Treasures into Tractors: The Selling of Russia's Cultural Heritage, 1918-1938

Treasures into Tractors: The Selling of Russia's Cultural Heritage, 1918-1938

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Sixteen scholars from Russia, Vienna, and the United States explore the fate of Russian art collections and libraries following the Russian Revolution in 1917, the institutions and individuals responsible for their sale, and the prominent collectors, libraries, and museums that acquired them. Unlike the widely publicized controversy surrounding the Soviet-Nazi war loot and its restitution, the sales of the interwar period are not well known outside a small scholarly community. This volume reveals the extent of the Soviet government’s voluntary “realization” of Russia’s cultural patrimony between 1918 and 1938 and its consequences for both the international art market and the perception of Russian art. 

The Imperial Easter eggs by Fabergé and Old-Master paintings purchased by Andrew Mellon from the State Hermitage and now housed in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. are the most celebrated works that changed hands. Equally significant are the bibliographic rarities from imperial libraries, icons and liturgical art from churches and monasteries, and antiques, furnishings, and fine art from estates, palaces, and private homes. 

Edited by Anne Odom, former curator emerita at Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, and Wendy R. Salmond, professor of Russian and early Soviet art at Chapman University


448 pages 

Measurements: 8.5 x 10.5 inches 

Published by the University of Washington Press in 2009