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  • #343836

    Anonymous
    The collection of the State Hermitage includes more than three million works of art and artefacts of the world culture. Among them are paintings, graphic works, sculptures and works of applied art, archaeological finds and numismatic material.

    The main architectural ensemble of the Hermitage situated in the centre of St Petersburg consists of the Winter Palace, the former state residence of the Russian emperors, the buildings of the Small, Old (Great) and New Hermitages, the Hermitage Theatre and the Auxiliary House. The museum complex also includes the Menshikov Palace and the Eastern Wing of the General Staff building, the Staraya Derevnya Restoration and Storage Centre and the Museum of the Imperial Porcelain Factory.

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    About Catherine's contribution.
    In February 1744, a 14-year-old princess named Sophia Augusta Frederica of Anhalt-Zerbst came to Russia to be introduced to the Russian Empress Elizabeth Petrovna and to her future husband, the heir to the Russian throne, Grand Duke Piotr Fiodorovich, whose wife she would become a year later (taking the name Catherine upon her conversion to Orthodoxy). The young princess from a tiny German principality was amazed by this strange country, with its immense spaces, incredible scale of construction, entertainment, and court intrigue.

    During the reign of Elizabeth Petrovna, St Petersburg was transformed from the fortress, shipyard and port which Peter the Great had built, into a city of palaces. Catherine witnessed the construction of a majestic royal residence, while life inside the temporary, but nonetheless luxurious wooden palace of the "merry" Empress Elizabeth Petrovna was full of splendour and idleness.

    According to an Austrian diplomat, the Prince de Ligne, Catherine "was noted for great talent and a subtle intellect… Her ambitions were unlimited but she was able to guide them towards sensible aims".

    On 28 June 1762, as a result of a coup d'etat, she was proclaimed Empress Catherine II. Her contemporaries and descendants later called her "Catherine the Great" and the period of her reign is known as "the magnificent age".

    Fascinated by the ideas of the European Enlightenment, Catherine II reconstructed the pompous and pretentious interiors of the Winter Palace according to the new tastes of the age. Next to the palace meant for "pleasant entertainments and merry amusements", she ordered the construction of a "Hermitage" (literally "the dwelling of a hermit") in line with the fashion of the French court at Versailles. The rooms of her "retreat" were decorated with paintings, bronzes and carved stones that very soon could not be housed in the Small Hermitage, so that soon a new building, the Great Hermitage, was erected. When Catherine II bought works by famous masters, sometimes even whole art galleries from European nobility, she was not merely satisfying some caprice. With each new sensational purchase, she impressed a stunned Europe – kings, bankers, philosophers – with the thought that Russia flourished under the sceptre of a powerful monarch.

    The enlightened Empress also took delight in the theatre. The first theatrical performances were held in the Small Hermitage, and in 1783 she ordered the construction of a Hermitage Theatre.

    "The court of Catherine," wrote in the 1780s the Count de Segur, ambassador of the King of France in Russia, "was the meeting place of all European monarchs and celebrities of her age. Before her reign Petersburg, built in the realm of cold and ice, went almost unnoticed and seemed to be somewhere in Asia. During her reign Russia became a European power. St Petersburg occupied an important place among the capitals of the educated world and the Russian throne was raised as high as the most powerful and significant thrones."

    After the death of Catherine II, the Winter Palace became deserted. Emperor Paul I resided in his St Michael's Castle where he surrounded himself with works of art, of which he was a great connoisseur. He showed indifference to the creation of his unloved mother and ordered the palace steward merely "to keep it clean and to maintain order in it". During the reign of Paul I, two pictures were purchased for the Hermitage collection: The Union of Earth and Water by Rubens and The Farmer's Children by Fragonard.

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    And many other pictures which you may observe here http://www.hermitagemuseum.org/html_En/05/hm5_4_2_2_1.html

    A New Imperial Residence

    "When one knows that the localities in this city were an impassable marsh less than fifty years ago," one mid-18th-century traveller wrote about St Petersburg, "on first seeing it, one might well believe that it was made by magic. The splendid buildings, broad streets, gilded bell-towers and roofs of many palaces present a picture worthy of delight."

    In the very centre of the capital at that time, right on the bank of the Neva, stood the huge and rambling building of the Winter Palace. Erected by Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli in the 1730s on the orders of Empress Anna Ioannovna, it had already been reconstructed several times. The palace comprised both newly constructed elements and pre-existing buildings – the palace of Admiral Apraxin and the mansions of associates of Peter the Great. It did not, however, accord with Empress Elizabeth's ideas of an imperial residence and she ordered Rastrelli to put up a new palace in its place.

    According to the architect's concept, in front of the palace there was to be a grand square surrounded by a gallery with a broad entranceway. In the centre he proposed to set up the equestrian monument to Peter the Great that had been created by his sculptor father (it now stands in front of St Michael's Castle).

