The Great Cultural Dramas of the Twentieth Century

The M.T. Abraham Foundation, London Bespoke in partnership with Art Newspaper Russia is delighted to invite you to the presentation of the book “Selling Russia’s Treasures: The Soviet Trade in Nationalized Art, 1917-1938”.

We have the honour of presenting a signed copy of the book as a gift to St. Antony’s College University of Oxford of Leicester in celebration of the UK Russia Year of Culture 2014. In presence of Dr. Mikhail Piotrovsky, Director of the State Hermitage Museum, Amir G. Kabiri, President of the M.T. Abraham Foundation and the editors of the book Natalya Semyonova and Nicolas V. Iljine. This abundantly illustrated oversize volume presents the definitive account of the sale of Russia’s cultural patrimony by the Soviet government in the interwar years.

Selling Russia’s Treasures documents one of the great cultural dramas of the twentieth century: the sale, by a cash-hungry Soviet government, of the artistic treasures accumulated by the Russian aristocracy over the centuries, and nationalized after the October 1917 revolution. An astonishing variety of objects, from icons and illuminated manuscripts to Fabergé eggs and Old Master paintings, entered the collections of wealthy Westerners like Andrew Mellon and Armand Hammer in the 1920s and 1930s.

Written by the leading experts in the field and long regarded as the definitive book on the subject, the original Russian edition of Selling Russia’s Treasures is sought after scholars and laymen alike. The book was published in Russian about 10 years ago. Now, for the first time, it is made available in English, in a revised and expanded edition that includes a new chapter on the secret files of the Hermitage, previously considered lost, as well as new research on the sale of religious art, and of twentieth-century French masterworks from the Museum of New Western Art. Numerous colour plates reunite long-dispersed works in a virtual museum that illustrates the powerful blow inflicted on Russia’s cultural heritage by these secretive sales, and rare photographs and archival documents help bring this buried history to light.

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