Music for the children of our time

The Edukators

The angry man of sculpture

Attack on artistic freedom in Russia

Pushing at the edges

The secret life of objects

Porcelain that challenged the world

Bill Brandt

Heaven on Earth: Art from Islamic Lands


The inspiration of Italian cinema


Pissarro in London

Of Villains and Villeins

Piazzas on the eve of destruction

Modernism resurgent

Wilkie - Painter of everyday life

Techno-gothic fusion


Gagarin Way


Vietnam behind the lines

Romney - mirroring the gentry

Caspar David Friedrich - the essential Romantic

The awesome effects of the sublime

Earth & fire

Paul Klee: The nature of creation

John Pilger's Great Eyewitness Photographers

Sarah Medway: In the Realm of the Senses

A glimpse of the Hermitage

Vermeer at the National Gallery

Paul Signac: Travels in France

The other story of British abstract art

Breaking the silence

Century City

Digitising the Hermitage

Ghosts of christmas past

The disasters of war

Picturing the people's game

Picasso as political icon

An art world Schindler

British modernism reclaimed

Brush Power

The modern bronze age

The first museum of modern art

Six women who shook the world

Frances Aviva Blane

Caro's challenge

Ellsworth Kelly at the Tate

Magnum resists the lure of the dollar

Rebel behind the American movement

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A glimpse of the Hermitage

By Corinna Lotz

One of the most attractive spaces in 21st century London is without doubt the re-opened courtyard and terrace of Somerset House in the Strand. Once upon a time it was full of Dickensian corridors where you could track down birth certificates or file for divorce.

Now it has a glorious Renaissance-style courtyard with a constant play of fountains. If you pass through the gates at the end, you will find the Hermitage Rooms which are displaying a selection of work from the State Hermitage Museum in Leningrad/St Petersburg. Beyond them lies a splendid terrace with a view of Waterloo Bridge and the Thames.

But strangely we are transported from the Thames to a re-creation in miniature of Catherine the Great's Baroque Winter Palace, today's State Hermitage Museum. Out of their 3 million items, they have lent 75 drawings and 8 paintings.

There is no particular theme or story being told by this selection, it appears. Perhaps it is intended as simply a taster for the vast collection in Russia. It's best to take each object on its on merits, and just enjoy it. You're unlikely to be travelling to the Hermitage itself so this is a chance to get the flavour of the place.

In addition to the original art works, hi-tech audio visuals provide images of the interior of the museum as well as the outside. Touchscreen displays give access to the Hermitage web site.

Some of the artists in the current display will be familiar to most art lovers. Others like the Mannerist Jacques Bellange, and Jacques Callot, both from Nancy, show some of the rich variety in French art of this period.

Nicolas Poussin, the great 17th century classicist (so beloved by Anthony Blunt) is represented by an early painting, Tancred and Erminia, plus a number of intriguing drawings.

Nicolas Poussin, Tancred & Erminia

His near contemporary, Claude Lorrain, remains one of the most brilliant landscape painters of all time. Here we can see three wonderful drawings, plus an ink view of the Trinita dei Monti, the church at the top of the Spanish Steps in Rome. a study for the same scene which is on view in the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square. A must for all Rome lovers!

Drawings and paintings by Picasso and Matisse bring us into the 20th century. Matisse's drawings of his Russian model, Lydia Delectorskaya, are simply glorious.

Henri Matisse, Lydia in a Hairnet

French Drawings is at the Hermitage Rooms, Somerset House until March 3. Open daily 10am-6pm. Closed 24-26 December. Admission 6; 4.