The State Hermitage Buys Rare Collection
of Imperial and Noble Family Portraits

Portrait of Grand Duchess Nadezhda Petrovna (1898 - 1988), the daughter of Grand Duke Pyotr Nikolaevich
Artist: Saveliy Sorin

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In December, 2009 the State Hermitage Museum purchased a collection including 92 graphic works of the 19th century from Maurice Baruch.

The collection of Russian art of this gallery is one of the largest collections in the world in number of artworks and their artistic level. It is also notable for impeccable selection and perfect preservation of the works. The central place in the collection is occupied by watercolour portraits of the first half of the 19th century, the period of the flowering of this genre. A series of works belonging to the major achievements of the leading Russian and Western masters is distinguished among these works.

A special place in the collection is occupied by works by Pyotor Sokolov (1791-1848). Among sixteen works by the master acquired by the Hermitage there are such renowned works as the companion portrait of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna and Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna (1829), portraits of the Count N. A. Samoilov (circa 1825), N. A. Mukhanov (circa 1827) and L. I. Lazarev (circa 1840).

Vladimir Hau (1816-1895) is considered to be the second most significant master of watercolour portrait of the first half of the 19th century. The Hermitage holds not more than 15 undeniable works by this extremely copious and popular artist who created an extensive gallery of images of people of Nicholas I times. 28 watercolours by the master include the excellent portrait of Natalia Nikolaevna Pushkina (1844), portraits of the members of the Russian Imperial family and a self-portrait (1855) that is an extremely interesting and rare depiction of the painter himself.

The collection also comprises the portrait of M. A. Obolensky (circa 1843) by Karl Bryullov (1799-1852) and two drawings by Orest Kiprensky (1782 - 1836) - portrait of Countess V. P. Tolstaya (circa 1810) and Academic study of a nude model (1803).

Moreover, the Hermitage collection of Russian watercolour portraits has been enriched by six first-class works by Alexander Pavlovich Bryulov (1798-1887) and three works by Christina Robertson (1777-1852) as well as by watercolours by such prominent masters as Alexander Orlovsky, Alexander Molinari, Vladimir Hau, Mikhail Terebenev, Andrey Stakenschneider, Alexander Vitberg and others.

The graphic portrait of Nadezhda Petrovna, Princess of Russia, the daughter of Grand Duke Peter Nikolaevich, has become a wonderful gift to the State Hermitage. The portrait was created in 1917 by Savely Sorin (1878-1953), the pupil of Ilya Repin and a master famous in the West.

Due to the purchase of this collection for the first time in many decades the Collection of Russian drawings and watercolours of the State Hermitage has been enlarged with such an impressive portrait gallery which features no random artworks. Apart from the undoubted artistic value of the collection its portraits are extremely important in the historical and iconographic terms and represent ideal exhibits and illustrations.

The State Hermitage Museum
6 February, 2010