The Hermitage

 Hermitage - Grand Courtyard

One day spent traveling through time and space in one of the world’s most magnificent museums was enough to convince Edwin and me that we must come back to The Hermitage.  Within its walls we see the history of Russian culture as well as the history of the state.  The halls have hosted “Greats” such as Peter and Catherine.  Alexander II died from wounds suffered in a terrorist attack here.  The Hermitage withstood the Nazi siege of Leningrad.  It has continued to evolve in spite of overwhelming circumstances.   

Entrance to the museum is from the grand ceremonial courtyard into the Winter Palace.  Immediately inside one is dwarfed by the sumptuous Jordan Staircase. 

Hermitage Jordan Staircase

The Hermitage was founded in 1764.  Empress Catherine II who reigned over Russia from 1762 – 1796 initiated the collection.  It was opened to the public at the end of the 19th century. Before this time the number of visitors to the museum was very small.  Special permission from the Court Office was required and only the elite were able to obtain permission.  Visitors were required to wear formal attire or full dress military uniforms.

The State Hermitage is a treasure-trove of some 3,000,000 exhibits including:

350 halls

15 thousand paintings

12 thousand sculptures

600 thousand drawings

600 thousand monuments

And much more.

There is no equal in the world to the rooms and galleries of the Winter Palace and Hermitage.  Two centuries of architects have added to the glory of the palace and the Imperial Museum.  Some rooms were designed specially to be exhibition halls while others were planned as private living quarters.  Sumptuous staterooms and palace suites were designed for royal balls and receptions.  One such hall, the Pavilion Hall is home to perhaps the most popular exhibit, The Peacock Clock.

Most of our photos from our tour of the Hermitage are shots of the rooms as no snapshot can express the genius of the masterworks that are on display.  Seeing with one’s own eyes these great pieces is a truly awesome experience.  A few highlights on display are:

Leonardo di Vinci’s “Litta Madonna”

Rembrandt’s “Sacrifice of Abraham”

Rodin’s “Eternal Spring” (sculpture)

Degas’ “Woman Combing Her Hair”

Gougin’s “Woman Holding a Fruit”

Picasso’s “Guitar and Violin”

 

The exhibits are overwhelming.  One could spend a whole day in each room.  We weren’t able to get to many exhibits and some we were only able to breeze by with a promise to return.

 

I’m inserting a few photos of rooms that are especially beautiful to give a hint of the grandeur of the museum.  Click on pictures for more information.

 

The Pavilion Hall

Hermitage Pavilion Hall

 

Hermitage Peacock Clock

The Raphael Loggias

Hermitage Raphael Loggias

The Leonardo da Vinci Hall

Hermitage Leonardo da Vinci Room ceiling

 The Alexander Hall

The Alexander Hall (1838 – 1839) architect: Alexander Briullov

The Small Italian Skylight Hall 

The Small Italian Skylight Hall (1842 – 1851) architect: Leo von Klenze

The Small Italian Skylight Hall (1842 – 1851) architect: Leo von Klenze

 The Children’s Exhibit  

 Hermitage Children's Exhibit

Seeing works of the great masters was an unforgettable experience but especially touching to me was the exhibit of paintings of children as young as five years of age.  The Hermitage offers many youth programs including programs for children with special needs.  Viewing this very special exhibit brought back memories of art classes which my boys, Joe and Sammy, were privileged to take under the brush of my dear friend Jillian Goldberg.  The instruction they received at a very young age has inspired them until today.  It is satisfying indeed to see that a grand museum such as the Hermitage understands the importance of instruction and inspiration to children and that the museum is very child friendly.

  

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