Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

IN BRIEF

Nonfiction

June 11, 1995|Susan Reynolds

HIDDEN TREASURES REVEALED: Impressionist Masterpieces and Other Important French Paintings Preserved by the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg by Albert Kostenevich. (The Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg in association with Harry N. Abrams: $49.95, 292 pp.) Seventy-four Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings removed from Germany after WWII are here reproduced, a collection that the Minister of Culture for the Russian Federation, Yevgeny Sidorov, refers to in his foreword as "relocated art." All the initial text in this catalogue hangs on similar tender-hooks, and Mikhail Piotrovsky, director of the Hermitage Museum, makes the most blatant statement when he writes: "The Nazi's deliberate, relentless policy not only of robbing and pillaging, but of undertaking the total cultural extermination of the nation, forever deprived our people of major monuments of their heritage." Piotrovsky also writes that because the paintings have been in special storage at the Hermitage all these years, they are well-preserved, the colors fresh and the composition clear and startling. Paintings arrived in 1945 and much sleuthing through collections, auctions and exhibitions has gone into the sections on Provenance, Exhibitions and Literature that accompany each painting. The first group to be exhibited, these French paintings range from 1827 to 1927, from "Rocks" by Corot to "Ballerina" by Matisse. Many of the paintings come from the private collections of Otto Krebs (1873-1941), Bernhard Koehler (1849-1927) and Otto Gerstenberg (1848-1935). (Above, Renoir's "Man on a Stair" and "Woman on a Stair," both 1876, from the home of the french publisher Georges Charpentier.)

The exhibition provokes feelings, writes Albert Kostenevich, curator of modern European painting at the Hermitage, "Not unlike those experienced by the relatives of an inmate released from jail after many years of incarceration." If a trip to St. Petersburg is not on the horizon (the paintings will be on display through Oct. 29), dream away the hours in front of this most meditative catalogue.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|