One masterpiece exhibition – Tax collectors by Marinus van Reymerswaele

Marinus van Reymerswaele, approx. 1490-c. 1567

Tax collectors. Between 1490 – 1567.


Canvas, Oil Paint. 84,3x59,6 cm

Admission: comes from the collection of Catherine II

Stock number: GE-423

On the 15th of October, the One Masterpiece exhibition of the State Hermitage collection is to be open at the Ekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts. This year, the project will be exposing the painting of a XVI Century Dutch master, Marinus van Reymerswaele, “Tax Collectors”.

The exposition of this painting at the Ekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts will be an unusual of an event In the hermitage practice. The restoration of the Tax Collectors has just came to the end and the Hermitage is commonly presents the results of the restoration and artwork research of such eminent masters as Reymerswaele in it’s halls exhibitions, but this time the exception is made. The thing is that during the Great Patriotic war the painting along with some other ones was evacuated to Sverdlovsk’s art gallery funds, where it was stored with the rest of the Hermitage masterpieces of art.

It is quite emblematic that visitors of the Ekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts will be the ones to see the canvas first after the modern restoration.
The Tax collectors artwork which is now stored in the Hermitage collection for several Centuries, was acquired by Sir Robert Walpole at the end of the 18th century as a part of the famous English collection. Upon receipt, the painting was considered to be the artwork of the Flemish painter, Quentin Matsys, then his workshop, and only in the 20th Century Marinus van Reymerswaele was identified as its author (approx. 1490 - approx. 1567). There is a great variety of Tax collectors plot recurrences. It is most likely the demand for it was truly a large one so the artist himself and his students numerously replicated the composition. It’s variations can be found in Many museums all around the world; there are some among the collections of Paris, London, Madrid and Warsaw. It is considered that the first to address this topic were Jan van Eyck and then Quentin Matsys. Their artworks, however, are little-known and probably are not retained.
The Reymerswaele’s Tax collectors (also known as Publicans) date back to the painting of Matsys but apparently, the interpretation of the images is solved with more satirical content. Entries in the book and various papers depicted in the background are deciphered as information about the tax payments receipt; Coins are drawn by the author very precisely so plenty of them can be recognized. The hats of tax collectors are of some particular interest. For the life time of Reymerswale they are somewhat anachronistic. Thus, being found in the picture, there are several surmises about their origin. According to one of those, it  appears to be a tax collectors’ peculiar uniform accessory from earlier times, and to another - the headdresses were copied by the author from a painting by Jan van Eyck, for the time of whom such headdresses were quite imaginable.
For it’s long life in the museum, the painting endure various alterations - a transference from a wooden basis onto a canvas (in 1841 by F. Rybin) and a several restorations. One of the alterations was carried out immediately after transportation of the canvas from Sverdlovsk, where the evacuated masterpieces of the Hermitage collection were located. Apparently, the box in which the painting was situated got wet, and the leak was noticed only after the artwork’s return to Leningrad. Being somewhat soaked for a long time it is adversely affected the condition of the paint layer and varnish. Despite the restoration of the 1940s, traces of this leak remained visible until recently. During the recent restoration, the dark yellowed varnish was removed alongside with the later recordings of the author's layer of painting, and the binding agent with the color in areas affected by leakage were restored. The restoration showed the Hermitage painting’s highest art quality, confirming the importance of it’s place among the other options, which can be seen by Ekaterinburg audience.
In recent years, the Laboratory of the Scientific Restoration of the State Hermitage’s Easel Painting has been undergoing consistent restoration of the Dutch school paintings. Among the restored artworks, there are such masterpieces as Saint Luke, Painting the Madonnaby Rogier van der Weyden, Triptych of the Adoration of the Magi by Hugo van der Goes, The Sermon of Saint John the Baptist by Pieter Bruegel the Younger. Presented at the exhibition in the Ekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts, the painting Tax collectors by Marinus van Reymerswaele was restored by restoration artist Valery Yurievich Brovkin.

16 October 2019 - 12 January 2020

Voyevodina str., 5

Adults: 250 RUB