The Engraving Cabinet of Francis Haskell | In artibus Foundation

The Engraving Cabinet of Francis Haskell

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Curator: Anna Korndorf

Architect: Konstantin Larin

 

Francis Haskell was a major British art historian of the 20th century, a specialist largely thanks to whom the discipline developed links to social history and a pioneer of the study of artistic taste and the relationship between patrons and artists.

His classical works Patrons and Painters, Taste and the Antique, and History and its Images: Art and the Interpretation of the Past have long been key texts for art historians in various countries. In 2022 a Russian translation of Haskell’s last book, The Ephemeral Museum, finally appeared, which was completed and prepared for publication after his death.

Haskell had many connections to Russia. His father, Arnold Haskell, was a famous ballet critic and director of the Royal Ballet School who was close friends with Alexandre Benois, Mikhail Larionov, Walter Nouvel and other participants in Diaghilev’s Russian Seasons. He was the author of the first book about Sergei Diaghilev and Russian ballet and, as he himself put it, chose a wife ‘who was, of course, Russian, but at least not a dancer’.

The scholar followed his father’s example and, in 1965, married Larissa Salmina, who worked at the State Hermitage Museum and was a specialist in Italian drawings. They met in Venice during the 1962 Biennale, where Salmina was commissar of the Soviet Pavilion. Soon afterwards, the couple moved to Oxford where Haskell became a professor at the university and Larissa Salmina-Haskell joined the Ashmolean Museum as a keeper and published a wonderful catalogue of its Russian collection.

Over many years of living, working and travelling together, the Haskells collected engravings dating from the 16th to the 19th century, a collection in which the personal taste and connections of the scholar were clearly more important than the effort to collect works of a particular period or national school.

Haskell loved Italy, especially the north and Rome, and most of his prints were Italian or connected with Italy. Artists in his collection include the important engravers Marcantonio Raimondi, Marco Dente, Giovanni Battista and Adamo Scultori, who reproduced original compositions by the artists of the Renaissance, and also those of a later era such as Salvator Rosa and Giovanni Piranesi. Even Dutch and Flemish engravers are represented in the collection mainly through works inspired by Italy’s landscapes and colourful village life.

Encouraged by Nikolaus Pevzner and Rudolf Wittkower, who had been his idols while a young academic, he began his career as an art historian in the early 1950s with the study and rediscovery of the engaging and extravagant beauty of Italian baroque painting of the 17th century, which had been forgotten for more than a century. The best works in his ‘engraving cabinet’ are from this period and linked to the Roman circle of artists who were contemporaries of Giovanni Castiglioni and Pietro Testa.

The collection also includes a notable selection of British caricatures and journal illustrations. For Haskell this was not simply a beloved national genre but a reflection of his work with the social history of art, a field in which he was a founding father.

The opportunity to show engravings from the collection of the famous British art historian Francis Haskell in Moscow came about thanks to Ildar Galeev, the Moscow collector and founder of Galeev Gallery, to whom Haskell’s widow gave the collection during the period  from 2014 to 2022.

 

Additional information

Inna Bazhenova is the founder of In artibus Foundation and the The Art Newspaper Russia Film Festival, a collector, patron, and participant in and initiator of cultural projects.

In artibus Foundation is a non-commercial organisation that supports research in the field of classical art. The foundation’s main areas of work are organising exhibitions together with museums, cultural foundations and private collections in Russia and abroad, publishing, organising and running academic conferences and supporting international cultural initiatives. The exhibition space opened in 2014.

In artibus Foundation address: Prechistenskaya naberezhnaya, 17 (entrance from Kursovoi pereulok)

Opening hours:

Tuesday – Friday: 11:00–20:00

Saturday – Sunday: 11:00­–19:00

Monday : closed

Exhibition ticket: 300 roubles

Children aged 7–17 and students: 150 roubles

Concessions, including pensioners: free

 

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