Catherine the Great

Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great


Avid readers of Style AND Tonic will know that we are huge fans of successful, intelligent and inspiring women so when we heard about the exhibition for Catherine the Great at the National gallery of Victoria we just had to know more.

About CatherineThe Great 

Catherine the Great’s reign from 1762 to 1796 was known as a golden age. Her inexhaustible passion for the arts, education and culture heralded a renaissance, leading to the formation of one of the world’s great museums, the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg.

Of German heritage, Catherine the Great was well connected in European art and literature circles. She saw herself as a reine-philosophe (Philosopher Queen), a new kind of ruler in the Age of Enlightenment.

A fluent speaker of Russian, French and German, she was a largely self-educated ruler of fierce intelligence and firm convictions. She was independent, idealistic and visionary, Catherine achieved many outstanding social and cultural initiatives including the forming of Russia’s first quasi-parliament, the rewriting of legal codes incorporating laws relating to freedom of the press, freedom of religion and the outlawing of torture as well as establishing orphanages and schools for women. The moniker ‘Catherine the Great’ was given to her during her lifetime.

Catherine the Great accumulated an extraordinary range of exceptional art works during her 34-year reign, including Old Masters, contemporary art, and exquisite works of decorative arts from the East. Enriched by the inspired acquisition of pre-existing, renowned collections formed in France, Germany and England, Catherine become one of the greatest collectors and patrons of art in the history of Europe.

The Hermitage Museum

Catherine the Great’s love of education, art and culture inspired a period of enlightenment and architectural renaissance that saw the construction of the Hermitage complex.

The Hermitage today is one of the largest, oldest and most-visited museums in the world

In the words of Hermitage Museum Director Mikhail Dedinkin, ‘This exhibition is the story of how one person created the first fine art museum in Russian history.

Catherine the Great


The Exhibition

Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great showcases more than 500 paintings, drawings, sculptures and decorative art treasures drawn from Catherine the Great’s huge collection at the Hermitage.

Every room housing the exhibition at the NGV, is painted in jewel colours recreating the 250-year-old museum it came from.

Catherine the Great


The exhibition features four Rembrandts, including the notable Young woman trying on earrings, known as one of most intimate images Rembrandt ever created.

The exhibition also includes 80 particularly fine drawings by artists including Poussin, Rubens, Clouet and Greuze.

Exquisite decorative arts have come to Australia for the exhibition, including 60 items from the Cameo Service of striking enamel-painted porcelain made by the Sèvres Porcelain Manufactory in Paris.

Dinner Service made by Se’vres

Catherine the Great


Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great is at NGV International from 31 July – 8 November 2015.








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