Sergei Shchukin


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Russian collector and patron, born in Moscow. He was a member of a large merchant family with diverse business interests, and he had four brothers who also were enthusiastic art collectors. His serious collecting career began in 1897 when he bought a Monet (Lilacs at Argenteuil, 1873, Pushkin Museum, Moscow) at Durand-Ruel's gallery during a business trip to Paris. After this he became devoted to modern French painting and filled his magnificent house in Moscow with choice examples. Like the other great Russian collector of such works, Ivan Morozov, he commissioned new works as well as buying from dealers. Among the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists Shchukin had particularly fine representations of the work of Cézanne, Gauguin, Monet, and Renoir, but the artists who figured most prominently in his collection were Matisse (37 paintings) and Picasso (51 paintings, mainly Cubist works). In 1909 Shchukin commissioned large decorative panels of The Dance and Music from Matisse, and the artist visited Moscow in 1911 to supervise the installation of his work. Shchukin referred to the pink drawing-room, which was devoted to Matisse's work, as ‘my fragrant garden’, and at this time he undoubtedly had the finest representation of his paintings in the world: in 1914 the Russian art historian and critic Yakov Tugendkhold (1882–1928) wrote, ‘In spite of the exhibitions I had seen in Paris and the number of his works in his own studio, it was not until after my visit to Shchukin's house that I could say that I really knew Matisse.’ His collection was more accessible than Morozov's, being open to the general public at certain times. After the Russian Revolution both collections were nationalized and amalgamated administratively under the title Museum of Modern Western Art, although they remained in their original homes for several years. In 1928 they were brought together under one roof in Morozov's former home, but in 1948 the Museum of Modern Western Art was dissolved and the paintings were divided between the Hermitage, Leningrad (now St Petersburg), and the Pushkin Museum, Moscow.

Subjects: Art.

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