DENIKE, BORIS PETROVICH (b. Kazan, 15 January 1885, d. Moscow, 13 October 1941), the first Russian historian of the medieval art of the Near and Far East. He first studied Russian art at Kazan University, from which he was graduated in 1911. In 1913 in Berlin he became acquainted with the work of A. von Le Coq’s expedition to eastern Turkestan. As a result he published “O pamyatnikakh kultury i iskusstva Turfana (Rezul’taty ekspeditsii A. Lekoka v Kitaĭskii Turkestan)” (On the monuments of the culture and art of Turfan [Results of the expedition of A. Le Coq in Chinese Turkestan]), which appeared in Izvestiya obshchestva arkheologii, istorii i etnografii (Kazan, 30, 1915, pp. 1-11) and in which he reviewed the literature on the problem of Greco-Buddhist art.

After the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 he turned his attention to study of the architectural monuments of Bulgaria and the Golden Horde, as well as to the medieval art of Persia and China, study that culminated in Iskusstvo Vostoka (The art of the East, Kazan, 1923), the first publication on the art of Islamic peoples to appear in Russia. In the early 1920s he moved to Moscow, where he was appointed lecturer on Oriental art at Moscow University; in 1925 he became professor of Oriental art, a position he held until his death. In the same year he was appointed director of the Museum of Oriental Cultures in Moscow (now the Museum of Art of the Peoples of the Orient). Two years later he published Iskusstvo Sredneĭ Azii (The art of Central Asia; Moscow, 1927), the first study on this subject published in the Soviet period.

In 1926-28 Denike headed an archeological expedition to Termez (Termeḏ); the final report was never published, but several members of the expedition published articles on aspects of the finds. Denike himself wrote several on the stucco decorations of the palace and also published several studies of architectural decoration in wood (see the selected list of his publications, below). Eventually he produced a synthesis of these studies in Arkhitekturnyĭ ornament Sredneĭ Aziĭ (Architectural ornament of Central Asia; Moscow, 1939).

In 1938 he published Zhivopis Irana (Painting of Iran; Moscow, 1938), still the best work in Russian on Persian and Central Asian miniature painting, even though much new material has emerged in the fifty years since his death.

Among his many other works on Iranian subjects are “Zadachi izucheniya iskusstva Afganistana” (Problems in the study of the art of Afghanistan), Afganistan (Moscow) 1, 1923, pp. 118-30; “Ekspeditsiya Muzeya vostochnikh kultur v Termez. Predvaritelnyĭ otchet” (The expedition of the Museum of eastern culture in Termez. Preliminary report), Kultura Vostoka 1, 1927, pp. 9-18; “Ob odnom do-mongolskom pamyatnike Sredneĭ Azii” (On one pre-Mongol monument of Central Asia), Trudy Etnografo-arkheologicheskogo muzeya 1, 1927, pp. 41-42; “Ekspeditsiya Muzeya vostochnikh kultur v Sredniyu Aziyu 1927 goda” (Expedition of the Museum of eastern culture to Central Asia in 1927), Kultura Vostoka 2, 1928, pp. 3-16; “Reznaya shtukovaya stennaya dekoraziya v Termeze” (Carved stucco wall decoration in Termez), Trudy sektsiĭ Instituta iskusstvoznaniya, Rossiĭskaya assotsiatsiya nauchno-issledovatel’skikh institutov obshchest-vennykh nayk 3, 1928, pp. 61-65; “O reznikh dereviyannikh dveriyakh v Sredneĭ Azii” (On carved wooden doorways in Central Asia), Trudy sektsii arkheologii i iskusstvoznaniya, Rossiĭskaya assotsiatsiya nauchno-issledovatel’skikh institutov obshchestvennykh nayk 4, 1928, pp. 178-79; “Termez (Raboty ekspeditsiĭ Muzeya vostochnikh kultur v 1927 godu)” (Termez [Work of the expedition of the Museum of eastern culture in 1927]), Novy Vostok 22, 1928, pp. 208-23; “La décoration en stuc sculptée de Termez,” Cahiers d’art 1, 1930, pp. 41-44; “Prikladnoye iskusstvo Sredneĭ Azii” (Additions to the art of Central Asia), in Khudozhestvennaya kultura sovetskogo Vostoka (The artistic culture of the Soviet East), Moscow and Leningrad, 1931, pp. 53-75; “Izobrazheniye fantasticheskikh zvereĭ v termezskoĭ reznoĭ dekoratsii” (Representations of fantastic animals in Termez stucco decoration), Iskusstvo Sredneĭ Aziĭ. Trudy sektsii istorii iskusstva Instituta arkheologii i iskusstvoznaniya, Rossiĭskaya assotsiatsiya nauchno-issledovatel’skikh institutov obshchestvennykh nayk 5, 1930, pp. 81-85; “Novoye v izuchenii arkhitektury i arkhitekturnoĭ dekorazii v srednevekovoĭ Persii” (Innovations in the study of architecture and architectural decoration in medieval Persia), Akademiya arkhitektury 1-2, 1935, pp. 93-106; “Quelques monuments de bois sculpté au Turkestān occidental,” Ars Islamica 2/1, 1935, pp. 69-83; “Reznaya dekorovka zdaniya, raskopannogo v Termeze” (The carved decoration of a building excavated in Termez), in III. International Congress of Persian Art, Leningrad, 1939, pp. 39-43; “Syuzhety Nizami Gandzhavi v iskusstve Azer-baidzhana i Vostoka v XV-XVII vv.” (Subjects from Neẓāmī Ganjavī in the art of Azerbaijan and the East in the 15th-17th centuries), Nizami (Baku) 4, 1947, pp. 71-102.



B. V. Veĭmarn, “B. P. Denike—istorik iskusstva” (B. P. Denike—art historian), Narody Azii i Afriki 1,1976, pp. 218-26.



(Anatol Ivanov)

Originally Published: December 15, 1994

Last Updated: November 21, 2011

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Vol. VII, Fasc. 3, p. 283