The collection of French art in the Hermitage
The collection of French art in the Hermitage
Министерство образования Российской Федерации
Институт туризма и гостиничного хозяйства
тему «The collection of French art in the Hermitage»
по дисциплине «ИЭД»
5014 гр., 2 курса
is one of the greatest museums in the world. Put together throughout two
centuries and a half, the Hermitage collections of works of art (over 3,000,000
items) present the development of the world culture and art from the Stone Age
to the 20th century. Today the Museum is creating its digital self-portrait to
be displayed around the world. The collection of Western European art is
regarded as one of the finest in the world, and forms the nucleus of the
Hermitage display. It occupies 120 rooms in the four museum buildings, and reflects
all the stages in the development of art from the Middle Ages to the present
day. The collection includes numerous works by outstanding masters from Italy,
Spain, Holland, Flanders, France, England, Germany, and other Western European
of French art in the Hermitage is exceptionally rich and is the finest outside
France among the museums of the world. More then forty rooms are used to house
the displays of painting, sculpture and various items of applied art.
French Art: 15th-18th
collection of the 15th-18th century French painting is rich and variable. It
enables us to trace the development of different styles and schools of that
Rooms 272 and 273. 15th-16th
century art. At the end of the fifteenth century the separate feudal provinces
were united into a single French state governed by the king with in the
framework of this national state there developed conditions favourable to the
growth of culture. In the town of Limoges the production of enamels was
revived after a long interval of time, not champleve as in the Middle
Ages but painted. The very rich collection in the Hermitage allows us to trace
the development of the style of fifteenth and sixteenth century French
enamellers. Religious subjects were gradually replaced by mythological ones,
medieval convention gave way to a realistic handling of themes, and grisaille
(a painting executed entirely in monochrome, in a series of greys)
superseded polychrome painting, thus making it possible to convey volume, both
of figures and of space. The Renaissance artists turned from objects connected
with religious worship to the creation of decorative secular articles, such as
dishes, jugs and plates.
Room 273. In a large cabinet there are some
faiences by Bernard Palissy (1510-1589), the inventor of a colored, transparent
glazing which gave pottery additional beauty and durability. At one time his
decorative dishes with relief designs of fish, snakes and crayfish were
tremendously popular; this was called Palissy’s rustic pottery. In a case by
the window there are exquisite sixteenth century faience vessels made in the
small French town of Saint-Porchaire. They have been preserved up to the
present day only as separate items, not as part of a set.
Room 274. Sixteenth century French court art;
the so-called Fontainebleau school, developed under the significant influence
of Italian Mannerism (the Italian Mannerists Primaticcio and Rosso worked in
France and painted decorative murals in the royal palace at Fontainebleau). The
Venus and Cupid relief was created by one of the leading
representatives of the Fontainebleau school, Jean Goujon (1510-1568). The
sculptor has skillfully worked into his composition, carved on an oval
medallion, the graceful, somewhat elongated figure of the goddess presented in
a fanciful pose. The distinctive originality of sixteenth century French art
is seen more clearly in portrait painting. Two fine examples of the latter are Portrait
of a Man by an unknown painter and Portrait of a Young Man by Pierre
Room 275-278. Early and mid-17th
century art. During the seventeenth century a number of different trends
developed in French art. A painting by Simon Vouet (1590-1649), Portrait of
Anne of Austria as Minerva, is a typical example of court art at the time
of Louis XIII. Of great importance in seventeenth century French art was the
work of the Le Nain brothers, who portrayed peasant life with great sympathy
and respect for the common man. The Dairywoman’s Family was painted by
Louis (1593-1648), the most talented of the brothers. The figures of the
peasants in it are full of dignity, and the compact group stands out boldly
against the greyist-silvery expanse of the masterfully painted landscape. Also
in this room is A Visit to Grandmother, attributed to Mathieu Le Nain.
Room 279. The Hermitage has a very large and
valuable collection of the works of Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665), the founder of
Neoclassicism in seventeenth century French painting. In the center of
Poussin’s vision stands Man, endowed with reason, will and spiritual beauty.
