In this book, the early art collecting of the Grand Duchy of Finland is represented as a reflection of the history of art collecting in Russia. Finland absorbed strong influences in the field of collecting from a society that, in terms of art and cultural life, was in full flower in the mid-nineteenth century.
Imperial Russia had a great tradition of private collecting. Elina Sopo's study reveals that, in the era of developing capitalism and the so-called Alexandrine period, the Grand Duchy of Finland was one of Imperial Russia's closest beneficiaries with regard to art collecting. This book is a remembrance of private collectors who put together collections, shaped the tastes of their eras and in their way wrote the history of art in Finland.
Emperor Alexander II of Russia has left an indelible mark on Finnish society, starting from functions of state administration to Finnish cultural history; however, his humanistic values and his love of the arts have rarely been treated in Finnish art historical studies.
Through an interesting collector's example, as the Finnish surgeon to the Tsar Alexander II, Doctor Alexander von Collan Sr., with his son, gives light to these collecting-historical echoes. During his stay in St. Petersburg from 1857 to 1885, covering the complete reign of Alexander II, the Finnish surgeon was initially a supervisor over the health of cadets and guardsmen at the Nikolaevsky Cavalry School and a physician to the wealthy Petersburgian aristocracy. He soon became a trusted consultant regarding the health of the Romanov family.
This book illuminates how a collector's social network was of pivotal importance for his maturation as collector, and how a collector's professional career facilitated the establishment of direct and indirect contacts with the Russian collectors of the epoque, whose social lives were keenly connected to the court and to the Imperial Family, such as the fellow Doctor Sergei Petrovich Botkin and other prominent Russian collectors.
Edited by Heikki Hanka & Alexander Yu. Rumyantsev