Rejcher Edward (1852 – after 1925, Warsaw) – a merchant and art collector.
Below - an article by Tomasz Krzemiński PhD (The Tadeusz Manteuffel Institute of History, Polish Academy of Sciences)
EDWARD REJCHER – A MERCHANT AND COLLECTOR FROM ALEKSANDRÓW POGRANICZNY
Aleksandrów, called Pograniczny (Polish: granica - border), a town developing around a Warsaw-Bydgoszcz railway station. During the period of its greatest bloom at the turn of the 19th and the 20th century, it attracted many people who were active and avid for rapid enrichment. With the course of time, they created intelectual and economic elite, setting the tone of the settlement's social and economic life.
An example of the fortune associated with Aleksandrów was a career of the Jewish merchant Edward Rejcher. He came to the borderland in the 1880s and set up a trading bureau de change attached to the functioning customs house. Somwehat later, he founded a firm which exported grains on the German market. Acting as an agent in transactions of grains and using the good economic situation, he became an important businessman. However, what the merchant from Aleksandrów was absolutely devoted to was not his commercial career, but collecting works of art. He was an art lover in every sense of the word. The beginnings of Edward Rejcher's great collection date to the 1880s. During 40 years, until the second half of the 1920s, in his residence in today's Dworcowa Street in Aleksandrów, he gathered over 400 canvases painted by the greatest Polish masters, including, among others, eleven paintings by Teodor Axentowicz, six by Józef Chełmoński, eleven by Aleksander Gierymski, five by Wojciech Kossak, four by Jacek Malczewski and also four canvases by Jan Matejko - just to mention the most famous names. The collection was completed by hundreds of engravings, sketches and drawings and also an extraordinary set of 53 self-portraits of masters of the brush. The gallery of the grain merchant from Aleksandrów overshadowed random and amateurish art collections of landowners of the Kujawy region, who generally had a few lower-class paintings in their manor houses. Rejcher - the owner and the creator of the collection - called it, not without some nonchalance, "an important section" of Polish painting of the second half of the 19th century.
Edward Rejcher felt a full member of the local society, and - despite the Jewish faith - a Pole. During the World War I, in 1916, together with Stanisław Tatarkiewicz and Wilhelm Markowski, he participated in the preparation for the celebration of the 125th anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution of the Third of May. At that time, celebrating this jubilee was a manifestation of patriotic feelings and the honest will to rebuild the Polish statehood. In 1918, towards the end of the war, in his preface to the catalogue of his art collection, which was published in Vienna, Rejcher called the other art collectors to work out a detailed list of the works which survived the war.
At the beginning of the 1920s, the whole collection was moved to Warsaw. After regaining independence and liquidation of the nearby borderline, Aleksandrów stopped to be a convenient place for making deals. Edward Rejcher, who had already been in advanced age, moved to the capital and took his collection with him. During the World War II, the collection, as many other such sets, had been partly dispersed. Nevertheless, its greatest part was included in count Andrzej Ciechanowicki's donation for the Museum of the Royal Castle in Warsaw, and the paintings once located in the residence in Dworcowa Street can now be admired in the rooms of the Royal Castle in Warsaw, as well as in other most important museums of the country.
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