An agreement has been signed providing charitable funds for the restoration of the Hermitage rooms displaying French art
On 26 June 2004 a signing ceremony took place in the Hermitage Theater between the parties to a Contract on Charitable Contributions – the State Hermitage and the French companies Crédit Agricole S.A. and the Caisse des dépôts et consignations. Under the terms of the contract, charitable funds will be made available for the restoration of 18 rooms in the Winter Palace displaying French art of the 16th - 18th centuries and 19th-20th centuries.
The aim of the contract is to highlight the importance of the collection of French art kept in the Hermitage, to further strengthen an existing cooperation and to develop the traditionally firm Franco-Russian cultural ties.
Under the terms of the contract, the restoration work will take place in 2004 and 2005. The State Hermitage will be responsible for resolving all technical issues including the scheduling of repair work in the rooms, the interior design and selection of materials for use in the rooms. After the repair work is completed, the rooms will provided with printed descriptions of the works on display in French, to supplement the existing descriptions in Russian and English. Moreover, the names of the sponsors will be added to the Honor Roll of Sponsors and Patrons of the State Hermitage which is found in the Main Vestibule of the museum and on the website.
The collection of French art in the State Hermitage
Both in quantity and in terms of diversity of material, the collection of French art in the Hermitage is one of the richest in the world after the Louvre in Paris. It includes paintings, sculptures, decorative and applied art, all of which gives a comprehensive view of the development of French artistic culture over the course of five centuries, from the middle of the 15th to the beginning of the 20th century.
Alongside splendid paintings from the 15th century such as works by the Master of the Thuison Altarpiece and the Master of St. Sebastien, there are portraits from the 16th century, among which a portrait of the Comte d’Alençon by an unknown artist is especially worthy of note. The collection also has a very rich offering of masterpieces of applied art such as painted Limoges enamels, rare works of faience from St. Porchère, and original works by Bernard Palissy.
There are interesting works by the great masters of the 17th century: decorative compositions by Simone Vouet and Eustache Lesueur, paintings by Philippe de Champaigne, the Le Nain brothers, Sebastien Bourdon, and Nicolas Mignard. The pride of the collection is works by the outstanding representatives of Classicism Nicolas Poussin and his follower Claude Lorrain. Among them are such well known masterpieces as Tancred and Erminia and Landscape with Polyphemus by Poussin and Coast View with Apollo and Cumaean Siby, as well as the series of works entitled Four Times of the Day by Lorrain.
Nearly all the canvases by one of the greatest French painters, Antoine Watteau, can be considered to be among the artist’s best works: La Boudeuse, An Embarrassing Proposal, and Savoyard with a Marmot.
The collection of French painting from the 18th century includes brilliant works by Francois Boucher, Honore Fragonard, Nicolas Lancret, Jean-Baptiste Greuse, Jean-Batiste Simeone Charden, and a beautiful collection of landscapes by Hubert Robert.
The collection of sculpture includes the famous statue by the most important French sculptor of the realistic school Jean-Antoine Houdon, Voltaire Seated, which was made at the behest of Russian Empress Catherine II. Other masterpieces one can name from this period are the Rococo style works Threatening Cupid and Flora by the sculptor of The Bronze Horseman, Etienne-Maurice Falconet.
The collection of French applied art from the 17th-18th centuries is quite diverse: silver objects, bronzes and pieces of jewellery, wall hangings, fabrics and furniture. Especially worthy of note are two real treasures of the furniture-maker’s craft, one ebony armoire made by the well known master Andre Charles Boulle and another designed by Antoine Leporte.
The Hermitage has a very important collection of paintings by the French Impressionists and post-Impressionists. The collection includes eight paintings by Claude Monet, among them Woman in a Garden and the matched panels entitled Corner of the Garden in Montgeron and Pond at Montgeron. There are six works by Pierre Auguste Renoir, including Portrait of the Actress Jeanne Samary, and Girl with a Fan.
Among the 11 canvases by Paul Cezanne in the Hermitage collection are The Banks of the Marne, Still Life with a Curtain and Fruits. There are also pastels by Edgar Degas and four works by Vincent van Gogh (Lilac Bush, Cottages and others). Pastorales Tahitiennes and Woman Holding a Fruit are among the 15 paintings by Paul Gauguin. The 37 works by Henri Matisse include such world renowned paintings as The Red Room, The Dance and Music. There are 37 paintings by Pablo Picasso from the early periods of his work: the Rose, Blue and Cubist works The Absinthe Drinker, Two Sisters, The Meeting, Boy with a Dog, Woman with a Fan and others. Auguste Rodin, the most powerful sculptor of the second half of the 19th century – early 20th century, is represented by nine works in marble, bronze and plaster, among them Eternal Spring, The Sinner and The Age of Bronze.