For the first time in two halls of the Governor-General's Palace, a collection of foreign paintings of the 19th century from the collection of the Vrubel Museum is presented in full - about 50 works by masters of leading art schools in Western Europe. The exposition is complemented by works of Western European and Russian sculpture, Western European graphics and Russian painting, as well as objects of decorative and applied art of this period. A number of works are exhibited for the first time. Most of the works presented at the exhibition come from the largest private pre-revolutionary collections of the Yusupovs, Gorchakovs, Saxe-Altenburgskys, Fabergés, etc. Thanks to collectors who highly appreciated their contemporary art, Russia managed to collect and preserve brilliant collections of works by artists of the "unknown century".
At first glance, the art of the 19th century seems to be well studied. The subject of interest in numerous publications and exhibitions most often became the work of major artists of the century, as well as individual styles and artistic trends that marked turning points in the history of visual arts. However, in recent decades, there has been a tendency to rethink the entire artistic culture of the century. Awareness of the need for a new look allowed the German researcher Rudolf Zeitler in the 1960s to title the volume on 19th century art, "The Unknown Century." The exhibition features works by Western European artists who adhered to the academic tradition in art and who exhibited their works in Salons and other official exhibitions. These authors were very popular and set fashion trends in art, their creations were highly valued by collectors.