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19 May – 04 September 2022

Saint Petersburg, the State Hermitage


Organized by

The State Hermitage 


The Moscow Kremlin Museum, Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, State Historical Museum, State Tretyakov Gallery, Russian State Historical Archive, The National Congress Palace, State Russian Museum, Tsarskoe Selo State Museum and Heritage Site, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Russia, Gallery ‘Three Centuries’ and others


The Moscow Kremlin Museums take part in a monographic exhibition of the Danish artist Vigilius Eriksen (1722-1782) commemorating the 300th Anniversary of his birth. Having worked in Russia for a long time, Eriksen is best known for his portraits commissioned by Empress Catherine the Great, during whose reign he gained the status of court master. As part of a large-scale exhibition project, it is planned to show both the artist's well-known works and his recently attributed works, revealed in Russian museum collections. In addition to Eriksen's brushwork and copies of his works, the display will also feature authentic objects depicted in the paintings, such as the guard uniform of Alexander Feodorovich Talyzin, in which Catherine II is depicted in her equestrian portrait, and the sword of Grand Prince Paul.

The Moscow Kremlin Museums will lend for the exhibition with three masterpieces by Vigilius Eriksen, viz a snuffbox with the portrait of Empress Elizaveta Petrovna and two miniatures with portraits of Empress Catherine the Great.

Miniature with the portrait of Empress Catherine the Great Snuffbox Miniature with the portrait of Empress Catherine the Great

The golden snuffbox with the portrait of Empress Elizaveta Petrovna on the inside lid under glass was created on the order of Count Pyotr Sheremetev. Among the Count's papers is the document testifying that he commissioned the Empress’s portrait by Vigilius Eriksen in his possession to be sent to goldsmith Jean-Pierre Ador, so that he would place the portrait on a gold snuffbox. The jeweller completed the order in 1784, adorning the lid with the Empress's monogram lined with diamonds at Sheremetev's request.

Two miniature portraits of Empress Catherine the Great created by Vigilius Eriksen seem to have belonged to the Counts Orlovs. On one of the miniatures the Empress is shown wearing a small crown and diamond earrings, with a curl wrapped in pearls and hanging down over her shoulder. The miniature corresponds with the portrait of Catherine the Great in the oval medallion that was granted to Count Grigory Grigorievich Orlov in 1764. On another miniature Ericksen depicts the Empress in stylized Russian costume, with a headdress and a sleeveless jacket trimmed with fur. It was executed in watercolour on a bone plate. Judging by its unusual heart shape, it could have been intended for the portrait presented to the Count in 1771, which was decorated with a flat heart-shaped diamond.