Such are the heroes of his numeous paintings on biblical, mythological and
literary themes the sefless Erminia in Tranced and Erminia, the
fearless Esther of Esther before Ahasuerus, and Moses, the wise tribal
chief in Moses Striking the Rock. Poussin’s rationalism and
philosophical outlook are revealed in his delightful Landscape with
Polyphemus (1649). Polyphemus, the one-eyed Cyclops, is sitting on the top
of a rock playing a pipe, with nymphs, satyrs and a ploughman tilling the land,
all drinking in this song of nature. In his search for an ideal representation
of nature Possin does not paint from life, but builds up his from separate
details observed in nature.
Room 280. Claude Lorrain (1600-1682) was a
leading exponent of the classical landscape. Composed according to the rules of
Classicism, Claude’s canvases are saturated with light, which lends them a
particular emotional quality. The famous series The Four Time of the Day
(Morning, Noon, Evening and Night) reflects the artist’s interest in
light, which was something new for French art.
Room 281. late 17th century art.
The official art of France during the golden age of the absolute monarchy
served the task of glorifying Louis XIV. Artistic life was regulated by the
Academy, at the head of which was the premier peintre to the king,
Charles Lebrun (1619-1690), and after him Pierre Mignard (1612-1695). Mignard’s
work is represented by the monumental Magnanimily of Alexander the Great .
After his victory over the Persian emperor Darius, Alexander enters his tent
where he encounters the family of the vanquished emperor begging for mercy.
With a gesture of the hand the victor grants the captives their lives. The
choice of subject was not fortuitous; in the figure of Alexander is glorified le
roi soleil, Louis XIV. If Mignard extolled the king in the figure of the
great general, the sculptor Francois Girardon (1628-1715) portrayed him as
Roman emperor. Girardon’s small bronze model for the unpreserved equestrian
statue presents the king in the attire of an ancient Roman soldier and in a
wig, such as worn in the seventeenth century.
In room 282 there
is a unique collection of seventeenth and eighteenth century Western European
silver, for the most part French.
Rooms 290-297 contain items of French applied art,
including furniture, Gobilin tapestries, faience, bronze, and porcelain. This
collection is known throughout the world on account of its exceptional wealth.
Room 283. this exhibition introduces the
visitor to the French portrait painting of the second half of the seventeenth
century. The eminent portrait painter Hyacinthe Rigaud (1659-1743) is
represented by The Portrait of a Scholar.
The two ebony cupboards, decorated
with bronze and tortoise-shell and used for keeping medals in, were made in the
workshop of Andre-Charles Boulle (1642-1732), a well-known furniture-maker. An
original Boulle cupboard can be seen in room 293.
Room 284-289. 18th century art. This
room contains several pieces by one of France’s most eminent artists, Antoine
Watteau (1684-1721) who, in his search for a realist approach, broke with
hidebound academic convention. In his small paintings The Hardships of War
and The Recreations of War Watteau portrayed the everyday life of a
soldier rather than ostentatious battle scenes as his predecessors had done. The
Savoyard with a Marmot (1716), a picture of a simple-hearted young
traveling musician, also confirms Watteau’s interest in the simple phenomena of
life. The blue expanse of the clear, fresh sky, the buildings of the small
town, and the silhouettes of the bare trees make up a landscape in which the
glowing colours of autumn are dominant. Watteau became famous as a painter of
so-called fetes galantes. An example of this type of painting is the
Embarrassing Proposal, painted about 1716. Some member s of fashionable
society are amusing themselves chatting in the shade of the gossamery foliage;
the casually graceful postures of the young ladies and their admirers convey
subtle, almost imperceptible shades of emotion. Exquisite colouring and
delicate execution distinguish one of the artist’s masterpieces, a small
painting A Capricious Woman, in which the spectator encounters the same
world of superficial feelings.
