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While St Petersburg’s Winter Palace no longer houses royal Tsars, it does host some of the greatest works of art ever created, as well as an abundance of historical relics. Today, The State Hermitage Museum is one of the world’s largest and most prestigious galleries. From unmissable temporary exhibitions to iconic works that form part of the permanent collection, here’s what to see when visiting the Hermitage Museum this winter.

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. The Lute-Player. Marking the End of the Restoration

One of the Hermitage Museum’s most treasured pieces is Caravaggio’s The Lute-Player. It’s the only work by the Italian Renaissance master in Russia, and after a period of painstaking restoration is back on display in all its glory. Commissioned by art connoisseur Marchese Vincenzo Giustiniani, The Lute-Player was completed in 1596 and depicts a boy playing the lute as he sings a love song.

Until 25th March 2018

Portrait of Soler

One of the most emotive paintings from Picasso’s ‘Blue Period’, Portrait of Soler is a picture of a young man sitting alone in a café, and is widely considered a comment on loneliness and isolation within the artist’s own life. Painted in 1903, using his good friend and patron, Soleras as his model, Picasso expresses melancholy through a powerful use of colour, expression and lighting – or lack thereof.

Crouching Boy

A marble masterpiece by renowned Renaissance painter and sculptor Michelangelo, Crouching Boy depicts a young man crouching in the nude. While incomplete, the artwork is powerful nonetheless, and the boy’s muscles can be seen straining as he tends to his foot, perhaps extracting a thorn.

The Winter Palace and The Hermitage in 1917. History was Made Here

2017 marks the centenary of the Russian Revolution, and this landmark exhibition lets you follow in revolutionary footsteps and discover the museum’s journey from royal palace to repository of the world’s finest art and relics. With audio and visual displays, including the Tsar and Tsarina’s diaries, revolutionary banners, photography and costume, it’s as comprehensive as it is captivating.

Until 4th February 2018

Portrait of an Old Man in Red

One of Rembrandt’s most powerful and lifelike paintings, Old Man in Red is a must-see at the State Hermitage Museum. Through clever paintwork, attention to detail and use of colour, the Dutch painter masterfully captures in his subject a wise and calm aura that can only come from many years of life.

Leonardo da Vinci Room

This ornate room in the Old Hermitage is home to not one, but two masterpieces by great Renaissance artist, Leonardo da Vinci. The Benois Madonna and The Litta Madonna are both powerful depictions of the Virgin Mary, and are key highlights of the European Art collection at the State Hermitage Museum.

Head of Athena

There are a number of sculptures of Greek Goddess Athena throughout the State Hermitage Museum, but the Head of Athena is arguably the most captivating. Dating back to the 2nd century, the marble is immaculately preserved, so her powerful and wise gaze continues to be as striking as it would have been when it was created.

Complete your cultural visit to St Petersburg with a stay at the historical Hotel Astoria, a grade one-listed architectural landmark.

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