An exhibition about Alfred Rõude, one of Estonia’s greatest art collectors, and his collection

  • 2019-08-23
  • TBT Staff

On Friday, 30 August at 5 pm, the exhibition Alfred Rõude: Collector with a Mission. will open at the Mikkel Museum (Weizenbergi 28). The exhibition is part of the programme to celebrate the centennial of the of the Art Museum of Estonia.

The mission of Alfred Rõude (1896–1968), one of the most important art collectors in Estonia in the first half of the 20th century, was to collect the best works of contemporary Estonian art and, to a smaller extent, earlier pieces, including Baltic German art. With sophistication and impeccable taste, Rõude picked masterpieces for his exceptionally diverse collection, but also collected sketches and studies, as these helped understand the artists’ creative processes. His purchases and commissions supported the artists financially. His role was particularly important in supporting and preserving the legacy of Eduard Wiiralt, the greatest of Estonian graphic artists.

Alfred Rõude could also be called a saviour of art because he searched for and found works of art in former homes of artists. Only due to his actions can we still enjoy some of Eduard Wiiralt’s and Konrad Mägi’s early works and samples of the artwork created by artists who died young at the beginning of the 20th century. Alfred Rõude started collecting art in 1926 in Tartu and continued later in Tallinn. His favourite artist was Eduard Wiiralt, so his collection includes anything from the artist’s random scribbles on matchboxes to some of the best works Wiiralt ever created. The collector also valued the works of his personal friend Andrus Johani, Konrad Mägi, Kristjan and Paul Raud, Aleksander Vardi, Ado Vabbe, Paul Burman, Jaan Grünberg, Oskar Hoffmann and Jaan Koort. Distinct themes in Rõude’s collection are the national romanticism of the early 20th century, post-war prints and bookplates. In addition, Rõude kept letters from artists, old photos and books, the oldest of which are from the 16th century.

Since 1979, the majority of Rõude’s collection – more than 12,000 works of art (including more than 2,800 prints and drawings by Eduard Wiiralt) – has belonged to the Art Museum of Estonia. The permanent exposition of Estonian art at the Kumu Art Museum currently includes nearly two dozen pieces from this collection. Unfortunately, the name of a once well-known collector is unfamiliar to most people these days.

The exhibition will be accompanied by numerous events programmes and museum classes for schools (in Estonian and Russian).

In the autumn, the first biography introducing Alfred Rõude will be published, which has been written based on the materials in his personal archives. The presentation of the book will take place on 23 October 2019. The publication of the book is being supported by the Cultural Endowment of Estonia.

Exhibition curator and author of the book: Anu Allikvee

Exhibition design: Mari Kurismaa

Exhibition graphic design: Mari Kaljuste

The exhibition will remain open until 1 March 2020.