Story of Uue-Suislepa manor and memoirs about it in watercolour

Number: 
Anno 2015
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Research
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ill 1. Watercolour depicting the Green salon by Anna von Krüdener. 1887. The Viljandi Museum 9893:1K Conserved in 2015 by Tea Shumanov (Kanut). Photo – Kanut.

ill 1. Watercolour depicting the Green salon by Anna von Krüdener. 1887. The Viljandi Museum 9893:1K Conserved in 2015 by Tea Shumanov (Kanut). Photo – Kanut.

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ill 2. The Green salon of Uue-Suislepa Manor was decorated by the paintings – Girl with a Rooster and                        Boy with a Goose by Jacob Cerritsz Cuyp (1594-1652), about 1650.         Girl with a Rooster – EKM VM 108 (EKM M 438); Boy with a Goose – EKM VM 109 (EKM M         438)

ill 2. The Green salon of Uue-Suislepa Manor was decorated by the paintings – Girl with a Rooster and Boy with a Goose by Jacob Cerritsz Cuyp (1594-1652), about 1650.

Girl with a Rooster – EKM VM 108 (EKM M 438); Boy with a Goose – EKM VM 109 (EKM M 438)

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ill 3. In 1940 the Estonian Art Museum purchased the paintings from Gustav Kangro, an antiquarian in Tartu. He had bought them either in 1936 or 1937. H. Vernomasing conserved both paintings in 1999 (EKM). Photo – V. Vissel.

ill 3. In 1940 the Estonian Art Museum purchased the paintings from Gustav Kangro, an antiquarian in Tartu. He had bought them either in 1936 or 1937. H. Vernomasing conserved both paintings in 1999 (EKM). Photo – V. Vissel.

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ill 4. The painting Supper in Emmaus (Lambert Jacobsz’s studio (?) about 1630. EKM Mi179) can be seen hanging on the wall of the Green salon in Anna von Krüdener’s watercolour.

ill 4. The painting Supper in Emmaus (Lambert Jacobsz’s studio (?) about 1630. EKM Mi179) can be seen hanging on the wall of the Green salon in Anna von Krüdener’s watercolour.

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ill 5. Supper in Emmaus EKM Mi179 displayed at the Mikkel Museum. Legend – 1997 donated by Johannes Mikkel, comes from Uue-Suislepa Manor, conserved in 2007-2010 by Maris Klaas. (EKM). Photo – V. Vissel.

ill 5. Supper in Emmaus EKM Mi179 displayed at the Mikkel Museum. Legend – 1997 donated by Johannes Mikkel, comes from Uue-Suislepa Manor, conserved in 2007-2010 by Maris Klaas. (EKM). Photo – V. Vissel.

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ill 6. Watercolour by Anna von Krüdener depicting the dining room of Uue-Suislepa Manor. VM 9893:2. Conserved in 2015 by Tea Shumanov (Kanut). Photo – Kanut.

ill 6. Watercolour by Anna von Krüdener depicting the dining room of Uue-Suislepa Manor. VM 9893:2. Conserved in 2015 by Tea Shumanov (Kanut). Photo – Kanut.

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ill 7. Comparison of the painting depicting the dining room in the watercolour by Anna von Krüdener and the painting under national protection now in Sagadi Manor (Pheasants oil by J. Fr. Seupel).

ill 7. Comparison of the painting depicting the dining room in the watercolour by Anna von Krüdener and the painting under national protection now in Sagadi Manor (Pheasants oil by J. Fr. Seupel).

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ill 8. Pheasants, oil painting, Reg. no 2571. Author Johann Friedrich Seupel, made in Petersburg, 1785. Size: 112 x 142 cm. Signature : Seupel pinx. Photo – the National Heritage Board.

ill 8. Pheasants, oil painting, Reg. no 2571. Author Johann Friedrich Seupel, made in Petersburg, 1785. Size: 112 x 142 cm. Signature : Seupel pinx. Photo – the National Heritage Board.

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ill 9. Comparison of the painting depicting the dining room in the watercolour by Anna von Krüdener to the painting at present in Sagadi manor (Oil painting Fighting by J. Fr. Seupel). Photo – Kanut.

ill 9. Comparison of the painting depicting the dining room in the watercolour by Anna von Krüdener to the painting at present in Sagadi manor (Oil painting Fighting by J. Fr. Seupel). Photo – Kanut.

