Magnificence of the Hermitage Amsterdam (Eyewitness Account)

  June 19, 2009 at 9:54 pm by

A special evening for the Friends of the Hermitage with a reception and fingerfood….blinis and caviar…

Speeches by Beelaerdts van Blokland, van Veen (director) and the Director of the Hermitage Sint Petersburg.

If any of you visited the Hermitage Sint Petersburg, this branch here in Amsterdam is only 1/10 of that in size.But what is on show is dazzling. The over 160 Court Dresses and uniforms, meticulously restored by a small army of seamstresses at the Hermitage St.Piter funded by gifts of the Friends of the Hermitage, the paintings, jewelry, services, robes of the Patriarch, Xenia’s fancy ball costume as well as Felix Yusopov and his wife’s costumes for that Court Ball.

Not a first pre-opening or opening event for me ofcourse, but really, this one beats all in any which way. I was first to enter the stairs of the “Imperial Reception Wing” after the speeches in the Inner Court and I decided on the smaller side gallery first; my eyes immediately recognised a lilac dress, Alicky’s. Funny, with all the glitter and magnificence it was this dress that had my attention first, lilac, Alix’s colour, it reminded her of her mother, Alice of Hessen, née of Great Britain, daughter of Queen Victoria, who died too young, but then I have a special place for Nicky’s family. No other reason than that.

And, that I have never ever understood why all of Nicky’s family were slaughtered, the girls, Alyosha, Misha, too awful to comprehend, and now they were here, in front of me, their coats, uniforms, dresses, gloves. And we all know the pictures and footage of the family wearing the actual items you have before you. Moving, it always has that effect on me, if nothing else has, they, Nicky’s family has that effect on me.

There were several uniforms of Alyosha, so moving to think that little big man was in there once, wearing it with pride. Alyosha, the last Tsarevitch, Alexej. Poor boy. I was moved. Again.

There are the Court Ball dresses of Olga and Tatiana Nicolayevna; how stunningly beautiful the girls must have looked wearing it, in 1913.

The vases, beautiful. I noticed a slight error; the text accompanying the vase with the Fredensborg Palace had the text for the next one, the Anichkov Palace, the (city) home of Marie Feodorovna and Alexander III. Awful, not so much for me, but when I see it, be sure the Queen will notice it too tomorrow, so I discreetly noticed an official of the Hermitage of the error, as well as the error with the dresses. Marie Feodorovna being “slightly” smaller then Alix, the texts were mixed-up too. According to the russian official I spoke to the Hermitage didn’t send a very detailed list of what’s what, not as detailed as they would have wished anyway. Felt like a little louse, telling others, officials of the The Hermitage no less, that there was a small error. Still, it will be fixed tomorrow.

There is the Throne of the Romanovs from the Throne Room at the Winter Palace with the footstool, made by order of Paul I, Catherine the Great’s son, and father of our Queen Anna Pavlovna, whose more then life size painting, next to her spouse, King Willem II,a dorns the wall in the “Imperial Ball ” wing. On the walls it seems as if one looks through the Palace windows watching a Ball with scenes from the movie ‘Russian Ark’ that gem of a film that was done in one shoot, beautiful. A Hall full of Ball Gowns, Court Dresses and Uniforms, some of them Nicky’s, placed on moving plateaux while ball music fills the room.

There is the Throne of the Grand Master of the Order of the Knights Hospitallier of Malta, impressive,with prints and paintings of the Grand Masters in the same room.

The painting of Nicky’s and Alexandra’s wedding, I watched it for at least 10 or 15 minutes or longer, mesmerised by its beauty, their coronation painting, all of it became so real. Not in the least due to that magnificent Forum, the Alexander Palace Forum, if I may mention that, that virtual fountain of knowledge on the Romanov Family, and Nicky, Alix and the children especially.

As tomorrow, Friday, is the official opening by HM Queen Beatrix and HE President Dmitry Medvedev of the Russian Federation, there was a General Rehearsel tonight. Watching this was breathtakingly impressive.

Fantastic!! The Band of the Dutch Royal Marines plays Russian composers on that beautiful ponton on the Amstel river, the Band of the Russian Navy takes over accompanied by torches carried by members of the Studenten Weerbaarheid,and while the orchestra plays Moussorgski’s impressive Great Gates of Kiev, the windows of the Hermitage rolled open in the floodlights while floating and beautifully lighted pontoons float beside the pontoon with the orchestra based on the idea of the Grand Entrance to the city of Amsterdam by Tsar Peter the Great in 1696, a modern but yet again beautiful version of that event will be on show tomorrow. Peter the Great stayed at the Doelen hotel btw, not even 300 meters from the present day Hermitage, that was built in 1683; he must have seen it, and not only that and he visited it.

It was a nursing home at that time, as it was till two years ago when the Protestant diaconessen decided to sell the building, and had the Hermitage and the Nieuwe Kerk director van Veen immediatly act and purchase the complex. So,instead of being transformed into yet another 4 or 5 star hotel or appartment building, we now have this beauty of a museum, a must see for all who visit Amsterdam.

Just wonderful, it was a fairytale on the banks of the Amstel river tonight. And even more so with HM The Queen and TRH The Prince of Orange and Princess Máxima, and dear Dmitry of course without whom all this would not have been possible too.

I could go on and on, but there was so much, and even though I purchased the catelogue, a gem on itself, I still am too taken by the beauty, the enormous work it must have been to get all items here, not 1800 as mentioned earlier, but over 2500. It is so breathtaking, especially if you’re a Russian history/ Romanov afficionado.

The museum shops. Beautifully tucked in at each end / beginning of a wing and well stored/packed with items, all in the best possible taste. All the books on the Romanovs, their Jewellery, any Royal or Imperial jewellery, it is all there.There’s a wonderful restaurant and a beautifull terrace for some al fresco lunch.

Last but not least:

courtesy OedipusColoneus

Imagine this music while on the large screen over the pontoon you see images of what is on show inside the Hermitage, and the separate periods of Reigns and its different Rulers, from Peter the Great to poor Nicky….

It is magic I can assure you, almost like seeing beauty for the first time.

This report was first posted at the Benelux Royals Message Board and has been sligtly edited for this blog.

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  2. Queen Beatrix Reopens the Royal Palace in Amsterdam

One Response to Magnificence of the Hermitage Amsterdam (Eyewitness Account)

  1. Pingback: The Royal Forums » June 2009 Newsletter: The 1940s

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