Wednesday, July 3, 2013

St. Petersburg - The Hermitage Museum



Exterior view of front of Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia
The Winter Palace, once the residence of Russian Tsars,
 is one of five palaces that make up the Hermitage Museum.




Created as a private court museum by Catherine the Great in 1764, the Hermitage Museum has grown to contain over three million objects.  The entire museum encompasses just under two million square feet and contains the largest collection of paintings in the world.

There are works by da Vinci and Rembrandt, there are Dutch and Flemish collections, Titians and Rubens.  There is a French Impressionist collection with works by Monet, Renoir, Degas, Van Gogh and Matisse, and the largest collection of Spanish art outside of Madrid's Prado Museum.


There are rooms devoted to ancient Greek pottery and Egyptian mummies, a gold room and an armory collection, galleries of sculpture. There is so much to see that it is impossible to take it all in.

Then, there is the Winter Palace itself, one of the five palaces that comprise the Hermitage, it is its own work of art.


The Winter Palace stairway creates an impressive entrance for the museum....


grandly gilded in gold...


with exquisite chandeliers hanging overhead.


Ceiling are dramatically frescoed...


and the floors are intricately designed parquet.



Staircases are elaborate but...


simple compared to the door and hardware design.


The galleries are spacious as many objects are quite large...


such as the armory collection with its taxidermy horses.



All of these wonderful treasures....


are conveniently labeled in English as well as Russian...


and watched over not by armed guards but by serious ladies who keep an eye
on rooms such as this one, filled with the masterpieces of Rembrandt.