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Presentation of Selling Russia’s Treasures: The Soviet Trade in Nationalized Art, 1917-1938, at the Harriman Institute, an authoritative illustrated account of the unprecedented sale of Russia’s cultural treasures by the Soviet government, with editors Nicolas V. Iljine and Natalia Semyonova, as well as Elena Solomakha, Robert H. Davis, Jr., Edward Kasinec, Mark Schaffer, Richard Wortman, and honorary guest Amir G. Kabiri, president of the M.T. Abraham Foundation. Co-sponsored by the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University. Selling Russia’s Treasures documents one of the great cultural dramas of the 20th century: the sale, by a cash-hungry Soviet government, of the artistic treasures accumulated by the Russian royal family, aristocracy, and church 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; in fact, the canvases he purchased from the Hermitage now form the core of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

Written by the leading experts in the field and long regarded as the definitive treatment of its subject, the original Russian edition of Selling Russia’s Treasures is sought after by scholars and laymen alike. Now, for the first time, this important book is made available in English, in a revised and expanded edition that includes new material on the secret files of the Hermitage, the sale of religious art, and the loss of 20th century French paintings from the Museum of New Western Art. Numerous color plates reunite long-dispersed masterworks, if only on the page, and rare photographs and archival documents help bring the buried history of the “Stalin sales” to light. Several appendices—including a checklist of pieces sold from Russia’s crown jewels, a chronology, and biographies of key figures—add to the value of this volume, which not only reveals an important episode of cultural history, but is also relevant to contemporary debates about museum deaccessioning and the repatriation of cultural objects.

Edgar Degas-Figures in Motion exhibition at the State Hermitage Museum
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