Cruise Day 7 – Part 5 – The Hermitage Museum Sculptures

I want to start today’s post with two little known Italian marble statues that were tucked in a corner next to a small stand selling museum trinkets and small copies of the the paintings in the museum.

The first is called Venus and Cupid Removing a Thorn from Her Foot by Pietro Tenerani.


Right next to Venus is a sculpture name Roman Lady by Italian Italian Sculptor of the 18th Century:


These were basically cast aside from the main galleries. Imagine what was not.

Here is one such statue called Death of Adonis by Guiseppe Mazzoula took the artist almost 30 years to complete between 1680 and 1709. Notice the texture of the hair on the wild boar.


Next is a sculpture for which I cannot find any reference in the internet, but it is striking, nonetheless. If I could read Russian, I might be able to make out the sign on the pedestal.


Next we have Etienne Maurice Falconet’s sculpture of Cupid:


And finally, a sculpture of Voltaire by Jean-Antoine Houdon.




Tuesday Photo Challenge – Sand

Artist in the Sand:

I captured this image back in 2007 in the US Virgin Islands. This painter/photographer was very busy with a watercolor of the lagoon on this quiet beach:


Here is a view of what he was painting:


I hate to think about what this looks like now, after two brutal hurricanes. I hope everyone there is okay and recovering.

Tuesday Photo Challenge is a weekly feature sponsored by photographer Frank Jansen on his ‘Dutch goes the Photo!’ blog. Follow the link to see more entries.

Cruise Day 7 – Part 4 – The Hermitage Museum Paintings

I want to start with the paintings from famous artists that I know about. There were two paintings by Leonardo da Vinci. The first is called the Benois Madonna because it was sold to the Hermitage Museum by the Benois family in 1914.


The second is called the Madonna Litta because it was owned by the House of Litta in Milan, Italy during much of the 19th century.


The second artist that I recognized was Rembrandt. The first painting is called Danaë. It depicts Danaë, the mother of Perseus, beckoning to Zeus, who impregnates her with a shower of golden light.


The second painting is called The Descent from the Cross. As with the prior paintings, you can get more detailed descriptions by following the links associated with the painting’s name.


Here is a second photo from a different angle, trying to minimize the light reflection from the surface  of the painting.


With so much to see in just one afternoon, it was impossible to spend any time with an individual painting, so I have been studying the works with my internet searches and giving you the links where appropriate.


The following painting I thought was a Rembrandt because it was located in the same area in the museum, but I cannot find it listed. Any assistance would be wonderful:


There were many paintings of generals and other war heroes decorating the walls of the museum. Here are a few:







The following is a painting of Sir Thomas Wharton painted by Anthony van Dyke in the middle 1600’s.


I apologize for the blurriness of the image with my hand held camera in a low light environment where flash is not allowed. Here is an image from the web:


With appropriate equipment and plenty of time, I ‘might’ have been able to produce an image of this quality.


Next is a painting of Venice taken from two different angles that shows how perspective can impact what you see. The first photo is taken from the right hand side.


Now from the left hand side:


I have photos of about 20 more paintings, but you would probably just pass them over quickly, because the post would be too long. I hope you enjoyed this little tour.

Sculptures are next.



Mundane Monday Challenge #130

Today I want to display a few mundane pictures from our last cruise to the Baltic that highlight commercial activity using the color red:

Here is a picture from Helsinki Finland:


Next is a picture taken in front of the Hermitage Museum, looking across the street toward the river.


And finally, just outside of the Church of the Spilled Blood in St. Petersburg is the featured image of two kiosks:


All three photos show the extent of marketing around the world from the Coca Cola brand.

Mundane Monday is a weekly challenge hosted by the blog Trablogger that helps photographers learn to focus on the beauty in mundane objects. Follow the link to see many other wonderful posts.

Cruise Day 7 – Part 3 – The Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg

The Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia – The Winter Palace

Overwhelming is the word of the day. I took about 90 photos during the afternoon visit to the Hermitage Museum, located in the Winter Palace. That is obviously way too many pictures to display in a single post. Therefore, I am going to split up the photos into four groups and post them on four different days.