    In April 1754 Elizabeth Petrovna signed a decree ordering the construction of the Winter Palace alone – disregarding the plan for the construction of an ensemble. The building was standing by 1759, but finishing work continued into the 1760s. The Empress who had commissioned it died in December 1761, and in the spring of the following year her nephew, Peter III, moved into the Winter Palace. He awarded Rastrelli the Order of St Anne and the rank of major general. Soon after the palace coup of 28 June 1762 that brought Catherine II to the throne, the chief architect was discharged.

    The Winter Palace became a gem of the new Russian capital. Painted with "sandy paint with the subtlest hint of yellow, and white lime on the ornament", it stood out vividly against the grey northern sky and the leaden waters of the river, towering above the earth ramparts around the Admiralty and the surrounding two-storey houses. A contemporary wrote with admiration about the magnificent panorama of the capital city opened up to him as he approached St Petersburg: "the gold spires of its tall towers and bell-towers, as well as visible too from a distance and rising above the rooftops the upper storey of the new Winter palace, adorned with a host of statues".

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    1728-29
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    modern time
    #392667

    Anonymous

    The History of the Clock

    For more than two centuries the melodious chimes of the Winter Palace clock have been ringing out over Palace Square. It would seem to have always been there. Yet Rastrelli's original design for the palace did not incorporate a tower clock. The first clock on the Winter Palace building was installed above the main entrance, behind the attic of the central part of the south facade, in 1796 – over thirty years after the building was completed. The clock was moved from the Chesme Palace, then in the suburbs of the city on the way to Tsarskoye Selo, by the celebrated Russian mechanic and inventor Ivan Petrovich Kulibin. In 1797 Paul I signed a decree appointing Kulibin the keeper of the tower clock and all other timepieces in the imperial residence.

    This clock lasted another forty years before perishing in the fire that engulfed the palace on 17 December 1837. This is how the event is described by Alexander Bashutsky in his book The Renewal of the Winter Palace in St Petersburg: "The fire had been raging for a long time already, mercilessly destroying the many organs of a great body. Suddenly above the confused noise of the internal destruction there arose from the dying building, like a sorrowful groan, a resonant voice, familiar to all: the old palace clock, as yet untouched by the fire, struck midnight in a plaintive, lingering manner. Almost at the last stroke of the hammer, the flames suddenly covered it in a patterned mesh, and within a minute it plunged into the immense bonfire."

    In June 1839 the body supervising the restoration of the Winter Palace commissioned the mechanic Helfer to make a new clock for the imperial residence. Helfer was already known for having made a similar clock for the Luthran Church of Sts Peter and Paul in St Petersburg. The master craftsman undertook to produce the timepiece in eight months. The place for the installation of the tower clock was prepared in advance, in the attic, level with the central pediment and overlooking Palace Square.

    In the spring of 1839 three bells were bought for the clock: the first weighed 197 kilogrammes, the second 58 and the third 37, making the total weight of the bells 292 kilogrammes.

    Helfer produced the clock to time and installed it together with the bells. The only inscription on the clock – A. Helfer. St Petersburg. 1839 – is engraved on the internal auxiliary dial. The movement that Helfer created has survived well.

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    #392668

    Anonymous

    The Alexander Column on Palace Square.

    It was erected in 1829-34 on the square in front of the Winter Palace at the command of Nicholas I, who wanted to perpetuate the memory of his brother, Alexander I, the victor over Napoleon. The height of the monument is 47.5 meters. This is the highest triumphal column in the world.

    Three-dimensional computer models show the stages in the raising of the column and are accompanied by commentaries. The programme relates the history of the creation and formal inauguration of the monument glorifying the victory of Russian arms in the Patriotic War of 1812.

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    The Concept and the Start of Work
    The Alexander Column was erected on the square in front of the Winter Palace at the command of Nicholas I who wanted to perpetuate the memory of the deeds of Alexander I, the Tsar who conquered Napoleon. After examining several designs, on 24 September 1829 the Emperor approved the proposal of the architect Auguste Montferrand, who was then engaged in the construction of St Isaac's Cathedral in St Petersburg (1818-58).

    The creation of the Alexander Column was in a way a response to the erection of the Vendome Column in Paris (1806-10) that was dedicated to the victories of Napoleon's armies. Both monuments had as their prototype the Ancient Roman Trajan's column (2nd century A.D.), whose bronze shaft is surrounded by a spiral band of bas-reliefs. Montferrand, who possessed exceptional talent and taste, created a majestic monument that delights the eye with its harmonious proportions and beautiful lines. The architect designed a smooth shaft made from a single piece of granite, to be set upon a pedestal also made of granite and mounted with bronze. The bas-reliefs on the pedestal extolled Alexander I and the might of Russian arms. In contrast to Trajan's Column and the Vendome monument, which are both crowned by statues of the respective emperors, the Alexander Column is topped by the statue of an angel crushing a snake with a cross.

