The Portrait as a Biography of Innocence. An Inter-War Photographer: Dumitru Furnică-Minovici (1897-1982)




From November 14th 2019 to February 29th 2020, at Dr. Nicolae Minovici Museum, the Bucharest Municipality Museum will showcase a thematic exhibition featuring photographs taken by engineer Dumitru Furnică-Minovici.

Dimitrie Furnică Minovici was born on the 14th of December 1897 in Bucharest, as son of Zaharia Furnică and Elena, née Minovici.

Although ever since his childhood he showed great interest in art, his parents wanted him to study at a technical university after graduating from college. He therefore enrolled at the Faculty of Mines and Oil from Toulouse. After graduation he completed his studies with a Phd degree at Ecole du Petrole in Paris.

After returning in Romania, he was employed as executive director at ”Cremin”, the Vienna branch of the Mining Credit Society (which back then exported Romanial oil all over Europe), a position which required him to travel through Europe almost daily, in order to make contracts.

This way he had the possibility to use his free time to visit museums, antique shops, art auctions, collecting items which he sent back home with the intention of setting up a museum upon his return.

With regards to this plan, he was assisted by his uncles on his mother’s side, the three Minovici brothers, who even helped him found a museum of Western art (in 1941, with the help of Italian architect Enzo Canella), next to the Museum of Folk Art “Dr. Nicolae Minovici”. Thus, in 1945, the building that hosted those objects of art became a museum, which Dumitru Minovici, just like his uncles, donated to the Romanian Academy. He was named its director and, at the same time, was employed at the Academy’s “Stamps” department where he was approving the various items that were to be purchased (book, drawings, manuscripts etc).

During this time he was also often involved in the Acquisition committees of various museums. After the death of his uncle, Dr. Nicolae Minovici, according to his will he was also named director of the Museum of Folk Art. Engineer Dimitrie Furnică Minovici died in 1982.

With an admirable intelectual strength, Dumitru Furnică Minovici managed to adapt to times. After coming out of the First World War at the start of his youth, and being sent by his parents to ”learn a serious job” while his love for art remained a hobby for more than 20 years, he eventually earned his living for more than three decades (starting with 1948) using the experience he had gained at the art auctions he took part in to grow his collection of mediaeval art. Something he had never thought of during the mid `20s when he started working for the Mining Credit.

On one hand, the exhibition will present the public what passion for photography meant for an interwar freelancer, and on the other hand it will represent a source of very interesting anthropological information regarding the middle class European man of the interwar period, because most of the people photographed by Dimitrie Furnică Minovici were not Romanians, but his business partners from across Central Europe.

The 5000+ collection of photos which belonged to Dimitrie Furnică Minovici was digitized between 2017 and 2018, and the current exhibition showcases only a single theme out of the many varied ones in the collection.

The exhibition has a double premiere: the artistry of Dimitrie Furnică Minovici, unknown until today, and the first public exhibition of a part of his photos, which will reveal for us an interwar world full of life, serenity and preoccupied with keeping its innocence.

Adrian Majuru