Tuesday, February 5, 2013
The Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, was opened to the public for the first time on February 5, 1852. Founded in 1764 by Catherine the Great, its collections consist of three million works of art and artifacts, including the world’s largest collection of paintings, housed in six historic buildings on an historic street, the Palace Embankment, on the Neva River. It includes the vast Winter Palace, the residence of Russian tsars that was stormed and looted in the October 1917 revolution. Catherine’s collection included works by Rembrandt, Rubens, van Dyck, Veronese, Frans Hals, Raphael, Holbein, Titian and others. In the 1930s the Soviet government secretly sold more than 2,000 valuable works to foreigners. U.S. Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon acquired 21 of the Hermitage’s works in 1931 and later donated them as a nucleus of the National Gallery of Art. Pictured: the Hermitage and works by Raphael, Matisse.