Between 22 October 2016 and 5 March 2017, the Louis Vuitton Foundation exhibited the outstanding Shchukin Collection in Paris. It met with enormous success, attracting more than 1.2 million visitors to see the 278 masterpieces by such artists as Picasso, Monet and Gauguin.
The Foundation has just announced that it is preparing to exhibit another remarkable collection, that of Mikhail and Ivan Morozov, in autumn 2020. Here is a rundown on the two Russian brothers.
Two Russian industrialists
The Morozov brothers were born in 1870 and 1871 to a wealthy Russian family of manufacturers. They became interested in art after taking courses in drawing and painting at the age of 14, first from Ivan Martynov, and later from the painter Konstantin Korovin.
Neither brother became an artist. Ivan took over the family business to great success, while Mikhail studied history and moved in the art circles in Moscow.
An interest in French art
Mikhail Morozov travelled a great deal and brought back paintings from wherever he visited. He developed a taste for French avant-garde painters in particular, and Ivan shared his brother’s fondness for European art. Like Shchukin, the two brothers began a collection at the end of the 19th century.
Mikhail died at the age of 33 in 1903. His brother continued to expand the collection, and began to buy many paintings as from 1907. He travelled to Paris twice a year to visit the Salon des Indépendants and the Salon d’Automne. He made his purchases through dealers like Paul Durand-Ruel and Ambroise Vollard, each time returning home with between two and ten paintings.
The great names of art
As patrons of art and philanthropists, the Morozov brothers bought works by Picasso, Matisse, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Monet, Renoir, Signac and Cézanne, the last being Ivan’s favourite artist. The family collection includes great works by Impressionist, Fauve and modern masters.
A private collection
It was not Ivan’s aim to share his collection with the public at large. In an interview given to Le Figaro on the subject of the Shchukin exhibition, the curator Anne Baldassari explained this major difference between the two Russian collectors: “Morozov created a private collection dedicated to the pleasure of himself and his family, whereas Shchukin took the decision in 1907 to create a museum that he was to open to the public in 1908”. The Morozov Collection remained guarded in the family home in Moscow.
A collection finally reunited
Following the Russian revolution, Ivan Morozov left Russia for France. During the 1920s, the Morozov and Shchukin collections were used to create the First and Second Museums of New Western Painting. After World War II, Morozov’s works were shared between the Pushkin Museum in Moscow and the Hermitage in St Petersburg. The exhibition to be given by the Louis Vuitton Foundation will offer a unique chance to see them back together.
“Until today, the Shchukin collection has always been associated with Morozov’s, though the two are very different and each deserves to be presented separately”, explained Marina Lochak, director of the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow, to Russia Beyond the Headlines in October 2016. The exhibition will therefore be the opportunity to note the differences and similarities between these two outstanding collections.