The Ordeal of the Hermitage: The Siege of Leningrad, 1941-1944

Sergei Varshavsky, Author, Boris Rest, Author, S. P. Varshavskii, Author Aurora Art Publishers $49.5 (270p) ISBN 978-0-8109-1406-3
This joint U.S.-Soviet venture, produced in the U.S.S.R., has a virtual embarrassment of riches in the opulence of the treasures illustrated, while the text surrounding them is, simply, an embarrassment. U.S. readers are likely to feel condescended to at being cozily addressed as ""dear reader,'' annoyed by such crude nationalism as the description of Leningrad as a ``metropolis that proudly bears the great name of Lenin'' and by the expressed outrage at ``persecutors of enlightened thought.'' And the Britishisms of the spelling are jarring: storey, sceptical, etc. All that aside, however, the book is not without interest. Photographs of Hermitage artRembrandt, El Greco, Watteau, Cezanne et al.of the magnificent palace rooms that house the art, and the period photos of wartime Leningrad are wonderfully reproduced; while the saga of the rescue and preservation of the Hermitage treasures during the city's 900-day siege, days of such hunger that museum staff boiled joiner's glue to a jelly for their food, is heroic. (April)
Reviewed on: 03/04/1986
Release date: 03/01/1986
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