PRIVATE COLLECTION IN RUSSIA OF THE XVIII CENTURY
The first Russian collectors of the European type.
Natural collecting activities, of course, existed in Russia long before the onset of the eighteenth century. But Peter’s reforms in the field of culture give it a new direction – they are oriented toward rapprochement with the culture of Western Europe. It was Peter I who stimulated the development of private collecting in Russia, which flourished in the second half of the 18th century. Following the Russian sovereign, who brought a new passion from overseas travel, many of his associates begin to collect rarities, and a number of remarkable private collections are gradually being formed – A.D. Menshikov, B.P. Sheremeteva, D.M., A.M. and D.A. Golitsyn and others.
The first family collections are made under the influence of fashion or in favor of the king. But the collections are gradually taking shape, which are the source of the research activities of scientists and form true connoisseurs of art. Among them: the collection of Count Ya.V. Bruce, who was known in Europe as a mathematician, physicist and astronomer, art collection of the architect and art historian Yu.I. Kologrivov, collection of Baron S.G. Stroganov.
Empress Elizaveta Petrovna continued the tradition established by her father. In Elizabethan times, art galleries became one of the elements of the magnificent palace decoration, which was supposed to stun those invited to the courtyard, testifying to the power of the Russian state. By the middle of the 18th century, many interesting and valuable private collections appeared, whose owners were representatives of the highest aristocracy who, following the empress, sought to decorate palaces with works of art. The ability of Russian nobles to travel a lot and closely interact with European culture contributed to the formation of new aesthetic preferences of Russian collectors.
The richest collection of paintings by Western European masters was made by Catherine II, whose private collection was the beginning of one of the largest museums in the world – the Hermitage. The largest collector of the state, she was the patroness of foreign artists, the legislator of tastes, which sought to emulate. However, she listened attentively to the advice of her agents, who directed her artistic taste. Usually these were Russian diplomats in European courts: A.K. Razumovsky, P.M. Skavronsky, N.B. Yusupov, A.M. Beloselsky in Italy, I.S. Baryatinsky in France, D.M. Golitsyn in Vienna, D.A. Golitsyn in The Hague, S.R. Vorontsov in Italy and England. Many of them at the same time created their own collections of paintings.
In the second half of the 18th century, replenishment of state and private galleries was carried out both through purchases at European auctions and orders from paintings and sculptures by modern masters. Meeting the demand for Western art from Russian grandees was largely contributed to the revolutionary events in France, as a result of which the art market was richly replenished with the works of European school masters. A market for works of art was also formed in Russia, mainly in St. Petersburg, where art and art industries were brought in large numbers from Western Europe every year.
Field Marshal Boris Petrovich Sheremetev (1652-1719) was one of the first to accept the Western European household structure implanted by Peter I and set up their homes in the European manner. His successor, Peter Borisovich Sheremetev (1713-1788), striving to keep up with the times, since the 1740s, has been purposefully acquiring works of art. Under the influence of fashion, he creates a kunstkamera in the house on the Fontanka embankment, similar to that created by Peter I. A collection of paintings was part of the kunstkamera.
Later, in 1750, a “picture room” with a tapestry hanging appeared. Active construction required the same active gathering activities. Being a very rich man, P.B. Sheremetev collected significant, mainly by quantity, collections of paintings, sculptures, porcelain, collections of coins, medals and weapons. His successor, Nikolai Petrovich Sheremetev (1751-1809), who received an excellent education, continued the family tradition of gathering, but with more knowledge of the business than his father.
Alexander Sergeevich Stroganov (1733-1811), a representative of the famous Russian noble family, owned one of the most valuable art collections of the Russian aristocracy, both in quantity and quality. In his palace on Nevsky Prospect, he created a library and an art gallery, which became one of the first Russian museums.
A.S. Stroganov is an example of not a simple collector, which was already quite a lot in his time, but an erudite art lover, endowed with curiosity and love of art. That is why he managed to turn his collection into a systematic collection of artistic value. The Stroganov collection included works of art, arts and crafts, as part of the decoration of interiors.Ivan Ivanovich Shuvalov (1727-1797) – one of the most prominent representatives of the family, formed by the Russian nobleman of the era of Elizabeth, and later of Catherine – was a philanthropist, a European connoisseur of art who enjoyed European fame, and also had an excellent art gallery. He made a great contribution to the formation of the Hermitage picture gallery, since he was an adviser to Catherine in matters of purchasing paintings and placing orders of the Russian court to foreign artists. Shuvalov’s aesthetic preferences played a role in the development of Russian artistic culture of the mid-18th century, since, by shaping the Hermitage collection, he greatly influenced the tastes of other collectors of the era, focusing on the imperial collection in selecting their collections.
In addition, I.I. Shuvalov – the founder and first curator of Moscow University, the founder and first president of the Academy of Arts. Shuvalov’s personal collection constituted the main core of the art gallery of the Academy of Arts. He donated to the Academy his collections of paintings and drawings made during his long stay abroad. Thanks II Shuvalov Academy of Arts now has a unique collection of antique casts, which learn new generations of artists.
As noted above, collectibles in the XVIII century were mainly samples of Western European culture, science and art. However, in the second half of the 18th century, other tendencies were also noticeable: interest in the national past arises. Plots from Russian history appear in literature, visual arts and theatrical art. The collection, study and publication of historical documents and works on Russian history begins. This stimulates interest in the collection of Russian antiquities. A number of collections of ancient manuscripts and other ancient Russian monuments appear. Among such collections is the PF collection. Korobanova, P.N. Beketov, Count F.A. Tolstoy, F.G. Bauze et al.
In the second half of the 18th century, portrait galleries, which appeared due to the growing interest of the nobility in Russian history, on the one hand, and to strengthen the personal prestige of the owners, on the other, were an obligatory component of private nobility meetings. The portrait galleries were designed to perpetuate the gens and served as proof of the nobility, wealth and ancient origin of the owners. It was fashionable to order portraits of family members by leading Western European or Russian artists. Some collectors collected portraits of prominent historical figures. Among the most interesting portrait galleries are: the galleries in Kuskovo – Counts Sheremetev, Nadezhdin – Princes Kurakin, Zubrilovka – Princes Prozorovsky, Otrade – Counts Orlov-Davydov, Andreevsky – Counts Vorontsov, etc.
In the second half of the 18th century, portrait galleries became widespread among all strata of the nobility. They are the most valuable documentary material of the era.
In those cases when the collector was guided not only by ambitious aspirations and ambitions, but a sincere desire to help the development of the national culture, the collections ceased to be simply the subject of gathering. They became the working material that helped artists realize their creative possibilities. These patrons and true connoisseurs of fine arts were Count A.S. Stroganov. The Stroganov Art Gallery and its magnificent library were accessible to all connoisseurs, amateurs and foreign guests of the imperial court. There were classes on the history of art of students of the Academy of Arts, famous and emerging artists acquainted with the works of old masters, copied them, just as it was in the famous Medici gardens.
Stroll once again through the halls of the Hermitage and notice the signs under the paintings in the halls of Italian, Flemish, French painting of the XVII-XVIII centuries.