General Staff Building, Hermitage – St Petersburg, Russia

Nearing the end of my 4 week stay in St Petersburg the one thing I really wanted to see was the collection of French Post Impressionists at the Hermitage. During August the city center is so packed I haven’t wanted to visit inside of any museum, knowing that I would return in October when the crowds should be much less. However, the Post Impressionist collection was different. Matisse and Cezanne are two of my favorite painters and I just couldn’t leave the city without at least taking a peek.

During the late 1800s and early 1900s wealthy Russians such Sergei Shchukin collected French paintings. When collections such as these were seized by the State after the 1917 revolution the Hermitage ended up with one or the world’s most impressive collections.

The collection is housed in the yellow General Staff Building across the Palace Square from the mint green Winter Palace, the main Hermitage Gallery.

The second floor of the General Staff Building has earlier 19th century interiors and paintings, but I focused my time on the 3 floor where the French Post Impressionists are displayed. As this is the top floor, some of rooms have beautiful natural light streaming in from above.

I was particularly pleased by the collection of Cezanne. I’ve seen his works in other museums but I thought the ones shown at the Hermitage were most representative of his work and talent.

As for the Matisse room, La Dance, which generally hangs next to Music, was missing. These are two of Matisse’s most important works and it was disappointing not to see them together. His other works on display didn’t impress me as much as ones I’ve seen in other museums but being surrounded by Matisse is never a bad thing.

Aside from Cezanne and Matisse, the museum houses works by Van Gogh, Gaugin, Monet, Degas, Renoir, Picasso, etc.

On a Tuesday afternoon just before 4pm (the museum closes at 6pm) the crowds were minimal with no line to enter the building or to buy tickets. Tickets can be purchased inside the General Staff Building for just this building or you can buy a combo ticket for the entire Hermitage Collection.

August 20, 2019

For links to all the posts in this series see the St Petersburg page.

For more posts on travel in Russia see the Russia page.

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