Art lovers’ paradise- Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg
3 February 2019
One of the highlights of my tour of Russia was definitely the Winter Palace and the State Hermitage Museum. The Hermitage Museum is the second largest museum in the world after Louvre in France. It certainly lives up to its reputation. It was magnificent. As always, I used the services of a local guide. A young Russian woman who knew her stuff and talked passionately about each attraction we visited. The Museum was founded by Catherine the Great and houses over 3 million works of art. We couldn’t cover everything in the three hours we spent there. The Hermitage Museum is truly an art lovers’ paradise! I would recommend it to anyone interested in that type of thing.
As you enter the museum complex, the first thing that hits you is the famous Jordan Staircase of the Winter Palace. Everyone marvelled at the grandeur of the entrance. So did we.
My friend and I couldn’t resist taking photos from every possible angle! It is a magnificent staircase – breathtaking!
Here are my favourite paintings and sculpture in the Hermitage Museum.
The Crouching Boy- by Michelangelo
This is Michelangelo’s unfinished sculpture of a crouching boy. It is one of the “must see” in the Hermitage Museum. It is a very beautiful sculpture and the detail was incredible. I could not resist taking photos from every angle – even the muscle on the back was magnificent. I loved it!
Madonna and Child by Leonardo Da Vinci
This is truly a beautiful painting – a masterpiece. It must be very valuable as it is one of very few paintings encased in glass!
The Return of the Prodigal Son by Rembrandt (Dutch Painter)
The Return of the Prodigal Son is an oil painting and it is said to be one of Rembrandt’s final works. It is regarded as one of the “must see” of paintings in the Hermitage. It was indeed stunning and it did not fail to attract lots of admirers. Regrettably, my photo doesn’t do it justice!
Conestabile Madonna by Raphaello (Italian Painter)
Conestabile Madonna is a small painting, and it is one of Raphaello’s early works. The story behind it is that the “Madonna and Child” was acquired from Count Constable in 1870 and presented by Alexander I to his wife. It was bequeathed to the Hermitage Museum after her death.
Danae by Rembrandt (Dutch Painter)
This painting is one of Rembrandt’s best nude paintings and greatest masterpieces. It was bought by Catherine II of Russia in 1770 and it has been in the Hermitage Museum in StPetersburg ever since. The painting was vandalised in 1985 and it took the Museum 12 years to repair and restore it. Danae is now protected by armoured glass. It is one of the “must see” of paintings in the Museum. Unfortunately, my photo doesn’t do it justice.
The Resurrection of Christ by Peter Paul Rubens
Catherine II purchased this painting in 1610 and it is reported that The Resurrection was never completed. The Hermitage restored it, and this took around 3 years to do. It is a huge and beautiful painting. The light in the room reflected on it even without using a flash.
The birth of Saint John the Baptist by Jacopo Robusti
This is truly a beautiful painting, and the only one in the Hermitage Museum by this Painter who is reported as the last great master of the Italian Renaissance. He is also called Jacopo Tintoretto. The rest of his works remain in Venice.
Peter and Paul the Apostles by El Greco (Spanish Painter)
This painting is displayed in the “Spanish Cabinet “ in the New Hermitage Museum. It is referred to as the “cabinet” because it is one of the smaller rooms in the building adjacent to the main rooms. The poses of the two men are opened to interpretation. Some say they are a striking but contrasting individuals, one stronger (ie Paul in red cloak) than the other (Peter in lighter cloak on the left). I see a very wise, quiet and reserved man (Peter) and an ambitious younger man (Paul) who is trying to show that he is an important and educated man.
What do you see?
The Lunch by Diego Velazquez
Our tour guide drew out attention to this painting and asked us what we saw in the painting. It certainly attracted several visitors. I love the painting. There are only three people in the photo having lunch. A old man on the left and a young man on the right. In the background, there is boy in the middle pouring wine into a jug. And what appears to be a figure behind him is a trick of the light! Do you see it or guess that is the case?
Portrait of Antonia Zarate by Francisco De Goya (Spanish Painter)
This is the only painting by Goya in a Russian collection – now in the Hermitage Museum. I just loved this painting. It was impressive and one of the “must see” collections., hence including it here.
I think she has a seductive, playful look; innocent perhaps? I loved it and I stood infant of it for ages, just staring at it, captivated!
The Famous Peacock Clock
This famous clock is located in the Pavilion Hall in the galleries of the Small Hermitage. It features three mechanical golden birds – a peacock, a rooster and an owl.
James Cox, an English clock maker made this famous clock. It has been carefully restored and it is now in working order. It has the most beautiful display of the bird’s wings at the stroke of the hour. It was a joy to watch. Like every visitor, we were mesmerised by it.
The Raphael Loggias
The Loggias of the New Hermitage was created for Catherine II in the 1780s and it is a copy of the one in the Vatican Palace in Rome that was frescoed from sketches by Raphael. The vaults of the gallery contain a cycle of paintings on subjects from the Holy Scriptures, that are collectively know as “Raphael’s Bible”. It was very beautiful but there was a lot to take in!
By chance, we got to see the military band rehearsing on Palace Square for a National holiday in Russia that celebrates Victory day. It was an unexpected treat! And no-one minded us taking photos !
If you are an art lover and appreciate beautiful things, then you will love the Winter Palace and the Hermitage Museum. I only scratched the surface, there were plenty more beautiful things to see. Please go and explore it. You will not be disappointed!