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Hermitage History.part 2

Sep - 23 - 2013


ln the first hall of the XIX century tlle most imnportant acquisitions were: empress Josephine’s gallery from hor Malmaison Castle near Paris (1815), severseveal collections olf Spanish pictures among them one oone of banker Goesvelt of Amsterdam (1815), the gallery of the Palazzo Barbarigo in Venice (1850), wherefrom come all the works by Titian, treasured in the Hermitage; also a number of pictures bought from the collection of king William II of Holland (1852).
The growth ol` cultural demands of Russian public forced the court circles to turn the Hermitage into a museum open to the public. ln 1852 the erection of the New Hermitage building was completed, and it became a public museum, which included not only the picture gallery, but also a collection of Greek and Roman sculpture and ceramics, Egyptian antiquities, engravings and drawings, and numismatic collections. ln the second half of the XIX century its collections continued to grow mostly due to purchases of single works of art; thus the pictures by Leonardo da Vinci and by Raphael were bought at the period. In 1910 the famous collection of Dutch art belonging to P. P. Semenov-Tyan-Shansky, as well as a number of English portraits of the XVIII century collected by A. Z. Khitrovo were added to the museum. The Hermitage became a centre of scientific work and artistic culture. Nevertheless, being an establishment pertaining to the Department of the Court it still remained hardly accessible, and hence unknown, to the majority of the nation.

“The Great October Socialist Revolution” brought about a radical change in the organisation ofthe Hermitage Museum, which became the property of the people. During the first years of the existence of the Soviet Power the growth of the collections was most remarkable. The gallery got a number of first-rate works of art from t he imperial palaces, pictures by West-European artists from the Academy of Fine Arts Museum, as well as from vast private collections, that became state property: among them those formerly belonging to the Yusupovs, the Shuvalovs, the Stroganovs, and others. ln 1927, 1930 and 1947 a considerable number of pictures by French impressionists, and post-impressionists had been transferred to the Hermitage from the Museum of New Western Art in Moscow.
Due to all these additions the collections of the Museum not only immensely increased in quantity but underwent essential qualitative changes. Thus, for instance, a special section devoted to the works of Italian painters of the XIII-XV centuries, which had earlier been but scarcely represented, was formed; there were also considerable contributions to the collection of Italian art of the XVII-XVIII centuries, and especially so to the departments of Dutch and French art. An event of great importance in the existence of the Museum was the foundation of a department devoted to the art of the XIX-XX centuries, which was not at all represented in the pre-revolutionary Hermitage.

V.F. Levinsol – Lessing

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