Collection of the Latvian Art Promotion Society

In the autumn of 1921, Director Burkards Dzenis asked for the works of art previously acquired by the Latvian Art Promotion Society to be passed over the custody of the new State Museum of Art.

As a co-creator of the national organisation established in Riga in 1911, Dzenis wrote to the Chairman of the Society Miķelis Bružis: “The museum is maintained from the State of Latvia and for its own purposes, which, due to the current difficult material circumstances, cannot be fully realised, is to be regarded as the same National Museum of Art as which, in his time, had already thought of the Latvian Art Promotion Society.“*

 

On the eve of the First World War, the Latvian Art Promotion Society hoped, in vain, to show its collection at the Riga City Art Museum. In the war conditions, the society’s collection was taken to Russia, where it was exhibited at the first exhibitions of Latvian art outside the country – in Petrograd (1915) and Moscow (1916). This Society owned the works of Ādams Alksnis, Pēteris Kalve, Pēteris Krastiņš, Voldemārs Matvejs, Rūdolfs Pērle, Vilhelms Purvītis, Aleksandrs Romans, Janis Rozentāls, Jānis Roberts Tillbergs, Teodors Ūders, Johans Valters, Rihards Zariņš and other Latvian artists. In 1923, the valuable collection was brought back from Soviet Russia by Latvian Consul Vilis Šamils and Latvian Art Promotion Society member Mērija Grīnberga, the older sister of diplomat Oļģerds Grosvalds and painter Jāzeps Grosvalds. Sculptor Teodors Zaļkalns had also competently participated in the recovery of the collection. The Latvian Art Promotion Society gave the recovered collection of 346 items for exhibition to the State Museum of Art. They continued to be included as part of the museum inventory right up to November 1941, when the periods of occupation by totalitarian powers commenced in Latvia.  

 

The creative legacy of the prematurely deceased Ādams Alksnis constitutes the largest number of works in this collection. The Latvian Art Promotion Society had exhibited these at a commemorative exhibition to the artist held at the State Museum of Art in 1925.

 

* The State Archive of Latvia, coll. 1659, reg. 1, file 12, pg. 223