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The Treasures of St Petersburg and The Hermitage: Catherine the Great

When Peter the Great died in 1725, his vision of St Petersburg becoming a new European-styled metropolis was slowly taking shape and the Russian Enlightenment was starting to emerge. Yet it was Catherine II, better known as Catherine ‘the Great’, who ensured this passion to create a city that could rival the most cultured centres of Europe remained alive. Although she was born the daughter of a German prince, her desire to make Russia the greatest it could be was total. She aimed to bring Russia up to par with her European neighbours and even surpass them. Perhaps the greatest way she aimed to achieve this was through her collections. Heavily influenced by the contemporary trend in Europe of starting collections and creating picture galleries, Catherine started to amass the great collections now visible in the Hermitage Museum. Not only did she aim to use this collection to develop a national culture in Russia, but Catherine also desired it to become one that could both emulate and even better the great European art collections. Consequently, she always aimed to increase the collection, spotting hidden talents in art and architecture and inviting them to the new Russian capital; money was not as issue for the Tsarina. The Winter Palace, the Hermitage’s central attraction, was completed during Catherine’s reign and went on to serve as the official home of Russian monarchs for some 150 years. The Treasures of St Petersburg and The Hermitage: Catherine the Great is the second episode in a three-part series, centred around the history of one of the world’s most remarkable cities. The series was originally commissioned by Five, narrated by Tim Marlow and with music performed by The State Hermitage Orchestra. It explores the art and architecture of this ‘Venice of the North’, not least the vast horde of treasures located in the centrepiece of the city: The Hermitage, possibly the greatest museum in the World.

 Read more Read less Duration: 23 min