Road to Reval

19th-century Estonian Art from Private Collections



The exhibition presents 19th-century Estonian paintings – i.e. works of art completed by Estonian and Baltic German artists closely connected to Estonia through either having been born or worked here. All the displayed paintings have arrived in Estonia in the past few years from different locations in Russia, Europe and America. Figuratively speaking, Estonian art has returned home.


The exhibition gets its name from Oskar Hoffmann’s large-scale painting Road to Reval, which was brought to Estonia from Russia. The work depicts Estonian peasants on the road home, returning from the market early in the morning, the lower edge bearing the inscription: Дорога на Ревель (Road to Reval). Hence, the road to Reval is also the road home.


That the exhibition is being held in the Mikkel Museum is significant in itself. Johannes Mikkel was an avid art collector, and he acquired works of art from all over the Soviet Union. Today, Johannes Mikkel’s passion for art is shared by a number of Estonian collectors. The paintings displayed at Road to Reval come from some of the largest art collections in Estonia and also from the Art Museum of Estonia. The St. Lucas Gallery has served as an intermediary between collectors and the museum. A small number of paintings belong to the collection of the gallery itself.


The exhibition introduces works of art which are important to Estonia from a cultural-historical point of view. They expand our knowledge of the oeuvre of various artists, as well as of 19th-century Estonian art in general and, in particular, its ties with Russian and German art centres. At the same time, Road to Reval is an overview of the modern world of art collecting, reflecting the preferences, tastes and opportunities of Estonian collectors.


The majority of the paintings displayed at the exhibition have previously been known only to a limited set of art experts, gallery owners, art dealers and collectors, and are being displayed for the enjoyment of wider audiences for the first time.

Artists represented at the exhibition: Michael Ludwig Claus (1724–1773), Alexander Julius Klünder (1802–1875), Karl Timoleon von Neff (1804–1876), Johann Köler (1826–1899), Julie Hagen-Shwarz (1824–1902), Oskar Hoffmann (1851–1912), Eduard von Gebhardt (1838–1925), Eugen Dücker (1841–1916), Gregor von Bochmann (1850–1930), Julius Klever (1850–1924), Ernst Liphart (1847–1932), Reinhold von Möller (1847–1918), August Weizenberg (1837–1921), Karl Alexander von Winkler (1860–1911) and Alfred Hirv (1880–1918).

The exhibition and catalogue have been put together by Anne Lillioja, Art Director of the St. Lucas Gallery, in cooperation with Estonian and Russian art experts.

Curators: Anne Lillioja and Aleksandra Murre

Designers: Villu Plink (hall); Marko Russiver and Külli Kaats (publications)