Tue. Sep 27th, 2022

St Petersburg is a true city of culture and is a great choice for an educational travel destination. Art students visiting the city will be able to view some of the great masterpieces up close and cannot fail to be inspired by their experience.

The Great Museums of St Petersburg

The State Hermitage Museum is great in both size and in terms of its contents. It is one of the largest museums in the world and is most famous for its collection of European art. The Hermitage holds over three million items in its collection and, for those in the city on educational travel, this is definitely a case of once is never enough: in order to fully appreciate all the art within its walls, several visits will be needed.

Most of the collection is held in the beautiful surroundings of the Winter Palace, which was the former official residence of the Romanov Tsars, however there are several other sites. The most renowned works of European art are to be found in the Winter Palace. The collection was founded by Catherine the Great, who bought a vast amount of work from European aristocrats. The Romanov’s lavish tastes were to be their downfall and the riches they accumulated are quite extraordinary. There are major collections of Rubens, Rembrandt and two of the surviving works of Leonardo da Vinci are exhibited here. Titian, El Greco and Goya are also among the great artists whose work lines the walls. English art is represented by Gainsborough and Reynolds.

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Another popular part of the Hermitage is the exhibition of Modern European Art, which was collected after the Revolution. This includes some of the world’s largest collections of work by Matisse and Picasso. Picasso’s Blue Period is represented by Sisters and Matisse’s Music and the Dance canvasses are exhibited. Monet’s Waterloo Bridge is here, along with work by Cezanne, Van Gogh and Gaugin. Russian artists exhibited include Kandinsky and Kazimir Maleevich.

The State Russian Museum is where you will find a great representation of Russian art. Students on an educational travel excursion to St Petersburg will be inspired by a visit to this museum, as it will open up the world of Russian history.

Tsar Alexander III was the first Russian ruler to begin a lavish collection of Russian art works. In 1898, Nicholas II opened the museum in his father’s honour and housed it in the Mikhailovskiy Palace. The collection grew after the Revolution when it received many works that had been confiscated from private collections by the state. It now holds over 400,000 works of art and covers the complete history of Russian art from the icons of the 11th century up until contemporary artists.

Although the collection ranges from the Byzantium to the present day, its collection of 19th century work is the highlight. These works give a wonderful insight into the lives of the peasantry and the bourgeoisie. In 1863, a group of painters called the ‘Wanderers’ broke away from classicism and created a populist art. These painters included Ivan Shishkin, whose forest scenes are well known. Artists like Vasily Surkov continued the style, but were influenced by social injustices and their work often depicted historical and often violent scenes. Ilya Repin, who is often considered to be Russia’s greatest realist painter, is exhibited in the Russian Museum.

Visiting these two museums will give any art students on educational travel to St Petersburg a wide-ranging and eclectic view of Russian art. Whether tracing the history of the country through its artists or gazing in awe at the work of the greatest European artists, it is an experience that will stay in the memory long after they return home.

By rahul