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Schukin house

Bolshoi Znamensky lane, 8
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In Bolshoi Znamensky lane, the present  fiefdom of the Ministry of Defense, there is a small two-storey mansion – iconic house for the pre-revolutionary Moscow, which belonged to the famous collector Sergei Shchukin, the owner of a unique collection of contemporary Western art - paintings of Monet, Pissarro, Degas, Gauguin, Cezanne, Matisse, Picasso...
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The house in the Znamensky lane has a long history. Its base are the big stone chambers with arched vaults on the first and second floors, built no later than the 1740s as a part of the princes Shakhovskoy estate, who were the owners at that time.

Chambers are built with some space from the "red line"; the main facade of the house with a small rizalit in the center is facing the lane.

At the end of XVIII century an ap wing was built next to the house, which was later merged with the main house. Lieutenant Alexei Stolypin, Penza leader of the nobility, who was the great-grandfather of the poet M. Lermontov, was the owner of the estate at that time.

In 1805 at the times of the new owner – attorney-general of the Holy Synod - Prince Vasily Khovanskiy - the house was rebuilt, its main facade got a new design in classic style – fronton appeared, the white stone architraves were cut down, the facade was plastered, a balcony was arranged on the level of the second floor. Khovanskiy didn’t own the estate for a long time and in 1808 it was sold to the court counselor Prince Ivan Trubetskoi, whose family owned it until 1882.

The house was damaged by the fire in 1812, but was quickly "fixed being repaired". The facade got a laconic outlook, typical for the late Empire, the tympanum of the fronton was decorated with stucco decorations of the coat of arms of the estate owners - Princes Trubetskoi (later, in the middle of the XIX century, the facade was redone again – that’s what we see the times we live in). At that time, apparently, the house got its exquisite interior - vaulted ceremonial rooms on the second floor were decorated with paintings and magnificent stucco, one of the rooms is decorated with murals depicting the coat of arms of princes Trubetskoi.

The house in the Znamensky lane was known for the balls and receptions – the house was visited by A. Pushkin, who was friends with Prince Nikolai Ivanovich, a well-known bibliophile and collector of weapons. After the latter's death the estate passed to his brother's widow - Princess Nadezhda Troubetskaya, a well-known philanthropist.

However, she did not have funds to maintain the estate and was forced to sell it (getting the right to live in the estate ap wing) - and a merchant Ivan Shchukin became the owner of the house.

Soon Shchukin gave the estate to his son, Sergei Ivanovich - the future famous collector.

In the XIX - early XX century, many representatives of the Moscow merchant families were fond of collecting, and Shchukin were no exception. But Sergei Ivanovich Shchukin put the lead on - his tastes were always striking his contemporaries - he was one of the first to collect Western artists, first to bring the Impressionists to Moscow- Monet, Pissarro, Renoir, Degas...

Having a great taste and an amazing ear for talent, Shchukin unmistakable chose the artists who were destined to make a revolution in art.

 Shchukin began collecting Cezanne, Van Gogh, then Gauguin - at the time when in Russia (and even in France) nobody could understand and appreciate this art.

Visitors of his mansion in the Znamensky lane were getting used to Cezanne and Gauguin, while Shchukin moved on and brought Matisse, Derain, Picasso to Moscow. Henri Matisse in 1911 came to Moscow being invited by Shchukin and stayed at his estate (to decorate the grand staircase Matisse on order of the owner drew the panel pictures "Dance" and "Music").

The entire second floor of the house was given over to the collection of paintings - there was a hall of Gauguin, Hall of Matisse, then Hall of Picasso appeared. Total Shchukin collection of modern art works numbered 256 pieces.

In 1914, he opened his gallery to the public, and wanted to create a museum of the new French painting. But his dream came to life not the way he wanted - after the revolution Shchukin was forced to go into exile, and his collection was nationalized and the "First Museum of Modern Western Painting" was opened at the estate.  

Shchukin's collection later became a part of the Museum of Modern Western Art, which lasted until 1948.

The collection was moved out of the estate in the Znamensky Lane in 1928, and some time later the house was given to the Ministry of Defense, to whom it belongs to this day. There is no access to the building, and we don’t know whether anything from the refined interiors, which once were decorating this wonderful mansion, are preserved.

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