Konstantin Mauergauz: the man, the collection

Sammlung Mauergauz

Konstantin Mauergauz is a successful member of the real estate industry, but his personal passion is for art. His collection of Old Masters is among the most distinguished of its kind in Russia. A selection will appear this year at the Moscow Pushkin Museum – including numerous paintings that Mauergauz purchased from Dorotheum. Wanda Richter, who is responsible for the Russian section of the Dorotheum’s Client Advisory Service, invited the art-loving Russian to a Q&A session about …

… collecting art

In the early 1990s I started collecting works by Soviet painters, particularly pictures from the fifties and sixties. An accidental purchase in the family awoke my interest in collecting art. My great-grandfather owned a very good collection of paintings, but it was unfortunately lost during the war.

… the psychology of collecting

I am probably more interested in the actual process of collecting than in the result. New remarkable pieces keep turning up. I am trying to get rid of the works I bought in the 1990s and the early 2000s; at the moment I am concentrating on the Old Masters. I only buy works that appeal to me.

Jan Brueghel II (1601–1678), An Allegory of Taste, Oil on copper, 59.4 x 91.4 cm, Old Master Paintings auction, April 2012
Jan Brueghel II (1601–1678), An Allegory of Taste, Oil on copper, 59.4 x 91.4 cm, Old Master Paintings auction, April 2012

… obsession

It’s true, you cannot escape the collecting bug.

 … purchasing decisions

If I like a work of art, if I feel that I need to have it, I will fight for it at auction or try to buy it from other collectors. To me, the most important thing is that I like the painting. Everything else is secondary.

 … a saying by Pablo Picasso: “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life”

Art brings a very special joy to people’s lives through contact with the creative power, mastery and inner world of the artist.

 … his fascination with Old Masters

For a long time, I collected Russian art, including pieces by 19th-century painters – only the best names and highest quality! I bought my first Old Master in 2005. Something about it appealed to me very strongly. As time went on, my fascination with the Old Masters grew: the quality of the painting, the age of the pictures, those colours … they radiate an energy that is still present today!

Pieter Brueghel II (1564–1637/38), The Farmer Fills in the Well after the Calf has Fallen In (from the Proverbs series), Oil on panel, 17 cm diameter, Old Master Paintings auction, April 2013
Pieter Brueghel II (1564–1637/38), The Farmer Fills in the Well after the Calf has Fallen In (from the Proverbs series), Oil on panel, 17 cm diameter, Old Master Paintings auction, April 2013

… hobbies and work

I started collecting as a hobby, and it has remained a hobby that I enjoy, albeit a time-consuming one. Luckily I have two assistants. If I did not have my business, though, I would see art collecting as my profession.

 … his family and collecting

Collecting is a passion, though a rather pricey one. We are also running out of space on our walls at home. My wife said she would give me the boot if I brought home another painting.

My “gallery” saved the situation. It is my private art repository and offers space for my growing collection. I had this 1,000-square-metre area converted for exactly this purpose, and I think it has turned out pretty well.

 … his collection at the Pushkin Museum

My employee, art historian Ekaterina Zhurbina, works very closely with the Pushkin Museum in Moscow. She told Vadim Sadkov, head of the Old Masters department, about my collection. Of course he was sceptical at first. But that changed when he saw my works of art. There has been no such exhibition in Russia so far, and the Pushkin Museum’s Brueghel collection is not particularly extensive, so he chose the 30 most important paintings from my collection of 40 Brueghel paintings to set up such an exhibition.

We have been working on this project with Vadim Sadkov and Marina Loshak, the director of the Pushkin Museum, for almost a year. The exhibition will open at the end of April 2015 and remain open until the end of June 2015.

Photo: The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts
Photo: The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts

… his favourite painting

“The Preaching of St. John the Baptist” by Pieter Brueghel the Younger. The painting used to belong to Winston Churchill.

 … what he expects from the exhibition

From a commercial perspective I expect nothing. I hope that there will be recognition of the fact that Russia finally has collectors and collections that focus on works by the old European masters. That simply did not exist in the last 70, 80 years after the revolution. I know about ten art collectors with good collections of Old Masters.

 … Dorotheum

The exhibition contains six paintings by the Brueghel dynasty that I bought from Dorotheum. They include the “Allegory of Taste” by Jan Brueghel the Younger and a tondo, “The Farmer Fills in the Well …”, from the series of proverbs by Pieter Brueghel the Younger.

 … his plans for the future

Many Russian art collectors are fixated only on Russian art. I want my collection to direct the attention of Russian audiences to the Old Masters and the centuries-old tradition of painting. We also plan to show the paintings from the Pushkin Museum exhibition in Europe – probably in Amsterdam and Rome.


“The Younger Brueghels. Paintings from the Collection of Konstantin Mauergauz”

Moscow, 28 April 2015–28 June 2015

The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts



(myART MAGAZINE Nr. 05/2015)

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