Photo: Wedding portrait of Crown Prince Willem II and Anna Pavlovna, 1816-1817.
Artist: Y. Pineman (1779-1853)
© Stadsmuseum, Tilburg, The Netherlands, 2013
A new exhibition Willem II and Anna Pavlovna: Royal Splendour at the Dutch Court opened on September 26th at the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg.
The exhibition is at the heart of the Year of the Netherlands and Russia. It deals with one of the most significant episodes in the relations of the two countries which had an impact on entire nineteenth-century European history - the marriage of Grand Duchess Anna Pavlovna and Prince Willem of Orange, heir to the Crown (Netherlands and Luxembourg). The wedding arranged after a number of war victories and Willem's wounding at Waterloo was ceremoniously held half a year later at the Winter Palace.
Upon visiting St Petersburg and seeing Imperial collections, Willem also developed a passion for art collecting and assembled one of the best collections of paintings in Europe. Due to economic difficulties his family had to pawn it to Nicholas I and then sell it at auction to pay the debt. Nicholas I wanted to have the entire collection but had to take part in the auction on equal terms with others, through his special agents, and purchased thirteen pictures, most of which are displayed at the Hermitage permanent exhibitions. An irreplaceable loss for the museum was the sale of Jan van Eyck's picture from this collection in 1917.
The exhibition features more than 250 items, and has been produced by the State Hermitage in cooperation with the Dordrecht Stedelijk Museum, Dutch Royal Collection and Villa Vauban Museum (Luxembourg). Since the collection of Willem II was sold out after his death and dispersed all over the world, the exhibition has also been contributed by other large art museums and private collections.
The exhibition is on display in the Armorial Hall, Winter Palace (Room 195) until January 12, 2014.
© State Hermitage Museum. 08 October, 2013