“An outstanding personality, a person of exceptional humanity and consideration … universally respected venerable old man,… who always responded to any cultural interests…”
“The Day’s News”. June 2 (May 20) 1901
The Russian industrialist, publisher, patron of arts, owner of the art gallery, one of the major Moscow philanthropists Kozma Terentyevich Soldatyonkov was born on October 10 (22) 1818 in Moscow in the family of a merchant and Old-believer.
Kozma failed to get a systematic education, spending most of his time like his elder brother Ivan in his father’s shop, helping his father out and in practice learning the ropes of merchant business.
At the age of 21 Soldatyonkov conducted business all by himself and apart from yarn trading, he went into discount and became a shareholder of several large commercial and industrial companies.
It was in 1840s that Kozma Terentyevich took an interest in collecting works of art. The collection of Soldatyonkov, which became known as a private art gallery, was housed in his mansion in Myasnitskaya Str. Soldatyonkov managed to enrich his collection with over two hundred works of Russian fine arts: pictures by V.A. Tropinin, P.A. Fedotov, K.P. Bryullov, V.G. Perov, I.I. Levitan etc.; hundreds of prints and paintings; as well as sculptures by M.A. Chizhov, M.M. Antokolskiy, N.A. Laveretskiy, N.A. Ramazanov. The art collection also encompassed dozens of works of West European art — pictures and copies of antique sculptures. Significant value represented his icon collection.
What is more, Kozma Terentyevich was a passionate bibliophile: his extensive library numbered over 20 000 books in the Russian language (literature on history, philosophy, art and fiction books).
In 1856 Soldatyonkov jointly with Nikolai Mikhailovich Shchepkin opened the K. Soldatyonkov and N. Shchepkin’s Publishing Partnership. It was a non-profit company: partners were publishing works by both prominent and little-known Russian and foreign authors. Here came out the first in Russia 12-volume collected works by V.G. Belinskiy, as well as works by T.N. Granovskiy, poems by N.A. Nekrasov, A.V. Koltsov, N.P. Oraryov, D.V. Grigorovich, collections “Russian folk fairy tales” and “Russian folk legends” by A. N. Afanasyev, works by Adam Smith. All the books were well and expensively designed, the price was not high, therefore they were quickly sold out.
Several years later the K. Soldatyonkov and N. Schepkin’s Partnership broke up, and Kozma Terentyevich went on with the publishing activities alone, preserving the educational policy of the enterprise. He published works by I.S. Turgenev (first edition of “Fathers and Sons” novel), poems by A.A. Fet, Ya. P. Polonskiy, S. Ya. Nadson, historical works by Vasiliy Klyuchevskiy. He published “Essays on Primitive Economic Culture” by Ziber, “The General History” by Weber (translated by Nikolai Chernyshevskiy), “The Roman History” by Mommsen, “The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” by Gibbon. Besides, Soldatyonkov was issuing cheap textbooks and books for reading for peasant children.
For many years Kozma Terentyevich had been donating money for the development of museums in Russia. Not only had he set up his own museum, but also rendered annual assistance to the Moscow Public Museum and the Rumyantsev Museum. In 1894 he transferred 2 400 rubles to Munich glyptotheca for gypsum for the Museum of Fine Arts.
In 1856 Soldatyonkov allocated 86 000 rubles for the construction of the stone building of the Izmailov military poorhouse, donated money for scholarships and allowances to needy students of the Moscow University, scholarships to students of Moscow gymnasiums, the Arnold-Tretyakov school of deaf, for allowances to brides and recruits and for payment of zemstvo obligations of the peasant society in the village Prokunino, Moscow province.
Following his last will and testament on his means (2 m. rubles) in 1910 was built the largest in Moscow “Free hospital for all the poor without distinction of ranks, classes and religions” (today the S.P. Botkin hospital).
The merchant bequeathed the art gallery, books on art (8 000 volumes) and 15 000 copies of magazines to the Rumyantsev Museum. The collection encompassed about 270 pictures, prints, watercolors, and sculptures. The part of the icon collection was left by the will to the Intercession Cathedral of the Rogozhskoye Cemetery.
Kozma Terentyevich Soldatyonkov passed away on May 19 (June 1) 1901 and was buried in Kuntsevo near Moscow at the Rogozhskoye Cemetery.
Lit.: Козьма Терентьевич Солдатёнков // Альманах «Золотая книга России. Год 2001-й. Часть вторая». 2001; Саломеева А. Козьма Терентьевич Солдатёнков // Босс. № 7. 2009; Толстяков А. П. Издатель К. Т. Солдатёнков и русские писатели // Книга: Исследования и материалы. Сб. 25. М., 1972; Толстяков А. П. Люди мысли и добра. Русские издатели К. Т. Солдатёнков и Н. П. Поляков. М., 1984.
Based on the Presidential Library’s materials: