Hermitage Museum: Russian grande dame of grandeur and romance

Written by By Staff Writer

St. Petersburg has a rich history of magical, avant-garde aesthetic movements. Ivan Alexeev was one of the most prominent.

Born in 1870, he studied under Arkanha Aleksandr i Helguson, one of Russia’s most important sculptors of the early 20th century, and formed his own leading modern arts institution, the Ivan Alexeev Theater, in 1904.

Alexeev then developed his eponymous cult classic with numerous retellings. Written by Vasily Grossman, “The Magnificent Ambersons” combined heavy musical score with theatricalized characters, bizarre places, whimsy and a decorative palette to become one of the most beloved literature adaptations of all time.

Alexeev, who had also read the source novel, produced multiple productions of the work over the years. At around the same time, he also staged a ballet version, which was loosely based on the film and incorporated characters and themes from Alexandre Dumas’ 19th century novel, “The Count of Monte Cristo.”

Alexeev died in 1905, in many respects the great vanguard for avant-garde culture that St. Petersburg still stands.

Hermitage Museum host is run by Sergei Bulgakov. Photograph by Alexei Kuletsky/Hermitage Museum

The Hermitage Museum is in the Russian capital’s historic and leafy Kamchatka region, just outside of St. Petersburg. Its collection includes the world’s most extensive private collection of ancient Greek and Roman art. Beyond the Western classics, the museum also holds thousands of antiquities, such as African masks and Middle Eastern art from the 5th to 8th centuries.

Above, the conservatory in the Hermitage museum, designed by Peter Paul Rubens in 1844. Untitled by Rubens, c. 1844-45, oil on canvas. Courtesy Hermitage Museum

Irina Magalhães is the director of marketing at the Hermitage. You can follow her on Instagram at @hrmsso.

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