Catherine the Great
18 June 2016 to 15 January 2017
Two hundred and fifty years after Catherine the Great founded the Hermitage, the Hermitage Amsterdam presents her life story in a sumptuous exhibition.
Catherine (1729–1796) was a minor German princess who at the age of fourteen was taken to Russia to marry the heir to the throne. With widespread support, she later overthrew her husband, Peter III, and claimed the throne for herself. Catherine had ambitious plans to reform the whole empire and although she encountered setbacks, her achievements were astounding.
Fyodor Rokotov after Alexander Roslin, Portrait of Catherine the Great, 1780–90 (original 1777–78). Oil on canvas
Vigilius Eriksen, Portrait of Catherine the Great on Horseback, 1762. Oil on canvas
© State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg
Catherine had a tremendous passion for art and contributed more than anyone else to the Russia’s greatest art collection. She corresponded with Voltaire and Diderot. She added new territory to her empire and in all her endeavours, she had a sharp eye for talented people who could help her, such as the Orlov brothers and her most influential lover, Potemkin.
With quotations from her own memoirs and those of her contemporaries, this exhibition presents more than 300 objects from the Hermitage in St Petersburg, inviting visitors into Catherine’s world. It sets magnificent personal possessions such as dresses, bijoux, cameos, and snuff boxes, alongside some of the finest art works from her vast collection: paintings, sculptures, exquisite pieces of decorative art and portraits of her friends and loved ones.