The exhibition in room 285 and 286
presents examples of Rococo court art whose only raison d’etre,
according to the art remark of a contemporary, was to please. Venuses, cupids,
shepherd boys and shepherd girls are the central figures of the many works of
Francois Boucher (1703-1770), a court painter of Louis XV. Boucher’s Pastoral
Scene, The Triumph of Venus and The Toilet of Venus, confined
in their colours to attractive pinks and blues, are very typical of Rococo art,
of which he was a distinguished exponent.
285 particular mention should be made of the work of Etienne-Maurice
Falconet (1716-1791), who executed the equestrian statue of Peter the Great
(“Bronze Horseman”) in St Petersburg. His Cupid, Flora and Winter,
in which elegance is combined with the true-to-life quality of the figures, are
evidence of the sculptor’s faithful adherence to realist traditions. In a large
cabinet by the window, among some Sevres porcelains, are the unglazed white
porcelain (biscuit) statuettes Cupid, Psyche and Woman Bathing,
made from models of Falconet.
Room 286 contains a number of portraits by Jean-Marc
Nattier and Louis Tocque, painters who at one time enjoyed considerable
popularity. Falconet’s Winter is distinguished from his earlier works
its greater severity of style; this is related to the growing influence of
Classicism in French art during the last thirty years of the eighteenth
Room 287. Jean-Baptiste Simeon Chardin
(1699-1779) was a leading representative of the realist movement. His Washerwoman
and Grace before Meat (1744) take the onlooker into the sphere of
activities and everyday problems and chores of a poor French family. Chardin
was an outstanding painter of still life, which was unknown to French
aristocratic art as an independent genre. The appeal of the Still Life with
the Attributes of the Arts, lies in the austere conception of the
composition and the subtle, skilful use of colour.
The center of the room is occupied by
the marble statue of the great man of the Enlightenment, Voltaire (1781),
created by the sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon (1741-1828). The
eighty-four-year-old Voltaire sat for him in 1778, but the May of that year the
great man was dead. With ruthless veracity the hand of the sculptor portrayed
the aged, weak body, the hands disfigured by sickness, the crooked spine and
toothless mouth. But upon the face of Voltaire, with its high brow, ironic
smile and the poignant look of the sharp eyes, is the seal of an immortal
intellect and undying energy. The philosopher, seated in an armchair, is
dressed in a garment which reminds us of the ancient toga, and upon his head he
wears an ancient fillet.
Also of interest are the portrait
busts of Diderot and Falconet carved in marble by Marie-Anne Collot
(1748-1821). Collot came with her teacher Falconet to Russia, where he took
part in the work on the equestrian statue of Peter the Great. It wsa from her
model that the head of Peter was made.
Room 288. The painting Paralytic Helped by
His Children, one of the most famous canvases by Jean-Baptiste Greuze
(1725-1805), was considered to be an affirmation of bourgeois virtue and a
protest against the depravity of the aristocracy and the frivolity of Rococo
art. Another example of this type of moralizing scene is his painting Widow
Visiting the Cure. Greuze’s artistic merit is seen fully in such works as The
Spoilt Child, Girl with a Doll and Young Man in a Hat.
Three paintings - The Stolen Kiss,
The Farmer’s Children and The Lost Forfeit, or the Captured Kiss -
illustrate the work of the fine painter of the second half of the eighteenth
century Jean-Honore Fragonard (1732-1806). These are also some paintings by the
famous landscape painter Claude Joseph Vernet (1714-1789).
Room 289. In the White Room (designed by
Briullov, 1838) there are paintings, sculptures and items of applied art from
the last thirty years of the eighteenth century. During these years Hubert
Robert (1733-1808) enjoyed great popularity; ancient ruins were the favourite
theme of his decorative landscapes.
French Art: 18th-20th
French painting of the 19th to early 20th century is
represented by approximately 850 items. Chronologically, this section begins
with works by artists from the late 18th and early 19th century, whose
contributions to the history of art vary enormously, but whose works embody the
artistic aspirations of the age: Lethiere, Lefebre, Caraffe, C.Vernet, Girodet,
P.Chauvin, artists who were very popular during the time of the Empire such as
Guerin, F.Gerard and others.
