The Hermitage: from the shelter of a hermit from one of the best museums in the world

The Hermitage: from the shelter of a hermit from one of the best museums in the world

165 years ago, a collection of masterpieces assembled by the Russian emperors, was opened to the public.

17 Feb 1852 in St. Petersburg, the Hermitage collection, which over the past nearly one hundred years of collecting Russian emperors, was opened to the public. By the beginning of XXI century this Museum, whose name actually translates from French as “secluded area”, entered the top twenty most visited in the world, and its extensive collection is housed in a complex of five buildings.

Izvestia recalled the major milestones in the history of one of Russia’s most important museums.

Who and how collected the Hermitage collection

The basis of the future of the exhibition included the paintings acquired in the middle of the XVIII century the Russian Empress Catherine II . Then by order of the Empress in Paris, was purchased a collection of paintings by Dutch and Flemish masters.

Masterpieces of painting are situated in a secluded wing of the Palace, which bore the name “the Hermitage” — it is inherited move and the future of the Imperial Hermitage, which, however, is already difficult to call a secluded area or the shelter of a hermit.

Later, ambassadors and Trustees of Catherine II on behalf of the Empress continued to buy the best works in Western Europe — so in the collection were paintings by Titian, Raphael and van Dyck. However, the Empress, buying masterpieces on their own money, Radel about the prestige of power, so she wanted to show the Western world that the Empire has money to buy art that other Western countries can not afford.

Her business will continue to Nicholas I, who, in fact, will open the collection to the public, and then his son Alexander II. However, of the 228 paintings, under Catherine II laid the Foundation of the Hermitage, to the present day preserved only about one hundred.

In the image gallery

The collection quickly grew so that no longer fit within the wing. In 1764 Catherine II planned the construction of the Small Hermitage, but I was quickly convinced that he will not be able to accommodate all the exhibits. And 1771-m began the construction of the building of the Big Hermitage on the promenade des Anglais.

In 1837 Nicholas I used the fire damaged standing next to the Winter Palace, and in the reconstruction of the Palace complex began construction of a New Hermitage, designed solely for cultural purposes.

The design of the building was entrusted to the famous German architect Leo von Klenze, has long sought to return to the architecture tradition of ancient Greece, — so were the famous Atlanta made on the draft Klenze Russian sculptor Alexander Terebenev by. The Atlanteans liked to Emperor Nicholas I, so that as a reward, he gave the sculptor a diamond ring.

In General, the idea of the architect, the appearance of the New Hermitage was to combine the best features of two of Munich’s famous museums — so the West facade of the building was like a Museum, located in Munich’s Museum of antiquities, East of Munich Pinakothek.

The new Hermitage was the first building in the history of Russia, once designed solely for cultural purposes. With its opening on 17 February 1852 collection of the Russian emperors became available to visitors

The intricacies of relations with Moscow

From the late eighteenth century the Hermitage’s collection has undergone many changes — the part of works belonging to the brush of Russian artists in the late nineteenth century moved to the Russian Museum. After the revolution, the collection was replenished by numerous nationalized private collections. However, the losses were significant — as a result of the sale of the valuables held by the Soviet authorities in 1920-1930-ies of the last century, abroad went to, including one in the Museum of the work of van Eyck, the work of the brush of Botticelli and Raphael.

However, perhaps the most complex relationship was with the Moscow Hermitage museums.

So, after the outbreak of the First world war, the piece of jewelry kept in Cabinet Diamond Winter Palace, for security reasons was transferred to the Moscow Kremlin

Then the revolution broke out, and the jewels remained in the vaults until 1920-ies, when a special Commission, after reviewing them, decided to transfer the assets to the jurisdiction of the Gokhran. They later formed the basis of the Diamond Fund of the Moscow Kremlin.

In 1948, on the contrary, the Hermitage was enriched with part of the collection closed in the Moscow Museum of new Western art, which housed the work of Western artists of the second half of XIX — early XX century.

But some works painted by artists of an earlier period, by contrast, moved from St. Petersburg to the Museum of fine arts named after Pushkin, located in Volkhonka is near the closed Museum of new Western art.

Here, in particular, went to work the brush of Titian, Veronese and Rubens. Disputes among critics about what kind of museums has more rights to certain collections, to the end do not stop until now.

The empty frame

By 1941, in the vaults of the Hermitage was kept about 1.6 million items. With the beginning of the blockade, the efforts of Museum Director, Iosif Orbeli and his staff they were all safely evacuated to the rear. The vaults were empty, and the Museum staff remained in their jobs. On the walls of the Museum halls as a reminder of exported paintings, by order of Orbeli was left hanging empty frames.

In late autumn 1941, the Museum staff decided to thank the soldiers who participated in the evacuation of the congregation — most of them were from other cities and before the war have not been to the Hermitage. Stopping in front of the squares and rectangles luxury frames, guides memory told unusual visitors not only the history that was here paintings, but also described the images on these subjects.

Later, it left on the walls of the frame allowed exactly restore the pre-war exhibition of the Museum. During the war, the Hermitage has not lost any of the exhibit and only a little needed renovations.

The most mysterious exhibits

Almost every exhibit in the Hermitage collection is a gem. However, many of these companies are private, often enigmatic or just an unexpected story. So, one of the trademarks of the Museum — a gold watch “Peacock” was commissioned by the famous English master Grigory Potemkin in 1777. In order to deliver them to Russia, the watch is dismantled — but to collect. “Overseas toy” later brought back to life by Russian master Ivan Kulibin.

It is also told that a statue of the goddess of war of the Flies-Sekhmet, one of the ancient Egyptian monuments on the territory of Russia, represented in the Egyptian hall of the Museum, was covered with a strange reddish tinge on the eve of the bloodiest events in the history of the country.

Another mystic legend connected with the “wax person” of Peter I, made after the death of the Emperor, under the direction of Rastrelli and is now stored in the Hermitage Department of Russian culture of the end of XVII — beginning of XVIII century.

Masters who worked on the production figures, supplied them with hinges that allow it to stand or “sit.” But some visitors to the Museum claimed to have seen the king rose, bowed, and even pointed them to the door. But because to behave in the “wax person” respectfully recommended, even when it sits quietly in its place.

But the acting Director of the Hermitage Mikhail Piotrovsky previously told “RIA Novosti” that the most mysterious painting in the Museum considers “leased” by Rembrandt. In 1985, a vandal doused the painting with acid and cut with a knife.

Despite many years of restoration, the traces of the attack are still evident in its Central part — where the acid had eaten away the top layer of the sketches

But after that first plan was made by these elements not previously glaring in the eyes of the viewer, for example, happened to the shackled Cupid in the headboard of the bed, Danae.