press release

The inaugural exhibition of Hermitage Amsterdam, At the Russian Court: Palace and Protocol in the 19th Century, promises to be one of the most lavish ever presented in Europe, and one of the largest. With more than 1,800 objects on loan from the State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, the exhibition will fill the Amstelhof—the historic, newly restored home of Hermitage Amsterdam--from 20 June 2009 to 31 January 2010, as it recreates life at the Russian court during the nineteenth century: a period that spanned the reigns of six tsars, from the little-known Paul I, son of Catherine the Great, to the tragic Nicholas II, the last tsar of Russia.

One entire exhibition wing of Hermitage Amsterdam will be devoted to the elaborate protocol of the nineteenth-century Russian court, with its public demonstrations of power and opulence. The other wing will tell the story of the grandiose dinners, parties and themed balls hosted by the tsars in the Hermitage. Among the objects that will bring these subjects to life will be hundreds of exceptionally rich ball gowns and other costumes, magnificent court paintings by Franz Xaver Winterhalter and Ilya Repin, extraordinary items of furniture including the famous Romanov throne, impressive pieces of jewellery by makers such as Fabergé, vast and valuable dinner services and the last tsarina’s own grand piano.

This spectacular exhibition, which will occupy 2.200 square metres, has been designed by Merkx+Girod Architecten, whose previous work includes the recent Rijksmuseum Amsterdam exhibition The Masterpieces (2008) and the exhibition Morocco: 5,000 Years of Culture in De Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam (2004). Inspiration for the design has been drawn from the two most famous rooms in the Winter Palace in St Petersburg, the Nicholas Hall and St George’s Hall. The decorations in these rooms will be reflected in the two great exhibition halls at the Hermitage Amsterdam.

The installation will include a number of interactive computer programmes, to offer information beyond the material found in the traditional text displays and the audio-tour. Another striking feature of the presentation will be the projection of images from the film Russian Ark, which was photographed entirely in the Hermitage in St Petersburg by the Russian director Alexander Sokurov. These images will combine with music and revolving display cases to create the impression of a nineteenth-century ball taking place within the Hermitage Amsterdam.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a handsome, richly illustrated catalogue in Dutch and English, featuring four scholarly essays, twelve shorter articles on various aspects of the exhibition, a family tree of the Romanovs, an explanation of the complex hierarchy of the Russian court, and detailed descriptions of the objects.

At the Russian Court
Palace and protocol in the 19th century
Hermitage Amsterdam Celebrates Opening with Sumptuous Exhibition from 20 June 2009

Künstler: Nikolai Bodarevski, Narkiz Bunin, François Flameng, Adolphe Ladurner, Nicolaas Pieneman, Luigi Premazzi, Ilja Repin, Laurits Tuxen, Franz Xaver Winterhalter, Mihaly Zichy ...