Travels with Tim and Lisa

"If my discoveries are other people's commonplaces I cannot help it – for me they retain a momentous freshness" (Elizabeth Bowen)

Lavish interiors, in the Winter Palace at the Hermitage

Posted by Lisa Hill on August 30, 2012

One last post from me tonight, to share some of my photos from the Winter Palace at the Hermitage.  As we all know, all the Royals of Europe competed with each other to have the most lavish palaces and the most splendid art collections, and one thing we can certainly thank the Bolsheviks for is that they nationalised Catherine the Great’s extravaganza and added to it by nationalising all the other private collections in Russia as well.  (Mind you, they flogged off a fair bit of it when they were short of money most notably to American galleries and museums).

There are heaps of lovely books about the art works in the Hermitage and you can also see them online so I’ve confined myself to the interiors: massive chandeliers, some so big and heavy that none of us wanted to stand underneath them); tables inlaid with precious stones including one with grapes depicted in rubies; a gold clock in the shape of a huge bird which represents the ‘flight of time’; and massive urns made in precious stones such as jasper and lapis lazuli (which used to be placed lower on the ground so that they could be filled with chocolates for guests to help themselves).   There are rooms decorated with gold columns, frescoes, and tapestries, and also a ‘hall of heroes’ commemorating the great victory over Napoleon – where you will notice some green baize empty spaces amongst the portraits.  These empty spaces are those of heroes who died of wounds, and in the days before photography, not every man had a portrait suitable for hanging in a gallery such as this, but they commemorated their names anyway so that they wouldn’t be forgotten.  (The Duke of Wellington has his portrait in this gallery too, which pleased the British tourists among our group).

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