    After the project was approved, tremendous work got underway to make the monument a reality: 1250 pine piles, each 6.4 metres long, were driven into a foundation pit over four metres deep and a foundation of twelve granite blocks set on top of them. A capsule containing medals and coins minted in honour of Alexander I in platinum, gold, silver and copper. They included a unique platinum medal produced to Montferrand's design bearing the date 1830 and a depiction of the column. An inscription runs around the ring: “To Alexander the Blessed from a grateful Russia”. Besides that, the capsule contains a plaque of gilded bronze proclaiming that “In the year of Our Lord 1831 construction was begun of a monument erected to EMPEROR ALEXANDER by a grateful Russia on a granite base laid on the 19th day of November 1830 in Saint Petersburg. The construction of this monument was presided over by Count Yu. Litta and committee members Prince P. Volynsky, A. Olenin. Count P. Kutaisov, I. Gladkov, L. Carbonier and A. Vasilchikov. The construction followed the design of the same architect Augustine de Montferrand.”

    Meanwhile at Pytarlaks, the quarry in one of the bays on the Gulf of Finland that supplied the granite for St Isaac's Cathedral, hundreds of stonecutters were cutting by hand from the rock a whole block of granite over 30 metres long and more than 4 metres thick. The granite was of a special pink colour and known by the Finnish name rapakivi. A few kilometres from Pytarlaks a granite monolith suitable for the pedestal was also found. The work here was supervised by a 20-year-old contractor named Vasily Yakovlev, a gifted foreman and organizer.

    On 3 November 1831 the monolithic plinth – a massive slab, weighing 410 tonnes, forming the base of the column – and other elements of the pedestal that together weighed over 1,000 tonnes were delivered safely to the capital on a specially constructed vessel pulled by steam tugs. Eight days were needed to move them from the landing-stage between the Admiralty and the Winter Palace to the future site of the monument in the middle of Palace Square. After the stone was dressed, it was set up on the foundation. The monolith from which the column was to be turned weighed some 4,000 tonnes. It almost sank when being loaded for the journey across the gulf, forcing workers and soldiers to struggle for 48 hours to save it. On 1 July 1832 the vessel arrived in St Petersburg and 12 days later the massive block was brought ashore under Yakovlev's supervision. Then it was trimmed by merchants and dragged to the lifting point on a sledge mounted on cast-iron rollers with the aid of capstans.

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    A Monument to the Year 1812
    Two more years were needed for the final completion of the monument: polishing the shaft, attaching the figure of the angel and the bronze decorations. The sculptors Samuel Hallberg (Galberg), Ivan Lepee and Boris Orlovsky were asked to make sketches and produce models.

    The column is crowned by the figure of an angel created by the sculptor Boris Orlovsky who gave the face a portrait resemblance to Emperor Alexander I. On the side of the pedestal facing the Winter Palace is a bas-relief depicting winged figures holding up a plaque bearing the words "To Alexander I from a grateful Russia". The composition included figures representing the rivers Neman and Vistula that were associated with the events of the Patriotic War. Flanking these figures are depictions of old Russian armour – the shield of Prince Oleg, the helmet of Alexander Nevsky, the breastplate of Tsar Alexander Mikhailovich, the chain-mail of Yermak and other pieces recalling heroes whose martial feats brought glory to Russia.

    The other three sides are decorated with bas-reliefs featuring allegorical figures of Wisdom and Abundance, Justice and Mercy, Peace and Victory, the last holding a shield bearing the dates 1812, 1813 and 1814. These compositions are enhanced by depictions of Ancient Roman military symbols and Russian armour.

    The sketches for the bas-reliefs were produced by Montferrand. He superbly co-ordinated the scale of their compositions with the monumental forms of the monument. The panels were designed to the planned size by the artist Giovanni-Battista Scotti. The models were produced by the sculptors Piotr Svintsov and Ivan Lepee, the ornamental embellishments by another sculptor, Ye. Balin. The casting of the bronze was done at Charles Baird's works in St Petersburg.

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    #392669

    Anonymous

    If you are interested in that topic you can go here for more detail information  :
    http://www.hermitagemuseum.org/html_En/index.html

    #392670

    Anonymous

    I was there, I was there!  :D

    #392671

    Anonymous
    Quote:
    I was there, I was there!  :D

    me too  ;D it is really very beautiful place

    #392672

    Anonymous

    Very nice information, Slavyanka. I have toured the Winter Palace and the Hermitage. It is spectacular. St. Petersburg is one of the world's most beautiful cities. And according to tour guides, Puskin lived in every building in St. Petersburg!  ;D

    #392673

    Anonymous
    Quote:
    Very nice information, Slavyanka. I have toured the Winter Palace and the Hermitage. It is spectacular. St. Petersburg is one of the world's most beautiful cities. And according to tour guides, Puskin lived in every building in St. Petersburg!  ;D

    Thank you!
    Pushkin? In every building? omg..haha I didn't know that  ;D

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