Monday, March 5, 2012

The Hermitage - Ceilings and Floors

When I first arrived back in London from the trip to St. Petersburg, I spent an hour showing my mom the photos I had taken. I had to confess a bit of surprise as I was showing her my shots of the Hermitage.  Rather fewer than expected photos of art, and rather more of the building.

Below the pillars, looking up

 It seemed clear that I had indeed been overwhelmed by the size of things: it all seemed 'too much' in a way.   So while I wanted to look at 'the art', I found my view being continually pulled up to the ceilings around me.  The number of pillars in the building (in granite, marble, malachite or lapis lazuli) did pull in this direction, drawing  your eyes up to the details above.

Going up the central stairs

Ceiling in a blue room...

Chandelier in the Assembly Room

a gold room

a white room

the small throne room

Ceiling in the Malachite Room
Ceiling in the Boudoir

Looking down from the second floor...

And frankly, it wasn't much easier when you drew your eyes from the ceiling, and tried to look back down. 

Even my attempts to focus on a small field of vision left my overwhlemed.  Because even here, the detail was staggering. 

The parquet floors, for example. Each room seemed to have a completely different style of inlaid wood. 

Sometimes the pattern was symetrical, othertimes like filigree, and sometimes completely organic.

It is not like i have never seen a beautiful wooden floor before, but this was, like.... 32 km of variable inlaid floors?!  

It seemed almost a crime to be walking on them. 

We were there in the middle of winter, and, like the other thousands of people who were pouring in, had boots covered with snow and dirt.  i cringed thinking about the work it must be to keep the floors in good shape.

cleaning up behind the tourists
 Somehow, this shot just seemed to capture it for me.... a guy out with what looked like a pretty ordinary vacuum cleaner, sucking the dirt up off the carpets up the main staircase.

Housecleaning.  Yep.  The building is stunning, but I don't know how they can possibly have enough people (or resources) to do the work necessary to maintain the place.  The small throne room, for example, was totally covered with silver.  Having done all those silver smithing courses, i can appreciate the dull sheen of tarnished silver, but can only imagine what the room would look like if the silver were polished.  But who is going to have the time/resources to do the polishing?! 

Anyways, I was torn between being overwhelmed by the beauty of the Hermitage, and being overwhelmed by the sheer imperial excess of it all (and thinking about the deprivations that would have been necessary to produce such a place of luxuriant excess). 

Still not sure what to really think about it.  It was a mind-bender.

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