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Patron’s Day Online

Published 11 March 2021

Each year, on 13 April, the Hermitage in conjunction with the Russky Metsenat (Russian Maecenas) almanac of social partnership celebrates Patron’s Day.  The date was the birthday of the Roman aristocrat, friend of poets, artists and musicians, Gaius Cilnius Maecenas, as has been calculated from one of Horace’s odes. The Hermitage is home to the only depiction of Maecenas in Russia – Giovanni Battista Tiepolo’s painting Maecenas Presenting the Liberal Arts to Emperor Augustus.

In 2020, Patron’s Day in the State Hermitage did not take place due to the public health restrictions that had been introduced. We have decided to hold it virtually this year. On 11, 18 and 25 March, at 4 p.m. Moscow Time special video programmes will be presented on the Hermitage’s social media marking the 15th Patron’s Day in the State Hermitage.

“We will be delighted to introduce people to the gifts that we have received. These presents are very important for the Hermitage. They are very fortunately connected with the Hermitage’s history and the palace interiors. We are very grateful to those people who searched in precisely that direction and selected gifts in such a way that we together can better remember the museum’s history,” Mikhail Piotrovsky, General Director of the State Hermitage, commented.

The series of videos is devoted to gifts that have entered the museum collection and were supposed to be publicly presented on Patron’s Say in 2020. We express our immense gratitude to our friends the donors and tell about significant gifts to the Hermitage in 2019–20: Mikhail Karisalov’s gift of a divan with Gothic motifs (Russia, 1830s–40s); Yury Abramov’s gift of a Chippendale-style armchair (Russia(?), late 19th – early 20th century) and Vadim Zverev’s gift of a tray with ornamental decorations and an appliqué element in the form of the full coat of arms of the Imperial State of Iran (Iran. Tray: 1920–40; coat of arms: late 1940s – 1970s). A brief report about the Virtual Patron’s Day will be shown at the 16th Patron’s Day in the State Hermitage in 2021.

In the first video, we will tell viewers about the divan with Gothic motifs that was donated to the Hermitage by Mikhail Karisalov in 2020.

Remarkably, on one corner of the divan inscriptions survived that made it possible to establish the authenticity of the piece of furniture, as well as what it was called and where it belonged. At one time, this divan stood in the Seventh Spare Apartment of the Winter Palace, which was used to house distinguished guests who came to visit Russia’s imperial family. Today, those halls are used to display Renaissance-era art.

The divan dates from the late 1830s or 1840s. That was established from the Gothic finials that began to appear during the reign of Nicholas I, when reminiscences of the Middle Ages came into vogue.

The piece has survived astonishingly well. As Natalia Guseva, deputy head of the Department of the History of Russian Culture and keeper of the collection of Russian furniture, observed: “We can put this divan in the halls of the Hermitage straightaway if necessary or send it off to temporary exhibitions in other museums. And it will worthily represent the transitional period that saw the shift from ‘Nicholas’s Empire style’ to the Gothic.”