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Struve-Otten Collection
cultural and art object


History of the Collection

Nadezhda RUDYKH





“Struve-Otten Collection " - complete thematic collection of 78 engraved portraits of European scientists working in the field of physics, mechanics, chemistry, mathematics, geology, biology, anatomy and philosophy. Today the collection is considered as the unique historical and art rarity.


Its special value is the thematic integrity: the collection is fully devoted to outstanding representatives of science, whose lives and activities cover a long historical period - from the Renaissance to the end of XIX century.


Portraits of scientists who lived and worked in the XIV-XIX centuries, for objective reasons, were singular, photographic portraits were distributed only in the middle of the XIX century. Erasmus, Paracelsus, Agrippa of Nettesheim, Isaac Newton, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz – engravings gave the opportunity to show public images of scientists, which became simultaneously fixing of the historical image and artwork of great master for their contemporaries and later generations. 


The collection contains engravings of the acknowledged masters: Ambroise Tardieu, Antoine Morin, Robert Lex, Johann Alexander Beneree, Godfrey Kneller, James Heath, Charles Turner, Alexander Munster and others.  They were made in different techniques: etching, mezzotint, lithography, woodcut, aquatint, galvanography.


Fine art paintings of the famous artists were original works of Peter Paul Rubens, Alexander Roslin, Hans Holbein the Younger, Godfrey Kneller, John Vandelaara and many others.


Individual engravings were created specifically for periodicals, books which are now historic and bibliographic rarity: "A detailed dictionary of Russian engraved portraits" (St. Petersburg, 1888), five-volume illustrated edition of William Dzherdan "National Portrait Gallery» (National portrait gallery of illustrious and eminent personages of the nineteenth century, London, 1830-1834),  a multi-volume widely illustrated edition of Francois Serafin Delpesh "The iconography of contemporary» (Iconographie des contemporaines, Paris, 1932) and its sequel, published by his wife Henrietta Augusta Delpesh, "Famous contemporaries or Portraits of people of our age " (C?l?brit?s contemporaines ou Portraits des personnes de notre ?poque, Paris, 1842), uvrazh1 «Collection of all famous people» (Collection de tous les personages c?l?bres, Paris, 1820–1828).


1 Uvrazh - luxury art edition of a large format, generally consisting of engravings.


Scientist-chemist Henry V. Struve (22.07.1822-10.04.1908) was collecting engraved portraits all his life. Thematic focus was defined by his personal and professional interest to people of science, especially natural scientists. Son of the famous astronomer and founder of the Pulkovo Observatory Vasily Yakovlevich Struve (04.15.1793-11.23.1864), he grew up, lived and worked among scientists. He was married to the daughter of academician of St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences Pavel Nikolayevich Fus (01.06.1798-22.01.1855), a prominent mathematician, great-grandson of the great scientist Leonhard Euler (15.04.1707-18.09.1783), academician of the Russian and Berlin Academies of Science.


After death of Henry Struve in 1908, the family heirloom was keeping for 30 years by his unmarried daughters, Wilhelmina (25.03.1856-1943) and Helena (13.02.1864-1943). Part of the collection (about a quarter), which were portraits of Euler-Struve family, Wilhelmina Genrichovna used as visual aids in Tiflis Gymnasium, where she was a director. This part of the collection was lost during the revolution of 1917. Thus, it is possible to assume that the original collection consisted of about 100-105 engravings.


In the late thirties of the twentieth century, the collection was transferred to the further storage to Henry F. Otten, grandson of Henry V. Stuve (17.04.1908-25.03.2004), a great connoisseur of fine art. The collection was stored in Tbilisi, where the family of Henry F. Otten lived.


