Rome in 1810: Wilhelm von Blanckenhagen, a Baltic Art Patron
This exhibition offers a glimpse into one of the most remarkable early 19th century art collections in Livonia. It belonged to Wilhelm von Blanckenhagen (1761–1840), a wealthy Baltic German nobleman from Riga. Blanckenhagen spent most of the year 1810 in Rome with his family, where his wide circle of acquaintances, his role as a patron of the arts, and the sumptuous parties he hosted in the Villa Aldobrandini attracted international attention. The Blanckenhagens’ stay in Rome was one of the most illustrious examples of Baltic Germans’ grand tours to this centre of the European art world.
The exhibition explores his numerous art purchases and his contacts with the international art community of Rome. The artworks he brought to Livonia were by Jakob Philipp Hackert, Joseph Anton Koch, Gottlieb Schick, the Riepenhausen brothers and many other renowned German artists. To Riga, the place of his birth, he donated Bertel Thorvaldsen’s design for a monument (never realised).
Wilhelm von Blanckenhagen’s art collection was broken up during his lifetime. In 1820, the most valuable parts of the collection – several paintings and antiquities, large-scale drawings and numerous prints – were purchased by the University of Tartu. Regrettably, the connection of the artworks with Blanckenhagen and his trip to Rome were soon forgotten. Moreover, at the outset of the First World War the university’s collection of paintings was removed to Voronezh, Russia as part of the evacuation of the university’s property, and it has remained there ever since.
In spring 2019, the Museumslandschaft Hessen Kassel in Germany acquired Wilhelm von Blanckenhagen’s impressive album, which contains contributions from various artists who resided in Rome at the time of the Blanckenhagens’ stay. To mark the purchase, the exhibition Meeting Point Rome 1810 – The Story of an Art Album was held in Wilhelmshöhe Palace, Kassel from 30 October 2021 to 30 January 2022, accompanied by the publication of a catalogue. This display builds and expands on the Kassel exhibition, featuring the Blanckenhagen album, as well as other art purchases he made in Rome, which are now part of the art collection of the University of Tartu.
Curators: Christiane Lukatis (Musemslandschaft Hessen Kassel) and Kadi Polli (Art Museum of Estonia) Exhibition and graphic design: Tuuli Aule Exhibition coordinator: Mari-Liis Krautmann
In collaboration with: Musemslandschaft Hessen Kassel (MHK) and University of Tartu Library