the interior of a room, a still-life of fruits, and a (roughly) ten-year-old daughter of one of Serov’s painter-friends. The girl looks pensively and ironically at the viewer, with striking dark-brown eyes. Her face is “framed” by uncombed black hair, and a black-and-white ribbon on her pink blouse. My own favourite is Serov’s portrait of his father, the composer Alexander Serov (1820-1871). The latter is placed in front of a standing desk. Pieces of scrap-paper with musical notes are everywhere; they even well out his pocket. His jacket is too big for him, and his grey hair is untidy. He stares into the distance as if to wait for a crucial inspiration. One can tell that Serov was fond of his father. -- Over lunch we talked about art and politics, and especially the controversy between Russia and Germany concerning the so-called “Beutekunst”: that is, artworks that Russian troops confiscated in German art museums after World War Two. Germany wants them back; Russia is unwilling to return them. Galina is convinced that Russia will never budge. I find the German demand simply embarrassing. Germany is responsible for the death of 25 million people in the territories of the former USSR. And thus it has lost any moral right -- indeed, any right whatsoever -- to complain about the loss of a few hundred (dead) artworks. -- Outside the New Tretyakov Gallery is a little garden with sculptures of Communist leaders no longer welcome in the locations where they were first placed. Brezhnev and Kosygin looked seriously miffed. Sic transit … -- I gave my third lecture at 7pm, on liberal democracy and science policy, and we had an interesting discussion about the EU, Marxism, Rawls, Habermas, and much else besides. -- And now to sleep: another talk at 10am tomorrow (this time at the Academy of Arts and Sciences) and a symphonic concert to look forward to in the evening.