I travelled to Paris to go to the exhibition at the Fondation Louis Vuitton on the Chtchoukine Collection (however spelt). Shchukin started off collecting Impressionists, including Gauguin and Van Gogh, and by 1912 had graduated to Matisse and Picasso. As Alexandre Benois wrote, ‘The staircase of his mansion and one of its rooms are now covered with Matisse and the last of the reception rooms has been transformed into a sort of chapel dedicated to Picasso and the Cubists. “No, that’s going too far !” say those who had ended up believing in what came before. “Where will this end ?”‘.
This is Shchukin himself (by Xan Krohn):-
He began by collecting British artists – Brangwyn and Burne-Jones and then graduated to buying Monets which he packed onto the walls of his Music Room. He bought an absolutely sensational group of sixteen Gauguins, eleven of which are shown in the exhibition, which he hung in a display described as an Iconostasis, indicating their religious/mystical connotations.
Man picking fruit from a tree (1897):-
He bought some great Picassos, including The Absinthe Drinker (1901):-
The odd thing is that it still feels like a private collection, as if a fur-coated Russian industrialist has just gone to Paris to collect work by the latest young artists, even though they were seized during the Revolution and have been in public collections in Moscow and St. Petersburg ever since.