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While Picasso and Braque spearheaded the utterly radical, visually uncomfortable Cubism, Matisse continued to develop what he famously described in his Notes of a Painter as: "an art of balance, of purity and serenity devoid of troubling or depressing subject-matter. Enter Sergei Schcukin, a wealthy Russian textile merchant and art collector, who had been buying Matisse's work since early in Like the Steins, he was one of a new breed of collector.
Rather than buying to a pre-set formula, he wanted to ride the crest of the wave, and saw himself as a participant in the creative process: a prototype for Charles Saatchi. Eventually, he was to amass 37 Matisses and 50 Picassos. At home in his Moscow mansion, he delighted in scandalising visitors with his latest acquisitions, which wasn't difficult given that even the Impressionists were regarded as outrageous.
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One dinner guest so disapproved of a Monet landscape that he scribbled a derisory comment across it. Schcukin was soon joined by a younger, very astute collector, Ivan Morozov, a textile manufacturer whose taste for French art was influenced by his flamboyant elder brother Mikhail.
Morozov built up an association with Maurice Denis, a painter prominent in a group of formalist anti-Impressionist artists called the Nabis. Denis's rather stilted and stylised allegorical compositions are out of fashion, but Morozov also bought Bonnard, and Matisse.
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From early on, Schcukin intended that his collection should go to the State, although perhaps not quite in the way it did. First the advent of war in , then the October Revolution in , changed everything in Russia. Schcukin and Morosov were sidelined, their incomparable collections nationalised.
Tragically, however, as despised bourgeoisie, both were at risk physically and felt compelled to flee abroad. Morosov died within a few years. Schcukin, the once-wealthy patron, found himself in the odd, acutely uncomfortable position of meeting Matisse with their roles reversed.
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When Matisse, collecting him from the railway station, expressed surprise that he was travelling second class, he wryly remarked: "You have to remain on good terms with the masses". THE involvement of the Danish collectors in Matisse's fortunes is less straightforward. Both arrived relatively late on the scene, on the strength of a booming wartime economy. On the part of one, Christian Tetzen-Lund, there was an opportunistic, if commercially legitimate, element to his acquisition of a batch of works from the collection of Sarah and Michael Stein. The pictures had been on loan in Germany at the outbreak of war and become stranded.
The Steins had reason to believe that they would never see them again, so when an agreement was brokered that Tetzen-Lund would buy them for a knockdown price, they may have felt that some financial return was better than nothing. Tetzen-Lund, a corn merchant, was an enigmatic figure with a perplexing attitude to the art he collected.
He bought and sold haphazardly, and all of the Stein pictures would have been lost to Denmark after the failure of tentative negotiations with the State Museum, but for the intervention of another Danish collector, Johannes Rump.
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As it was, several of Tetzen-Lund's best Matisses were bought by the American Alfred Barnes and others were dispersed.