The Morozov Collection Offers a Once-in-a-Lifetime Chance to Discover Iconic Modern Artworks
Author: Rachel Martin
Image: Portrait of Ivan Morozov, 1910, Valentin Serov
For the first time, the collection of Russian businessman Ivan Morozov and his brother Mikhail Morozov will be available for viewing outside of Russia. This collection includes over 300 works of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and Expressionist works that were brought together at the turn of the twentieth century. Today, the works of the collection are spread across Russia’s top galleries.
The Fondation Louis-Vuitton in Paris is currently offering a survey of the Morozov Collection (The Morozov Collection, Icons of Modern Art). A year delayed due to COVID restrictions, this exhibition is a major artistic event that is sure to be a blockbuster. Alongside the vast collection of painted works, the exhibition also features a replica of the music room of Ivan Morozov’s mansion. This show follows a 2017 survey show of another Russian art collector, Sergei Shchukin, which attracted a record 1.2 million visitors.
The works included are some which now attract massive sums at auction. Each gallery hosts an impressive opportunity to look through art history, featuring pieces by renowned French artists such as Édouard Manet, Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, Paul Cézanne, Paul Gaugin, Vincent Van Gogh, Pierre Bonnard, and Henri Matisse, as well as Russian masters Ilya Repin, Mikhail Vrubel, Konstantin Korovin, Aleksandr Golovin, Valentin Serov, Mikhail Larionov, Natalia Goncharova, and Kazimir Malevich.
The history of the collection is just as interesting as the works. The Morosov brothers were born in 1870 and 71 into a family of serf origins. At only 20 years old, Mikhail Morosov acquired his first paintings from French painters Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gaugin who were at the time not famous. Before his death at the age of 33 due to a heart attack, he had already collected nearly 40 works of impressive provenance.
Ivan Morosov, who had taken over the family business and given up his career as a painter, continued to purchase paintings to add to the collection. He was also close with Russian artists of his generation who advised him on further purchases to make. From 1904 and 1914, he bought 240 works by French artists and his Russian art collection grew to 430 pieces.
With the Russian Revolution in 1917, everything changed for Ivan Morosov. His business was taken over by the state, his home turned into a museum, and the collection of artworks he had worked so hard to build was nationalized. Morosov left Russia in 1919 and died at the age of 49 in 1921. Shortly after his death, the Russian collection of his works was transferred to the Tretyakov Gallery. The collection faded into relative obscurity following this, but the story did not end here.
The paintings were hidden in the Ural Mountains in the 1940s when the Nazis invaded Russia. Finally, the brothers’ collection was distributed around various Russian museums including the Hermitage, Tretyakov and Pushkin. Though separated, the collection of over 700 works has been kept in excellent condition.
Now, in Paris, the Fondation Louis Vuitton underlines the impressive cultural and economic power of the Morozov brothers. Art writers and critics have written that the collection is worth traveling to visit, especially given that this is the first time it has left Russia. Collaborating and making diplomatic arrangements to get all of these works together again was a complicated undertaking according to the exhibition’s curator, Anne Baldassari.
Photographs, the inside of the family mansion, and the exquisite collection of French and Russian art all combine in this extraordinary event. Further, this collection and research that has gone into it, allows for further research into this era of Russian avant-garde artists who remain generally overlooked by the greater art world.
The Morozov Collection, Icons of Modern Art is open from 22 September 2021 to 22 February 2022 at the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris.
Advance booking for tickets is highly recommended.
For more information about the exhibition, hours, and how to book tickets please see the following link: https://www.fondationlouisvuitton.fr/en/events/icones-de-lart-moderne-la-collection-morozov
Where: Fondation Louis Vuitton - 8 Av. du Mahatma Gandhi, 75016 Paris, France
When: 22 September 2021 to 22 February 2022