Sergei Ivanovich Shchukin (Russian: Серге́й Ива́нович Щу́кин; 27 May 1854 – 10 January 1936) was a Russian businessman who became an art collector, mainly of French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art.
Early life and family
Sergei Ivanovich Shchukin was born on 27 May 1854 in Moscow, one of ten children of Ivan Vassilievitch Shchukin, a self-made Moscow merchant, and his wife Ekaterina Shchukin, née Botkin, the daughter of an established family of merchants. I.V. Shchukin and Sons Trading Company became one of the largest manufacturing and wholesale companies in Russia.
There were several art collectors in the Shchukin family. Sergei's brother Pyotr Shchukin built an important collection of Russian ancient art and artifacts and owned several impressionist masterpieces, while his brother Dimitri Shchukin assembled "Moscow's best collection of Old Masters" that eventually entered the Pushkin Museum. Another brother, Ivan, also collected art.
Shchukin made his first art purchases 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 Monet paintings, including the iconic Lady in the garden and the smaller but complete version of Picnic, three by Renoir, eight by Cézanne, including Carnival (Mardi Gras), four by Van Gogh, including the Portrait of Dr. Felix Rey (but the most famous Van Gogh paintings in Russia, Prison Courtyard and The Red Vineyard, were purchased by Shchukin's friend and competitor, Ivan Abramovitch Morozov), sixteen by Gauguin of the Tahitian period, which hanged in his dining room in the manner of an orthodox iconostasis), seven by Henri Rousseau, sixteen by Derain, eight by Albert Marquet, and two by Dethomas.
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". 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.
After the revolution
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. 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.
Shchukin's art collection has been jointly displayed with the collection of Ivan Morozov. In 2008, the families of Shchukin and Morozov made efforts to compel Russia to provide them with “reasonable compensation” which become an international legal and political issue. The families refused £5,000 for each family in exchange for their promise not to make claims on the paintings on the Royal Academy which was displaying the two collections in London.
Death and legacy
Shchukin died on 10 January 1936 in Paris.
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".
In the autumn of 2016, the exhibibition "Icônes de l'art moderne. La collection Chtchoukine", opened at Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris.
- "The man who loved Monet: Russia's greatest art collector" by Nancy Durrant, Saturday Review, The Times, 15 October 2016, pp. 8-9.
- Sergei Ivanovitch Shchukin. Retrieved 22 October 2016.
- Sergei Ivanovich Shchukin. Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts. Retrieved 22 October 2016.
- Sergey Shchukin and Others. Hermitage Amsterdam. Retrieved 22 October 2016.
- Clement, Russell T. (1996). Four French Symbolists. Greenwood Press. p. 114. ISBN 0-313-29752-5.
- Новое решение картинного вопроса, «Власть» 30 (684), 31.07.2006.
- "Ирина Антонова: Леонардо приравняли к стульям и диванам". Rossiyskaya Gazeta. 8 February 2005.
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