The first English-language account of Ivan Morozov and his ambition to build one of the world’s greatest collections of modern art. A wealthy Moscow textile merchant, Morozov started buying art in a modest way in 1900 until, on a trip to Paris, he developed a taste for the avant-garde. Meticulous and highly discerning, he acquired works by the likes of Monet, Pissarro, and Cezanne. Unlike his friendly rival Sergei Shchukin, he collected Russian as well as European art.
Altogether he spent 1.5 million francs on 486 paintings and 30 sculptures – more than any other collector of the age. Morozov always intended to leave his art to the state – but with the Revolution in 1917 he found himself appointed ‘assistant curator’ to his own collection. He fled Russia and his collection was later divided between Moscow and St. Petersburg, only to languish in storage for decades.
“[A] jewel-like focus yet epic scope, reads as sumptuously as a 19th-century novel, and makes stunning use of material still emerging from Soviet archives to illuminate dark corners of history” – Financial Times