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Latvian exhibition opens at TSU

Thursday, May 1
The National Scientific Library of Tbilisi State University hosted an exhibition of Johann Christoph Brotze’s unique collection of paintings and descriptions, kept at the Academic Library of the University of Latvia.

The event was organized by the Academic Library of the University of Latvia, Embassy of Latvia to Georgia and the National Scientific Library of Tbilisi State University. The Ambassador of Latvia Elita Gavele addressed the guests including the Latvians living in Georgia, representatives of educational, cultural and scientific circles, and the diplomatic corps.

The Academic Library of the University of Latvia keeps documents that bear an interesting testimony to the fates of old books and manuscripts. The unique collection of Johann Christoph Brotze (1742-1823), teacher and regional ethnographer, is one of the most striking evidence of this valuable heritage.

Brotze collected historical materials and drew everything that seemed significant to him. He fixed everything with great preciseness and always added written explanations that sometimes were a few lines, but sometimes several pages long. Many of the objects drawn by Brotze perished or disappeared in the course of time, but information about them has been preserved in Brotze’s drawings and descriptions stored in the library.

Brotze tried to gather as much evidence and facts about each town as possible: he drew the most significant buildings of the town, gave a description of its history, furnished information on its economic and administrative situation, and gave facts about its inhabitants and their occupation. Thanks to the drawings of J. C. Brotze, we can visualize the demeanor of the representatives of 14 different nationalities that inhabited Riga at that time: the occupation, traditions and style.

In 1997, the Academic Library worked out a project supported by the Soros Foundation – Latvia and the Open Society Institute. The damaged volumes were restored and a digital archive of the ten volumes of Brotze’s Monumente was created. It consists of 3,130 pages of high-quality electronic images. It provides the information users with the possibility to analyze the details of the considerably enlarged drawings and to get reproductions equivalent to the originals.

In 2004, the Society Integration Foundation supported the project Depiction of the Multinational Latvia in Brotze’s Works. At the same time, a picture gallery of people of different nationalities was created.

The exhibition of Johann Christoph Brotze was presented in many European countries – Estonia, Poland, Finland, Austria, Germany, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, Lithuania, Hungary and Belarus. Brotze’s exhibition in Georgia will continue till May 29.