English Paintings Collection
The Hermitage collection of 16th to19th-century English painting includes over 450 items and is of particular importance, bearing in mind the rarity of works by English artists in European museums.
Three works by the first president of the Royal Academy of Arts, Sir Joshua Reynolds, represent a most unusual side of his art, the painting of canvases on historical subjects: The Infant Hercules Strangling the Serpents (1786-1788), commissioned by the Russian Empress Catherine II and symbolizing young Russia’s growing strength, The Continence of Scipio (1788-1789) and Cupid Untying the Zone of Venus (1788) both intended for Count Potemkin. Tip: Point on the stamps with the mouse index for more information about the works of art displayed.
The great painters Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough naturally influenced the younger generation, such as George Romney, even while the latter preserved his own individual style, as can be seen in his Portrait of Mrs Harriet Greer (1781). Genre painting and landscapes occupied a central place in the work of George Morland, who was born into a family of painters. Of his six works in the Hermitage, the most interesting is Approaching Storm (1791), its romantic and tempestuous subject reflecting the prevailing mood of the day.
Portrait of a Lady in Blue (late 1770s - early 1780s) by Thomas Gainsborough is the only work by the master in the Hermitage collection, but is widely regarded as a brilliant example of the style of this portraitist, who lived in permanent rivalry with Reynolds.