Room 314. A new chapter in French history was
opened in 1789 when the feudal Bourbon monarchy collapsed. The artistic
movement which expressed the revolutionary aspirations of the progressive
factions of French society was Neoclassicism. The Death of Coto of Utica
by Guillaume Lethiere (1760-1832) gives us some us some idea of the distinctive
features of this movement. Cato, a confirmed Republican, commits suicide upon
hearing of the establishment of Caesar’s dictatorship; the figure of the hero,
who preferred death to the loss of freedom, was consonant with the aspirations
of the time.
During the First Empire artist began
to choose idyllic or allegorical themes. Guerin’s paintings Morpheus and
Iris and Sapho and two sculptures, Chaudet’s Cypress and Canova’s
Dancer, illustrate the fundamental changes in Neoclassical art.
In the same room is Antoine Gros’s
(1771-1835) Napoleon upon the Bridge at Arcole. This painting is based
upon the actual event at the time of the Italian campaign of 1797; during the
battle of Arcole Bonaparte, a young general at that time, was the first to rush
forward and, leading his men, began the assault on the bridge. In Gros’s
handling the figure of Napoleon has lost the rhetorical quality of Lethiere’s
hero, it contains a greater feeling of vitality, greater energy, those
qualities which later received expression in the paintings of the Romantics.
Room 332. The leading figure in French
Neoclassicism was Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825). From his late canvas Sappho
and Phaon (1809) it is evident that at the time of the Empire no traces
remained of the revolutionary spirit of the former member of the National
Convention, the creator of the Death of Marat.
Room 332. In the Portrait of Josephine
(Napoleon’s first wife) Francois Gerard (1770-1837) presents a new type of
formal portrait, in which he skillfully combines the austerity of a classical
composition with a simple and unaffected rendering of the appearance of his
model. One of the first artists to portray the everyday life of the bourgeois
society of his time was Louis Boilly, who painted the small picture A Game
Ingres (1780-1867), a staunch adherent of Classicism and an ardent admirer of
antiquity and Raphael, was among the most subtle and complex artists of the
mid-nineteenth century. The only painting by him in the Hermitage is the portrait
of the Russian diplomat Count Guryev, painted in 1821 and notable for the
austere formal arrangement and the strength and assurance of line.
Room 329. Eugene Delacroix (1798-1863), the
major painter of the Romantic movement, is represented in the Hermitage by two
late works. Lion Hunt in Morocco (1854) and Arab Saddling His Horse
(1855). One glance at these paintings is sufficient for an understanding of the
great difference between them and the paintings produced by the artists of the
Classical school. Painted in bright, fresh colours, Delacroix’s canvases are
filled with the ardent breath of life, an a sense of the grandeur of nature.
One of the
representatives of the Romantic movement in sculpture is the animalist Antoine
Barye (1796-1875), the creator of the bronze groups A Lion and a Snake
and A Panther and an Antelope. Barye imbues his works with great
expressiveness, revealing in them the harsh laws of the animal kingdom.
Room 328, 325, 324 and 322. In the 1830s a realist trend appeared
in French painting, heralded by the Barbizon school of landscape painters. This
name was given to a group of artists who had settled in the village of Barbizon
near Paris, where they faithfully reproduced in their paintings their native
countryside. There is a large collection of landscapes of the Barbizon school
in the Hermitage. Its leading figure, Theodore Rousseau (1812-1867), showed,
even in one of his early works, View in the Vicinity of Granville, that
the simple, visually unprepossessing
Countryside of Normandy could become
a source of inspiration. Close to Rousseau in their perception of nature are
Jules Dupre, Charles Francois Daubigny, Diaz de la Pena, Charles Jacque and
Room 321. An important place in the history
of French landscape painting belongs to Camille Corot (1796-1875). A profound,
subtle understanding of nature connected him with the Barbizon painters, but
unlike them Corot did not strive for an accurate reproduction of landscape.
