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.