HERMITAGE. Amsterdam. / Photo: Luuk Kramer.
The grand Russian museum recently started negotiations to open a franchise in Barcelona, Spain. The President of the Generalitat of Catalonia confirmed the news with the following words: “We have signed an agreement stating that within the next two to three years, we shall have a stable and permanent installation of the Hermitage in Barcelona”.
The State Hermitage Museum is one of the most important art galleries in the world. It has six buildings in St. Petersburg: the Winter Palace; the Small Hermitage; the Great Hermitage; the New Hermitage; the General Staff Building, and the Menshikov Palace and Theater. We must also include the Imperial Porcelain factory and the Staraya Derevnya Center for Restoration and Storage.
The largest building in the complex is the Winter Palace. It was the official residence of the Russian monarchs since its construction, in 1762, until 1917 (when the ruling Romanov dynasty was overthrown by a revolution). The most important events in Russian history are connected, in one way or another, with the Winter Palace.
Of all the Hermitage buildings, the Winter Palace not only is the largest, but also the one with more artistic value. It was commissioned by Empress Isabel Petrovna, daughter of Peter the Great, and built between 1754 and 1762 in baroque style. The opulence of the building and its extraordinary decoration are a testimony to the pomp and circumstance of the Russian Empire.
HERMITAGE. St. Petersburg.
The building known as the Small Hermitage combines elements of late baroque architecture with neoclassicism and was commissioned at the behest of Empress Catherine II. It was completed in 1775, and it housed the original imperial collection.
The origin of the Great Hermitage dates back to 1771-87, built by decree of Empress Catherine the Great to store the palace collections and a library. It connects to the Hermitage Theater, and houses primarily 15th century Italian art, with halls dedicated to Leonardo da Vinci and a replica of Raphael’s Loggias at the Vatican.
The New Hermitage was the first building in Russia (1842-1851) constructed specifically to showcase the museum’s collections. It is decorated with statues and bas-reliefs representing famous artists, architects and sculptors of antiquity. The ornamentation of the façade is based on antique, renaissance and baroque motifs in an architectural style known as Historicism.
The General Staff Building (1820-1830) maintains an architectural strictness that is characteristically classical. The magnificent arch of the façade represents the triumphs of Russia, with a chariot drawn by six horses, statues of warriors, and high reliefs representing the figures of Glory and her armor.
The Menshikov Palace (1710-1721) was built for the first Governor of Saint Petersburg, a close associate of Peter I, Tsar and first Emperor of Russia. Its design is typical of early 18th century Russian baroque. In its heyday it was the most luxurious building in St. Petersburg, where official receptions were held.
HERMITAGE. St. Petersburg.
The Theater was also commissioned by Catherine II, and built between 1783 and 1789. Its architectural harmony is characteristic of the late classicism that inspired its design.
The Hermitage’s worldly expansion began in 2005 with a subsidiary in the Russian city of Kazan (Tatarstan Republic). In 2007, they opened in Ferrara, Italy at Estence Castle. In 2009 the Hermitage-Amsterdam made its debut at the Amstelhof Building, a construction dating from the 18th century, and in 2010 the Hermitage-Vyborg Center, Leningrad, opened in a former military stronghold of the 16th century.
The actual site for the Hermitage in Barcelona is still unknown, but it seems the project will soon come true. ■