Atlantes statues at the portico entrance of Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia

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Atlantes statues at the portico entrance of Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia
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Image ID: BGD5CE
When classical architecture was revived in the 18th century and 19th century, many buildings included glorious atlantes that look much like the Greek ones. A prominent use of atlantes is at the entrance of the Hermitage Museum built for Tsar Nicholas I of Russia. The portico of this building has ten enormous atlantes (approximately three times life-size) carved from Serdobol granite designed by Leo von Klenze and executed by the sculptor Alexander Terebenev working with one hundred and fifty assistants, including J. Halbig, N. Tokarev and D. Jensen. Finishing such a grand project was not easy: each of the assistants worked on a specific part of the atlantes while Terebenev himself worked on the faces. The design was first presented in 1840 and was chosen from two options: one with atlantes and one with caryatids (a female version of the atlantes). Terebenev was responsible for the entire plastic design of the atlantes. The figures were installed at the front of the museum on September 1, 1848. Leo von Klenze, the architect of the Hermitage extension, spoke very highly of these sculptures and even said that had the ancient Egyptians made the figures instead, they would have not been any better than the ones Terebenev created. The figures stand straight and proud, with their backs arched forward and arms holding the ceiling at head level. The heads touch the ceiling and bend down. The bodies of the atlantes are slim but very strong, with clearly defined musculature.
Location: Hermitage Museum, Palace Square, Saint Petersburg, Russia, Eastern Europe, Europe