First British show of Catherine the Great's art collection

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The Independent Online

Old master drawings and paintings from one of the world's greatest private collections, most of which was compiled by Catherine the Great, are to be shown in Britain for the first time at Somerset House in London.

The exhibition, French Drawings and Paintings from the Hermitage: Poussin to Picasso, will be in the Hermitage Rooms, recreating the decor of the imperial splendour of St Petersburg's Winter Palace, with artwork dating from the 16th century. The Hermitage is lending 75 fragile drawings and eight paintings, including work by Picasso, Matisse and Ingres.

The first gallery will be dominated by Nicolas Poussin's Trancred and Erminia, among the artist's most famous works, revealing an emotion and poeticism found in only a very short period of his career. Four of Poussin's drawings will also be shown, including Dromed-ary and The Conversion of St Paul. In the same gallery, works by Jacques de Bellange, Jacques Callot, Claude Lorrain and Charles Lebrun will be on display.

The second gallery will display artists from the 18th-century, including Antoine Watteau, Jean-Baptiste Oudry and Francois Boucher. By the middle of the 18th century, French landscape painting was in decline and Boucher was probably the only member of his generation to pay it serious attention. Works by the great moralising painter Jean-Baptist Greuze are in the third gallery, including his canvas Filial Piety, depicting devoted and obedient members of an old man's family tending him in his sickness.

The exhibition, the third in Somerset House with art from the Hermitage, begins on 3 November and finishes on 3 March next year.

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