Today, I want to give you a taste for the location and the building. Subsequent posts will cover paintings, statues, court dress, and doors (for my weekly Thursday Doors post).

We will start today’s post with some pictures of the Palace Square including the Baroque Winter Palace itself on the northern side.


On the eastern side you will see a building that housed the former Royal Guards:


And on the southern side you will see the General Staff building (like the Pentagon in Washington, DC) designed by the Italian Architect Carlo Rossi and built between 1819 and 1829.



In the center of the square is the famous Alexander Column, named after Emperor Alexander I, who defeated Napoleon in the winter of 1812 when the French army ran out of food for themselves and fodder for their horses.


Here is a quote from Wikipedia:

“The column is a single piece of red granite, 25.45 m (83 ft 6 in) long and about 3.5 m (11 ft 5 in) in diameter. The granite monolith was obtained from Virolahti, Finland and in 1832 transported by sea to Saint Petersburg, on a barge specially designed for this purpose, where it underwent further working. Without the aid of modern cranes and engineering machines, the column, weighing 600 tonnes (661 tons) on 30 August 1832[2] was erected by 3,000 men under the guidance of William Handyside in less than 2 hours. It is set so neatly that no attachment to the base is needed and it is fixed in position by its own weight alone”

Our travel guide said that for a long time, people of St. Petersburg were hesitant to be near the column, thinking it might topple over on them. It has stood through earth quakes without falling, so there really was no need to worry.

From the square, we moved to the main entrance on the north side of the palace. We saw a wonderful street entertainer on the sidewalk as we walked along the western side of the palace:


Here is a view of the western entrance:


And here is a view looking east from just outside of the front entrance:


Once inside, we were immediately treated with a view of the ornate Ambassador’s Staircase:



Next we have a very ornate chandelier in the center of a room filled with paintings of the great generals of the Russian Army.


I will slip in one painting ahead of my post on paintings, just for context:


I also loved the architectural details of the room:


From here we were led into the Emperor’s throne room that I used as the featured image for this post:


Here is a close up of the throne:



Notice the double headed eagle on the throne. This is usually associated with an empire, like the Roman/Byzantine empire. It was adopted in Russia with the marriage of Ivan III to the niece of the last Byzantine Emperor. It was the main element in the coat of arms of the Russian Empire from 1721 to 1917.

Finally, I will leave you with a few photos of hallways, and arches to give you a better flavor for the architecture of the building interior:




And here is a picture of my wife, Alice, standing in front of a giant urn in the middle of a beautiful gallery of paintings:


I will leave this post with a picture of the stairway used by special guests to be presented in the ballroom on the second floor:


Hopefully, this will give you some context for my posts about the paintings and sculptures, period costumes, and doors that will soon follow.

Sunday Trees – 308

Alexander Pushkin is a famous Russian Poet. This statue is located on the grounds of the ‘Summer Palace’ in Pushkin, Russia, about a half hour drive from St. Petersburg.


Behind the palace is a wonderful garden filled with trees. Here is just one example:


Sunday Trees is a weekly challenge sponsored by Becca Givens on her blog ‘On Dragonfly Wings with Buttercup Tea‘. Follow the link to see other wonderful Sunday Tree photos.

Cruise Day 7 – Part 2 – The Palace Grounds

After touring the interior of Catherine’s Palace, we were lead outside to the palace grounds. The gardens, ponds, walkways, and pavilions were all very beautiful even though the season was late and there were very few flowers in bloom. Here are a few pictures from the gardens.


This is the Upper Bath House.




Here is a picture from the Grotto pavilion with a statue outside.


Inside the Grotto, we were treated to a wonderful musical treat:

In the rear of the gardens is another beautiful building called The Hermitage Pavilion. It was used by the rulers to host more private dinners and parties away from the palace and the servants.