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ill 10.  Oil painting Fighting Reg no 2570. Author Johann Friedrich Seupel. Petersburg, 1786. Size: 112 x 142 cm. Signature in the left-hand lower corner: Seupel pinx, 1786. Conserved in 2004 by Malle-Reet Heidelberg (FIE). Photo – the National Heritage Board.

ill 10.  Oil painting Fighting Reg no 2570. Author Johann Friedrich Seupel. Petersburg, 1786. Size: 112 x 142 cm. Signature in the left-hand lower corner: Seupel pinx, 1786. Conserved in 2004 by Malle-Reet Heidelberg (FIE). Photo – the National Heritage Board.

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ill 11. Above: Plan of the manor and description of the rooms, a supplement to the diary of  von Krüdeners. The plan was drawn by memory of Verena von Krüdener (Lüers) in 1984. The photo from private collection. Below: Plan of inventory of the Uue-Suislepa manorial estate, 14 December 1983. ERA. T-76.1.15586

ill 11. Above: Plan of the manor and description of the rooms, a supplement to the diary of  von Krüdeners. The plan was drawn by memory of Verena von Krüdener (Lüers) in 1984. The photo from private collection. Below: Plan of inventory of the Uue-Suislepa manorial estate, 14 December 1983. ERA. T-76.1.15586

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ill 12. Moritz von Krüdener in his den. Photo – private collection.

ill 12. Moritz von Krüdener in his den. Photo – private collection.

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ill 13. The Blue salon. The painting Boy with a Goose and the sculpture Amor Seated by Etienne Maurice Falconet were originally in the Green salon located on the other side of the hall. Photo – a private collection. 

ill 13. The Blue salon. The painting Boy with a Goose and the sculpture Amor Seated by Etienne Maurice Falconet were originally in the Green salon located on the other side of the hall. Photo – a private collection.

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ill 14. View of the hall (with imperial portraits on the walls) from the Blue salon. The hall was also known as music room. The console tables and mirrors were earlier in the dining room. Photo from a private collection.

ill 14. View of the hall (with imperial portraits on the walls) from the Blue salon. The hall was also known as music room. The console tables and mirrors were earlier in the dining room. Photo from a private collection.

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ill 15. Barbara von Krüdener (1898-1916, Moscow) playing the piano in the hall, about 1910. Photo – private collection.

ill 15. Barbara von Krüdener (1898-1916, Moscow) playing the piano in the hall, about 1910. Photo – private collection.

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ill 16. Constance von Krüdener in the hall, the sculpture Rape of the Sabine Women by Giambologna is seen in the background and the painting Supper in Emmaus through the opened door. Photo from a private collection.

ill 16. Constance von Krüdener in the hall, the sculpture Rape of the Sabine Women by Giambologna is seen in the background and the painting Supper in Emmaus through the opened door. Photo from a private collection.

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ill 17. The hall with a view of the Blue salon. Photo – private collection.

ill 17. The hall with a view of the Blue salon. Photo – private collection.

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ill 18. The paintings of the dining room have been displayed in the same way as depicted in Anna von         Krüdener’s watercolour.  Photo – a private collection.

ill 18. The paintings of the dining room have been displayed in the same way as depicted in Anna von         Krüdener’s watercolour.  Photo – a private collection. 

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ill 19. Dining room in about 1910. A fragment of the familiar painting can be seen above the door. A grandfather clock and a sideboard with mounted figurines are also seen. Photo from a – private collection.

ill 19. Dining room in about 1910. A fragment of the familiar painting can be seen above the door. A grandfather clock and a sideboard with mounted figurines are also seen. Photo from a – private collection.

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ill 20. Children’s playroom about 1910. Photo – private collection.

ill 20. Children’s playroom about 1910. Photo – private collection.

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ill 21. Ida von Krüdener in her grandmother’s room on the upper (first) storey. Photo – a private collection.

ill 21. Ida von Krüdener in her grandmother’s room on the upper (first) storey. Photo – a private collection.

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ill 22. The hall. Christmas in 1915. Photo – a private collection.

ill 22. The hall. Christmas in 1915. Photo – a private collection.

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ill 23. Easter and egg rolling, possibly in 1916. Photo – a private collection.

ill 23. Easter and egg rolling, possibly in 1916. Photo – a private collection.

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ill 24. Elisabeth, Anna and Elli von Krüdeners in grandmother’s room on the upper floor. Photo – a private collection.

ill 24. Elisabeth, Anna and Elli von Krüdeners in grandmother’s room on the upper floor. Photo – a private collection.

