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Lorenzo Lotto, Madonna and Child with Angels (Madonna delle grazie), 1542. Oil on panel © State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

2 February
— 25 August
Treasury!
Masterpieces from the Hermitage
The tenth anniversary of the Hermitage Amsterdam will trigger a year-long celebration in 2019. The initial event will be Treasury!, the first of the two anniversary exhibitions, featuring a cross-section of masterpieces from the entire collection of the St Petersburg State Hermitage. Including big names in art history like Bernini, Da Vinci, Fabre, Matisse, Rembrandt and Velázquez. Also on show are outstanding works of art from cultures dating back to early prehistory (23,000 BC) and from Ancient Egypt, Classical Greece and Rome; as well as antiquities from civilisations as far afield as Siberia, the Middle East and East-Asia. In the main gallery, below a spectacular piece of light art, you will enjoy thrilling combinations of works from widely differing times and places. What, for example, links Maarten van Heemskerck’s sixteenth-century Calvary triptych with an image of the Buddha made in twelfth-century China? To find out, visit Treasury!
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Treasury!
First section: open-mindedness

First section: open-mindedness

The first part of the exhibition, in the main gallery, will present visitors with paired works of art from many different periods and cultures. Chosen for their surprising similarities, visual or otherwise, these playful and exciting pairings will reveal similarities and differences between cultures and over time that will encourage visitors to adopt a more open and attentive attitude. Art is exciting and stimulating, offering many new discoveries, even in works that have long been familiar.

Art history is not a matter of degrees of authenticity or originality; it is about the narratives and meanings that underlie art objects. One of the interesting aspects of the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg is that it stands literally on the dividing line between East and West. This is evident in its collections, which display stylistic features and reciprocal influences from all directions. The history of art is not unitary. Every culture, every period, even every individual art historian writes a different art history. Sometimes there are what you might call ‘blanks’. And the collection of the Hermitage is particularly well equipped to hold up a mirror to us, enabling us to understand the history of art just that little bit better. That is what makes this exhibition so unique.

The displays will also reveal that the interpretation of a work of art is not set in stone. One man’s ‘Late Gothic’ is another man’s ‘Early Renaissance’. What one historian regards as Byzantine, another may call Eastern Roman. We do well to realise this, so that we can approach art with an open mind and perhaps try to look at it as children do, without preconceptions and with new eyes.

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Ilja Repin, Portrait of tsar Nicholas II, 1895, oil on canvas © State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg
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Photo Lara Scot
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Now on view: Treasury!

Masterpieces from the Hermitage