In October 1941, at the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, the Soviet Union marked the 'fifth column' - the Germans. Henry F. Otten was fired and deported to Tashkent for construction of irrigation systems for cotton fields. In February 1942, among other conscripted Germans (officially Germans were not named as prisoners), Otten was sent to Chelyabinsk, to the 7th camp for construction of the Chelyabinsk Metallurgical Plant. After the war, labor army was disbanded, but the Germans were not allowed to leave Chelyabinsk. Then the family of Henry F. Struve Otten moved to Chelyabinsk from Tbilisi - wife Nadezhda Filippova (16.09.1908-08.12.2001) with their sons Boris and Vasily. In the famine years of the war, rich family library, book by book, has been bartered for food, but the collection of engravings Nadezhda Filippova managed to keep and moved it to Chelyabinsk.


Over its history, the collection was exhibited twice at Chelyabinsk.


The first exhibition was organized at the initiative of the chief keeper of the Chelyabinsk Regional Picture Gallery Galina I. Panteleeva (date of birth 12/22/1940) in 1979. The head of European engravings of the State Hermitage Yuri Rusakov (1926-1995) attributed the collection for the first time and provided materials for scientific catalog department.


The second exhibition was held at the initiative of fine art expert of the Chelyabinsk Regional Art Gallery Galina S. Trifonova (born 10/21/1949) in 2003, the year of the 95th anniversary of the custodian of the collection of Henry F. Otten, in the South Ural State University, where his sons and grandchildren taught.







After the death of Henry F. Otten (2004), the collection inherited by his grandson, Alexey B. Otten. At that time, engravings, which were kept for many years at home, were in critical condition.  Realizing this, Alexey B. Otten decided to restore the collection, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of his grandfather.


At the end of 2006, he came to the company RIG PERSONA® (the director and the chief artist Vasily Smelyanskiy), as he was already familiar with Vasily Smelyanskiy as the great specialist in solving unusual problems in the field of art, culture and image.


The work under revival of the collection lasted during two years. Producer of RIG PERSONA® Natalia Kozakova coordinated all stages of the project.


Vasily Smelyanskiy developed the concept of creation of cultural and art object "Struve-Otten Collection". It included all necessary expertise and restavration works, and also the development of the collection’s image (name, bookplate, slogan), additional attributes of the collection - preservation mats and albums-depositories. The complete series of works was developed. It included the assessment of the engravings, developing the method of their retention and forms of exposure, expertise and restavration works, and also the valuation of the collection after all planned work in its new state. This multi-step process required significant financial expenses, but Alex Otten, enlisting the support of family, decided to restore the collection according to the developed concept.


On March 12, 2007 after evaluation of the amount of work and choosing specialists, in the presence of a lawyer Nadezhda Sysolyakina A. B. Otten gave the company RIG PERSONA® 78 engravings for the work. Fine art expert Elena Shipitsina (Chelyabinsk Art Gallery), the restorer Tatyana Baturina (Chelyabinsk Regional Universal Scientific Library), assistant of the artist Alexandra Bychkova (RIG PERSONA®), editor and translator Tatiana Reznitskaya (RIG PERSONA®) were formatting detailed registry of engravings: fixing the size, description of their condition, listing all the marks left on the works for history of the collection. The stage lasted two weeks.


Before the restavration work all the sheets from the front and back side were photographed in the "Visual Image Workshop of Alexander Sokolov" to fix the state of engravings.


Along the negotiations with specialists of Igor Grabar’ Art-Union Scientific and Restavration Center about the restoration, the question of security of the collection was resolved. Specifically designed safe was created to store the engravings before sending them to Moscow.  Non-standard size safe was made to store the collection by order of LLC "CROSS-SAFE” in Moscow, which met all the conditions of storage of art objects.


RIG PERSONA® concluded the agreement on the restoration (09.07.2007) and contracts for carrying out the technological and stylistic expertise (27.8.2007 and 11.3.2008) with the Federal State Unitary Enterprise - Academician Igor Grabar’ Art-Union Scientific and Restavration Center. Specialists of the center assessed the state of engravings, their art and historical value. Experts concluded that all engravings had antique and collectors’ value and some of them had museum quality because of their uniqueness. In the process of restoration, it turned out that, fortunately, the images were not destructed and, for the most part, only paper-based images were restored.