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ill 25. Anna von Krüdener serving tea in the park. Photo – a private collection.

ill 25. Anna von Krüdener serving tea in the park. Photo – a private collection.

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ill 26. Furniture from the hall of Suislepa manor in the 1930s. The paintings, chairs and the chandelier as well as the candlesticks are in a new place but are still reminders of of Uue-Suislepa manor.

ill 26. Furniture from the hall of Suislepa manor in the 1930s. The paintings, chairs and the chandelier as well as the candlesticks are in a new place but are still reminders of of Uue-Suislepa manor.

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ill 27. The hall of Sagadi manor in 2014, photographed just before the Heritage Board’s convention of interiors by V. Vissel.

ill 27. The hall of Sagadi manor in 2014, photographed just before the Heritage Board’s convention of interiors by V. Vissel.

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ill 28. Uue-Suislepa manor. A coloured postcard from the author’s collection.

ill 28. Uue-Suislepa manor. A coloured postcard from the author’s collection.

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ill 29. Above the watercolour before conservation, below after conservation. On the right – a sketch of Medusa’s head drawn on the back of the watercolour. Photo – Kanut.

ill 29. Above the watercolour before conservation, below after conservation. On the right – a sketch of Medusa’s head drawn on the back of the watercolour. Photo – Kanut.

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ill 30. Above in the centre the watercolour before conservation and below after it. The holes in the paper (on the left and right above) were under-set with special repair paper and filled with a mixture from an adhesive and cellulose powder on the surface of the watercolour, then toned with watercolours (below, on the left). Photo – Kanut.

ill 30. Above in the centre the watercolour before conservation and below after it. The holes in the paper (on the left and right above) were under-set with special repair paper and filled with a mixture from an adhesive and cellulose powder on the surface of the watercolour, then toned with watercolours (below, on the left). Photo – Kanut.

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ill 31. Conservator Tea Shumanov retouching the losses in the watercolours. Photo – V. Vissel

ill 31. Conservator Tea Shumanov retouching the losses in the watercolours. Photo – V. Vissel

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ill 32. Art pieces and furnishings in the dining room have been in their original location for a long time.

ill 32. Art pieces and furnishings in the dining room have been in their original location for a long time.

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ill 33. The paintings and sculptural figures that can be seen in the watercolour have been either shifted from their places or moved to different rooms. The sculptural group Rape of the Sabine Women by Giambologna on the right was taken into the hall and the figure Amor seated by Etienne Maurice Falconet on the left into the Blue salon.

ill 33. The paintings and sculptural figures that can be seen in the watercolour have been either shifted from their places or moved to different rooms. The sculptural group Rape of the Sabine Women by Giambologna on the right was taken into the hall and the figure Amor seated by Etienne Maurice Falconet on the left into the Blue salon.

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ill 34. The portraits in the hall have been painted after well known masters’ work. The portrait of Catherine II was painted after F. Rokotov, the portraits of Emperor Paul I and Empress Maria Fyodorovna after A. Roslin; Alexander Pavlovich as a child and possibly Konstantin Pavlovich as a child after the paintings by D. Levitski.

ill 34. The portraits in the hall have been painted after well known masters’ work. The portrait of Catherine II was painted after F. Rokotov, the portraits of Emperor Paul I and Empress Maria Fyodorovna after A. Roslin; Alexander Pavlovich as a child and possibly Konstantin Pavlovich as a child after the paintings by D. Levitski.

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ill 35. The portraits of Emperor Paul I and Empress Maria Fyodorovna were painted after A. Roslin’s work.

ill 35. The portraits of Emperor Paul I and Empress Maria Fyodorovna were painted after A. Roslin’s work.

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The present article that is generally based on data and information from the Viljandi (Local History) Museum, the National Heritage Board and some private collections attempts to offer a glimpse into the historical interiors of a manor and the story of their development. I have described the past of Uue-Suislepa, including its interiors and cultural traditions in several of my former reports, the first of them on the Heritage Board’s day of interiors on 24 January 2014.

Most of the historical manorial interiors in Estonia have lost their natural character that was based on the traditions of the nobility and reflected the habits and conventions of the families inhabiting them. Even the rooms with original furnishing are no more than re-constructions. Old photos do not yield enough information either, they are rare and only hint at the traditions. However, he hints may be rather expressive, telling us about the family, their furniture, commodities and sometimes even about their objects of art.

