The Treasures of St Petersburg and The Hermitage: Revolution
The Hermitage Museum, centred around the Winter Palace, is the beating heart of St Petersburg - a city founded by Peter the Great in 1703 as part of his dream to more closely align Russia with Europe.
The Museum was founded nearly fifty years after Peter’s death during the reign of Catherine the Great; it was she who started amassing a large art collection, as she aimed to both emulate and better contemporary art collections in Europe.
Following Catherine’s death in 1762, for the next 150 years the collection in the Hermitage continued to grow. Yet in 1917 great change came to Russia.
Just as St Petersburg was where the Russian monarchy began, it was also where it ended. In 1917, two revolutions took Russia by storm, resulting in the overthrow of the Romanov dynasty and the beginning of the age of Soviet Russia.
Nevertheless, despite its strong links with the preceding monarchy, the Hermitage and the Winter Palace remained prominent and became vitally important to Soviet myth. The Hermitage’s collection, perhaps somewhat-surprisingly, continued to grow.
Still, the twentieth century would be a tumultuous time for the Hermitage. From being the scene for one of the most famous moments in the 1928 Soviet Propaganda film, October, to housing German soldiers and coming close to almost-complete destruction during the Siege of Leningrad (formerly St Petersburg) in World War Two, the museum became the centre of some of the most significant events of the past hundred years.
The Treasures of St Petersburg and The Hermitage: Revolution is the third 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.Duration: 23 Min