Tuesday, August 25, 2015

CATHERINE THE GREAT


We have been South to Melbourne, Victoria, to see a very special Exhibition:
Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great,
at the National Gallery of Victoria.


Catherine was Empress of Russia from 1762-96, Russia's Golden Age, was a charming cultural patron, and founder of the magnificent Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg.  The art collection is now three-million strong, and about 200 pieces from Catherine's time have made the journey to Australia.  
She began by purchasing a small collection from a Berlin dealer in 1764, and built her vast collection over the next three decades.



The exhibition space was amazingly curated, with walls and floors designed in imitation of the beautiful Winter Palace.


I was unsure about taking photos inside the exhibition, as I saw no cameras.
However, as we got to the end I realised people were taking pictures on their phones, and not being apprehended.  I did a quick dash back and took a few snaps.


In my rush, I failed to note the artist - shame on me!


This was my favourite, by Titian.


A beautiful nativity by Murillo.


Portrait by Paris Bordone..

There are three Rembrandts, along with some fantastic Dutch genre paintings.
And Catherine bought the Walpole Collection from Britain, which includes a magnificent Van Dyke portrait of Charles 1.
And many more...    


Life sized videos taken within the Hermitage brought authenticity to the Exhibition.


In 1777 Catherine commissioned a lavish 797-piece dinner service from Sevres.  A small selection shows us how gorgeous it must have been.



She had a taste for beautiful objects in her boudoir -
where, it seems, she entertained her lovers, or 'favourites' as she called them.


Beautiful gilt objects..



A small selection of her vast collection of 10,000 cameos.


There were architects' drawings and some eighteenth century paintings of The Hermitage itself, giving a feel for the place and time.


A water feature greets visitors to the NGV.
As we emerged, coming back into the twenty-first century, we found it difficult to imagine a time when anyone, even an Empress, could live this way.
Those days are gone!
I have downloaded a biography of Catherine to my Kindle, a little late perhaps, but am enjoying learning about her in hindsight.

It is an exquisite exhibition, and if you get a chance to visit, very rewarding.




Later we went to visit the gallery's Australian Art collection.
That will be another post.

And today I noticed that this is my 400th post.
Thank you all for reading my blog these past 4 years.
I appreciate the friendships I have made, and the interaction with new readers from around the globe.
As long as it continues to be fun, the Red Cardinal blog will survive...

Have a great week.

XXXX




30 comments:

  1. It sure looks like a wonderful exhibition. You are making me want to go to Melbourne but I am only just getting over my jet lag and settling back into the workday world. *sigh*

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    1. Ah, you are home Val. Sigh re the jet lag, it is the worst thing flying back to Australia. I do hope you get a chance to go to Melbourne before it finishes on November 8.

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  2. First of all congratulations on your 400th blog post Patricia, and so pleased that as long as it continues to be fun for you the lovely Red Cardinal will continue. My very first follower has just given up blogging together with several others who have not said they are leaving but never appear these days, and I feel a great sense of bereft and loss that they have gone.
    I have been to the Hermitage back in the days when it was still Communist Russia and I recall how overwhelming the collection was. It looks as it the exhibition has been set up and curated very well to portray the atmosphere in Russia.
    I did a post on Walpole's Strawberry Hill House in London showing the now empty walls, and it is interesting that you have subsequently had the opportunity to see what actually lived on them.

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    1. Thank you Rosemary, I am not as prolific as some, but enjoy the blog process. I have even started a private one about our family history for my children. Sadly, many bloggers do seem to silently give up, and I have felt the loss keenly, too.
      It is so interesting, that you have been to both the Hermitage, and Walpole's London house where that room of paintings would have originally hung. A joy of Blogland, to make these interconnections.

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  3. Congrats on your 400th post, Patricia! What a wonderful opportunity to see those paintings and other items from the Hermitage. When I looked at the picture of the dinner service my first thought was how nervous the people working at the museum must have been when they had to set up the display. I would have been afraid of dropping a piece and seeing it shatter on the floor!

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    1. Thank you Kristie. I was so happy when Mr C suggested taking me to Melbourne for this one - and to visit my cousin as well. Yes, the dinner service, so precious it is amazing they let it travel. Imagine the care they must have taken to pack it and fly it around the world, let alone set it up in the exhibition!

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  4. 400 posts, amazing, congratulations Patricia and I understand you still love blogging, me too, but I´m ony half way to 400. Beautiful exposition about Catharina the Great. In Amsterdam we also had once an exposition with masterpieces from the Hermitage, loved it.
    Greetings, Janneke
    A

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    1. Thank you Janneke, I know 400 is not a lot compared to some prolific bloggers, but I am satisfied with my output. I have always enjoyed writing and combining it with taking pictures appeals to me very much. It was a beautiful exhibition, and I wonder if the same part of the Hermitage collection went to Amsterdam. I'm sure it was well received there, too. Greetings to you too :)

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  5. Congrats!
    It has been a real pleasure getting to know you Patricia!
    And...I think I need more culture in my life....
    Cheers!
    Linda :o)

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    1. Thanks you Linda, such a pleasure to get to know you, over there in Canada, by the lake. It gives me a sense of where my daughter is although she is quite the distance away from you. I love seeing your flowers and birds - that is culture, too! Cheers!!

