Enfilade

Exhibition | Catherine the Great: An Enlightened Empress

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on July 9, 2012

Following a £46 million redevelopment, completed last summer, the National Museum of Scotland presents over 600 objects from the Court of Catherine the Great.

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From the museum:

Catherine the Great: An Enlightened Empress
National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, 13 July — 21 October 2012

Vigilius Eriksen, Portrait of Catherine II on Her Horse Brilliant, after 1762

Learn the story of the woman behind the legends and discover the greatest collection of treasures from Russia ever seen in the UK

Sharp, funny, generous, iron-willed and passionate, Catherine the Great was one of Russia’s most successful rulers and one of the greatest art collectors of all time. Presented in partnership with the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, this unique exhibition is showing only in Edinburgh. Explore Catherine’s reign through her collections, which vividly reflect her own interests and provide a fascinating glimpse of the wealth and magnificence of the Imperial Russian court. Learn of a woman who won wars and built palaces, wrote plays and books, built a rollercoaster for her own entertainment and who put Russia firmly on the cultural map of Europe.

The exhibition features more than 600 priceless works collected by the Empress. See spectacular paintings, outstanding costumes and uniforms, dazzling cameos, snuffboxes and jewellery, hunting weapons and exquisite works of art seldom seen outside Russia.

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Writing for the The Sunday Times Magazine (1 July 2012), pp. 52-56, Amy Turner reports that the exhibition will place “special emphasis on the Russian-Scottish connection.” Along with many of the empress’s Scottish soldiers and sailor officers, there was the architect, Charles Cameron, and other Scottish characters including art dealers and physicians. As for the equestrian portrait by Eriksen, Turner writes,

The painting was recently discovered in the bowels of the Hermitage, wrapped and filthy, where it was hurriedly stashed for safekeeping at the outbreak of the Russian Revolution in 1917. It has been specially cleaned and restored in preparation for its trip to Scotland. Several copies of the painting exist around the world (one was on display at the Royal Academy’s Citizens and Kings exhibition in London in 2007), but this is the only version attributed solely to Eriksen (55).

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Note (added 12 July 2012) — The catalogue, edited by Godfrey Evans, is available through ACC Distribution.