After leaving the grounds of Catherine’s Palace, we were driven to a small store that was chocked full of Russian goodies to buy, like the nesting dolls and amber necklaces and bracelets. I took a couple of pictures outside that give a little perspective of Russia when you are not in one of the palaces:


Here is our tour bus. Notice the Jersey Barrier on the sidewalk. It is made of hollow plastic and is used to save parking for the tour buses in front of the store. I laughed when what appeared to be a concrete barrier was picked up by an attendant and moved to the sidewalk.



At this point, we had spent the entire morning touring and everyone was getting hungry. This particular tour included a full lunch on a floating restaurant in the heart of St. Petersburg.


Our table was just inside the smaller floating building on the far left. Notice the two orange statues on the back of that floating barge. Here they are up close. One is Neptune and the other is a Mermaid.



Behind the two statues is the bridge that we used to cross the river to get to the restaurant.


Here is a picture looking in the other direction (downriver toward the Baltic):


Looking directly across the river, you will see that many buildings are under renovation, like most of St. Petersburg:



Here is one of the tables in the restaurant, preset with bread, water, and salads.


The meal was delicious and helped to prepare us for a full afternoon at the Winter Palace, also know as ‘The Hermitage’. That will be the subject of my next post.

Cruise Day 7 – St. Petersburg, Russia and Thursday Doors – October 5, 2017

For Thursday Door pictures, just page through all of the palace photos to see many wonderful doors in Catherine’s Palace.

What happened to Cruise Days 5 and 6 ?

Returning to Cruise Day 4, you might remember that we were deluged by a major storm that soaked those passengers coming back by train from Berlin. In fact, the wind was so strong that the ship was not allowed to leave the port until the next morning. That meant that we missed the port stop of Tallinn, Estonia. It was a two day sail to Estonia from Wismar, Germany, and we therefore passed Tallinn about 7:00 PM on the day after we left. That meant we were back on schedule at the cost of one port stop. It also meant two full days at sea (Days 5 and 6).

On Day 7, we woke up to a beautiful sunny morning at the Cruise Port for St. Petersburg. Here are a few pictures from our verandah deck:


The following picture is of Lakhta Center, which is going to be a 462 meter tall skyscraper with an amphitheater at the bottom left. You can follow the link for more information on Wikipedia.


The next picture is of Krestovsky Stadium, one of the venues in Russia that will handle the 2018 FIFA World Cup. This stadium has been calculated to be 518% behind schedule and 548% over budget.


I think this is a new power station built to support the needs of the new Lakhta Center.


From the ship, we boarded a coach for the half hour ride to the Catherine Palace, also know as the Summer Palace. The featured image was taken in the front courtyard, looking down the 325 meter long front of the palace.


Here are a few more pictures from that front courtyard.





Here is the front gate into the courtyard:


Once inside, we were lead to the grand ballroom, or ‘Grand Hall’ or ‘Hall of Lights’. The room takes the whole width of the building, so you will see doors and windows on both sides surrounded by gold overlay wood carvings.




The ceiling has a wonderful fresco titled the ‘Triumph of Russia’:


The ballroom floor has a marvelous design that we were told was used to indicate the starting point for each dancer for some of the ballroom dances.


I managed to capture a picture of myself in one of the beautiful mirrors positioned between each set of doors:


From the ballroom, we were led down a series of formal rooms known as the Golden Enfilade. The first room is the Courtiers-in-Attendance Dining Room :






In the corner of each of these rooms is a tall ceramic stove used to keep the room warm during the cold winters:


Here is a closeup of the designs on the ceramic:


Each room along the Golden Enfilade had its own theme and purpose. Here are some photos of interest along the way:





The next three photos are of almost priceless vases enclosed in protective boxes.


Notice the photographer in the mirror in the rear.







Another ceiling fresco.




Another beautiful floor design.






Now we have moved to the residence next to the palace. Notice the design change and the lack of gold.




I am sorry if this is overwhelming. The displays were quite overwhelming just walking from one room to the next. There was also a room covered in amber. We were not allowed to take pictures in this room.

From here we went out to the gardens behind the palace.  I think I will save that for my next post.