The Hermitage is a member of the" highest League " of the world Museum treasures. In his collection — three million exhibits, and a great collection, started by Catherine the great, is replenished to this day. We offer a short tour of the Hermitage-and 10 paintings that are sure to see.

Leonardo da Vinci. Madonna and child (the Benois Madonna)
Italy, 1478-1480

The second name comes from the name of the owners of the picture. Under what circumstances the work of the great Leonardo came to Russia, is still unknown. There is a legend that the Benoit family bought it from a traveling circus. The masterpiece went to Maria Sapozhnikova (after marriage — Benois) inherited from his father. In 1914, the Hermitage acquired this painting from her. However, after the revolution, in the difficult 1920s and 30s, the Soviet government almost sold it to the Minister of Finance of the United States, a passionate collector Andrew Mellon. Art critics who opposed the sale, lucky: the deal fell through.

Rafael. Madonna and Child (Conestabile Madonna)
Italy, around 1504

"Madonna and Child" — one of the early works of Raphael, written though not as masterfully as the rest of his work, but with great feeling. Alexander II purchased the painting in Italy from the count Conestabile for his beloved wife Maria Alexandrovna. In 1870, this gift cost the Emperor 310 thousand francs. The sale of Raphael's work angered the local public, but the Italian government had no means to buy the painting from the owner. The property of the Empress was immediately exhibited in the building of the Hermitage.

Titian. Danae.
Italy, circa 1554

Titian's painting, Catherine the great acquired in 1772. The picture is painted on motives of the myth, in which king Acrisius predicted that he would die from the hand of his own grandson, and to prevent this, he imprisoned his daughter Danae, her being in prison. However, the resourceful God Zeus still penetrated her in the form of a Golden pouring rain, after which Danae gave birth to a son Perseus.

Catherine II was an enlightened monarch, had a great taste and knew what to buy for his collection. The Hermitage has a few more paintings with a similar plot. For example, the "Danae" of Ferville and "Danae" of Rembrandt.

El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos). The apostles Peter and Paul
Spain, between 1587-1592

The picture was presented to the Museum in 1911 by Peter Durnovo. Before a few years before Durnov showed it at the exhibition of the Imperial society of encouragement of arts. Then about El Greco, who was considered a very mediocre artist, talked about as a genius. In this canvas, the painter, who has always been far from European academism, was particularly close to the Byzantine icon painting tradition. He tried to convey the spiritual world and the characters of the apostles. Paul (in red) is assertive, resolute and confident, and Peter, on the contrary, is doubting and hesitant... it is Believed that in the image of Paul El Greco imprinted himself. But researchers still argue about it.

Caravaggio. A young man with a lute
Italy, 1595-1596

Caravaggio is a famous master of Baroque, turning his" funeral " light consciousness of several generations of European artists. Only one of his works, which the artist wrote in his early years, is kept in Russia. For paintings by Caravaggio is characterized by some drama, there is it in the "lute." In the music notebook, depicted on the table, recorded the popular at the time melody of Madrigal Jacob Arcadelt "you know that I love you." A cracked lute in the hands of a young man-a symbol of unhappy love. The canvas was purchased by Alexander I in 1808.

Peter Paul Rubens. Portrait of the Infanta Isabella maid
Flanders, middle of the 1620-ies

Despite the name, it is believed that this is a portrait of the artist's daughter — Clara Serena, who died at the age of 12. The picture was created after the death of the girl. The artist subtly wrote and fluffy hair, and delicate skin, and thoughtful gaze, from which it is impossible to look away. Before the viewer there is an inspired and poetic image.

The picture in the collection of the Hermitage was acquired by Catherine II in 1772.

Rembrandt van Rhine. The return of the prodigal son
Holland, circa 1668

One of the most famous and recognizable paintings by Rembrandt Catherine II bought in 1766. The gospel parable of the prodigal son troubled the artist throughout his life: the first drawings and etchings on this subject he created in 1630-40 years, and for the painting came from in 1660. Rembrandt became the inspiration for other creative individuals. The avant-garde composer Benjamin Britten was impressed by this work and wrote the Opera. And the Director Andrei Tarkovsky quoted " the Return of the prodigal son "in one of the final scenes of"Solaris".

Edgar Degas. Concorde (Vicomte LePic with his daughters crossing the place de La Concorde)
France, 1875

The painting "Concord Square" was transported to Russia after the Second world war from Berlin — where it was kept in a private collection. The canvas is interesting in that, on the one hand, it is a portrait, and on the other — a typical genre sketch of the Impressionists from the life of the city. Degas portrayed his close friend, the aristocrat Louis LePic, along with his two daughters. Multi-figure portrait still keeps a lot of mysteries. It is not known when and under what circumstances the picture was created. Art historians suggest that the work was written in 1876 and not to order. Another similar picture neither before nor after the artist did not write. In need of money, he sold all the same canvas count LePic, and until the end of the XIX century did not know about it. After the fall of Berlin in 1945, the masterpiece, among other "trophy" works, was sent to the Soviet Union and was in the Hermitage.

Henri Matisse. Dance
France, 1909-1910

The painting was commissioned by Sergei Shchukin, a famous Russian collector of French painting of the XIX — early XX century. The composition is written on the theme of the Golden age of mankind, and therefore it depicts not specific people, but symbolic images. Matisse was inspired by folk dances, which, as you know, keep the ritual of pagan action. The fury of the ancient bacchanalia Matisse embodied in the combination of pure colors-red, blue and green. As symbols of Man, Heaven and Earth. The painting was transferred to the Hermitage from the Moscow collection of the state Museum of new Western art in 1948.

Vasily Kandinsky. Composition VI
Germany, 1913

The Hermitage has a whole room dedicated to the works of Vasily Kandinsky. "Composition VI" was created in Munich in may 1913 — a year before the First world war. Dynamic bright picture is written in free and sweeping strokes. Initially, Kandinsky wanted to call it "Flood": the basis of the abstract canvas lay biblical story. However, later the artist abandoned this idea, so that the title of the work does not interfere with the audience's perception. The canvas came to the Museum from the state Museum of new Western art in 1948.

Special offers

Visit SPb Tram Museum and have a memorable ride on a vintage tram through the historical attractions.

Enlarge your War and Peace knowledge by joining Guide For You on the War and Peace Trail. (more…)

If you are looking for something unique to do in Saint Petersburg, experience Russian Blacksmith mastership!


Moderate 2 Day Shore Excursion St. Petersburg, Russia from 241$ Reserve Now & Pay Later