- The Hermitage - The Department of Russian Culture -
Rooms on the first floor of the Winter Palace contain the collections
of the museum's youngest department-that devoted to the history of
Russian culture, created in 1941. At present the department includes
the following exhibitions: The Culture of Old Russia, 6th-15th cen-
turies; The Culture of Muscovite Russia, 15th-17th centuries; Rus-
sian Culture, 1700-25; Russian Culture, 1740-1800; and Russian
Culture, 1800-60. Included in the exhibition in the Department of
Russian Culture are the state apartments of the Winter Palace, which
have both artistic and historical significance.
The Memorial Room of Peter the Great (194 ) was decorated in
1833 by Auguste Montferrand. The walls are covered with crimson Lyons
velvet, with two-headed eagles embroidered in silver, and upon a dais in
the recess stands the throne of the Russian tsars. Above the throne there
is a painting by the eighteenth century Italian artist Jacopo Amiconi
portraying Peter the Great beside Minerva, the goddess of wisdom.
Overhead on the side walls are two panels representing Peter in the battles
of Lesnaya and Poltava. The room was restored in the original style after
the fire of 1837 by the architect Vasily Stasov.
The Armorial Hall (195) was designed by Stasov after the fire.
The pictures of the coats of arms and heraldic emblems of all the prov-
inces of Russia, attached to bronze chandeliers, gave the name to the hall,
which was intended for balls and receptions.
The 1812 Gallery (197) was designed in 1826 by Carlo Rossi and
later restored by Stasov. On the walls hang more than three hundred
portraits of generals engaged in the War of 1812, among them the portraits
of Kutuzov(full length) and his companions-in-arms Bagration, Yermolov,
Rayevsky, Davydov and many others. The portraits were painted by the
famous English artist George Dawe (1781 - 1829) who, with the assist-
ance of the Russian painters Poliakov and Golike, worked in the Palace
from 1819 to 1829 on the completion of the commissioned work. The
equestrian portraits of Alexander I and his ally in the war with Napoleon,
Frederick William III of Prussia, were painted by the German artist
Franz Kriiger (1797-1857), and that of the Austrian emperor Francis I,
by the Austrian Peter Krafft (1780-1856).
At the time of the fire in 1837 the portraits were removed from the
flames by guardsmen assisting in the rescue of the Palace treasures. One's
attention is drawn to some empty frames filled with green taffeta. The
inscriptions on the frames give the names and ranks of those who fell
in battle and whose portraits it was not possible to reproduce.
The 1812 Gallery was eulogized by Pushkin as a monument to the
glory of Russia.
The St George Hall (198), also known as the Large Throne Hall,
is solemn and austere in appearance. It is decorated with white Carrara
marble imported from Italy and gilded bronze. The parquet floor, made
from sixteen different kinds of valuable wood, mirrors exactly the bronze
ceiling pattern. Opposite the entrance to the room is a marble bas-relief,
St George Slaying the Dragon, executed by the Italian sculptor Francesco
del Nero after a drawing by Stasov, who designed the room in full (1842).
In the St George Hall, which occupies eight hundred square metres
(8,608 sq. ft.), there is a map of the Soviet Union made of semiprecious
stones, standing on the same spot as the throne in former times. The map
was executed by craftsmen from Leningrad and Sverdlovsk; it has twice
been on view at world exhibitions-in 1937 in Paris, where it was awarded
a Grand Prix, and in New York, in 1939. Beautiful and also of great
precision, the map is made from forty-five thousand pieces of stone
-jasper of various kinds, lapis lazuli, rhodonite, porphyry, etc.-and on
the surface of the map, which covers an area of twenty-seven square
metres (290 sq. ft.), the different physical features are shown in relief.
The valleys are green, the mountain tops snow-white, the seas and oceans
blue, and the contours of the mountain ranges brown. The diamonds of
the hammer and sickle sparkle and gleam against the ruby star represent-
ing on the map the capital of the Soviet Union, Moscow.
The Antechamber (192) leads to a suite of state rooms overlooking
the Neva. Next to it is the Great Hall (191), also known as the Ballroom
which, with an area of over one thousand one hundred square metres
(12,716 sq. ft.), is the largest room in the Palace. Nowadays the hall is
used to house temporary exhibitions.
The Concert Hall of the Winter Palace (190) contains anexhibi-
tion entitled Russian Silverware: late 17th-early 20th centuries. The
most noteworthy item in the exhibition is'the tomb of Alexander Nevsky
in the form of a sarcophagus, embellished with rich ornamentation and
bas-reliefs depicting scenes fram the life of Alexander Nevsky, and with
an ornamental pyramid bearing the figures of winged genii. On the shields
which the genii hold in the hands are engraved lines by Mikhail Lomono-
sov, the eminent Russian poet and scientist, dedicated to Alexander
Nevsky and to this unusual work. The tomb was made in the middle of
the eighteenth century at the St Petersburg Mint, and in all almost
1.5 tons of silver were used, obtained in the space of one year from the
Kolyvan mines in the Altai region of west Siberia.
The Malachite Room (189), one of the most beautiful rooms in
the Palace, designed in 1829 by A. Briullov, is notable for its malachite
columns, pilasters and mantelpieces, executed in the technique known
as Russian mosaic. In this technique the stone or metal base of an object
was tiled with thin, carefully polished pieces of a rare, deep green stone
obtained in the Urals. Over two tons of malachite were used on the de-
coration of the room.
The historical associations of the Malachite Room are full of interest.
During the night of November 7th the last meeting of the counter-rev-
olutionary Provisional Government took place here. Upon the storming
of the Winter Palace the ministers took cover in the adjoining room,
the Private Dining-room (188), where they were arrested by the
revolutionaries. The Private Dining-room, designed in 1894 according
to the plan of the architect Meltzer, still retains the appearance and at-
mosphere of those historic days.