Nov. 27 is the birthday of a textile magnate who plotted how to build and display an impressive collection of modern art. Then came the Bolsheviks.

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Valentin Serov, Portrait of Morozov, Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow. 1910. Wikiart copy of image in public domain.

Ivan Morozov (1871–1921) seems to have accepted that the Russian Revolution took his wealth and his home. What he could not bear was the loss of his art collection.

In 1918, a Russian sculptor Sergey Konenkov appeared at Morozov’s mansion in Moscow in his new capacity as a Bolshevik official, according to a biography by Natalya Semenova. (There is a link at the end of this essay to a bibliography of sources used in my research.) Konenkov, who knew Morozov, presented him with what’s called a ‘preservation order,’ essentially taking the mansion and its collection.

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Pierre Bonnard, “ On the Mediterranean (Triptych), “1911. Hermitage Museum, St.Petersburg. Acquired in 1948 from the State Museum of Modern Western Art, Moscow ; formerly in the collection of I. A. Morozov. Wikimedia copy of image in public domain.

A member of a family made wealthy generations earlier through textile manufacturing, Morozov initially took a post as a deputy curator to oversee his collection after the Soviets seized it. He was granted use of some rooms in his own mansion as an apartment for his family. By 1919, Morozov decided to flee Russia with his family. But he remained concerned and hopeful about the fate of the collection he’d arranged with such care. …


Kerry Dooley Young

Journalist fascinated by art, history, medicine, politics and food. Has visited museums on six continents, eaten in more than 50 nations. Knows FDA, Congress.

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