The Foundation


The Hermitage implemets its cultural policy by creating centres in various parts of the world to establish a different level of collaboration that goes well beyond economic relations between states, since it is founded on resources which, unlike raw materials, are inexhaustible.
What do we expect from our centre in Italy? No other country has such an unlimited number of artworks; nor was it by chance that cultural institutions representing foreign Academies of Fine Arts were established in Italy from eighteen century on. We still regret the fact that Catherine the Great, who founded uor Museum, did not prommote a similar initiative. I would like to point out, however, that from the very beginning of the eighteenth century the best of our Russian painters, sculptors and architects were given the possibility of staying in Italy as pensionnaires. I could also give another example from even earlier period, namely the construction of churches and fortresses in ancient Rus’, which, from the thirteenth century on, brought various architects to Russia, such as the anonymous artists from Modena who disigned the churches of Pereslav-Zalessky, and celebrated Aristotele Fioravanti and the architect knoen in Russia as Alvis Novyj, who created the Kremlin in Moscow.
These are both very telling examples, since they are works of art that came into being thanks to the mutual interpenetration and enriching exchanges of the cultures of our two nations. Russian painters and sculptors were able to draw on the experience they gained in Western European artistic circles, and Italian architects to model themselves on the architectural tradition of Rus’ when creating their own works. Something similar happened centuries later, when the Italian works of art shown in Russia’s museums became part of our cultural heritage without however forfeiting their link with the country in which they had been made. It is precisely to better understand and evaluate this legacy that we must continue to work together today.
This working together is the foundamental purpose of the nascent Italian center, a place for exchanging information and experiences concerning art history and restoration, but also on teaching and spreading these disciplines. Mutual collaboration will underpin our activities, wich will include the organization of exhibitions, the publication of catalogues on collection of Italian art in Russia, and the analysis of the complex historical links between Russia and Italy.
Michail Borisovich Piotrovsky
Director of the State Hermitage Museum