Professional museum supplies were chosen for the restoration of the engravings: special, not oxidized glue, tape, paper, cardboard. The company "Lion Art Service" (Moscow) carried out the delivery. Mats for 78 works of the collection were made from the same materials.


V. Smelyanskiy, consulting with experts of the Exclusive Binding Workshop "Paragon" (Moscow), developed a special package construction of three sheets of cardboard (a substrate, a window, a cover) for universal purpose of mat: for storage and exposition. Mats were made from acid-free preservative special cardboard Colourmount (production in the UK) and were woven by moir? fabric Ivory (production in the U.S.), with the use of only plant and animal origin glue. The cover of each mat was embossed by gold foil with the use of specially manufactured stamp (bookplate "Struve-Otten Collection", created by V. Smelyanskiy).


Director of "Lion Art Service" ordered and installed special expensive equipment to cut a window in the mat.


RIG PERSONA® has developed the system of informational nameplates attached to the mat for the attribution of the collection. Each of them concluded the information (in Russian and English) about the particular engraving. Nameplates were designed by V. Smelyanskiy, assistant artist Artyom Kim, production - "Gedakolor-Ural" (Chelyabinsk) and "Gedakolor-M" (Moscow). Translation and drafting of the texts accompanied to the project were made by specialists of RIG PERSONA® (director Nadezhda Rudykh).


Four unique albums-depositories were designed for the collection’s safety and for convenience to work. Constructive solution and art concept were developed by the artist V. Smelyanskiy, assistant Alexander Bychkov, technological design and production were carried out by specialists of "Paragon" (director and artist Andrei Antonov).


Overall dimensions of each of the four albums-depositories were: height 633 mm, width (including spine) 453 mm, thickness 135 mm. The basis of albums-depositories was made of conservation acid-free special cardboard Colourmount (England). From the external side base was covered with specially calf leather of deep polishing "Madras- Antik» tanned with red oak, painted and textured in the style of the late XVIII - early XIX century. On the inside of albums-depositories cardboard glued with design paper Tintoretto Tufo 140 g / sq. m (made in Fedrigoni, Italy). For creating albums-depositories, different techniques were used (hand-stamping by stamps and wheels, thinning of the skin and cover, special treatment of the skin in the style of the late XVIII - early XIX century. Decorative element of albums-depositories design was fully hand-made lettering with natural 24-carat gold (there is 99.99% pure gold in covering alloy) with the use of hand-made stamps corresponding to the chosen style. For creating albums-depositories only glue of plant and animal origin was used. Engraved brass tie-plate with a bookplate "Struve-Otten Collection" was attached to the front cover of each of the four albums-depositories (4 pieces).


In October 2008, experts of the Expert Institute "Art Consulting" (Moscow), an international professional appraiser of art objects, evaluated the collection. It proved its worth.


On October 17, 2008 at the end of the work, all engravings, albums-depositories and mats were brought to Chelyabinsk and photographed in the "Visual Image Workshop of Alexander Sokolov".


On October 18, 2008 in the presence of the director of RIG PERSONA® V. Smelyanskiy, the producer of RIG PERSONA® N. Kozakova, the lawyer N.A. Sysolyakina, the fine art expert Shipitsina E., the editor of RIG PERSONA® T. Reznitskaya, the assistant of artist A. Kim, the collection was transferred to its owner A.B. Otten. Otten also got 79 expert reviews and 78 restavration passports of Federal State Unitary Enterprise academician Igor Grabar’ Art-Union Scientific and Restavration Center.
Nowadays "Struve-Otten Collection", collected by Henry Struve and saved by his heirs, has been restored, structured, attributed, complemented by new items (albums-depositories, mats, information nameplate), which became the integral part of the collection.


