Back to news

Shell becomes the general sponsor of the Year of Rembrandt in the Hermitage

Published 17 July 2019

On 17 July 2019, in the Council Hall of the State Hermitage, Mikhail Piotrovsky, Director of the Hermitage, and Cederic Cramers, Country Chair for Shell in Russia, signed a partnership agreement within the framework of the Year of Rembrandt.

“The Dutchman is very important for the Hermitage and so our collaboration with the Dutch Shell concern is entirely natural and it is founded upon Dutch subjects. This year we are having a Year of Rembrandt. We are restoring one of the most interesting, mysterious and remarkable paintings from the Hermitage’s Rembrandt collection – The Downfall of HamanShell is helping with its restoration. When that process is complete, we will be holding an exhibition in the Apollo Hall. One more project is the Year of Rembrandt at the Venice Biennale, where the Hermitage in conjunction with Alexander Sokurov has presented an installation devoted to Rembrandt’s Prodigal Son, a remarkable installation that has aroused many discussions and conversations. When the Biennale finishes its run, an expanded version of the installation will go on show with us in the Hermitage, then it will travel to Moscow and after that to our Hermitage centres. This is also being done with the assistance of Shell,” Mikhail Piotrovsky said as he signed the contract.

Cederic Cramers stated: “Having worked in Russia for more than 125 years, the Shell concern devotes particular attention to collaboration in the cultural sphere. Among our partners and friends are the Bolshoi Theatre and the Tretyakov Gallery. Yet even in that illustrious company, our joint project with the Hermitage occupies a special place. The works by Rembrandt and other Dutch artists played a significant role in the formation of the Hermitage as an art museum of world importance. We are pleased to be making our contribution to the preservation of cultural and historical heritage that has connected Russia and Holland over many centuries.”

The year 2019 marks the 350th anniversary of the death of Rembrandt van Rijn (1606–1669). The State Hermitage possesses one of the finest collections of paintings and graphic works by the greatest Dutch artist. The picture The Downfall of Haman, restored with the support of the Shell concern, will become the central feature of an exhibition commemorating the 350th anniversary of Rembrandt’s death. It is a late work by the artist, dating from 1665. The painting is covered with several layers of yellowed varnish which, like the remnants of later retouching, will be removed in the course of restoration.

There are plans to hold an exhibition in the General Staff building of the State Hermitage devoted to the Russian pavilion at the Venice Biennale, called “Lc. 15: 11-32” after the passage in St Luke’s Gospel containing the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Probably the most famous and impressive embodiment of that story in art is Rembrandt’s painting, which the world has come to regard as the foremost picture in the Hermitage.