When I was researching the history of Uue-Suislepa Manor and the noble family of von Krüdeners I found, among other things, a marginal but personally interesting fact – the date of my birth the first of May – occurred in the family chronicles twice. Elisabeth von Krüdener married on her 25th birthday on May 1, 1853 and the same date in 1921 signified the day when in the course of the land reform the property was transferred to the young Republic of Estonia. Naturally, there is a lot more in the story of the manorial estate and the family Krüdeners than the mere date that was significant to me.

As for historical material, it is rich enough. I was lucky to lay my hands on the diary of Elisabeth von Krüdener (1828-1916, née Wulf) from the period 1853-1915, later in 1915-1921 supplemented by her son Moritz von Krüdener (1862-1936). [1] The diary that today belongs to the offspring describes the management of the estate but also gives us an idea about the interior of the manor and the changes made in it. Together with the preserved photos this diary, translated by Ly Haan, gives us a wonderful opportunity to cross the bridge back into the past.

Something about the early years of the manorial estate in the diary – ‘Uue-Suislepa manorial estate was bought from baron Mengden in 1799. The latter had obtained it as a present from Emperor Paul I. In 1818 the estate was inherited by my father-in-law Moritz who bequeathed it to his second son, my husband Theodor in 1851. In about 1820 my father-in-law had a new manor house built and a new garden laid out [ill28]. When I came to live in the manor two beautiful old apple-trees were still growing on the slope towards the river. They must have been the first trees of the cultivar, as it is still called Suislepp all over the Province of Livonia.’

The earliest description of the interior dates from 1853. ‘When I, Elisabeth von Krüger, came to Suislepa manor, it had two identical entrance staircases on the front facade. The furnishing of the house was plain indeed. The big hall had but two very hard sofas, 12 chairs of the same quality, a pair of wall-mirrors with a card-table and a grand piano in front of them. The grand piano was my wedding present from my father-in-law. The whitewashed walls had oil paintings on them – portraits of emperors, landscapes and some paintings of animals. There was a beautiful chandelier decorated with glass prisms and several marble tables. The latter came from a palace in Petersburg and had been purchased at an auction. The upper floor had still white, unpainted floors. In the middle of the room opening to the balcony was an old billiard table, big oak-wood beds stood at the walls, as the room was used as a bedroom for gentlemen guests.’

Reconstruction of the manor was completed in 1860. The second entrance staircase on the façade was demolished and an annex with living rooms was built. In her memoirs Baltic-German writer Monika Hunnius described Uue-Suislepa manor in the 1870s as follows – ‘Next morning I was shown around in the house with its beautiful rooms furnished with expensive old pieces. But everything was mixed up and somehow this made it beautiful – an Empire-style room decorated with medallions full of á la Jacobe furniture and other rooms furnished with higgledy-piggledy Empire and Biedermeier pieces. The home-organ on a high graded pedestal was also of mahogany. Oil paintings after old masters on the walls had once had beautiful gilded frames but these had been over-painted in terrible grey oil paint. This vandalism was appointed to some distant forefather.

“Couldn’t these rooms be rearranged somehow?” I asked my friend Doris in a low voice. “How beautiful your house could be!”

“Oh no,” she answered quickly, “absolutely out of the question! It has always been like that and so it will be in the future. Nobody is allowed to make any changes.”  [2]

RARE WATERCOLOURS

The earliest known interior pictures from Uue-Suislepa Manor are the watercolours by Anna von Krüdener from 1887 that now are in the collection of the Viljandi Museum. These two detail-rich paintings and some later-day family photos together with the diary give us some idea about the changes that took place in Uue-Suislepa Manor throughout the decades. A more extensive renovation and modernisation was carried out in the 1890s, after the marriage of Anna von Krüdener’s brother Moritz.

Quite a few descriptions of the reconstruction in Uue-Suislepa Manor and its interior have survived. In addition to the two above-mentioned watercolours the Krüdeners’ album from 1900-1917 offers valuable information about the details mentioned in the memoirs. The paintings in the big hall were connected with Emperor Paul’s present to Count Mengden. The paintings remained in the same room since they had been first placed there when the manor was built until the transference of the ownership. They were only shifted a little on the walls of the room. The portraits of Emperor Paul and Empress Maria Fyodorovna were side by side and the oval portrait of Catherine II was on the end wall between the portraits of her two favourite grandsons Grand-duke Alexander and Konstantin Pavlovich.

THE HIDDEN TREASURES OF THE MANOR

A withheld custom of the owners of the manor was to move the more valuable property into the so-called vaulted room when times were hard and threatening. In 1862 the foundation of the manor was strengthened, as the lower timbers had decayed. In the course of re-enforcement three new rooms with brick floors were built in the basement.

