The First Purchase for the Latvian Art Collection of the State Museum of Art. The 26th of March 1920

On the 26th of March 1920 the State Museum of Art bought sixteen artworks for 30 000 Latvian roubles* from the first exhibition of the Riga Group of Artists. Works by modernists Jēkabs Kazaks, Romans Suta, Oto Skulme, Niklāvs Strunke, Valdemārs Tone, Konrāds Ubāns, Ģederts Eliass and Eduards Lindbergs were the first Latvian Art Collection acquisitions of the museum led by Burkards Dzenis.

The Riga City Museum of Art which organized the sensational exhibition of the Riga Group of Artists from the 7th until 28th of March, acquired half as much works of the “expressionists”. Both purchases of the museums contributed to the local “art war” – clash of views between generations – traditionalists and modernists, clash between the interests in the art life and laying claims in the art market. Graphic artist Rihards Zariņš publicly expressed the protest of the artists of older generations “against frivolous waste of state funds”. Painter Jānis Roberts Tillbergs supported him and soon after became a member of the Purchase Committee of the State Museum of Art.


*For comparison a pound of rye bread costed 2,40 roubles in 1920 at the Riga markets. Economist (1920, No 9)


To be continued.