Urgent Museum Notice

An Imperial Collection: Women Artists from the State Hermitage Museum

Feb 14 to Jun 18, 2003

NMWA’s exhibition An Imperial Collection: Women Artists from the State Hermitage Museum is on view from February 14 to June 18, 2003. Originally derived from Russia’s royal, noble, and wealthy industrial families, the Hermitage collections include outstanding works by women artists that appear in the exhibition. Some of the exhibition’s 49 paintings, sculptures, and watercolors have not been on public display in many decades. Others are permanent residents of the Hermitage’s labyrinth of galleries and corridors.

As a group, they reflect the collecting habits and tastes of St. Petersburg’s foremost noble families as well as the Imperial family’s interests in the pan-European arts. From Nikolai Yusupov’s commissions for classical paintings by Angelica Kauffman (1741-1807), such as her Venus Persuading Helen to Accept the Love of Paris, to the despotic Nicholas I who reveals a softer side for his daughters and wife in the repeated portrait commissions he gave to Christina Robertson, the leaders of St. Petersburg from Peter the Great onward, understood that commissioning art and artists conferred validation on them from the European community.

An exceptional patron of the arts, Catherine the Great begins the story of NMWA’s exhibition, for it was under her reign that art collecting became and a vocation of the wealthy in St. Petersburg. Of the 15 artists represented in the exhibition, Marie-Anne Collot (1748-1821), Elisabeth-Louise Vigee-Lebrun (1755-1842), and Christina Robertson (1796-1854) had the closest connections to the Russian court. As expatriates, Vigee-Lebrun, Collot, and Robertson enjoyed a high profile and considerable recognition of their talents-but they were nonetheless outsiders. The exhibition and its companion catalog explore how these artists responded to and benefited from their Russian experience, adapted to the idiosyncrasies of St. Petersburg life, and responded to the Russian environment where they lived and worked.

An Imperial Collection: Women Artists from the State Hermitage Museum will travel to the Frye Art Museum in Seattle, WA., where it will be on display from July 26-Nov. 30, 2003. An Imperial Collection: Women Artists from the State Hermitage Museum is presented through the generous sponsorship of Mr. and Mrs. John F. Mars, Patti Cadby Birch, The Samuel Freeman Charitable Trust, Trust for Mutual Understanding, and Samuel H. Kress Foundation.

Installation image of an exhibition. Two large oil paintings hang on opposite walls. The walls are painted in sage green. The paintings are framed in golden frames and portray mythical scenes.

Installation image of An Imperial Collection: Women Artists from the State Hermitage Museum Installation