State Hermitage Museum is a museum of art in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The Hermitage is the largest public museum in Russia and home to one of the greatest art collections in the world. Russian empress Catherine the Great founded the Hermitage in 1764 as a museum for the royal court. The holdings originally consisted of Western European works of art that she purchased from private collections. These were housed in a private gallery called the Small Hermitage that was connected to the Winter Palace, the vast, ornate winter home of the Russian tsars. The tsars who succeeded Catherine substantially increased the collections, which expanded into the Old Hermitage, another private gallery adjoining the Winter Palace. The buildings comprising the Hermitage were rebuilt after a fire in the Winter Palace in 1837. The museum opened to the public in 1852 and became public property known as the State Hermitage Museum in 1917, following the Russian Revolution.
The collections are now housed in five magnificent interconnected buildings, including the Winter Palace. The lavish exteriors and interiors of these buildings are of architectural and historical importance in themselves. They provide a rich setting for collections that cover virtually every aspect of the fine arts, from classical antiquity to 20th-century painting. The collection also includes examples of Russian art, artifacts from non-Western cultures, Oriental art, coins, and jewelry.
The Hermitage`s collection of Western European art is particularly strong in Italian, Spanish, Flemish, and Dutch paintings and includes major works by Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Giorgione, Caravaggio, Diego Velazquez, El Greco, Rembrandt, and Pieter Paul Rubens. The Schukin and Morozov Collections of impressionist, postimpressionist, and modern paintings contain many of the finest works by Henri Matisse, as well as major paintings by Vincent van Gogh, Paul Cezanne, Paul Gauguin, Henri Rousseau, and Pablo Picasso.
Pieter Paul Rubens, Henri Matisse, Hubert Robert, Pablo Picasso, Maurice Denis, Joseph Stevens, Paul Gauguin, Albert Marquet, William Allan, Francisco Goya, Charles White, Simon Saint Jean, Thomas Lawrence, Claude Monet, Gerard Dou, Simon de Vos, Jan Both, Edgar Degas, El Greco, Paul Cezanne, Georges Michel, George Dawe, Nathaniel Dance, Anthony van Dyck, Hans Thoma, Leonardo da Vinci, Vincent van Gogh, Alfred Stevens, Thomas Couture, William Hastie, Paulus Potter, Frans Snyders, Francois Boucher, Marguerite Gerard, Jan Miel