His poetic landscapes are echoes of the artist’s own experiences. “If you are
really moved,” said Corot, “the sincerity of your feelings will be felt by
The work of the leading painters of
the realist movement , Jean-Francois Millet (1814-1875) and Gustav Courbert
(1819-1877), developed in the 1850s and ‘60s. Millet was the first among his
contemporaries to depict French village life, with what was then unusual
degree of profundity and veracity. The Hermitage possesses only one of his
paintings, Peasant Women Carrying Firewood.
Courbert, an active figure in the
Paris Commune, was the major representative of the realist movement in painting
and ardently defended the right of the artist to portray contemporary life. The
only Courbert in the Hermitage is the Landscape with a Dead Horse which,
because of its poor state of preservation, does not give us any real idea of
his skill as an artist. The choice of theme in this painting represents a
challenge to the “official” art, because Courbert maintains here that the
artist should be concerned with life in all its diversity.
Room 320. Towards the 1870s Impressionism reached its peak in
France, the movement having originated as a protest against the rigid
convention which prevailed in official art. The Impressionists emerged as heirs
to the realist traditions and enriched painting with their fresh, joyful
colours, their representation of light, and exquisite rendering of atmosphere.
They drew only from life capturing the spontaneity and naturalness of the first
visual impression. In conveying the wealth of colour in the real around them
Impressionists attempted to catch and to record its face, forever changing
under the play of light.
(1841-1919) embodies the principles and methods of Impressionism in portrait
painting. Renoir did not attempt to reveal in his portraits intricate feelings
or emotions; he caught the spontaneous movement, the half-smile, the gentle
reverie of his model. Unaffected animation and simplicity characterize his Girl
with a Fan and Portrait of the Actress Jeanne Samary. Renoir’s colours are
notable for their freshness, the richness of hues, and the extremely delicate
transition from one tone to the next.
The work of
Edgar Degas (1834-1917) is represented by some pastels-Woman Combing Her
Hair, After the Bath, Dancers and Woman at Her Toilet.
Room 319. One of the leading Impressionist painters was Claude
Monet (1840-1926), whose picture Impression: Sunrise, exhibited in Paris
in 1874, gave the name to the whole movement. An early work of his, Lady in
the Garden (1867), reflects the first success of the new manner of
painting. Abandoning black and subdued tones, Monet painted the shade in color
depending on the surrounding milieu. The woman’s white dress in the shade of
the parasol, for example, acquires a bluish hue against the background of the
green foliage and the blue sky. In the landscape Pond at Montgeron
(1876-77) the countryside is filled with the subtle, barely perceptible
movement of currents of moist air, in which the outlines of things melt into
nothing. Gradually the rendering of light and air becomes Monet’s main them and
he portrays one and the same subject several time in different lights,
stripping things of their of their materiality.
Room 318. Paris street life with its characteristic bustle,
commotion and endless flow of traffic and pedestrians was captured by Camille
Pissarro (1830-1903) in his paintings The Boulevard Montmartre in Paris
and La Place du Theatre-Francais in Paris.
paintings by Paul Cezanne (1839-1906)make it possible to observe the main
stages in the development of the artist’s work. Unlike the Impressionists
Cezanne tried to reveal the materiality and plasticity of whaterver he
deplicted. Typical in this way is the landscape Banks of the Marne
(1888), in which he painted a tranquil scene from nature, as through trying to
immortalize on canvas her immutable qualities. Still-life painting was
Cezanne’s favourite genre. His still lifes are simple: a wooden table, two or
three faience vessels, some fruit, all these objects possessing some special
distinctive corporeity peculiar to Cezanne. To preserve their “eternal”
qualities-weight and volume-Cezanne made the form geometric, building it up
with thick strokes of bright green, orange and blue.
Rooms 317 and 316 contain examples of the work of the
Post-Impressionist painters Van Gogh and Gauguin.
