Centre for Romanian Studies

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Collection of Antique Prints and Engravings (16thc – 19th c) Central Eastern Europe

February 19th, 2003 · No Comments · Art Exhibitions, Diaspora, PEOPLE

[i]Habsburg Empire, Russian Empire, Ottoman Empire ( Turkey in Europe)
the Principalities of Transylvania, Moldavia & Wallachia (present-day
– – – – – – – – – –

[b]The Philosophy of the Collection :[/b]

of Prince Dimitrie Cantemir by Claude Vignon

No single person could better represent the philosophy of this Collection
than Prince Dimitrie Cantemir. Born in Moldavia, educated in Istanbul, to
become a true Renaissance figure Cantemir spoke and wrote fluently in several
languages, was ennobled by the Tzar after the battle of the Pruth in 1711
and became a member of the Berlin Academy . Cantemir’s scholarly treatise
on the History of the Ottoman Empire remained for 200 years a crucial reference
book, used by Gibbon, Byron and Shelley and read by Churchill.

Dimitrie’s son, Antiochus, was the first Russian poet and was appointed
the Tzar’s envoy to London, where he translated and printed his father’s

For over 400 years since the conquest of Constantinople, the continuous
wars between the Ottomans and the Habsburgs, followed by the Russian-Ottoman wars changed the fortunes of empires. Yet in the midst of this maelstrom, in this Balkan alembic, the cross-fertilization of ideas produced some extraordinary
characters, who led armies, changed borders, encouraged the emancipation
of nations, explored the mosaic of a multi-ethnic society and attracted
the attention of painters and engravers from Western Europe from the earliest
map makers to the classic 18th and 19th century writers and artists.

It is hoped that such multi-faceted aspects, described by Cantemir in his
oeuvre, are reflected in the themes of these engravings, whether depicting
costumes, buildings, scenery, townscapes, battle scenes, military leaders,
or political borders.

This wide-embracing ethos helped coalesce over a period of three decades
the body of this Collection.



[b]The Collector : [/b]

Constantin Roman is born in Romania and educated in Bucharest and Cambridge. Since childhood his interest in Arts is stimulated by his maternal grandmother’s collection of paintings, dispersed under the Communist regime. At the same time he studied the collection of old engravings and prints of the Biblioteca Centrala Universitara in Bucharest (formerly Fundatia Regele Carol I) burnt in December 1989, by the Securitate.

From early childhood Constantin wanted to become an architect, but the positive discrimination meted out by the Communist regime after the Hungarian revolution of 1956, caused him to choose instead a career in Science. Ever since he kept a keen interest in History of Art and Architecture that is reflected in the current Collection.

Constantin ROMAN qualified with a Masters in Geophysics from the University of Bucharest. After graduation, he was invited to England, where he applied for and obtained several scholarships, in the United States, Canada and England amongst which a Research Scholarship from Peterhouse, Cambridge.

He graduated from Cambridge with a PhD in Plate Tectonics under the late Professor Sir Edward Bullard, FRS. Roman joined the exploration teams of major American oil companies in London, at the time of the first discoveries in the North Sea. He subsequently embarked on a career as an independent consultant to Industry and Governments, on world-wide projects. www.celticpetroleum.com

This offered him the opportunity to travels and pursue his passion for collecting items of Romanian interest, which form the present-day collection.


16C Italian Woodcut of Wallachia

After the fall of Ceausescu regime, he returned for a brief spell to the University of Bucharest as Visiting Professor. In 1997, in recognition of his contribution to Romanian Seismo-Tectonics Dr Roman was awarded the degree of Professor Honoris Causa of the University of Bucharest and President of Romania, Emil Constantinescu (1996-2000) named him a Personal Adviser (Energy and Natural Resources). In 2000 The Institute of Physics Publishers (Bristol and Philadelphia) printed “Continental Drift, Colliding Continents, Converging Cultures” which charts Constantin Roman’s career and contribution to Earth Sciences as well as his Cultural forays . In 2002 Professor Roman was invested with the Order of Merit (Culture) with the grade of Commander.

Constantin ROMAN is a British subject and currently lives in London.

[b]History of the Collection: [/b]

The Collector bought his first prints whilst a postgraduate student in Cambridge, in the early 1970’s, when very few people were interested in the subject and prices were accessible. Over the following thirty years, as a Geophysicist, he had the opportunity to travel extensively and added substantially to his collection, mostly from dealers in England, France and Holland. His particular interest concentrated on images from the Ottoman Empire in Europe, with emphasis on Wallachia and Moldavia (the Lower Danube and the Carpathians) as well as the Eastern part of the Habsburg Empire, (the Principality of Transylvania). Auxiliary themes of a wider regional interest (Polish, Russian, Balkan, Hungarian, Austrian, Turkish) are also present.

[b]Subject Matter:[/b]

The subject of the collection has a strong topographical interest. It consists of maps (including plans of battles and strategic fortifications), views (landscapes and townscapes), costumes, portraits of historical characters, scenes of social and political interest, architectural / natural monuments, political cartoons of the 19th century, etc. Breakdown of the Collection in main themes and epoch:

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