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  6. Happy 400th Post! So happy to know you now, Patricia!
    This exhibit must have been very interesting to see. When we went to London last year, I wanted to live in the museums. I am not kidding, I didn't want to leave, my eyes wanted to take in everything!
    Looking forward to your post about Australian art! :-)

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    1. Thank you, Kay. Totally understand about the London museums. We were the same, but there are so many, we need more trips to London. It is all quite wonderful.

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  7. Oh how exciting, you must have enjoyed every minute of your visit. Isn't it great that museums sometimes lend out part of their collections so lots of people can enjoy the original art. I'm happy you got to go and delighted that you shared the trip with us.

    Keep blogging my Australian friend!

    Darla

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    1. Hello Darla, it was a busy, action-packed weekend for us. We are still tired! It is indeed good that these days, great works of art can proceed around the globe. Negotiations are going on all the time, and we all benefit. So far so good, I will keep blogging!

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  8. Thanks so much for sharing photos of this most sumptuous and opulent exhibition Patricia! I would love to have seen it!
    Congratulations on your milestone blog post - what an achievement!!

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    1. Hi Wendy, I am sure you would like to see The Hermitage exhibition. Sumptuous and opulent it was indeed.
      I never thought I'd write 400 posts, and it has taken over 4 years, but here's to achieving 500!

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  9. The title of this post caught my eye. Imagine owning three million works of art? Incomprehensible. Glad they're sharing them with the public.

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    1. Yes, it is astonishing the size of The Hermitage collection. It has obviously been added to over the years, and survives to be a huge tourist attraction as well as one of the best Art Museums in the world. The excess of Catherine's time seems unrivalled, doesn't it.

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  10. Oh, wow. I'm pretty fanatical about Russian history and have been since I was in high school. I would LOVE to see this exhibit about Catherine the Great. How interesting! Thank you so much for sharing, Patricia. I hope you are having a good week.

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    1. I'm sure you would love it, Jennifer. I remember you wrote about a recent book about the Russian princesses, daughters of the last Czar. Tried to remember it and find it on Kindle, but couldn't find the post. Would you mind telling me again, please? Just do a quick reply, if you would not mind. I am keen to read more of the Russian history. The trip to Melbourne has fired my imagination :)

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  11. How wonderful! You really have some excellent cultural and art exhibitions and events, don't you? I don't remember seeing such an exhibition available here in Holland, but then maybe I've just not been looking enough. Weren't these people something else? Her 'favourites' is a great euphemism, but of course, Elizabeth I had them too. Thanks for showing us these great works, Patricial!

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    1. Yes, Val, I was thinking they were something else, too :) While looking at the beautiful things, I was wondering just how many peasants were slaving away or starving to pay their taxes. No wonder the ended up having a revolution. However, the exhibition is fabulous, and it is good it is preserved for historical reasons as much as artistic. The Director of the NGV seems to have a real talent for bringing such wonderful art exhibitions to Australia.
      Re Elizabeth 1, I always wondered about her, and I think now you have answered my question :)

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  12. What a wonderful exhibition and how great that you got to see it!!!! I can only imagine how wonderful it must have been!!! Thank you for sharing a little of it with us! xx

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it Amy. We had the best time enjoying this feast for the eyes! X

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  13. Tricia, I'm a bit envious. I'd love to see this exhibit. What a fascinating time in Russian history and culture. Thanks for the glimpse across the miles!

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    1. It is rare for such artistic treasures to come to Australia. We are very lucky to see it - and have a nice weekend away :)

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  14. Thank you my dear for sharing this marvelous exhibit! Now I feel I must know more about Catherine the Great!! xo

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    1. As a designer, I think you would enjoy Catherine's jewellery and homewares Tamera...and the amazing art too :). Xo

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  15. Wow, you saw many interesting things at the art gallery, Patricia. I really like the Nativity scene and the painting of the two young girls. The table setting is lovely, and the blue pieces are stunning. The collection of cameos caught my eye, as I have always been intrigued with them.

    Thanks for sharing a bit of this wonderful art collection with us.

    love, ~Sheri

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    1. The Nativity by Murillo is beautiful Sheri. I love all his paintings, because his faces are always gentle and sweet. Cameos intrigue me too. I tried to buy one in Florence, but I could not decide! Glad you enjoyed my post. xx

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