On 15 September 2016, the exhibition ‘Collected and Preserved’ presenting the collection of Lithuanian works of art of lawyer Dr. Jaunius Gumbis was opened in the New Arsenal. This exhibition continues the already traditional series of exhibitions ‘The Museum and the Collector’ organized by the National Museum from the year 2012. This exhibition presents the collection of Lithuanian works of art of the collector, lawyer Dr. Jaunius Gumbis. The larger part of the collection of Lithuanian art consists of objects of folk art – folk sculpture and painting from the eighteenth to the twentieth century. The collection contains works reflecting the sources of folk art in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania; there are several paintings by professional artists.
In the sculpture collection the majority of examples of traditional folk sculpture come from the region of Samogitia. They were mainly placed in wayside shrines and pillared shrines. There are some sculptures from churches in the collection. The names of some god carvers were identified referring to the material and expertise of the museum – Vincas Svirskis, Kazimieras Indriekus, Juozapas Paulauskas, Kazimieras Razma, and Juozapas Stankus.
The collection contains round and front sculptures, bas-reliefs created in traditional ways. Sculptures, which height varies from 30 to 50 cm, prevail. Sculptures of saints, whom people loved not only as their protectors and intercessors with God, but also as models of behaviour in daily life because of their personal qualities – sense of justice, wisdom and industriousness, prevail. Their representation in sculpture was based on church iconography, the established composition of the plot and attributes. Most of them are painted in oil paint, not always the iconographic canon is adhered to. Aluminium or bronze powder paints, as well as attributes made of wire, tin, were used for highlighting details. The state of polychrome makes it possible to determine where sculptures were stored. The sculptures held in closed spaces are preserved better, their wood is stronger, the paint is less faded. Part of the sculptures are repainted.
The valuable collection of folk painting consists of works painted in oil or tempera on a wooden board or canvas from the seventeenth to the twentieth century. The majority of paintings are created in the 18th-19th century Baroque manner – the figures are flattened and represented in full face or in profile. The colours are mainly pure, without hues. Combinations of dark colours prevail.
The saints are represented singly and in multi-figure compositions, standing full length; several paintings with half-length figures reflect the relation to portrait painting of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. There are some paintings in which the composition is supplemented with inscriptions, and the authors of quite many works of folk painting are unknown. Altarpieces are larger and have sumptuous authentic frames; some of them are decorated with mountings showing a special respect for the saint. Procession paintings are two-sided. Replicas of the paintings of ‘The Blessed Virgin Mary with the Infant Jesus’ famous for their miracles should be distinguished.
The collection of Lithuanian art by the lawyer Dr. Jaunius Gumbis is an example how a single person can contribute to the preservation of valuable objects of Lithuanian culture. From now on, this material will be accessible to researchers, folk artists continuing the traditions of cross crafting and folk painting, and everyone interested in the culture of this country. Perhaps this example will encourage someone to start collecting.
The exhibition will be open until 8 January 2017.
The National Museum of Lithuania: http://www.lnm.lt/surinkta-ir-issaugota/