Room 317. The Hermitage has four paintings by Vincent Van Gogh
(1853-1890): View of the Arles, Ladies of Arles (Memory of the Garden at
Etten), Bushes, and Cottages with Thached Roofs, painted during
the last years of the artist’s life. Cottages with Thatched Roofs (1890)
is imbued with the feeling of anxiety which overcame him on seeing the poor
dwellings, clinging to the slope of the hill. Van Gogh’s characteristic dramatic
tension is felt in the vividness of the colours, the restless rhythm of the
thick, energetic brush-strokes, and the expressiveness of line.
the same room are Tropical Forest, The Chopin Memorial in the Luxemburg
Gardens and View to the Left of the Gate of Vanves by Henri Rousseau
(1844-1910), usually referred to as a Primitive.
Room 316. The fifteen paintings in the Hermitage by Paul Gauguin
(1848-1903) belong to his so-called Tahiyian period. In his pictures painted in
the tropics Gauguin extols a world untouched by “civilization” and full of the
exotic, where people live in harmony with nature. Gauguin’s paintings are
decorative, the areas of local colours lie on the canvas in motionless patches,
and the contours of the figures and objects-sometimes smooth and fluid,
sometimes exquisitely delicate-give the picture the semblance of a coloured
pattern (Tahitian Pastorals, Woman Holding a Fruit, Miraculous Source, The
Room 343-345. The thirty-seven pictures by Henry Matisse (1869-1954),
painted between 1900 and 1913 , make it possible to illustrate the special
features of the work of one of the leading twentieth century French artists. The
Family Group, Red Room and other of Matisse’s works are striking in their
decorative quality and their saturated colours. Rejecting a chiaroscuro
treatment, Matisse simplifies and schematizes his figures and objects, building
up his composition on the contrasting juxtaposition of large areas of pure
colour. The radiant colourfulness of Matisse’s canvases produces a feeling of
joy and gaiety.
Room 346 and 347. Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) was an eminent French
progressive, the winner of the International Peace Prize and of the
International Lenin Prize “for the Strengthening of Peace between Nations”. The
development of Picasso as an artist was unusually complex and contradictory.
The Hermitage collection, consisting of thirty-seven works, helps illustrate
the early stages of this development. In one of the best paintings of his early
period, Woman Drinking Absinth (1901), Picasso created a type that
evokes a deep sense of tragedy. The Portrait of Soler and The Visit
(Two Sisters) belong to the so-called Blue Period (1901-1904); his Pink
Period (1905-1906) is represented by a gouache drawing, Boy with a Dog.
and 1907 Picasso was absorbed with analysis of form and reduced everything to a
simplified volume similar to a cube, a sphere or a cylinder. He became one of
the founder of a new tendency in art, Cubism, typical of which are such works
as Woman with a Fan, Three Women, Pitcher and Bowl and others. After
this Picasso arrived at a complete break-up of form; he destroyed volume and
created free compositions from planes and lines.
Rooms 348 and 349. Among the paintings of early twentieth century
artist are works by Andre Derain (1880-1954) – The Grove, The Lake and
Harbour in Provence; Maurice Vlaminck (1876-1958) – A View of the Seine;
Jean-Edouard Vuillard (1868-1940) – A Room and Children; Pierre Bonnard
(1867-1947) – Early Spring and A Corner of Paris; Louis Valtat
(1869-1952) – Pleasure Party in the Garden; Maurice Denis (1870-1943) – Spring
Landscape with Figures.
Room 350 contains a large collection of pictures by the fine
landscape painter Albert Marquet (1875-1947),whose greatest love was Paris and
who painted her streets and squares, quays and bridges over the Seine. The
colours in his landscapes are always true to life and objects are represented
in a very generalized way.
the same room are landscapes Leopold Survage (1879-1968) and Andre Fougeron
(born 1913). The Bridge was painted by the latter in 1964. Glowing
colours and great vitality distinguish the Red Dancer and Lady in a Black
Hat by Cornelius Kees Van Dongen (1877-1968).
In room 350
are also shown paintings by Fernand Leger (1881-1955), - Carte postale and
exhibition of French art also includes marble sculptures by Auguste Rodin
(1840-1917) and bronzes by Aristide Maillol (1861-1944)