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Russian Brown Bear, a 48-by-72-inch acrylic on canvas, is one of three new paintings Robert Batemen created for the Russian exhibition. (Robert Bateman)

Canadian artist and environmentalist Robert Bateman, best known for his wildlife paintings, is preparing to depart for Russia, where a retrospective of his work will be featured in a four-city tour.

The exhibit Robert Bateman in Russia will feature nearly 50 of the artist's original paintings, including a trio of new pieces created specifically for the occasion.

"I couldn't be showcased in such a prestigious international venue without attempting to pay homage to Russia's symbol," Bateman said on his website about one of his new pieces: the imposing canvas Russian Brown Bear.

The Russian show is adapted from the 2007 Bateman retrospective that opened in 2007 at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg, Ont., with a second Canadian stop at the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies in Banff, Alta. The retrospective also toured the U.S. Comprised of works from the artist's own collection as well as loans from individuals and art institutions, the Russian show features paintings depicting the 79-year-old Bateman's beloved wildlife, but also those exploring architecture, the human figure, portraits and still lifes.

The Toronto-born artist, now based on Salt Spring Island, B.C., will be on hand for the opening of the exhibit Oct. 8 at the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg.

The show moves to the Tula Museum of Art (nearly 200 kilometres south of Moscow) in December before travelling to the Ivanovo Regional Art Museum (about 250 kilometres east of Moscow) in February.

The exhibition concludes with a display at the Tsarytsyno Museum in Moscow from April through June.