Hermitage Rooms Archive

Treasures of Catherine the Great



Painting: Portrait of Catherine II by Vigilius Eriksen
Portrait of Catherine II


Photo: Table Clock with Necessaire
Table Clock with Necessaire

Photo: Box and Two Fragrance Shakers, Chinese, 18th Century
Box and two Fragrance Shakers

Photo: Cipher with the initals E II
Cipher with the initials E II

Catherine the Great (1729-96) was one of the greatest collectors of all time. Her collecting activities reflected both the personal and political ambitions of this woman who truly put Russia, and notably St Petersburg, on the cultural map of Europe. She accumulated, mainly through purchases and commissions abroad, more than 4,000 paintings, 10,000 drawings and 32,000 engraved gems, as well as medals, jewels, antique sculptures and numerous other works of applied art.

This exhibition provides an intimate picture of Catherine's personality and the luxury with which she surrounded herself and her favourites. It includes personal possessions, gifts that she presented to statesmen, to close family members and to her lovers, as well as diplomatic gifts she received from far-flung fellow rulers, amongst them the Emperor of China.

The very popular exhibition catalogue and merchandise relating to the exhibition is still available at the Hermitage Rooms shop currently at a reduced rate.