Saint Petersburg, Russia – September 10th, 2017
There is so much to see in Saint Petersburg that our wonderful cruise company, Holland America Lines, arranged to stay in port for two full days. On the second day, we booked a tour that included a trip on one of the canals and on the river plus a stop at the Church on the Spilled Blood.
This church was built on the spot where Tsar Alexander II was murdered by two anarchist conspirators. A temporary shrine was erected over the spot until the more permanent church could be designed and built.
Just inside the main entrance is the shrine with a canopy erected over the cobblestones that were stained by the blood of Alexander.
If you look through the gate in the short wall, you can see the actual cobblestones of that street as they were on that fateful day: March 13th, 1881.
Here is a small plaque next to the shrine:
Inside the church are 7,500 square meters of mosaics that will almost take your breath away. The amount of artistic work dedicated to this church is stunning.
Marvel in the splendor:
See details of the icons on the alter in my CFFC post on icons.
We exited to the back of the church where I took a few more outside pictures:
For more historical information regarding the origin of the church, check out this link to the Wikipedia page ‘Church of the Savior on Blood‘.
This beautiful church is filled with icons. Here is just a small sample.
Later today I will be doing an entire post on this beautiful church.
Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge is a wonderful means to express our photographic talents. Follow the link to see other entries for this week.
Sailing out of Stockholm, Sweden, we passed by this wonderful outcrop of rock with a bench for viewing the harbor nestled among a few trees. Trees can grow almost anywhere, including small nooks and crannies in solid bedrock.
Minutes later, we passed a small island covered with beautiful trees:
Trees are one thing you will find in abundance when you travel on the north side of the Baltic Sea to Finland, Sweden, and Norway.
Follow the link to find other entries in Becca Givens’ Sunday Trees series on her blog ‘On Dragonfly Wings with Buttercup Tea’.
In the small throne room, there was a display of costumes worn at court in Russia during the 18th and 19th century. Each display was protected by huge plexiglass boxes to protect the material from being touched by the public. Our guide indicated that several of the dresses were so old that they were about to disintegrate into a pile of dust if not handled properly.
The displays were placed all around the throne room floor you got the feeling of walking around a room filled with people from the past.
The featured image shows a beautiful open door with an inviting room behind. The walls and the floors are rather exceptional as well.
There are so many rooms of treasure in this museum, that there are almost endless doors to photograph. I only snapped eight of these doors for this post.
Here we have a door just beyond the door.
If you look closely, you will see the door into the main reception hall at the head of the stairway. That door is almost 20 feet high, based in the size of the people in front of it.
Thursday Doors is a weekly challenge sponsored by Norm Frampton on his blog Norm 2.0. Follow the link to see many other doors from around the world.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.