SNOECK PUBLISHERS, GHENT
Catherine The Great: Classical Ideals In The Age Of Enlightenment
Essays by Androsov Sychev, Rappe Bagdasarova and Renne Pobedinskaya.
History recognizes Catherine the Great's remarkable temperament, political savvy and lavish reign (1762-96). The Empress is also known to have been an avid collector and enlightened patron, interested in everything and leaving nothing to chance, for she believed strongly in the political power of art. This German princess, an immigrant in far off Russia and a Russophile without a drop of Russian blood, took to her adopted homeland with a passion. She aspired to advance Peter the Great's endeavours to raise the country to modern heights. Guided by the finest advisors and demonstrating stunning extravagance, she ostentatiously bought up entire art collections from across Europe, without question becoming the founder of the Hermitage's collections. She commissioned works by pre-eminent artists and craftsmen, and imported not only European art but its culture and skills too, and successfully established Russian academies and factories. Above all, Catherine II showed a preference for classicism at an early age. She took delight in an Antiquity that was nostalgic, decorative, and monumental. Playing with the symbolism of Imperial power, she was a modern Minerva in public, and a fervent disciple of antiquity in private.