Catherine the Great: art for empire : masterpieces from the State Hermitage Museum, Russia

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A collector of many lovers during her 34-year reign as Czarina of Russia at the end of the 18th century, Catherine the Great collected art as well. The extraordinary treasures she amassed for her Winter Palace, which is now the Hermitage Museum, laid the foundation for one of the world's great collections. This catalogue of an exhibition jointly sponsored by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the Art Gallery of Ontario reveals the grandeur of her ambitions and highlights her acquisitions. These include paintings by Chardin, Bourdon, Le Lorrain, Tiepolo, Vien, and Boucher, among others; precious stones, often adorning items like snuff boxes; jewelry; furniture; architectural models; and many other priceless objects, shown in 210 color images here.~Catherine had more than simply a good eye; she was a fascinating person herself, someone who believed in the political dimension of art and its role in changing Russia and the world. The book's essays explore her intellectual life, her architectural transformation of the Winter Palace, her correspondence with the greatest thinkers of the Enlightenment (including Voltaire and Diderot), her commissions, and portraits of herself.~Catherine II (or "the Great") was born in 1729 in Germany, the daughter of the prince of Anhalt-Zerbst. In 1744 Czarina Elizabeth of Russia chose her as the wife of the future Czar Peter III. When he acceded to the throne in 1762, he quickly fell as the target of conspirators, including Count Orlov, Catherine's lover, and she was proclaimed ruler. She began as a reform-minded leader, but later turned more conservative, extending the power of the nobility, curtailing the rights of serfs, and increasing the hegemony ofRussia over the Middle East and Eastern Europe. All during her r

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