Greatest Art Collectors Series:
Ivan Morozov

Biography of Russian Art Collector of French Impressionist Paintings.

Portrait of Isaac Levitan (1893), the
famous Russian landscape painter,
By Valentin Serov. Although Morozov
is principally celebrated for his unique
collection of French Impressionist and
Post-Impressionist art, he also had an
outstanding collection of works by
Russian artists, including both Serov
and Levitan.

See our guide to the art of
Painting (oils/watercolours), or
Sculpture (marble/bronze), or
Printmaking (etching/lithography).

Ivan Morozov (1871-1921)

The Russian textile millionaire Morozov was - like other Russian art collectors such as Sergei Shchukin (1854-1936) - a passionate lover of French Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. Among the Impressionist paintings he acquired were works by Alfred Sisley (1839-1899), Claude Monet (1840-1926), Camille Pissarro (1830-1903), and Pierre Renoir (1841-1919).

In addition, he bought works by several modern artists associated with the Ecole de Paris, including Paul Cezanne (1839-1906), Paul Signac (1863-1935), Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947), Maurice Denis (1870-1943), Henri Matisse (1869-1954), Edouard Vuillard (1868-1940), and Picasso (1881-1973). He bought from a number of Parisian dealers, including Paul Durand-Ruel (1831-1922), Ambroise Vollard (1866-1939),and Daniel-Henri Kahnweiler (1884-1979), as well as direct from artists. Probably the greatest highlight of the Morozov art collection is the series of 17 works by Cezanne, exemplifying all the genres and styles he worked on.

In addition, Morozov owned an equally large collection of Russian art, by all of the great Russian artists of the 19th century, including the likes of Golovin, Shishkin, Perov, Polenov, Surikov, Vrubel, Levitan, Serov, Somov, Grabar, Konchalovsky, Kuznetsov, Saryan, Sapunov, Mashkov, Goncharova, Larionov, Chagall and many others. Note: For other patrons of indigenous Russian art, see: Savva Mamontov (1841-1918).

Pavel Tretyakov (1832-1898)
Russia's greatest art collector.
Isabella Stewart Gardner (1840-1924)
Renaissance, Dutch Baroque collector.
Solomon R Guggenheim (1861-1949)
US art collector, museum-founder.
Dr Albert C Barnes (1872-1951)
America's greatest art collector.
Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney (1875-1942)
Founder of the Whitney Museum.
Samuel Courtauld (1876-1947)
Collector, Impressionist paintings.
Duncan Phillips (1886-1966)
Founder of Phillips Collection.
Paul Guillaume (1891-1934)
Collector of Ecole de Paris pictures.
J Paul Getty (1892-1976)
Oil tycoon, art/antiquities collector.

Peggy Guggenheim (1898-1979)
Collected modern abstract art.
Leo Castelli (1907-99)
Leading New York art dealer.
Charles Saatchi (b.1943)
Collects contemporary art.

For a guide to the different,
categories/meanings of visual
arts, see: Definition of Art.
For a list of different categories,
see: Types of Art.


Ivan was born in Moscow, the son of Abram Morozov a wealthy textile merchant. More serious-minded than his brothers Mikhail and Arseny, he studied at the Moscow technical institute before taking a chemistry degree at the Zurich Polytechnic, where he also spent time studying drawing, and plein-air painting. In 1895, he returned to Russia and began work at the family's huge textile factories at Tver. The firm had been started by his grandfather Savva Vasilyevich Morozov, a former serf, who in 1872 left the Tver section of the business to Ivan's father, Abram. Ivan Morozov steered the Tver business through a period of strikes and general unrest. Indeed he would continue to manage it until November 1917, when he handed over to a Bolshevik committee. By then he had succeeded in tripling the firm's profits.

But there was more to Morozov than work. In 1899 he bought a large classical-style house and estate on Prechistenka St, Moscow, and soon moved permanently to the city. His leisure interests included food, women and buying fine art. Of these, by far the most expensive was his passion for art. By this time, his father Abram had died, and the family began to be dominated by Abram's wife, Ivan's mother, the despotic Varvara Khludova, who herself came from a textile dynasty. She quickly took over as Chairman of the family business. Progressive, immensely philanthropic and liberal - except with her sons - she later married Vasily Sobolevsky, the editor of Russkiye Vedomosti (Russian News). It has been suggested that the rather wild behaviour of her three sons (in Ivan's case, his wild appetite for avant-garde art) was in part due to her own domineering and selfish nature.



Ivan Morozov: Art Collector

Ivan started buying art in 1900. He began modestly with pictures by the unpretentious landscape artist Aladzhalov, and studies by Isaac Levitan. In the summer of 1903, accompanied by his brother's former adviser Sergei Vinogradov, he visited the Durand-Ruel Gallery in Paris, where he bought a winter landscape by the English-born Impressionist painter Alfred Sisley. He repeated the trip 12 months later, and bought another Sisley landscape. After this he added the Impressionists Monet, Pissarro, Renoir and Pierre Bonnard to his shopping list, eventually buying a total of six by Monet, six by Renoir, four Sisleys, two by Camille Pissarro and thirteen by Pierre Bonnard. In 1906, at the gallery of the dealer Ambroise Vollard, he encountered the paintings of Cezanne, who rapidly became his favourite artist. Morozov bought four Cezanne's on the spot: two landscape paintings of Montagne Sainte-Victoire, Still-Life with Drapery and the Road at Pontuaz. Over the next few years he would buy thirteen more Cezannes, including the rare Blue Landscape.

