In 2011, a monograph long anticipated by art historians with an expertise in Old Russian and Byzantine art was published by Ljudmila Pekarska. The main subject of the monograph - the history of a hoard of jewellery found in Kiev in 1906, and as luck would have it is today divided between the British Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The author, however, did not limit her study to the analysis of objects from this hoard. She used an extensive amount of comparative materials from collections in many Western, Ukrainian, and Russian museums. L. Pekarska focuses mainly on the cloisonné enamels, an impressive example of exquisite medieval luxury. Welcoming the publication of this book, and being interested in the research, as well as its author, I do not envy the hard work that it would take for a person to write a scholarly review on this publication. The book contains so many specific features, so many politicized statements, so many altered facts that an unprepared reader, and even a professional, will not always be able to understand these "sleights of hand". For this reason, I chose only three pages from the book of Ljudmila Pekarska that discuss a collection of cloisonné enamels of Alexandr Zvenigorodsky and its fate (now almost the entire collection is kept in the Metropolitan Museum of Art). I hope that my article will help the reader in understanding the nuances of L. Pekarska's book and, besides that, oﬀers the reader more detailed information about the unique collection of Zvenigorodsky and the reasons it is now in Western museums. In this article, the author includes biographical facts about Alexander Zvenigorodsky; it shines a light on the history of Zvenigorodsky's ownership of the cloisonné enamels, and criminal origin of the collection taken from Georgian monasteries. Also included is information on the publication of the collection by its owner - the famous book issued in three languages in 200 copies each: in Russian, in German, and in French. The book has long since become a rare example of the highest quality of printing and refined luxury. A considerable attention is paid to the fate of the collection after the death of its owner; the reason it was secretly sold to John Pierpont Morgan; a negative role in this sale of the infamous collector Michail Botkin. A seemingly private matter about Zvenigorodsky's collection of enamels has raised numerous problems of ethical, methodological, and, in some degree, even cultural and political nature.
List of illustrations:
Photo 1. Cover of Ljudmila Pekarska's book. Photo 2. Alexander Zvenigorodsky.
Photo 3. Nikodim Kondakov.
Photo 4. Title page of N. Kondakov's book on Zvenigorodsky's collection.
Photo 5. Byzantine cloisonné medallions from the former collection of Alexander Zvenigorodsky, end of the 10th - early 12th century. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Photo 6. Michail Botkin.
Photo 7. John Pierpont Morgan.