The history of the collection (part 4)
Work on completing the section of Italian painting has intensified significantly since the late 1960s. The author of these lines, having begun at that time his professional career as the guardian of Italian painting, paid this work paramount attention, considering it important not only to replenish the collection, but also to preserve the monuments themselves in an environment where the collection of works of art was actually banned. Thus, since the late 1960s, the collection of Italian paintings of the Museum has increased by almost one hundred and fifty works, which was about one-third of its former composition. Exhibitions of new arrivals served as a periodic report on the work done (15). Among the early monuments, special attention should be paid to a large composition by Paris Bordone “the Appearance of the sibyl to the Emperor Augustus”, acquired in 1983 from the collection of S. V. Obraztsov, the founder and head of the famous Moscow puppet theater, now bearing his name. This painting in the past was in the collection of cardinal Mazarin in Paris, then in England, in the famous collection of Lord Walpole, in which it was acquired by the Hermitage. The work of such a high artistic level could be the pride of any world collection. The same can be said about the composition “the Holy Family with Anthony of Padua and the angel” by the outstanding Roman painter Cavalier d’arpino, which once belonged to The famous delarov collection in St. Petersburg.
The new arrivals are numerically dominated by paintings of the XVII-XVIII centuries, which have traditionally been widely represented in Russian private collections. This section of the Museum-not only the most numerous, but also the most qualitative composition of the monuments. Its value is particularly evident in our days, when taking place in the science of art reassessment of values allowed to bring out of oblivion many artistic phenomena and the work of individual artists and make a multifaceted view of one of the brilliant epochs in the history of Italian art. Among the works received by the Museum through purchases, special attention is worthy of Guido Reni and Bernardo Strozzi, Massimo Stanzione and Andrea Vaccaro, Sebastiano Mazzoni and Luca Ferrari, Jacopo Vignali and Bartolomeo Ligozzi, Antonio Petrini and Francesco Trevisani, Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini and Francesco Fontebasso, Giuseppe Nogari and Stefano Torelli, Michele Marieschi and Carlo magini. The paintings of these and other masters acquired by the Museum represent different schools and trends of Italian painting, significantly complementing the historical core of the collection and helping to restore some previously missing links in it. Among others, a real success was the acquisition of the painting “St. Veronica” Guido Reni, information about which is contained in the biography of the artist, written by Cesare Malvasia, where its owner is named Bologna Senator Jesse.
The final section of the exhibition introduces the works of XIX-XX centuries, which presents a number of works of very high artistic level. The appearance of this group of paintings in the Museum is associated with the transfer of part of the collection of the State Museum of new Western art, disbanded in 1948 by order of Stalin. The painting “Napoleon on the throne” by Andrea Appiani, the leading representative of Neoclassicism in Italy, comes from the collection of Dukes of Leuchtenberg, which was discussed above. During the existence of the GMNZI, the basis of the collection of which were the famous collections of French painting Morozov and Shchukin, its funds have grown significantly. This Museum, headed by a prominent specialist in contemporary art B. N. Ternovets, conducted an active exhibition work, widely practiced the exchange of works, including paintings, with artists from other countries. It was in this way that the GMNZI received Giorgio de Chirico’s painting “the Romans”, which was exhibited at the exhibition of French artists in 1928 (16). A remarkable story has a small picture of Gino Severini’s “Head”, which belonged to a prominent representative of the Russian avant-garde Mikhail Larionov and donated them to the GMNZI. From this Museum come the works of Felice Cazorati and Achille Funi, whose names occupy a prominent place in the painting of Italy of the XX century. When the collection WAS divided, many significant works by Italian artists were transferred to the Hermitage and the remaining part of the collection looks rather fragmented.
In recent years, the collection of the Museum was enriched by another significant work of Giorgio de Chirico – “Tower”, written in 1921 in the manner of”metaphysical painting”. The painting was purchased at the expense Of the center for contemporary art at the Ministry of culture of the Russian Federation and donated to the Museum.
