At the end of the 1980s, after meeting Petr Litvinsky and Ilyia Glazunov in the "Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando" (Madrid), Dolores Tomás visited Russia for the first time. Joined by Litvinsky (then Head Professor of the Surikov Institute of Arts), Tomás had the chance to visit several museums. She was keen to know more about Post-Revolutionary Russian painting; but while visiting these museums, she found only paintings from the first twenty years of the century. The Socialist, Post-Soviet, and Renewed Russia periods were each given only a minimal presence, which Tomás found surprising. This motivated her to try and discover what had happened to the Post-Revolutionary painting still virtually unknown in the West.
During this journey, she managed to visit Litvinsky´s studio in secret. She was astonished to find that he had kept paintings from throughout his life unpublished; paintings that reflected an intimate and traditional life history.
In her next trip, she visited the Litvinsky studio again and acquired her first pieces. Helped by the Surikov Art Institute, she met important masters like Danilichev, Fomkin, and Khristolyubov. While visiting their studios, she was yet again surprised to find their entire life’s output almost intact. She started to understand the importance of this clandestine work and decided to begin an exhaustive research project to locate through their schools the traces left by those unknown masters, driven into obscurity during the Soviet Union era.
And so Tomás began her long and passionate journey across the Soviet Union, from the Far West to the Chukotka peninsula. She visited the main art schools in Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Nizhni-Novgorod, Yoshkar Ola, Samara, Volgograd, Tula, Astrakan, and Central Asia.
From that moment, and full of enthusiasm, she started to acquire and restore every good painting that represented the real life of these peoples, their customs, their characters and landscapes; everything that could help to elucidate the history of 20th Century Russia and the Soviet Union.
Each of the masters she encountered opened a door for her to meet other masters; they seemed an endless source of information. At that time, she decided to compile a collection in which all these painters could express their life stories through their brushwork, and she assumed a commitment to preserving the artworks she gathered.
In the year 2000, over 200 paintings were selected from this Collection and officially presented by Spain’s Ministry of Culture in a three-month exhibition at the former Contemporary Art Museum in Madrid, under the name "Russia 20th Century". This exhibit could be considered an homage to all those artists who worked in obscurity, many of them unknown during the most vital portions of their careers. The aim of this selection was to depict daily life in Russia throughout the 20th Century, and to bring to light the excellent work of these marvellous artists.
In 2010, the cultural program of the Spanish Presidency of the UE included an exhibition of this Collection in Barcelona.
And now the time has come for this Collection to launch its international stage.
"It has been an enormous privilege to meet most of the painters whose work is integrated in this Collection. Those relationships have been very important in my life. I have visited them in their studios, sometimes thousands of kilometers away from one another. I have shared unforgettable moments with their families and they told me hundreds of experiences they had reflected in their work. They allowed me not only to get into their world, but also offered me their affection, friendship and the chance to know and love Russia in depth. This Collection is to honour all of them". Dolores Tomás