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HomeFROM 2 FEBRUARY 2019 : TREASURY! Masterpieces from the HermitageFROM 2 FEBRUARY 2019 : TREASURY! Masterpieces from the Hermitage

FROM 2 FEBRUARY 2019 : TREASURY! Masterpieces from the Hermitage

Hermitage Amsterdam - de Schatkamer - expositie - Your Host& Guide www.yourhostandguide.nl

A glimpse of the chamber of wonders: Treasury! Masterpieces from The Hermitage

A glimpse of the chamber of wonders: Treasury! Masterpieces from The Hermitage by Alberto Cañas Pérez)

Nowadays, in the globalization era, people tend to believe in a unique point of view or conception for everything we are surrounded of. But I wouldn’t want to make the same mistake that everyone does, what makes me wonder about the real meaning of art. Is it true to consider art as something universal? While thinking that art is an inherent human ability to express our emotions or transmit a certain meaning to the global collective, we also forget that concepts, such as beauty or appropriate, have been defined in different ways depending on the ‘where’ and the ‘when’.

So, if all of us understand that there is a difference in meaning… why should we make separate exhibitions for the beautiful artworks made by a prehistorical caveman or the astonishing Baroque painters? This is exactly what Mikhail Piotrovsky (head of The Hermitage St. Petersburg) and Cathelijne Broers (head of The Hermitage Amsterdam) have proposed in Treasury! Masterpieces from the Hermitage.

In 2019, a new exhibition will teach the Dutch nation and all the visitors to have an open mind which will let us appreciate ancient and unknown cultures from an artistic point of view. From 2 February until 25 Augustus 2019 we will have the opportunity to witness the evolution of art along the world.

In order to capture the visitor’s attention, the masterpieces have been displayed in pairs, where it should not be strange to find a depiction of the Calvary next to an image of Budha. The meaning of such a controversial selection is to highlight the differences between two unique ways of expression.

But we must not make the mistake either of thinking that, inside the same continent and the same period, there cannot be several ways of portraying the same subject. For this reason, I would ask the reader to take a moment to imagine the European society of the XVI century. Back then, as we all know, Europe was divided in two big ideological fronts: Reform vs Counter-reformation. Thus wouldn`t it be odd that arts didn’t express such a chaotic and tense scenario?

In fig. 1, on the left we observe one of the artistic defenders of the Reform, Lucas Cranach the Elder. In the ages this Mary was painted, he had already started to fiercely support the Lutheranism. Despite his renewed faith, Cranach painted many religious subjects but with a totally different approach: symbolism is the foundation of the image, avoiding the earthly depiction of religious characters.

In fig. 2 On the right, the Madonna by Lotto was made a few years before the Council of Trent. In his painting, we witness a maternal image of Mary and the Child which is far from heavenly. If the three angels who are surrounding the sacred couple hadn’t appeared, we couldn’t have guessed that we are in front of a Biblical scene.

Meanwhile, in other exhibition rooms the curator focusses only in one artwork. In theses cases, it helps to worship some jewels preciously preserved by The Hermitage in St. Petersburg, such as the Portrait of a man by the incomparable Gian Lorenzo Bernini or St Lucas Painting the Madonna with Child by the Flemish Rogier van Weyden.

Van der Weyden took the lead in this kind of theme by accomplishing this exquisite interior scene where the spectator takes part as a witness. St Luke’s, the first Christian painter, is making a sketch of Virgin and Jesus. Instead of looking at the sacred couple, it looks like he is deep into his own thoughts, trying to assimilate the beauty of such an ethereal moment.

What made me astonished the was the high quality of van der Weyden’s technique. By taking a step closer to the canvas, we can appreciate an endless amount of small details in the painting: the embroidery of Mary’s drapery, the accuracy in the drawing of the grass or small iconographical figures such as the Adam and Eve on the wooden throne.

After visiting the exhibition, I cannot stop thanking the museum for the correct selection of masterpieces, for the innovative display and, of course, for making me reconsider my own conception of art and motivate me to go back to the exhibition more than once, simply to wander peacefully in the rooms, captivated by such treasures.


f you would like Alberto to be your private guide and make a cultural tour in Amsterdam, you can contact him directly. Email: alberto@yourhostandguide.nl  Alberto is a very passionate art lover with a lot of knowledge. Your Host & Guide highly recommends Alberto to be your guide. For more information click here to visit his webpage.

Mary and the Christ Child under the Apple Tree, Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1527-30 (on the left); Madonna delle Grazie, Lorenzo Lotto, 1542 (on the right)
St Lucas painting the Madonna with Child, Rogier van der Weyden, - hermitage - Your Host & Guide - www.yourhostandguide.nl

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