Day of Patrons and Philanthropists in Russia Date in the current year: April 13, 2024

Day of Patrons and Philanthropists in Russia The Day of Patrons and Philanthropists, also known as the Day of Patrons and Benefactors, is an unofficial holiday celebrated on April 13 in Russia. Its celebration was initiated by the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, which is the world’s largest art museum by gallery space.

The Day of Patrons and Philanthropists is celebrated on April 13 because it is allegedly the birthday of Gaius Cilnius Maecenas, who served as a quasi-minister of culture to the Roman emperor Augustus. Maecenas was famous for supporting young poets, due to which his name has become eponymous with “a patron of arts”.

One of the most famous philanthropists in Russian history was Gavrila Solodovnikov (1826–1901). He was a wealthy merchant whose fortune was about 22 million roubles; he bequeathed 20 million to be spent on the needs of society, including the arts.

Solodovnikov’s money was used to construct a marble staircase in the Moscow Conservatory, a concert hall on Bolshaya Dmitrovka street (today it hosts the Moscow Operetta Theatre), and the Skin and Venereal Diseases Clinic in Moscow. Solodovnikov’s inheritance was also used to build cheap apartment buildings for the poor and lonely, schools and shelters for homeless children, and schools for women.

Another famous Russian philanthropist was Alexander von Stieglitz (1814–1884), the first head of the State Bank of the Russian Empire. His fortune was estimated at 100 million roubles, 6 million of which he donated. Von Stieglitz’s funds were used to build the Peterhof, Baltic and Nikolaev railways, the Central School of Technical Drawing in Saint Petersburg, and the country’s first museum of applied arts (both were later named after him).

Pavel and Sergey Tretyakov were arguably the most famous Russian philanthropists. They are best known fro co-founding the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. Pavel Tretyakov began collecting art in the mid-1850s with the aim of creating a national gallery. His younger brother Sergei soon followed suit.

The Tretyakov brothers opened the Moscow City Gallery in 1867. Its collection was displayed in a mansion owned by the Tretyakov family since 1851 and comprised over 1,200 paintings, 471 sculptures and 10 drawings by Russian artists, as well as 84 works by foreign painters. In 1892, Pavel Tretyakov gifted the gallery to the city of Moscow. Today, the Tretyakov Gallery is the world’s foremost depository of Russian fine art.

The inaugural Day of Patrons and Philanthropists was celebrated in 2005. The celebration was organized by the directorate of the State Hermitage Museum, the editorial staff of the social partnership almanac Russian Patron, and the Culture Committee of the government of Saint Petersburg.

According to Mikhail Piotrovsky, the director of the State Hermitage Museum, and Arkady Sosnov, the editor-in-chief of the almanac Russian Patron, the patronage of arts in Russia lacks legislative support. Because of this, the authorities and society need to at least learn to say “thank you” to patrons. This is why the Day of Patrons and Philanthropists is also informally referred to as Thank You Day.

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Day of Patrons and Philanthropists in Russia, holidays in Russia, cultural observances, unofficial holidays, State Hermitage Museum