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Catherine the Greatest: The story of the first feminist in art and glory..

Strict and beautiful. Fiercely ambitious hunting of  life's enjoyment and happiness. Capable and realistic the German minor princess became a Russian empress who was the most renowned and the longest- ruling( from 1762 till her death in 1796 ) female leader of the country transformed Russia one of the great powers of Europe.
Catherine the Greatest -Self-polished Diamond of the Hermitage- at The Hermitage Amsterdam relates the story of the first feminist through art and glory from 18 Jun until 15 January 2017.
( Text/Photography (c)Tzina-Mersina Alimpoutaki-Joustra.
No copyright infringement intended. Content belongs to rightful owners.)
              Portrait of Grand Duchess Catherine- 1745- 46). Artist: Georg Christoph                                                                   Grooth(1716-49).
He produced a lot of portraits of the Empress Elizabeth but also of the heir to the throne, Grand Duke Peter- Peter III later- and his wife Grand Duchess Catherine.
Catherine the Great (1729-1796)-Grand Duchess Catherine at that time- who was at age fourteen when arrived in Russia-1744- via that portrait with her slender figure and outer fragility impose her values like ambition, capability, intelligence in combination with good behave and politeness.
One scene of Catherine's the Great filmography which include 8 films about her life from 1934 till 2014.
Catherine's crown encrusted with around 11.000 diamonds is one of the top presentation of the exhibition ' Catherine the Greatest' at The Hermitage Amsterdam.From 1762 the Great Imperial Crown of the Russian Empire was according to the experts of  The Hermitage the main symbol of the monarch's power. The crown itself forms part of the permanent display in the Diamond Found of the Russian Federation in the Moscow Kremlin. It was made especially for Catherine's coronation.
                   
Catherine's Portraits as a Political Tool.'...to the immortal glory of Her Imperial Majesty...'
                   Portrait of Catherine II in her Coronation Robes.(1722-82).
 Artist: Vigilius Eriksen (1763-64). He arrived in Russia when the reign of Empress Elizabeth was close to its end and the Grand Duchess Catherine was almost thirty years old.  
She came to power when her husband Peter III emperor of Russia for six months in 1762, was assassinated.
                                            Peter III emperor of Russia,1762.
                          Portrait by Alexei Antropov. Current location State Russian Museum.
Catherine who admired Peter the Great followed  his polities, reformed the administration of Russia, founded new cities and towns and continued to modernise Russia according to Western European lines.  
The Catherinian Era as called the period of Catherine's the Great rul, responded to the Golden Age of the Russia Empire and her reforms that changed the face and the identity of the country. 
                                        The Hermitage Amsterdam. The Netherlands.
               The Hermitage Amsterdam,The Netherlands along of the river Amstel.



                        Catherine the Greatest at The Hermitage Amsterdam.Holland.





















Once upon a time...before her accession to the throne she said'...I used to say to myself  that happiness and misery depends on ourselves. If you feel unhappy, raise yourself  above unhappiness and so act that your happiness may be independent of all eventualities...'
Once upon a time from the beging..
Was a beautiful very young German princess that became a strict and polite, capable and charming,really happy Russian empress.
She was choosing her own friends and favorites and as Mikhail Piotrovsky, director State Hermitage Museum said during the opening of the press conference at The Hermitage Amsterdam,'..she demanded equal rights for women. 
As if she was the first feminist and her ideas of living, progress, new policies were the main reasons for her to give new meaning to the imperialistic policies of Peter the Great.Policies that she continued with great success, manipulating the cult of her great predecessor to give greater strength to her own approach...and she completing many of the projects Peter that had conceived..Catherine overthrew her husband, an ardent admirer of Frederick the Grate of Prussia, but still saw Frederick as her own teacher.
Mikhail Piotrovsky noticed:The creation of the Hermitage as a museum though her demonstrative acquisition of the Gotzkowsky collection was just one of the symbols of her superiority.. 
' Continuing Peter's reforms and the Europeanisation of Russia', M.Piotrovsky explained ' Catherine gave his policies new purpose in the form of her Greek Project, which asserted the firm Byzantine foundations of Russian culture and brought Russia new lands and towns rich in monuments of Classical Antiquity. They too became part of Russia's cultural context.Catherine's Classical tastes and her conquests in the south served as declarations of Russia's rightful place as part of the European heritage..
                              Alexander the Great in the Studio of Apelles. 1792.
                                                Tempera with wax on canvas.
Alexander the Great Refuses to Take Water from a Helmet while his Troops are Thirsty.                                               1792. Tempera with wax on canvas.
The Hermitage's Amsterdam curators explain the historical scene in the painting according to Plutarch. ' The episode is based on Plutarch. On one of their campaigns in Persia, Alexander and his troops were suffering from thirst and exhaustion as they marched trough the disert. The water supply their camels had been carrying was depleted. One of the horsemen managed to find a little water, which he scooped up in a helmet and offered to the commander. But Alexander handed it back, refusing to drink alone. Inspired by this lofty gesture his men urged him to press on, shouting:' We are not tired nor are we thirsty! We are immortal when we are led by a such a king!'

