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Antiquities and Rarities in mid-19th Century Wallachia: Dimitrie Papazoglu’s Collection for “The Feeling of Love of the Progress of my Nation”

November 23, 2022 @ 7:00 pm9:00 pm

Dr. Roxana Coman
(Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, Orient-Institut Istanbul)

Antiquities and Rarities in mid-19th Century Wallachia:
Dimitrie Papazoglu’s Collection for “The Feeling of Love of the Progress of my Nation”

Wednesday, 23 November 2022, 19:00 (Turkish time, GMT + 3)

In 1860, Dimitrie Papazoglu (1811 – 1892) opened a museum in his private residence on Calea Văcărești, no 151, Bucharest. During four decades, he had gathered a collection of “antiquities and rarities”, as he called it, that now formed the core of this private museum. Lieutenant Major Dimitrie Papazoglu had a significant military career; his family roots were either attributed to the Phanariot merchant family Papazoglu or to that of old Wallachian boyar Slătineanu. He received his formal education in the Habsburg imperial school in Brașov. After retiring from the army in 1857, he began dabbling in archaeology and history writing, and published a significant number of books, lithographs, and maps, often with a didactic purpose.

When Papazoglu describes the object-categories of his curatorial discourse he leaves the reader of one of his best-selling publications with the feeling of dealing with some form of Cabinets de curiosités or Wunderkammer. However, there is an evident didactic tendency in both his diverse publications, and his selection of artefacts. His insistence on and the various distinctions he makes between categories of “Turkish”, “Oriental”, and “Egyptian” provoke questions on their meaning in the context of the collection, the entangled histories of mid-19th century Ottoman Empire, and on the process of constructing a Romanian national heritage inventory. Dimitrie Papazoglu’s collection is not only a self-narrative of himself and his nationalist discourse, but also integrated in Romania’s self-representation, since Alexandru Odobescu exhibited a part of his collection in Romania’s national pavilion at the Exposition universelle d’art et d’industrie, in 1867. This talk will focus on Dimitrie Papazoglu’s collecting practices and attempt to answer questions such as: what are the meanings he assigned to the artefacts he collected? How did he define the concept of antiquities? What were the contents of his collection? What are the current available sources for (re-)tracing the collection?


Roxana Coman is currently a Post-Doctoral fellow at the Orient-Institut Istanbul and member of the COST Action Europe through Textiles: Network for an integrated and interdisciplinary Humanities. Her research interests include Ottoman material culture and private 19th and early 20th century collections in Romania. After graduating from a B.A. and M.A. in Art History at the Faculty of History, University of Bucharest, she explored in her Ph.D. the various narratives and representations on what was constructed as Oriental vs Romanian during the second half of the 19th century. Volunteering during her B.A. and M.A. studies in the National Museum of Art of Romania, she worked between 2016 – 2022 as a curator in the Bucharest Municipality

After obtaining her Ph.D. in 2016, Roxana continued to research the dynamic between the presence of Ottoman material culture in Wallachia and Moldavia, and the strategies employed by the national state of Romania in dealing with its Ottoman legacy. Therefore, she attended several summer schools such as “Shadows of the Empires. Imperial Legacies and Mythologies in Central Eastern Europe,” 2021 in Sofia, Bulgaria, and “The City as Archive. Histories of Collecting and Archiving in and the Musealisation of Florence, Eighteenth Century to the Present,” 2018.


November 23, 2022
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm