museo Ermitage

The State Hermitage Museum

Famous for the astonishing quantity and quality of the artistic, historical and cultural heritage that it preserves within it, the Stata Ermitage Museum houses almost 3 million works of art created by the greatest masters of all time (by Filippo Lippi, Leonardo, Titian, Giorgione, Caravaggio, Rubens, Velasquez, Van Dyck, Rembrandt, Tiepolo and Canova a Degas, Cézanne, Monet, Gauguin, Matisse and Picasso), as well as very valuable goldsmith works, furnishing objects, costumes and porcelain. The Museum was born by the will of Catherine II who, in a building adjacent to the Winter Palace, had a good retreat built, a "hermitage", in which to collect the paintings she was gradually buying, especially in Europe. Very few were the elect admitted to admire the works: everyone was required to enter without sword and hat, renounce social rank, undertake not to touch or break anything, speak in a low voice and never yawn. Offenders would have had a curious punishment: drinking water. The first nucleus of the Tsarina's collection (and of the museum) dates back to 1764, when Catherine, snatching it from Frederick II of Prussia, bought 225 Flemish and Dutch paintings from the Berlin merchant Johann Ernest Gotzkowski, including the famous Portrait of a man with glove by Frans Hale. Thanks to the mandate given personally to the Russian ambassadors in Rome, Paris, Amsterdam and London to search for new works for his collection, the collection grew very quickly.

Together with the number of works it was necessary to increase the spaces in which to exhibit them: between 1771 and 1779 the Great Hermitage was built; between 1783 and 1789 it was the turn of the Theater, designed by Giacomo Quarenghi. However, it was only between 1839 and 1851 that the New Errmitage was born, conceived as a real museum. The project was entrusted to the architect Franz Karl Leo von Klenze, who conformed it to the Winter Palace. In 1852 the Museum was finally opened to the public, immediately after the acquisition in Venice of the extraordinary Barbarigo collection, with which masterpieces of the caliber of Titian's San Sebastiano arrived at the Hermitage. Currently the museum's exhibition areas also include the Winter Palace, the sumptuous Romanov residence completed in 1762 to a design by Bartolomeo Rastrelli and inhabited by the imperial family until 1904. But the extraordinary growth story of the Hermitage is not over yet. On the contrary, thanks to the recent acquisition of the magnificent building of the General Staff, adjacent to its historical site, the museum of St. Petersburg is preparing to become the largest exhibition space in the world.

For more information on the museum and the collections, visit the official website The State Hermitage Museum