Enfilade

Exhibitions Mark the 250th Birthday of the Hermitage

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on December 6, 2014

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The river-god Ilissos. Marble statue from the West pediment of the Parthenon, Athens, Greece, 438–32 BCE (British Museum 1816,0610.99). Photo by Marie-Lan Nguyen, 2007, Wikimedia Commons.

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Founded by Catherine the Great in 1764, the Hermitage Museum celebrates its 250th anniversary this year (though it opened to the public only in 1852). In connection with events marking the occasion, The British Museum has loaned the marble Ilissos from the Parthenon—the first time a portion of the Elgin Collection has ever been loaned. The work will will be on display from 6 December until 18 January. The press release stresses the Enlightenment origins of both museums:

The British Museum opened its doors in 1759, just five years before the Hermitage. Sisters, almost twins, they are the first great museums of the European Enlightenment. But they were never just about Europe. The Trustees of the British Museum were set up by Parliament to hold their collection to benefit not only the citizens of Great Britain, but ‘all studious and curious persons’ everywhere. The Museum today is the most generous lender in the world, sending great Assyrian objects to China, Egyptian objects to India and Iranian objects to the United States—making a reality of the Enlightenment ideal that the greatest things in the world should be seen and studied, shared and enjoyed by as many people in as many countries as possible. . .

Noted (added 6 December 2014) — The AFP (Agence France-Presse) reports on Greek dissatisfaction with the loan, quoting a statement from Prime Minister Antonis Samaras: “The British Museum’s decision constitutes an affront to the Greek people.” The full article is available art Art Daily.

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St Andrew Service, Germany, Meissen Manufactory, porcelain with overglaze painting, gilding, 1744–45 (The Hermitage State Museum)

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Also on view is this exhibition:

Gifts from East and West to the Imperial Court over 300 Years
State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, 3 December 2014 — 8 March 2015

The gifts from Eastern and Western countries presented at the exhibition in the General Staff Building reflect the history of Russia’s relations with the West and the East from 18th century till the fall of the Russian Empire.

The tradition of giving the diplomatic gifts had existed for centuries. They commemorated military victories, conclusions of peace, events important for the court and official visits. Presented to the Imperial court precious metal works, porcelain, arms, coins, tapestries, books, exotic objects, works of fine art are records of the history of Russia.

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