Tag Archives: Hermitage

Hermitage cats enjoy fame

Russian media monitoring company, Medialogia has prepared a list of the most popular cats on Russian social networks in the period of the COVID-19 confinement, with Hermitage cats making the top of the list, TASS news agency reports.

The Hermitage museum in St. Petersburg, has shot a video about the life of feline residents of the museum during the self-isolation period. All of them are being cared for by the Hermitage employees and cat food producing companies, acting as their sponsors. All felines are up for adoption. In the period from April 1 to April 10, the museum’s fluffy residents have been mentioned 58,900 times on Russian social networks.

From 50 to 70 rat-catching cats roam basement of the Hermitage, also appearing on the neighboring embankment and square. Their population is regulated by sterilisation to avoid territorial disputes. In recent years, the cats of the Hermitage have become a popular tourist attraction.

The media monitoring company has counted all mentions made on Russian social media, taking into account the social media outreach of every user.

International Cat Day: cats forever!

International Cat Day is a full 24 hours of across the world recognition and veneration of one of humanity’s oldest and most beloved pets. The festivities were put together for the first time in 2002 by, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), among other animal rights groups, to celebrate the most popular pet on the planet.

An estimated 500 million cats are thought to be frolicking in gardens of planet Earth, which is wonderful, because owing a cat has been shown to improve mental health and to relieve stress, anxiety and depression.

Cats are reigning in offices of Prime ministers, and in hearts of presidents, guarding Foreign offices, and Hermitage museums. Some of them have even blogs and press-secretaries.

However the cats are also victims of their own success, in Digital Age – the felines are confronted with new challenges as online sale:

“The EU Dog & Cat Alliance is calling for more attention to the rising issue of the online sale of pets.

“The vast majority of websites which sell pets in the EU are completely unregulated in more than three-quarters of Member States. 

“This trade poses risks to pets being traded and consumers, who have very little protection from rogue sellers. Animals which have been illegally bred and traded can carry diseases such as rabies or Echinococcus multilocularis, which can be passed on to humans, or have genetic disorders which consumers are not aware of at the time of purchase.”

Larry Obama


Rubens daughter portrait at Christie’s

At Christie’s London on July 5 the portrait of  Peter Paul Rubens daughter Clara will be exposed for the final sale while  it’s being valued between $4 million and $6.8 million.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (USA) set the painting for auction five years ago, for estimated $20,000–$30,000, while the acclaimed institution had no idea as to the scale of its error. The painting then wasn’t attributed to the genius of Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640),  but considered to be from a disciple imitating his style. However the portrait was completed by Rubens himself, depicting  the artist’s 12-year-old daughter, finished just before her untimely death from the plague.

There is legend about another portrait by Rubens, depicting a blond lady, which is considered to be fantasy of the artist, haunted by his passed away daughter Clara. The father imagined how his daughter would look like if survived the plague. However this one is not for sale, but exposed permanently in Hermitage Museum of Saint-Petersburg.

Portrait of a Lady-in-Waiting to the Infanta Isabella or the Portrait of Clara Serena Rubens, Daughter of the Painter (?), Hermitage, Saint-Petersburg, Russia.

Rubens fille

Rutte: Dutch gamble

Leiders bijeen in Brussel over toekomst unie

Anna van Densky, OPINION

Dutch Prime-Minister Mark Rutte tries to play hard the card of EU solidarity versus ‘aggressive Russia’, while looking for a compromise at the EU Summit in Brussels. The Union has stumbled over Dutch rejection of Ukrainian free-trade perspectives, and the integration process in general, when The Netherlands said clear ‘NO’ in the referendum over EU-Ukraine Association agreement.

Today’s appeal to necessity for the EU unity at face of Russia’s ‘aggression’ is a pretty worn out card,  signifying #Rutte has no aces in the sleeves. Dutch voters can hardly understand their PM passion for Crimea, while Cyprus problem has never caught his eye, although it is the EU member. While the Ukraine’s integration and free trade with the EU can significantly undermine Dutch agriculture, with overwhelming Europe by  cheap agricultural products. There is also a clear message of protest on raising Ukrainian living standards on expense of Dutch citizens. The legendary European ‘solidarity’ increasingly became a victim of averse therapy performed by the European burocrats, lavishing new member states with favors indiscriminately, at expense of the tax-payers of the old member-states. The perspective to open gates to Ukraine, sharing corruption index with Nigeria  does not inspire many of Dutch citizens, although being exceptionally generous with the European project though entire membership.

In view of general elections in March – ironically the 15th of March called Ides of March by Romans is a historic day, when Julius Caesar was assassinated, – Rutte has increasing difficulty to convince his compatriots that Russian are more dangerous than #jihadi invading Europe with the migrant flows. Especially, when Dutch see success projects as Hermitage Amsterdam, where part of the masterpieces collection from St-Petersburg is exposed on permanent basis, seeing that the parallels with Islamists don’t impress.

The compromise with ‘caveats’ for EU candidacy status for Ukraine, and free-trade deal were hinted as possible by a number of the EU diplomats. Rutte himself is visibly full of determination to ‘iron folds out’ at the Summit, brining back a deal that will be satisfactory enough to pass in the Parliament’s both chambers before the elections.

In a way a symbolical compromise offered to Dutch people by the EU will be in a line with its usual method of coping with the ‘vox populi’ they undertook with the EU Constitution, modifying it into Lisbon Treaty, or bluntly offering Irish people to vote once again when the Eurocrats didn’t like the outcome of referendum. ‘You only live twice’ in the EU:)

However, the final ‘verdict of today’s compromise on Ukraine Rutte hopes to achieve will be announced by the Dutch ballots on the 15th of March, when Rutte will get the genuine assessment of his work, including the response to Dutch ‘NO’ referendum on Ukraine.