When the school in the former manor carried out repairs and renovations in 2007, a walled-in door was discovered in the pupils’ cloakroom. The room opened behind the door was full of soviet-time paraphernalia that confirmed the time of its walling in – according to records the cloakroom was built in 1969.  [3]

The basement with thick walls and impenetrable door has been mentioned in the diary for several times. The first record is from Moritz von Krüdener who wrote on 23 November 1905 – ‘In 1917 when manors were obliged to accommodate the military, hectic packing followed. Some of the better old furniture was sent to Viljandi, some to Tarvastu Manor and only the bigger and heavier pieces had to remain where they had always been. Cupboards and all doors were unlocked to avoid breaking them down. Many things were hidden underground. Pictures, paintings, bed-clothes and linen and better clothes were removed into the fire-proof vaulted room.’

In 1920 Moritz von Krüdener who lived in Germany passed a long and complicated bureaucratic operation in order to obtain a visa to Estonia. When he arrived in Suislepa in June he wrote – ‘I walk through all the rooms and observe the damages the soldiers have caused. The furniture has been broken and a few pieces are missing. Most of the furnishing is still there. The only place they could not break into is the vaulted room, although they had tried hard. The lock was intact and I could open it and had the door repaired. What serendipity that I had crammed so many things into the room before my departure. The portraits of emperors in the hall were still hanging on the walls, only Catherine II had been shot in the breast.’

Thanks to the vaulted room some pieces of art were preserved. Thus the three paintings of the Green salon and the two from above the dining room door have survived. A curious quirk traced all the paintings to Tartu antiquarian Gustav Kangro.

The paintings from the Green salon – Supper in Emmaus, Girl with a Rooster and Boy with a Goose – that all belong to the Estonian Art Museum today – were purchased from Kangro as it has been recorded. The two large 18th-century paintings from the dining room were bought from Mrs. Linda Alekõrs in the early 1980s to decorate the freshly restored Rägavere Manor. Today these two are in the big hall of Sagadi manor. Is there a connection? Sure, the former curator of the Tallinn City Museum’s art collection Linda Alekõrs was the daughter of antiquarian Kangro.

The paintings had been obtained by Kangro in the late-1930s. The Krüdener’s diary tells us that Moritz von Krüdener moved back to Estonia from Germany in 1936 to live at his newly-married son Jürgen’s,  at the Pala manorial estate. Everything preserved of Suislepa manor had been taken to Pala. Moritz died the same year in Tartu. After his father’s death the son might have sold the ‘treasure of the vaulted room’ to the local antiquarian.

CONSERVATION OF THE WATERCOLOURS

Paper conservator Tea Shumanov analysed the condition of the watercolours, mapped the damages and tested the colours for their sensitivity to water. The paper had yellowed and the reverse side of both watercolours was extremely dirty. The paper also had insect-caused holes.

The watercolour depicting the Green salon of the manor (21.1 x 28.5 cm) bears the legend Suislep Grünes Zimmer Januar 1887 A.v.KI. on the lower right-hand side of its back. The watercolour depicting the dining room of the manor was more damaged. The text on the back says – Suislep Speisezimmer von Anna v. Krüdener yez. Januar 1887.

SUMMING UP

Uue-Suislepa manor that was cherished by a large family whose several generations spent the majority of their summer days could be known only as the place from where the legendary apple cultivar Suislepp comes. However, research of the building has brought forth several noteworthy pieces of art. The analysis of the latter has helped to interpret the Baltic-German cultural tradition and its reflection on the mundane. This, in its turn has helped to understand the development of a manor as home.

Viited: 

  1. The diary of Elisabeth von Krüdener and Moritz von Krüdener from 1853-1915, 1915-1921. Translated from the German language into Estonian by Ly Haan. 118 pages. The manuscript, pages not numbered, is in private ownership. The quotations in the article come from the diary (in case not otherwise noted).
  2. Hein, A. Viljandimaa mõisad. Viljandi, 1999, p 70. Reference to the original source – Hunnius, M.  Baltische Häuser und Gestalten. Heilbronn, 1926, pp 232-233.
  3. http://www.postimees.ee/1680535/suislepa-moisast-tuli-paevavalgele-salaruum(link is external)
  4. The Art of the Low Countries at the Kadriorg Art Museum, Compiled by: Greta Koppel, Art Museum of Estonia-Kadriorg Art Museum 2012.