Index of Historic Collectors and Dealers of Cubism
Zoubaloff, Jacques, or Jacques-Michel
Tbilisi, Georgia, 1876–Paris, 1941

Jacques Zoubaloff was a French collector, philanthropist, and amateur artist and composer. He collected paintings, watercolors, engravings, and sculptures by French nineteenth- and twentieth-century artists, building his collection largely on personal taste. Passionately devoted to the idea that his collection be accessible to the public, he lent and gifted objects frequently to Parisian museums, including the Louvre, Petit Palais, and Musée des Arts Décoratifs.

Zoubaloff was the son of a Georgian aristocrat and owner of an oil company in Baku. The family staked its entire wealth on an oil well in the Russian Empire (present-day Azerbaijan), which finally spouted in the early 1910s, just at the moment the Zoubaloffs were prepared to declare bankruptcy. Zoubaloff, who had come to Paris in 1904, used the dividends he received from the family business to invest in art, amassing a diverse collection of works by Old Masters as well as modern artists, including Degas, André Derain, Henri Laurens, Aristide Maillol, and Matisse. He housed his growing collection in his villa on the rue Émile-Ménier in the fashionable Paris suburb of Passy, and began making gifts and loans to Paris museums as a means of making room for new acquisitions. He gave works by Honoré Daumier and Théodore Géricault, among others, to the Louvre throughout the 1910s and a collection of sculptures by Antoine Barye and Maillol to the Petit Palais in 1916. For such generosity as a patron of the arts, he was awarded a Legion of Honor medal in 1920.

Around this same time, he began purchasing Cubist paintings and works on paper, acquiring Georges Braque’s Still Life with Banderillas (1911; The Metropolitan Museum of Art) from the Galerie Simon in 1924 and Fernand Léger’s Houses under the Trees (1913; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Promised Gift from the Leonard A. Lauder Cubist Collection) from the Galerie L’Effort Moderne in 1921. He came to know both artists on a personal level, possibly purchasing works from them directly. By the late 1920s, however, Zoubaloff began auctioning off part of his collection, potentially to support his own artistic practice as an amateur composer and painter of mostly still lifes and landscapes. The first auction was dedicated to the sale of Old Master and nineteenth-century art at the Hôtel Drouot in 1927, while his “Tableaux modernes,” a vast collection of watercolors, pastels, gouaches, drawings, lithographs, sculptures, and paintings were auctioned in 1935. The auction catalogue reveals that Zoubaloff’s Cubist holdings at the time included nine paintings by Braque, eleven by Juan Gris, eight by Léger, and seven canvases by Picasso. Zoubaloff continued making gifts to Paris museums during his lifetime, including notable donations to the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, and Petit Palais in 1933.

Contributed by Rachel Boate, August 2017
For more information, see:

Catalogue des tableaux modernes formant la dernière partie de la Collection Jacques Zoubaloff. Paris: Hôtel Drouot, 1935.

Cooper, Douglas and Gary Tinterow. The Essential Cubism: Braque, Picasso & Their Friends 1907–1920. London: Tate Gallery, 1983.

Janneau, Guillaume.La Donation Jacques Zoubaloff aux musées de France. Paris: Albert Morancé, 1928.

Artwork from the Leonard A. Lauder Collection Formerly Owned By Collector/Dealer:
Houses under the Trees
Houses under the Trees Fernand Léger
1913