According to experts’ reviews of Academician Igor Grabar’ Art-Union Scientific and Restavration Center "Struve-Otten Collection" is the complete, thematic collection of engravings. It has absolute art, scientific and museum value.
At the end of the project the collection became not only heirloom but the unique cultural and art object.



III. FOUNDER and OWNERS of the COLLECTION (short biographies)



1Henry V. Struve (22/07/1822, Derpt - 10.04.1908, Tiflis) - founder of the collection.


The famous Russian chemist, Corresponding Member of Petersburg AS (1876), the son of one of the founders of stellar astronomy V.Y.Struve. Author of works on inorganic, analytical, physiological, and forensic chemistry. He offered (1853) reagent for the detection of arsenic in forensic medical investigations.


G. Struve graduated from Derpt University, Department of Chemistry, and since 1849 worked in the chemical laboratory of the Mining Department in St. Petersburg.


During the construction of Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow, G. Struve was charged gilded domes of the temple. In the process, Henry V. poisoned and lost his voice. Long-term treatment in the south of France did not succeed, and he could communicate only in writing.

In the early 1860s, Grand Duke Mikhail Nikolaevich acquired estate Borjom (Likani), where Mr. Struve was invited as a chemist for the investigation of the numerous mineral springs. He accepted the offer, went to Tiflis and then to Borjom, where he went to work. Soft warm climate of Borjom and mineral water led to a complete recovering, and he regained his voice. He decided to stay in the Caucasus. Soon his wife and children came there. After completing of work in Borjom, the couple Struve returned to Tiflis, where they settled down. Mr. Struve was the head of the provincial Chemical Laboratory, was one of the organizers of the chemical expertise laboratory in the provincial Court of Justice. For a detailed study of mineral waters of Georgia G. Struve in 1876 was elected a corresponding member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences. He died in Tiflis, March 28, 1908, in the same year when his grandson G.F. Otten was born.


2. Wilhelmina Genrichovna Struve (03.25.1856, Tiflis - 1943, Akmola) teacher, unmarried.

    Elena Genrikhovna Struve (13.02.1864, Tiflis - 1943, Akmola) teacher, unmarried.

Sisters lived in Tbilisi in the house of his father, Mr. Struve. Died in exile in Akmola, Kazakhstan.


3. Genrikh F. Otten (04.17.1908, Tbilisi - 03.25.2004, Chelyabinsk) - he inherited the collection with the consent of the daughters of G. V. Struve.


He was an engineer, builder, and scientist, one of the founders of engineering glaciology, connoisseur of fine art, collector and bibliophile.


Descendant (through the mother) of L. Euler, mathematician, physicist, Academician of Berlin and St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences, the great-grandson of V.Y. Struve, astronomer, founder of the Pulkovo Observatory, Academician of St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences, grandson of G.V. Struve, chemist, corresponding member of Petersburg AS.


He graduated from the Transcaucasian Engineering and Ameliorative Institute (1932). In 1932-1941 he worked as an engineer in the Transcaucasian Research institute of constructions. For the first time in the Soviet Union he conducted the research (in collaboration with G.T. Saatchyan and A.G. Goff) of snow avalanches nature and engineering of protective structures. He was the founder of the snow-meteorological service of the plant "Apatite" (Kirovsk, 1936). He was the author of fundamental studies in engineering glaciology.


In 1936-1941 he participated in meetings and conferences of Academy of Science of the USSR for the study of snow avalanches. In 1941, he exiled to Kazakhstan in the labor army for the construction of the Chelyabinsk Metallurgical Plant. At the end of World War II he worked as the head of estimate and contract department (until 1967) of organization "Chelyabmetallurgstroy." He was the keeper of the unique European classical collection of engravings of XVI-XIX centuries, collected by G.V. Struve, and the collector and owner of a cataloged library of fine art, representing the scientific value.


4. Alexey B. OTTEN (b. 4/11/1974, Chelyabinsk) inherited the collection under the will.


Civil engineer, director of Industrial Group “NEKK”, grandson of G.F. Otten, descendant of Euler and Struve families.


