Photographer's Note

In 1764 Empress Catherine the Great began to acquire the art to decorate her Winter Palace in St. Petersburg. Her acquisition became the nucleus of the Hermitage Museum’s collection. Daughter of Peter the Great, and a child of the Enlightenment, Catherine was rich beyond belief. She sent her agents to Western Europe with orders to purchase the best works available. After the Bolshevik Revolution, the city that had been named after her father, was changed to “Leningrad;” and after the second revolution of 1990, it reverted to “St. Petersburg.”

The Hermitage, with a holding of three million works of art, is one of the greatest museums of the world, in a class with the Louvre, the Vatican, the Uffizi and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I’ve had the pleasure of touring the museum on three occasions — in 1990, 2002 and 2010 — but “touring” is a misnomer, "tasting a small sample” is a more appropriate description. So large is its collection, that in the finite number of hours one might have on a tour, no more than a few hundred pieces of art can be seen. At the Hermitage I’ve seen a pair of Leonardo “Madonnas”, a spectacular Michelangelo marble statue, numerous Raphaels and Rembrandts. The French Galleries of the Hermitage are among the richest in the museum’s collection.

I was giving lectures on the Seabourn Sojourn in a cruise that meandered around the Baltic. When the elegant ship sailed out of Talin, Estonia and docked in Saint Petersburg, I joined a tour. The cruise line had made arrangements for passengers from the ship to enter the museum before it opened its doors to the crowds at 9:00 am. The cleaning staff was still busy removing dust from statues with dust feathers, and the ushers were just beginning to assume their seat. In the Renoir Room (Rm 320) hanging prominently was the celebrated oil painting “Child with a Whip" (1885), and through the doors one could see other rooms in the French Gallery. Pierre Auguste Renoir lived between 1841-1919, and is considered one of the titans of the Impressionist Movement. In composing the photo, I was inspired by memories of the Dutch Master, Pieter de Hooch, who frequently composed scenes of multiple rooms, framing them door-within-door.

Just as I did with Monet’s painting The Girl with Wagon and Rembrandt at 400 also in the Hermitage, I am placing this photo in the group theme, Pictures at an Exhibition. I welcome others to join me in making that a first class gallery by hanging their own works in that genre.

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Additional Photos by Bulent Atalay (batalay) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6809 W: 476 N: 12169] (41257)
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