The Hermitage Museum is one of the jewels of St. Petersburg, the former capital of Russia. It is located on the banks of the Neva River and illuminates the city with its white and turquoise facade. Founded in 1764 at the instigation of Catherine II, it vies for the title of the world’s largest museum with Le Louvre and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. And the riches of the Hermitage is now accessible to all, free of charge and from one’s home, with the virtual tour offered by the museum on its website.
The virtual visit to the Hermitage begins with a visit to the Winter Palace, the former official residence of the Russian tsars. The place has been the scene of all the most important episodes in the history of Russia. During the First World War, for example, part of the museum was used as a hospital, while it became an object of propaganda when the Bolsheviks took power in Russia after the war. In 1941, when the siege of Leningrad (the former name of St. Petersburg) began, the Hermitage was one of the favorite targets of the Wehrmacht, the Nazi army.
Together with four other buildings – the Little Hermitage, the Great Hermitage, the New Hermitage and the Hermitage Theatre – the Winter Palace constitutes the Hermitage Museum, with three million artworks, of which “only” 60,000 are on display. 24 kilometers of galleries where masterpieces follow one another, well confined among marble columns, golden chandeliers, painted ceilings, wooden mosaic floors.
Among the museum’s most prestigious artifacts are 24 paintings by Rembrandt (rooms N°253 and 254). Portraits, genre scenes, religious subjects or Greek mythology: the exhibition traces the evolution of his art, his philosophical background, and the dramas of his personal life. Italian art is also in the spotlight with Leonardo da Vinci’s Benois Madonna and Madonna Litta (Room 214); Raphael’s magnificent dressing rooms (Room 227); Michelangelo’s emblematic Squatting Boy (Room 230) or Caravaggio’s paintings (Room 260). Also to be seen: the famous “Peacock Clock”, in the Pavilion room (N°204), which rings every Wednesday at 7 pm.
Greek mythology, Egyptian sarcophagi, Scythian treasure (room N°11 to 14), Italian painting, Asian arts, Eastern cultures, and, of course, the largest collection of paintings in the world with 16,000 canvases (Rembrandt, Picasso, Cézanne, Gauguin, Matisse, Rubens, …): it is said that it would take a lifetime to contemplate each of the works in the Hermitage Museum’s collection. The virtual visit will undoubtedly allow us to discover a small part of it.