He graduated from the Southern Ural State University with a degree "Industrial and Civil Construction" (1997), the Ural Academy of Civil Service under the President of the Russian Federation (2003)
He began his career in 1993 as a foreman of construction and installation work, since 2000 he has been working as a director of Industrial Group “NEKK”.
He is an honored builder of the republic of Bashkortostan (2007). He was awarded a diploma of the Governor of Chelyabinsk Region for long service and conscientious work (2008).
He is a certified cynologist of sports and guard dogs, the candidate for master of sports of motor rally, the member of the Trans-Asian automobile expedition "Altai-Himalaya" (2004), setting a record of Guinness Book of World Records in high rise on the car (5751 m), the Russian champion in sport auto tourism.


He initiated the restoration of the collection of G.V. Stuve’s engravings, later the collection of Struve-Otten.










V. Bibliography



      1. Amburger E.N., Gekker I.R., Mikhailov G.K. Genealogy list of descendants of Leonhard Euler // Development of the ideas of Leonhard Euler and modern science. Collected works, ed. N.N. Bogolyubov, G.K. Mikhailov, A.P. Yushkevich. - Moscow: Science,1988
      2. Gekker I. R., Euler A. A. The family and descendants of Leonhard Euler // Development of the ideas of Leonhard Euler and modern science. Collected works, ed. N. N. Bogolyubov, G. K. Mikhailov, A. P. Yushkevich. - Moscow: Science,1988
      3.  Georgiev L. Avalanches’ catcher // "Pravda", April 23, 1979.
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      5. Zinurov I. Exhibitions of home libraries // "Vecherniy Chelyabinsk", November 10, 1985.
      6. From the collection of a collector // "Chelyabinsk worker", October 27, 1979.
      7. Kitaev E. Henry Otten: "I am from Euler and Struve family" // "Chelyabinsk worker", January 24, 1995.
      8. Ladushina N. And cherish every moment ... // "Business Ural", October 9, 1998.
      9. Nagovitsyna T. Show me Titian // "Komsomolets", November 3, 1979.
      10. Pavlov V. View from high towers // "Vecherniy Chelyabinsk", January 2, 1980.
      11. Panteleyeva G. Collection of XIX century // "Vecherniy Chelyabinsk", November 14, 1979.
      12. Ravcheev S. Continuous good voice, directed to Russia // "Obschee Delo".
      13. Real Socialism: cell of system // Novosibirsk historical, educational, charitable and human rights society "Memorial".
      14. Rzhevskiy B. Repressed service // "Polyarka," January 13, 1998.
      15. Dictionaries and encyclopedias online.
      16. Smelyanskiy V., Reznitskaya T. Henry Otten. Avalanche of life // "A&F-Chelyabinsk" № 19 (746), May 2008
      17. Trifonova G. Collection of Henry Otten // "Obschee Delo", № 5, 1993.
      18. Trifonova G. S. Otten G.F. // Encyclopedia "Chelyabinsk".
      19. Trifonova G. S. It is not in the Hermitage // South-Ural State University, October 7, 2003 (
      20. Ustyantseva E. Henry XII of Euler and Struve family // "Vecherniy Chelyabinsk", June 4, 1998.
      21. Shneider F. About one invisible anniversary // "Chelyabinsk worker", February 10, 1997.
      22. Yakovleva L. The gift to you, people of Chelyabinsk // "Vecherniy Chelyabinsk", December 28, 1988.


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 For the first time, the article was published on the web-site, 2008


Photos under order of LLC «Rig Persona®»

Alexander SOKOLOV
rtem KIM


Photos from the family archive  Otten A.B.


Retouched photos, design by

rtem KIM


© LLC «RIG Persona®», 2008
© Otten A.B., 2008
Published with the permission of copyright owners and publishing rights.
At a reprint or citing, as well as the use of photographs permit from the copyright owners is required.


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