The Discovering Art series is continuing its winter and spring sessions with a series on the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. Please join us as we learn about and discuss this incredible collection of art.

The series starts on December  7 until March 29, 2017. Classes are held on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of the month, from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. at the Cloverdale Arts Alliance Gallery.

The classes for 2016/17 run as follows:

·        Sept.  21 and Oct. 5-  Cuba: Its Art, Culture and People

·        Oct. 19- Against The Odds: The Artists of the Harlem Renaissance

·        Nov. 2- Mystery of a Masterpiece: The Forensics of Fine Art

·        Nov. 16-Annie Leibovitz: Life Through a Lens

·       Masterpieces from the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia

·        Dec. 7- Architecture of the Hermitage and highlights of the masterpieces

·        Dec.21- Russia at the time of Peter the Great and Decorative Arts of Italy,
France and England

·        Jan. 4 – Ancient Art of Mesopotamia, China and Egypt

·        Jan.  18- the Sculpture Collection and the Classical world of Greece and Rome

·        Feb. 1 – Art of the Middle Ages and the early Italian Renaissance

·        Feb. 15- Raphael, Da Vinci and Italian High Renaissance, and art of the Netherlands in the 15th and 16th centuries

·        March 1- Rubens, Van Dyck and 17th century Flemish artists, and Rembrandt and 17th century Dutch masters

·        March 15- Velazquez, el Greco, Goya and Spanish masters, and French classical artists of the 17th and 18th centuries

·        March 29- 19th century France and the Impressionists, and Modernism- Matisse, Picasso and 20th century painters.

Masterpieces from the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia

This 18-part series on the Hermitage Museum will be shown in 9 classes, starting on December 7 until March 29, 2017.  It is the most complete historical overview of art ever produced, according to its producers.  Since many of us will never go to St. Petersburg, this is a great opportunity to see this incredible museum, its architecture and contents in a very up-close and personal way. 

The palace was originally built in 1754 for Empress Catherine II, but now is a state museum of 6 huge buildings, and the home of more than 3 million works of art  collected over the past 250 years.  Somehow these treasures survived the Napoleonic wars and other wars of the 19th century, the Russian Revolution, and World War 1 and 11.  We will see that some parts of the buildings were bombed, but subsequently rebuilt, and treasures looted and some returned.

The camera will take us over the 9 sessions to view the collections, from ancient cultures like Mesopotamia, Greece, Egypt, China, as well as the art of the Middle Ages and the European Renaissance.  Raphael, Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Rubens, van Dyck, Rembrandt, Velazquez, El Greco, Impressionist artists, Picasso, Matisse are just a few of the many artists whose works we will see.  Get ready for a fascinating trip through time with splendid close-ups and analyses.  Besides, attending these classes is much cheaper than flying to Russia!!

Dec. 7 Palace Architecture

The series opens with a historical tour of many of the public rooms of the six buildings, as we learn about how it was built, the history of the era and how Catherine the Great wanted to impress her people and establish her place as an “enlightened” yet despotic ruler in Europe, like the French and Spanish monarchs.  You will compare the excesses of this huge palace with those of Versailles.

The second session highlights masterpieces in the collections.  We will see the evolution of style and techniques, as works are acquired over the centuries.  Medieval frescoes, paintings of the early and later Italian Renaissance, Netherlandish still lifes, and even (everyone’s favorite) landscapes of 18th century Venice, and 19th century Paris and England.  We can discuss your favorites and see if they match the tastes of the Russian Czars!!

Dec.21- Russia at the time of Peter the Great and Decorative Arts of Italy, France and England

Even though Peter the Great (1672-1725) lived before the palace was built for Catherine II, he was the czar who transformed Russia from its medieval isolationism, and brought it into contact with Europe and its culture.  He was the founder of St. Petersburg and the creator of a new “Russia”.  His ambitions for Russia, military, social and cultural, are immortalized in many rooms throughout the Hermitage, through paintings, his architectural designs for buildings, naval ships, etc.

The next session highlights the Hermitage’s collection of the decorative arts through the centuries, looking at works from Italy, France, and England. The Russian czars collected pieces of silver, glassware, plates, furniture and tapestries from the baroque, rococo and classical eras.  They are all displayed in their excessive splendor.  We will see how these works reflected the wealth and cultural aspirations of each czar and age, regardless of the cost to all the peasants and serfs in that country.

