Ukrainian Collectors: Hryhorii Galagan // PROcollections Research Project08.05.2020
Hryhoriy Pavlovych GALAGAN (1819-1888) is a representative of a well-known noble family that dates back to the second half of the 17th century in Left-Bank Ukraine. Studies show that Galagan had all the meanings to grow up to be an ordinary feudal lord. Personal diaries and mentions of his contemporaries show young Hryhoriy as a rather corrupt, vanity-prone young man. But the course of his life was abruptly changed by friendly conversations and instructions by a home mathematics teacher, Fedor V. Chizhov, a well-known public figure of the time. It was Chizhov who persuaded the future patron and supporter of the abolition of serfdom to believe in the need to direct their activities for the benefit of others.
Hryhoriy also started his collecting activity because of Fedor Vasyliovych. In 1842, after traveling with Chizhov to Italy, he met many artists there. Instilled by his father’s love of beauty and some literary talent allows him to easily integrate into the artistic environment. Here in Italy, Hryhoriy buys works by fellow Ukrainian and Russian artists to support them in their studies or work outside their home country: Ivan Aivazovsky, Vasyl Serebryakov, Pimen Orlov, and more. For similar reasons, he will continue to replenish the collection after returning from abroad with works by artists Alexander Ivanov, Alexei Voloskov, Lev Lagorio, Ivan Shapovalenko (Shapovalov), sculptor Parmen Zabila and others.
Paintings with folk motifs or depictions of peasant life took an important place among the property. This is explained both by friendly relations with artists who worked on this subject (Lev Zhemchuzhnikov, Konstantin Trutovsky and others) and Galagan’s interest in the history and traditions of the people – throughout his life he was engaged in ethnographic research “Little Russia”, published studies in Ukrainian linguistics. and nativity drama, a unique collection of Ukrainian folk songs. And, of course, this thematic orientation of a part of the collection reflected Galagan’s extremely favorable attitude to his serf peasants: he tried in every way to help them, visited them, even sat down with someone to read “Kobzar”. It is worth noting that Galagan received money for patronage and replenishment of the collection by improving the organizational and economic model of estate management, taking care not to increase the exploitation of peasants.
Among the European artists in the collection were works by Flemish artist David Bailey, Dutchman Godfried Schalken. Also in the collection, which was supplemented by the descendants of Hryhoriy Pavlovych, there are a large number of portraits of family members and their immediate entourage from the families of Daragan, Rozumovsky, Khovansky. Now this part of the collection is the most fully attributed.
The owners have not created a description of the collection. In 1920, the descendants of Hryhoriy Galahan – Lamzdorf-Galagany – emigrated to France, leaving the collection in the family estate – Sokyryn Palace in Chernihiv region. Since then, the assembly has repeatedly moved from one place to another, damaged during the war. Today it is still undergoing a historical reconstruction.
In 1953, the collection of Galagans as part of the collection of works of the Pryluky Museum found itself in the place of its current location – the Chernihiv Historical Museum. On the basis of the art department of the latter in 1983 a separate regional art museum named after Hryhoriy Galahan was established. It has now been confirmed that more than a hundred works from the museum’s collection come from the Galagan collection.