Sergei Shchukin

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Shchukin (1915) by Dmitry Melnikov

Sergei Ivanovich Shchukin (Russian: Серге́й Ива́нович Щу́кин) (27 May 1854 in Moscow – 10 January 1936 in Paris) was a Russian businessman who became an art collector, mainly of French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art, following a trip to Paris in 1897, when he bought his first Monet. He later bought numerous works to a total of 258 paintings decorating the walls of his palatial home in Moscow. By 1914, Shchukin owned thirteen Monets, including the iconic Lady in the garden and the smaller but complete version of "Picnic", three Renoir, eight Cézanne, including famous "Carnival" (Mardi Gras), four Van Gogh (including the portrait of Dr Rey but the most famous Van Gogh in Russia "Prison Courtyard" and "Red Vineyard" were purchased by Shchukin's friend and competitor, Ivan Abramovitch Morozov), sixteen Gauguin of the Tahitian period, which were hanged in his dining room in the manner of an orthodox iconostasis), seven Henri Rousseau, sixteen Derain, eight Albert Marquet... Shchukin was particularly notable for his long association with Matisse, who decorated his mansion and created one of his iconic paintings, La Danse, specially for Shchukin. La Danse is commonly recognized as "a key point of (Matisse's) career and in the development of modern painting".[1] Henri Matisse created one of his major works La Danse for Shchukin as part of a two painting commission, the other important painting being Music, 1910. An earlier version of La Danse (1909) is in the collection of The Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

The collection also featured fifty choice works by Pablo Picasso, including most of his earliest Cubist works, such as Three Women and major landscapes, but some key pieces of the Blue and Rose periods as well. In 1909, Shchukin opened his home on Sundays for public viewings, introducing French avant-garde painting to the Moscovites.

Henri Matisse, The Dance (second version), 1910, 260 x 391 cm, The Hermitage, (Matisse's second version of the painting).

After the 1917 Revolution, the government appropriated his collection (decree of the Council of the people commissioners, signed Lenin, November 8, 1918) while Shchukin escaped to Paris, where he died in 1936. His mansion in Moscow became the State Museum of New Western Art (Государственный Музей нового западного искусствa, section I), the section II being the mansion and collection of the other famous Russian patron Ivan Morozov. Eventually (1928), the two sections were merged and exhibited in the former Ivan Morozov mansion at Prechistenka, 21.[2] In 1948 the State Museum of New Western Art was closed down by a decree signed by Stalin due to its allegedly bourgeois, cosmopolitan and wrongly oriented artworks. The two collections were randomly divided between the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts and the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg.

Irina Antonova, Director of the Pushkin Museum, once remarked about Shchukin: "He started to collect unpopular art, which was snubbed by the Louvre and other museums. It was his personal taste. Perhaps he heard foreshocks that would change the world. Such a collector could appear only in a country that awaited a revolution. He collected art that prefigured the global cataclysms".[3]

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  1. ^ Clement, Russell T. (1996). Four French Symbolists. Greenwood Press. p. 114. ISBN 0-313-29752-5. 
  2. ^ Новое решение картинного вопроса, «Власть» 30 (684), 31.07.2006.
  3. ^ "Ирина Антонова: Леонардо приравняли к стульям и диванам". Rossiyskaya Gazeta. 8 February 2005. 

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