Through more than 250 objects from the European medieval art collection and the Arsenal of the State Hermitage in St Petersburg, the exhibition tells tales of tsars and knights – and of love and roses.
The impressive design is simultaneously heroic and romantic. The highlight is a spectacular hall of knights with a tournament setting in which mounted knights are engaged in a joust. The exhibition offers a unique journey through time, giving colour to what is often called the Dark Ages.
Bold and bright colors and patterns evoke a medieval atmosphere and gives the space a contemporary touch at the same time.
One of the themes in the exhibition is courtly love, the chaste passion between man and woman, that was much described in the Middle Ages. The Hermitage Amsterdam exhibits a highlight in relation to this theme: an exquisite illuminated manuscript of the Roman de la Rose. It is one of the most high-profile and popular literary works of the Middle Ages, an erotically charged love story from the thirteenth century. Medieval courtliness was eagerly embraced by Tsar Nicholas I and Alexandra Fyodorovna. Her nickname ‘the White Rose’, came from a nineteenth-century historical novel about courtly love that she had devoured. As a symbol of their romantic love, large white roses climb across the walls of the exhibition.
In cooperation with Studio Berry Slok (graphics)
Photography by Mike Bink