In 1907 Morozov married the singer Yevdokiya (Dosya) Kladovshchikova, in a quiet ceremony in Moscow. The following year he celebrated his new love by commissioning a series of mural panels from Frenchman Maurice Denis, for the music room at his house on Prechistenka. Denis, the leading theorist of Les Nabis, travelled to Moscow the following year to supervise the installation. A second set of murals was commissioned from Henri Matisse, featuring the Moroccan Triptych, which became a highlight of the collection. It was one of eleven Matisse's that Morozov would eventually acquire. Morozov also bought a number of outstanding pictures by Picasso. These included Young Acrobat on a Ball, the best work of Picasso's early "rose" period, as well as the more poignant Harlequin and his Companion, and the Cubist Portrait of Ambroise Vollard.

The Morozov Art Collection

Unlike his passionate compatriot Shchukin, Morozov was more analytical and more deliberate. His methodology is perhaps best reflected in the fact that not a single receipt from his French dealers was destroyed, or lost, during the period 1903-14. Twice a year, Morozov took the train to Paris: in April he would visit the Salon des Independants; in October, the official Autumn Salon. (Compare: the Salon des Refuses and the Salon d'Automne.) He made most of his acquisitions through dealers: in the early years, he would bring home two or three paintings; in later years, perhaps ten; in 1907 and 1908 he returned with over 60 canvases. During his 11 years collecting Western art, he bought a total of 278 paintings and 23 sculptures, spending 1.5 million francs in the process - more than any other art collector of the age.

Unlike Shchukin, Morozov never shared his collection with the public. His gallery mansion was shared only with his family and friends, and the occasional scholar. The large hall was devoted to Impressionists like Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, Degas and Sisley. Close by, were pictures by Cezanne and Matisse, two examples of Neo-impressionism by Signac, and a large entry hall and stairway with pictures by Denis and Bonnard. Upstairs, the second floor belonged to Post-Impressionist painters, such as: Van Gogh, Gaugin, Picasso, Albert Marquet, Andre Derain and Othon Friesz.

Morozov's assembly of Russian art was equally extensive, comprising some 300 works by 57 different artists. All but a handful were exemplary works of art. At the core were forty canvases by Alexander Golovin (1863-1930), while the predominant theme of the collection was Russian naturalism. Artists represented included Ivan Shishkin (1832-98), Vasily Perov (1834–1882), Vasily Polenov (1844-1927), Vasily Surikov (1848-1916), Mikhail Vrubel (1856–1910), Isaac Levitan (1860-1900), Valentin Serov (1865-1911), Konstantin Somov (1869-1939), Igor Grabar (1871-1960), Pyotr Konchalovsky (1876-1956), Pavel Kuznetsov (1878-1968), Martiros Saryan (1880-1972), Nikolai Sapunov (1880-1912), Ilya Mashkov (1881-1944), Natalia Goncharova (1881-1962), Mikhail Larionov (1881-1964), Marc Chagall (1887–1985) and many others. A large number of his works were purchased from Russian painters who exhibited with the Knave of Diamonds group (1910-17) or the Donkey's Tail group (1911-12)

Final Years

Morozov intended to bequeath his entire collection to State upon his death. However, following the February 1917 Revolution of and the Bolshevik takeover, he was "appointed" assistant curator to the collection. In 1918, he and his close family managed to leave Russia, for Riga, and then Paris. Although they intended to settle in Switzerland, it was not to be. In the late Spring of 1921, Morozov fell ill in Paris, and eventually died in Carlsbad, in today's Czech Republic. He was 49. Back in Moscow, the Bolshevik government nationalized his art collection, renaming it Second Museum of Modern Western Art. Years later, its contents were divided between the State Hermitage Gallery in St Petersburg and the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow.


A Note About Mikhail Morozov

Ivan Morozov actually followed in the footsteps of his older, wilder brother Mikhail Morozov (1870-1903), who himself began collecting art in 1894, advised by the cosmopolitan Russian artist Sergei Vinogradov. Mikhail Morozov collected Russian painters such as: Ilya Repin, Mikhail Vrubel, Isaac Levitan, the brothers Viktor and Apollinary Vasnetsov, Vasily Surkov, the brothers Konstantin and Sergei Korovin, Igor Grabar, Mikhail Nesterov and Konstantin Somov. His collection of Western art featured works by Impressionist painters Eduard Manet, Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro, Claude Monet and Edgar Degas, as well as modernists like Paul Gaugin, Edvard Munch, Toulouse-Lautrec and Vincent van Gogh: in fact Mikhail was the first art collector in Russia to buy paintings by Manet or Van Gogh, and one of the first to buy a Gaugin. One of the supreme highlights of his collection was Renoir's Portrait of Jeanne Samary. Conspicuous, like most of the Morozovs, for his weight, Mikhail paid a high price for his indulgence, dying in 1903 at the age of only 33. Seven years later, his wife Margarita donated most of the art collection to the Tretyakov Gallery.

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