'..Catherine came to a Russia that was still in many ways uncomfortable and untamed and she did much to remedy the situation. She created ' instructions' and laws, as well as a whole system of administrative, educational and charitable institutions..Her collecting also helped the image of Russia, both domestically and abroad, as a land rich not only in power, wealth and order but in beauty, palaces, pictures and magnificent interiors..Every exhibit in this latest Hermitage exhibition to be held in its Amsterdam home tell us part of Catherine's story', Mikhail Piotrovsky, said at the end the director State Hermitage Museum.
Figure of Catherine II from the Berlin Dessert Service.Royal Porcelain Manufactory, Berlin. Prussia. 1770-72. The model itself was basef an equestrian portrait of the Empress by her Danish court artist Vigilius Eriksen.



Artist: Richard Brompton-1734-83-.
Portrait of Grand Dukes Alexander and Constantine. 1781.
It was created at the height of Catherine's obsession with the Greek Project which proposed the recreation of the Byzantine Empire.Her young grandchildren were obviously to be associated with Alexander the Great and Constantine the Greatfor whom they had been named.


                      The Hermitage Amsterdam and its infront new garden. The Netherlands.

' How much do we know about the real Catherine the Great', asked Cathelijne Broers, director Hermitage Amsterdam, at the beging of her presentation.
'Who was she? Can we glimpse anything beyond the image she chose to project?Catherine is often in the spotlight. Most recently she was the subject of a superb exhibition in St Petersburg: Her Imperial Majesty's Hermitage. In The Netherlands, however, only one exhibition has previously been devoted to her, back in 1996. And in Catherine, the Empress and the Arts, held in De Nieuwe Kerk, the arts received more attention than the empress. At The Hermitage Amsterdam we now turn the spotlight on her personality and how it influenced her life , in an exhibition that is biographical and analytical... ' and added'.. We begin with her arrival in Russia and her life as a young grand duchess. Initially she leads a very restricted life and is forced to tolerate humiliation and much more...She was generous and hospitable, fully aware of her duties, her position and particularly her opportunities. ..She chose to educate herself and develop her talents..Catherine documented her own life too, writing detailed memoirs and corresponding not only with her best-known favourite Potemkin, but also with such luminaries as Voltaire, Diderot and Baron von Grimm.  


We trace the course of Catherine's life in a Russia that became a European superpower and we uncover the personality behind the legendary empress.We become acquainted not just with the image that she presented to the world, but with the real person: a brilliant, self-polished diamond', director Hermitage Amsterdam Cathelijne Broers terminated.
Plat-de-menage from the First New Service.Issak Libman,St. Petersburg 1739-40. 
A plat-de -menage is a tablesiece stands in the middle of a banquetting table.
Hermiatge's specialists explain that is  a typical example of the Russian Rococo style that dominated the decorative arts from the time of Anna Ioannova through to the early reign of Catherine II.
Vigilius Eriksen-1722-82-.Catherine II in Guards Uniform astride her horse Brilliant. 
Oil on canvas.
                       Marlies Kleiterp, head exhibitions Hermitage Amsterdam introduced the invention of Catherine's the Greatest display at the Hermitage Amsterdam.
George Caspar Prenner-1720-66-. Portrait of Empress Elizabeth c.1754.
Oil on canvas.
Empress Elizabeth(1709-61) was daughter of Peter I by his second wife Catherine I. 
The Hermitage Amsterdam.

Martijn van Schieveen, head of Communication, education & Marketing at the opening of the presentation. 

                                                       Portrait of Catherine II. 
                                        Artist Fyodor Rokotov -1732/35-1808-.



The death of king Candaules. 1720-22-. Giovanni Battista Pittoni.( 1687-1767).
The full text of  the painting explains that in Histories(I,12) of the Greek historical Herodotus the King Candaules of Lydia who boasted of his wife's beauty and secretly revealed her naked body to his henchman Cyges. 
Learning of this, the insulted Queen decided to revenge herself on her husband and persuaded Gyges to kill him as he slept. Gyge's reward was her hand in marriage and so he became King of Lydia. 

         Head of Ares. Rome. 2nd century, after a Greek original from 430-20 BC. Marble.
Catherine bought this head in Italy. The export permit issued at the time describes it as an 'ancient head of Achilles', as do the Hermitage's old cataloques. 
 Family tree from the Russian sovereigns.Russia early 19th century. Wood, velvet, glass, metal, silver gilt. The family tree dates from the early nineteenth century and was made for Tsar Alexander I, Catherine's favourite grandson.


Model at Voltaire's Chateau at Ferney. Voltaire spent the last twenty years of his life at his Ferney estate. The Russian empress wished to create a permanent memorial to the great philosopher in Russia for which she intended to build in  park. Although her plan was never carried out the model of the chateau was made under  Voltaire's control. The model opens up to reveal the rooms inside.
Presentation Dish with the Cipher of  Catherine beneath a Crown. 
Presentation dishes or plates had long been used in Russia as gifts or commemorative items to mark important events. Gold and silver dishes were most highly prized.
Now, 250 years after the founded the Hermitage with an extraordinary acquisition, the Hermitage Amsterdam presents' Catherine the Great.' 






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