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  • Writer's pictureDimitri Ozerkov

Library of Architecture: Architectural Drawings from the State Hermitage Museum Collection

When:  13.11.2012 - 16.12.2012

Where:  Hermitage, Saint-Petersburg, Russia


On 12 October 2012 the Library of Architecture exhibition was opened at the General Staff Building. The exhibition was organised by the State Hermitage Museum together with the Sergei Tchoban Foundation and is taking place as part of the Hermitage 20/21 project, a large scale programme for increasing the collection of 20th and 21st century art and for displaying the work of contemporary artists in the State Hermitage Museum. The exposition will showcase more than 80 architectural drawings from the 18th to 21st century from the collections of the State Hermitage Museum and Sergei Tchoban Foundation. Collections from all over the world of architectural gems are seen in the ensembles of Monceau, Sanssouci, Stowe. Empress Catherine the Great housed her collection at Tsarskoye Selo (Royal Village), in the park ensemble established in the 1770s – 1780s. Catherine’s "architectural collecting" consisted not only of acquiring buildings but also printed material on them – the empress’ architectural library may not have been all-encompassing, but counted at least several thousand specialised books and deluxe editions. The monarch’s gallery and library besides satisfying the curiosity of its owner also was of a representative nature, providing the architects working at court with tones and styles. This paper, architectural library gave birth to true architecture. The Library of Architecture exhibition continues the architectural section of the Hermitage 20/21 project, which was started with the Santiago Calatrava: The Quest for Movement exhibition which was a great success being held from June to September 2012. Its aim is to compare drawings taken from different collections: the growing and developing collection of a working architect, the collection of Sergei Tchoban, which has been gathered for little more than a decade, with the old imperial collection which goes back to acquisitions by Catherine the Great. Works chosen for the exhibition come from the "library of architecture" of the Sergei Tchoban Foundation which will serve as the nucleus for the Museum for Architectural Drawing in Berlin in 2013. Both collections will present earlier works that have never previously been exhibited and the latest Berlin acquisitions and St. Petersburg attributes. The last category includes sketches by Berto di San Sepolcro, a rare piece attributed to Jean Goujon, the legendary plans for the Jesuit Theatre at the Lycée Louis-le-Grand, built under the supervision of Blondel the Younger. The exhibition has been set out on the principle of a conversation between the two collections, which is reflected in the catalogue (State Hermitage Museum Publishing House, 2012). The drawings are brought together in pairs: these works are attributed to the same architect (it is possible to compare two pictures by Thomas de Thomon or Clérisseau), executed on the same theme or in some manner add to one another through the different development of a similar idea. There are two such monuments to the period of the French Revolution – the Hercules of Gaul monument was the work of Petitot and the designs for the monument on the ruins of Bastille by Prieur-Duvernois. The assiduously careful sketches of the column by Berto di San Sepolcro follow the idle but brilliant fantasy of J. Léger. This kind of "dialogue" enables us to see the parallels through the centuries and architectural styles, in which the architectural fantasy of Libeskind in his own distinguished whimsy and internal musicality unexpectedly harmonises with the design for the Pineau Fountain

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