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Paris Back From U.K. Sojurn

Published: January 23, 2014 (Issue # 1794)



  • Mark Stadler of HSBC Russia and Olga Taratynova, director of Tsarskoye Selo.
    Photo: for SPT

The Judgment of Paris, a monumental canvas by Italian Carlo Maratta dated circa 1708, had been installed in Tsarskoye Selo for more than 50 years before receiving a new lease on life thanks to an unprecedented exhibition that brought it renewed attention.

Once part of the collection of Sir Robert Walpole, Great Britains first Prime Minister, the painting had hung high above the main staircase at The Catherine Palace in Pushkin since entering the palace collection in 1960, following the completion of post-war restoration work.

Sent to the U.K. as part of the Houghton Revisited exhibition, the painting is now back in St. Petersburg and has been placed in a new location.

Masterpieces Take Summer Vacation

Walpoles collection was one of the most celebrated art collections of its time and included works by Van Dyck, Poussin, Maratta, Rubens and Rembrandt, which are today held by the State Hermitage Museum, the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, the State Tsarskoye Selo Museum and other important Russian museums.

In 1779, Walpoles descendants sold 200 paintings from the collection to Catherine the Great, for which the Russian Empress paid £40,550. Centuries later, the canvasses from Russias leading museums were returned to the family estate of the collections founder.

This landmark project highlights the historic ties between Russia and Great Britain as well as the excellent taste of two remarkable 18th-century leaders, said Mark Stadler, CEO of HSBC Russia, the company supporting the exhibition.

The idea for the exhibition came about when Thierry Morel, former director of the Hermitage Foundation (U.K.) and current member of executive board of the Hermitage Foundation (U.S.), discovered the plan for the original hanging at Houghton secreted in the Hermitage archives. The exhibition that developed from this chance encounter was dedicated to the 250th anniversary of Catherine the Greats accession to the throne.

From May to September 2013, for the first time in over 200 years, all of the paintings were reassembled in the original setting of Houghton Hall.

I would like to thank the State Hermitage Museum and other Russian museums for providing an opportunity to show this collection to the British public. This may be the first time when such a privilege has been granted to a private house, said the Marquess of Cholmondeley, a direct descendant of Walpole and current inhabitant of Houghton Hall.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Aug. 29


Park Pobedy will feature the sights and sounds of the world outside of Russia during the Open Art International Festival today. Taste foreign cuisine, learn how to make tea like the Chinese or relax in a hammock during the free event. Although entrance is free, you must register beforehand if you wish to attend.



Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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