The Hermitage Museum

The art of the Hermitage Museum would be a highlight of our vacation to Russia and Greece, and we took steps to have enough time at the museum. Friends said that a cruise doesn’t allow enough time at the museum, so we rented an apartment within walking distance of the Hermitage and obtained Russian visas for a land visit. We stayed in Saint Petersburg six nights and visited the museum at the beginning our stay, to allow a return visit. We purchased a 2-day ticket online to bypass ticket queues at the museum. After all this preparation, we visited the Hermitage only on our 2-day ticket and didn’t go back.

We were delighted to find several statues by David Canova. Above are The Three Graces, my favorite piece at the HermitageThe Three Graces are “said to represent youth/beauty(Thalia), mirth(Euphrosyne) and elegance(Aglaia)”. Canova made it for Napolean’s empress Josephine, and her grandson brought it to Saint Petersburg after marrying there.

The Three Graces by Canova
The Three Graces by Canova

The Hermitage has several Canovas, including Kiss of Cupid and Psyche. The do not touch signs are regrettable, but we saw tourists touching statues despite the signs!

Kiss of Cupid and Psyche
Kiss of Cupid and Psyche

The Hermitage is a huge museum where you have to plan your visit carefully, because you can’t see everything. Our first day we walked through the Canova statues and missed them. That evening we read about them and found them the next day.

This mechanical peacock clock moves in all sorts of ways, shown nearby in a video.

peacock clock
peacock clock

The Hermitage is known for its Impressionist collection. We liked this Monet from 1876, for its delicate flowers and contrasting light and dark. We expected to find more works that we liked. We later learned that many Impressionist paintings from the Hermitage had been loaned to a new Paris museum.

Corner of the Garden at Montgeron
Corner of the Garden at Montgeron

The Hermitage has two da Vinci paintings of a madonna and child. Each one is behind glass with harsh glare from adjacent windows that obscures the painting. Every tour group stops for selfies, and the tour groups were incessant our first day. 😦

I finally learned how to pronounce Hermitage. Talking with a neighbor before our trip, I pronounced Hermitage sounding the h, like the English word hermit. My neighbor pronounced Hermitage without sounding the h, like the French pronunciation. And he had visited the museum. Hmmm.

In Russia, we saw the Russian spelling for Hermitage — Эрмита́ж. The first two letters are pronounced as an ‘eh’ and an ‘r’ — the Russian word doesn’t have the h. Эрмита́ж seems like a Russian transliteration of the French pronunciation, which drops the sounding of the h. So now I say Hermitage like the French word. Every now and then, old dogs can learn new tricks.

Back in the days of the tsars, the Hermitage applied to three plainer buildings next to the Winter Palace, just as the Hermitage at Versailles is plainer than the main palace. But neither Hermitage resembles anything where a hermit would be comfortable.


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I enjoy travel, art, food, photography, nature, California native plants, history, and yoga. I am a retired software engineer. The gravatar is a Nuttall's woodpecker that visited our backyard.

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