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19th Century Portraits

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The Hermitage wears Prado

Published: March 2, 2011 (Issue # 1645)



  • More than sixty canvases by artists including Velazquez, Goya, Titian and Bosch have been lent to the Hermitage.
    Photo: The St. Petersburg Times

An unprecedented itinerant exhibition from Madrid’s Prado Museum opened at the State Hermitage Museum last week, marking the year of Spain in Russia and of Russia in Spain.

The exhibition was opened by President Dmitry Medvedev and Spanish King Juan Carlos, who came to the city on an official visit to launch the year of his country in Russia.

“Our people love the culture and art of Spain and there is no doubt they’ll be delighted to expand their knowledge of it,” Medvedev said.

Mikhail Piotrovsky, director of the Hermitage Museum, described the exhibition as “a historic event” for the Hermitage and said he was “very thankful that an exhibition of such high quality has arrived at the museum.”

“At this exhibition, every picture is a masterpiece,” Piotrovsky said at a press conference devoted to the opening of the exhibition Friday.

Miguel Sugasa, director of the Prado, said the museum was inspired to bring the exhibition to Russia after Medvedev visited the Prado in Madrid two years ago and expressed enthusiastic praise about the museum’s collection.

“At this exhibition, we have tried to present not only the quality but also the diversity of the [Prado’s] collection, including works by Western European and Spanish artists, and pieces from the Renaissance era,” Sugasa said.

The exhibition features more than sixty canvases from the 15th to 19th centuries by Western European artists with a focus on the Spanish, Italian and Flemish schools. The artists featured include Hieronymus Bosch, Raphael, Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck, El Greco, Diego Velazquez, Francisco Goya, Titian and many others.

Titian’s masterpiece “Venus and Cupid with an Organist,” which pictures a musician playing at Venus’s feet while contemplating the naked goddess, who is distracted by Cupid, is one of the works that has been brought from Madrid for the exhibition.

Some specialists consider the piece to be a straightforward erotic work, while others see its character as allegories of the senses of sight and hearing as the means for achieving knowledge of beauty and harmony.

Another canvas by Alonso Sanchez Coello depicts two girls of eight and nine years old — the much loved daughters of King Philip II of Spain. The artist painted the portraits of the Infantes in keeping with standard court portrait practices, with both of them wearing similar sumptuous clothing and wearing a detached expression.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the club’s website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit “Neophobia” at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBA’s Marketing and Communications Committee’s round table discussion on “Government Relations Practices in Russia” this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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