The paper examines the book assemblage possessed by the Ukrainian and Austrian dynasty of the Counts Rozumovsky/Razumovsky (late added “von Wigstein”). Both the genealogy of the collection and the way it was utilized to maintain “family memory” are to be explored. “Family memory” is considered a complex of memoirs on ... (Show more)
The paper examines the book assemblage possessed by the Ukrainian and Austrian dynasty of the Counts Rozumovsky/Razumovsky (late added “von Wigstein”). Both the genealogy of the collection and the way it was utilized to maintain “family memory” are to be explored. “Family memory” is considered a complex of memoirs on family history which members of a family shared with their offsprings. Books from a family collection served the purpose of memory transfer by making the family history “visible”, “perceivable” and “readable”.
In particular, the Rozumovskys’/Razumovskys’ book assemblage started to form in the mid-18th century, when the founders of the dynasty, brothers Oleksii (1709–1771) and Kyrylo (1728–1803) Rozumovskys, gained the superior positions: Oleksii became a secret husband of the empress Elisabeth of Russia, while Kyrylo, after two years spent for studies in Western Europe, headed the Ukrainian autonomous Cossack state. There is no evidence about Oleksii’s library, but it was more likely inherited by Kyrylo together with the other possessions of the elder brother. In his late correspondence, Kyrylo mentioned own library and a librarian who took care of it. The brothers’ assemblage certainly contained lavishly illustrated baroque panegyrics composed in 1744-1745 by a hieromonk Mykhailo Kozachynsky in Ukrainian, Polish and Latin, and dedicated to the Rozumovskys and the empress Elisabeth of Russia.
Passion for collecting books manifested itself in the next generations of the family. Kyrylo’s son Oleksii, the minister of the people’s education in the Russian empire under the reign of Alexander I, gathered the biggest library of natural science literature in that time Russian empire. Oleksii’s son Petro (a grandson of Kyrylo) assembled a huge library in Odesa, which was later sold at auction. Kyrylo’s younger son Hryhorii (Gregor), a renowned scientist, became a founder of the Austrian line of the dynasty. He gathered own and inherited his brother Andrii’s, a prominent European diplomat of the Napoleonic era, collection of books and documents. On the verge of the 20th century, this Razumovskys’ library was replenished and catalogued by Hryhorii’s grandson Camillo. It was housed in their manor Schönstein in the present-day Czech Republic.
After World War II, the family was expelled from their Czech estate by the Czechoslovakia Communist authorities; therefore, a significant part of the Schönstein collection was lost. The survived remnants are now kept by the Razumovskys in their Vienna estate. Among the other relics, there are two copies of the above-mentioned panegyrics, which apparently come from the 18th century Oleksii and Kyrylo’s collection and remain vivid testimonies of the family history. (Show less)