Jan. 4 – Ancient Art of Mesopotamia, China and Egypt

Like most Europeans, Russians were fascinated by the beginning of civilization, going back to the ancient cultures of Mesopotamia, China and Egypt.  The czars collected ancient artifacts, and we will see 200 years of collecting various artifacts.  Ancient Mesopotamia with its Sumerian and Babylonian cultures, ancient Persia, and India created many forms of art, interpreting their civilization and beliefs through their art.  We will see frescoes, Persian miniature painting, cuneiform tablets, sculptures, war artifacts , all reflecting the daily lives and religious beliefs of their times.

The second session focuses on the art of Ancient Egypt.  Their civilization devoted itself to the gods, the pharaoh who was the incarnation of the gods, and the afterlife.  Most of their art and buildings reflected this focus.  The Hermitage collection has rooms of mummies, sculptures and various artifacts, found in tombs and brought back to Europe.

Jan.  18- The Sculpture Collection of the 18th and 19th Centuries and the Classical world of Greece and Rome

The Russian czars, like other European royalty and aristocracy, collected sculptures inspired by antiquity, the world of Greece and Rome.  Catherine the Great wanted to emulate the palace of Louis XIV and show Russia too could be “enlightened”.  The czars displayed the sculptures in luxurious rooms in the palace, surrounded by paintings and ceiling decorations.  As we look at works from the 18th and 19th centuries, you will see how political and philosophical ideas influenced their interpretations of powerful aristocrats, sculptures of classical themes, purely decorative porcelain figures, and works of Rodin. 

The second sessions show the classical world of Greece and Rome.  The Hermitage houses a vast collection of vases and sculptures of ancient Greece, works of art that showed the Greek beliefs about beauty, proportion and harmony.  Many illustrate Greek mythology in bronzes and marble.  The collection of Roman sculptures shows us how Rome was inspired by the Greek culture, adopting its gods and legends, to create their representations of the gods and powerful politicians and emperors. 

Feb. 1 – Art of the Middle Ages and the early Italian Renaissance

This session discusses art that represents 1000 years of history, 5th century through the 15th.  It is a vast collection of medieval Christian images and relics, jeweled crucifixes, golden reliquaries made of precious metals, carved wood and ivory.  These artifacts reflect medieval beliefs.  We will also see that war and violence was very much a part of the medieval world, with the Hermitage’s collection of armor and weapons, focusing on their ideas about chivalry and fighting.

The second session looks at the art of the early Italian Renaissance.  In the 15th century, society moved from the remnants of its medieval thinking to a “rebirth”, looking at the world here and now.  It stressed naturalism, and the perspective that “man is the measure of all things”.  The collection reflects this new perspective.  It still includes altarpieces but with more naturalism in the figures and landscapes.  You will see examples by Da Vinci among others.  Being Russia, its medieval icons still survived, and there are great examples of this Orthodox tradition.  The cult of the Virgin Mary reigned paramount, and there are numerous examples of artistic interpretations of this subject.

 Feb. 15- Raphael, Da Vinci and Italian High Renaissance, and art of the Netherlands in the 15th and 16th centuries

The Italian High Renaissance only lasted 30 years, but it produced masterpieces by Raphael, Michelangelo and Da Vinci, as well as the Venetian masters.  The Russian czars collected both paintings and sculptures by these masters, which are exhibited in multiple rooms, revealing the drama and dynamism of the “NEW AGE”.

The second session looks at the 15th and 16th century art of the Netherlands.  The rising middle classes and mercantile class had different tastes that called for a more secular art.  This art reflected the world around them with landscapes, seascapes and everyday life.  Art in the 15th century was still very religious, but the figures portrayed were more human, as shown in works by Campin and the Master of Flamelle.  By the 16th century, art showed softer colors, but still was religious, as the Netherlands continued to be ruled by the Dukes of Burgundy as part of the Holy Roman Empire ruled by Spain.   Portraits became very important among the middle classes, as well as art that portrayed Flemish peasants and folktales, shown in the work of Hieronymus Bosch and Peter Brueghel.

