CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Under the sign of Rembrandt. Art collections of the Mosolov family

Exhibition: 10 October 2012 - 27 January 2013

Information from curator Natalja Markova

In 1914 the collection of Nikolay Semyonovich Mosolov (1847 – 1914) (who’s name was spelled in the past in French manner as Massaloff or Mossoloff ), a qualified etcher and honorary member of the Rumyantsev Museum in Moscow, was given to the Rumyantsev Museum in accordance to his testament. The core of the collection consisted of about 2200 prints and drawings by the leading Dutch artists of the 17th century, including 365 Rembrandt etchings, 207 etchings by Adriaen van Ostade, 151 by Allaert van Everdingen and about 200 drawings and more than 1500 prints by different masters of the “Golden age”. In 1924 this collection was inherited (as was the whole Rumyantsev Printroom) by the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts and until now remains the best part of the collection of the Dutch works on paper. The equally high quality of sheets is a distinguishing feature of this collection. Museum acquisitions of an earlier or later time are of less quality and are fragmentary and of later impressions.

Besides the Dutch works, the Museum has received thorugh Mosolov’s collection a lot of prints by European 19th century artists, old master paintings, bronzes, Copenhagen porcelain, Japanese rarities, as well as an extensive library that counted 2000 books on art.

N. S. Mosolov was the third generation of collectors in his family. Many of these items were compiled by his grandfather Nikolay Semyonovich Mosolov the Elder (1775 – 1859) and his father, Semyon Nikolaevich Mosolov (1812 – 1880). His grandfather laid the basis of the collections of paintings, prints and the library, his father continued to assemble paintings, especially Dutch and Flemish, enriched the collection of Rembrandt’s etchings, collected a huge amount of works of 19th century etchers and lithographers and showed interest in old master drawings. Lastly, Nikolay Semyonovich Mosolov the Younger concentrated on Dutch prints and drawings of the 17th century, an exception among Russian collectors of works on paper. Furthermore he supplemented and brought to perfection the family collection of Rembrandt etchings and assembled a selection of 19th century etchings of the most important artists from Delacroix to Jongkind with a special preference for the etchings by J.-F. Millet and H. Leys. His interest for the 19th century etchers seems unexpected, at a first glance. In reality though, the revival of the art of etching in the middle of the 19th century was held under the sign of the conversion to the heritage of Rembrandt and his contemporaries, and it is difficult to find an etcher, whose work does not show the traces of the profound study of the art of the Dutch seventeenth century.

S.N. Mosolov and N.S.Mosolov the Younger left several hand-written catalogues of their collections, that give the possibility to trace the evolution of the collection of prints and drawings from 1873 until 1909.
N. S. Mosolov the Younger also build up a collection of 19th century European, Russian and Oriental bronzes, and also in this area showed a good taste for the best samples of this art created by A.-L. Barye, F. Stuck and C. Meunier. His interest in Copenhagen porcelain and Japanese art were a tribute to the fashion of the art nouveau-era.

The present exhibition for the first time introduces the Mosolov collections to a wide audience. In the 9 exhibition rooms 50 etchings by Rembrandt, 90 other Dutch prints and 50 Dutch drawings are shown, as well as paintings, bronzes, 40 nineteenth-century drawings and etchings, prints and drawings by Mosolov himself, documents from the archives of the Pushkin Museum and the Historical Museum, Mosolov family portraits by O. Kiprensky, V. Tropinin and L. Kriebel from the Tretyakov Gallery and Historical Museum and some 30 netsuke from the Museum of Oriental Art (In the 1920’s and 1930’s some parts of the Mosolov collection were transferred to other museums in Moscow, as well as museums in other regions and former Soviet republics). A bookstand gives an idea of the collector’ library and contains a lot of books with autographs and letters addressed to N.S.Mosolov by famous art historians such as M. Lehrs, T. Thoré (W. Burger), W. von Seidelitz and others.


This exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue (in Russian), 464 pages and 500 illustrations, that gives a comprehensive picture of the Mosolov collection. It contains a large essay on the history of the collection, a reconstruction of the painting and sculpture collections and includes new data on the biography of the collector and the fate of the separate pieces of art. The book is the result of extensive archival studies in the preparation of the current exhibition.