PORTRAIT OF SERGEÏ SHCHUKIN (1854-1936)
VISIONARY PATRON OF MODERN ART
Sergeï Shchukin's collection embodies the most radical art of his time. He built his legend by remaining at the forefront of modernity despite the mockery of the reactionary upper class of Moscow. MyStudiolo traces the life of this daring man whose collection has influenced the emergence of the Russian avant-garde: 6 key dates 4 artworks 3 anecdotes 1 quote
1854 Born into a family of wealthy merchants, Sergeï is the third in a family of ten children. Three of his brothers will also become collectors. He was sent to Germany to study the textile industry.
1890 Despite his stuttering, he turns out to be the most skilful of the brothers and takes over from the firm I.V. Chtchoukine & Sons. He excelled so much in the field of industry that he was nicknamed the "Trade Minister" of Moscow.
1897 Passionate by art, he discovers the Parisian art scene thanks to his brother Ivan who runs a brilliant lounge where all the very best of the intelligentsia of the time is pressed. He meets the merchants Ambroise Vollard and Paul Durand-Ruel and buys his first Monet before turning to more daring choices like Cézanne and Matisse.
1908 The previous two years have been terrible. He lost two sons, his wife and his brother Ivan. Art acts like a balm. With great rapidity, he invents an incredible collection where canvases from Gauguin, Picasso, Degas, Van Gogh, Rousseau and Pissaro are mixed. He opens his palace for free to the public and art lovers rush there.
1918 During the October Revolution, his collection was confiscated and then nationalizedby a Lenin decree. The Troubetskoy Palace then became the first museum of modern Western art. The sharing of his collection in 1948 between the Pushkin Museum and the State Hermitage Museum and his ban on exhibitions plunged his name into oblivion.
2016 His collection is finally reunited and exhibited outside Russia for the first time at the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris. The exhibition Icons of Modern Art - The Shchukin Collection, elected cultural event of the year, reveals the audacity of this visionary collector through 130 works.
Claude Monet, Les Rochers à Belle-Ile, 1886
Henri Matisse, L'atelier rose, 1911
Paul Gauguin, Eh quoi, tu es jalouse?, 1892
Vincent Van Gogh, Lilas, 1889
Thanks to the gallery owner Vollard and the Stein, the collector fell in love with the works of Picasso and Matisse. He bought 50 and 41 paintings respectively because he understood that they were revolutionizing art. He sometimes goes against his own tastes as with the fan portrait of Picasso which gives him "the impression of chewing crushed glass".
The young Russian painters are captivated by the daring of the collector. The Larionovs, Goncharova, Tatline, Petrov-Vodkine, Grigoriev, Malevitch draw their inspiration from the walls of the Shchukin palace, Russian Cubism and its successors, Modernism and Suprematism, were born there.
Stalin's decree in 1948 ordered the dispersion or simple destruction of his collection. It took all the responsiveness and interpersonal skills of the directors of the Pushkin and Hermitage museums to obtain that, for the purposes of "art history study" by the scientific community, the works be distributed, and this in one day.
« They say that I am hurting Russia by buying your paintings. »
wrote Shchukin to Matisse.
Let's have a look at the exhibition Icons of Modern Art - The Shchukin Collection at the Louis Vuitton Fundation