March 1- Rubens, Van Dyck and 17th century Flemish artists, and Rembrandt and 17th century Dutch masters

Catherine the Great amassed a great collection of the works of Peter Paul Rubens and Anthony Van Dyke, 1500 of them.   Flemish artists were influenced by Italian Renaissance colors and subjects, but their work was more exuberant, whether it was an altarpiece, a portrait of an aristocrat or an ordinary person, or a still life.   The collection holds many examples of paintings that depict the life of royalty and peasant in the 17th century.

The second session highlights the collection of works by Rembrandt and other 17th century masters.  Peter the Great (1672-1725) collected these works, and then the collection was expanded by subsequent czars to include portraits, landscapes, genre paintings, still lifes and seascapes.  The Hermitage holds 10 Rembrandts, works that are religious and secular, works that are known for their use of light and psychological depictions.  We will see works of Rembrandt, Frans Hals and Jan Steen, among others.

March 15- Velazquez, el Greco, Goya and Spanish masters, and French classical artists of the 17th and 18th centuries

The Russian collection had to be rounded out with a vast collection of Spanish masterpieces, which reflected the flowering of Spanish culture and its belief in Catholicism.  There are works by El Greco, Murillo, Velasquez, and Francisco Goya,( alas only 1 by Goya).  These paintings represent religious scenes from the bible, court and secular portraits, as well as still lifes.  The portraits are particularly interesting, as we will see differences in the artists’ styles and psychological depictions of their subjects.

The second session looks at the works by French Classical artists in the 17th and 18th centuries, works from the Baroque and Rococo periods.  Catherine the Great desired her court to be equal to that of the French kings, Louis XIV, and Louis XV, whose tastes for luxury and gilded exuberance set the tone for Europe.  She collected works by Nicholas Poussin and Claude Lorrain, classical works that reflected the ideals of ancient Greece and Rome.  You will see massive history paintings, genre works and the lighter tone of Lorrain’s landscapes, as well as the Roccoco frivolity of art by Watteau and Boucher.

March 29- 19th century France and the Impressionists, and Modernism- Matisse, Picasso and 20th century painters.

The museum has a large collection of early 19th century works of classical art depicting ancient Rome, as well as romantic works of exotic and dramatic settings by Eugene Delacroix.  By the mid 19th century, in reaction to the strictures of the French Academy and its Salon, artists searched for new ways to portray the world. The Hermitage collected works by the Barbizon School of Realism with works by Millet and Courbet, as well as the Impressionists, as they emerged in the 1860’s and 1870”s.  The Impressionist collection is large, with works by Renoir, Pissarro, Monet, Degas, Cezanne, and 15 paintings of his Tahiti era by Gauguin.

The last session looks at the art of the Post-Impressionists and later 20th century art.  By the early 1900’s, Impressionism was considered “old-fashioned”, and so new styles emerged as artists experimented.  The collection reflects these experiments with the works of the Fauvists.  Artists like Matisse and Derain, with their wild palette of color and decorative perspective, reflected a new world of inner feelings.  Pablo Picasso is shown in the collection, with works from his many periods, from the early blue Period, through Cubism and all its facets.  He transformed the art world with his originality and experimentation with Cubism, as he broke his depiction nature into spheres and abstract design.  This led to the myriad of art styles of the 20th century.


 Please join us when we begin this new series on December 7.  The crowd is friendly, the illustrated lectures are superb, and the discussions are always stimulating. You don’t have to be an art expert, as everyone’s opinion is valid and often entertaining.   A glass of wine and a sweet treat always enhance the experience.  We look forward to seeing you.

Attend all classes, or choose the ones that interest you the most. DISCOVERING ART is meant for a wide audience, from those who are discovering art for the first time to those who have experienced art their entire lives and realize that it is a journey of constant discovery.

In order to reimburse the Cloverdale Arts Alliance (CAA) for the expenses of administration and refreshments, a nominal donation ($5 per evening for CAA affiliates, $7 for non-members) will be requested. Seating is limited to the first 40 participants.

Visit or call 894-4410 for further information and a full schedule regarding this or the many other fine Cloverdale Art Alliance programs. 

The Cloverdale Arts Alliance is located at 204 N. Cloverdale Blvd. in downtown Cloverdale. Visit for the full schedule and further information regarding this or the many other fine Cloverdale Art Alliance programs.