The task of studying and cataloguing monuments arose at an early stage of the formation of the art gallery. At the origins of this activity was V. N. Lazarev, who, despite the large organizational and custodial load, intensively engaged in scientific research. He was the first to systematize the collection and compile a catalog of Italian painting (the materials of the catalog, on which Lazarev worked in the late 1920s-1930s, have not survived). Well aware that the attribution of works is the cornerstone of all Museum work, he focused on the study of specific works. The circle of his interests was very wide and included monuments of different epochs, from XIII to XVIII century. Of the attributions proposed by Lazarev at the time, many have withstood the test of time, and the fact that his publications were published mainly in foreign periodicals, largely contributed to the introduction of hitherto unknown works into the world scientific circulation. In the 1920s and 1930s he published articles on the works of Botticelli, Bronzino, Bacchiacchi, Lorenzo Monaco, Crespi, Strozzi, Castiglione, Vassallo, Francesco Guardi. Next to Lazarev in the 1920s and 30s, other specialists who contributed to the Museum science of their time worked in the Museum.
In the postwar period, the task of creating scientific catalogs of Museum collections faded into the background. These were difficult years for the Museum: in 1945 it received paintings brought from Germany, including from the Dresden gallery, and in 1948-half of the collection of the state Museum of new Western art closed by order of the authorities (the famous collection of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings that belonged to S. I. Shchukin and Morozov before the revolution). In 1949, the Museum was forced to curtail its own exposition to give a place in the halls of the exhibition of gifts to Stalin. In 1954, the exposition of the Museum was restored and appeared in its updated form. In those years, the preparation of catalogues of collections in Soviet museums was practically not conducted. However, the work continued in secret, although it was seriously complicated by the lack of specialized literature and General isolation from the world scientific process. The staff of the Museum kept all sorts of files, which was extremely important for maintaining the Museum’s research tradition and continuity in the study of monuments. In our days of them can gain information on the attribution of paintings in the distant period.
Beginning in the 1940s, brief catalogues of the art gallery of the Museum began to be published. The editions of 1948, 1957, 1961 and 1986 included mostly paintings from the exhibition and thus the works of the Italian school were not presented in full (17). For the first time the collection of Italian painting, along with other schools, was published In the catalog of painting in 1995, where the works are given only the briefest information (18).
Preparation for the publication of a complete scientific catalog of Italian painting intensified in the 1960s, and at the turn of the 1960s and 70s, its editing took over M. J. Libman, in his work closely associated with the Museum. Under his leadership, the introduction to this work of the author of this catalog, which since 1972 led her independently. The review of this first version of the catalogue was written by V. N. Lazarev, and the Museum keeps a copy of the manuscript with notes of the scientist, reflecting his attitude to the definition of a monument. In 1973, this catalog was handed over to the publisher, but the process of its publication stretched for many years. Only in the mid-1990s the Museum decided to publish a series of scientific catalogues devoted to painting of different national schools. The complete catalogue of the Italian school of VIII-XX centuries in 2 volumes, compiled by the author of these lines, was published in 2002 (19).
The collection of Italian paintings stored in the Museum is becoming more and more widely known, both in our country and in the world. Evidence of this is the fact that many works have been exhibited at various exhibitions in Russia and abroad. A number of paintings were exhibited at major international exhibitions such as Giulio Romano in Mantua and Vienna, Girolamo Savoldo – in Brescia and Frankfurt am main, Dosso Dossi-in Ferrara, Giuseppe Maria Crespi-in Bologna, Strozzi – in Genoa, maniasco – in Milan, Canaletto – in Venice, Panini – in Turin. Have been exhibited at various exhibitions in Italy and in other countries picture of De Chirico “Roman women”. In 1997, 35 paintings of the Italian school of XVII – XVIII centuries were exhibited at the exhibition “Brilliant Baroque”, successfully held in the cities of Japan, in 2004-2005 in the framework of the exhibition ” Da Giotto a Malevic. La reciproca meraviglia ” several works were shown in Rome at the Scuderie del Quirinale, and in 2007-2008 an exhibition of 80 paintings of the XVI-XX centuries was shown in Verona. It was the first representative exhibition of Italian painting held in Italy. It was met with interest and understanding by both the General audience and experts.