Unique collection of Russian art comes to Georgia

Thursday, July 5, 2018

From Russia to Finland to London to Massachusetts and now to Athens, Georgia, the Belosselsky-Belozersky Collection has traveled the world. The exhibition “One Heart, One Way: The Journey of a Princely Art Collection” (on view at the Georgia Museum of Art at the University of Georgia July 21, 2018, to January 6, 2019) will introduce the public to this collection from the family of the Russian Princes Belosselsky-Belozersky, which still belongs to its original owners. Parker Curator of Russian Art Asen Kirin’s expertise was crucial in organizing the exhibition and in presenting this art to the public.

The Belosselsky-Belozersky Collection was formed in the mid-18th century by one of the most notable collectors during the Enlightenment era, the philosopher and poet Prince Alexander Mikhailovich Belosselsky-Belozersky. With the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, Prince Konstantin Esperovich Belosselsky-Belozersky moved the collection, along with the rest of his family estate, to Finland. Finally, in 1951, the entire assembly of works of art and historic documents crossed the Atlantic to be deposited in its American home located in Ipswich, Massachusetts, on the grounds of the large coastal estate established by Richard Teller Crane, the founder of Crane Industries.

These heirlooms date from 1660 to 1952 and include paintings, many of which are portraits, and specific valuable and sentimental objects to the family. The title of the exhibition comes from the Belosselsky-Belozersky family motto, which derives from a quotation from Jeremiah 32:39: “One heart, one way.”

Kirin said “The last two times when a large number of these paintings were on public display were in St. Petersburg, in 1870 and 1905. Several of the works that are now at the Georgia Museum of Art have never been published or seen outside their owners’ home. In contrast, some of the portrait paintings gained fame through publications in the 19th and early 20th century, yet were considered lost in the turmoil of the Bolshevik Revolution. Our exhibition will announce to the international scholarly community and to audiences around the world the survival of the famous paintings and the existence of other highly significant, hitherto unknown works of art belonging to the Belosselsky-Belozersky Collection.”

Programs related to the exhibition include 90 Carlton: Summer, the museum’s quarterly reception (free for museum members, $5 non-members) on July 20 at 5:30 p.m.; a public tour on July 25 at 2 p.m.; a Toddler Tuesday on August 14 at 10 a.m. (free but space is limited; email sagekincaid@uga.edu or call 706.542.0448 after July 1 to reserve a spot); a Family Day on August 18 from 10 a.m. to noon; a lecture by Kirin on August 23 at 5:30 p.m.; and a scholarly symposium on September 21 and 22 that will include both the museum’s Alfred Heber Holbrook Lecture and the Lamar Dodd School of Art’s Shouky Shaheen Distingushed Lecturer in the Arts. All events are free and open to the public unless otherwise indicated.

The exhibition is sponsored by Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, Mr. and Mrs. Fritz L. Felchlin, the W. Newton Morris Charitable Foundation and the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art.

Museum Information

Partial support for the exhibitions and programs at the Georgia Museum of Art is provided by the Georgia Council for the Arts through the appropriations of the Georgia General Assembly. The Georgia Council for the Arts also receives support from its partner agency, the National Endowment for the Arts. Individuals, foundations and corporations provide additional museum support through their gifts to the University of Georgia Foundation. The Georgia Museum of Art is located in the Performing and Visual Arts Complex on the East Campus of the University of Georgia. The address is 90 Carlton Street, University of Georgia, Athens, Ga. 30602-1502. For more information, including hours, see http://www.georgiamuseum.org or call 706-542-4662.