Once Upon A Time, At Mişu Weinberg's

It was in May 1972, when I paid my first visit to the Weinbergs. I still have a warm dedication from the host as testimony. I was coming from the Museums Review to record a few thoughts about the Weinberg collection, the foundations of which had been laid in the tumultuous period between the world wars… Around 1935, on his own initiative, and out of an immense love for Romanian art, a passionate M. Weinberg started purchasing emblematic works by great artists of the period: at first, N. Grigorescu, N. Vermont, Adam Baltatu, soon followed by W. Arnold, Al. Ciucurencu, Th. Pallady, Gh. Petrascu, Lucian Grigorescu, R. Schweitzer-Cumpana. At the same time, Weinberg became acquainted with Iosif Iser's painting, by which he was subjugated, hence his massive acquisitions of the latter's works. The apartment at 36, Alex. Sahia St. in Bucharest overflows with paintings, watercolors, drawings, engravings, gouaches. Over 400 paintings, a treasure in its own right. The charm and atmosphere of Weinberg's collection are completed by superb pieces of furniture from the 16th-17th centuries – Renaissance-inspired Spanish furniture, nutwood sculptures, intarsiate Moorish-Hispanic furniture, a French baroque rosewood cabinet with bronze sculptures. Nearby, a Chinese pepperwood cupboard with mother-of-pearl inlays lends elegance and intimacy to the room. Looking at the splendid collection of Chinese vases from the Ming dynasty tastefully displayed around Bukhara, Ghiordes, Mugiur carpets, the porcelains and faiences, the costly crystals purchased from old European manufacturers, one understands the passion and the decades-long effort of the authentic, competent collector. In 1948, the collection became a "public utility" one, at the disposal of Romanian and foreign art lovers. For over five decades, M. Weinberg awarded a royal space to great Romanian artists, among crystals and cloisonnés. To those already mentioned were added Micaela Eleutheriade, N. Tonitza, Francisc Sirato, Jean Al. Steriadi, M. H. Maxy, and more bronze vases and carpets. Today, the superb M. Weinberg collection delights the visitors of the Collections Museum, in the patrimony of which most of it entered in 1981. It incorporates an inestimable Iser heritage, with over 200 odalisques, ballerinas, harlequins, Tartar women from Dobruja, peasant women from Arges – all in all, an outstanding permanent Iser exhibition. On my first visit, in 1972, both Weinbergs were alive. They gave me a warm reception. I returned several times afterward, lured by the mirage of the collection. The mirage still exists. The great artists are also present. Only their hosts have left, one by one. 2004

by Aurora Fabritius