1815: Acquisition of Empress Josephine's collection
With the entry of Russian troops into Paris in 1815, headed by the Emperor Alexander I himself, came an important purchase for the Hermitage. Alexander arranged the purchase by private treaty of a collection of paintings belonging to Empress Josephine, former wife of Napoleon, housed in her Malmaison Palace. This palace had been acquired by the Empress soon after her marriage and became for a time the Emperor's favourite residence. The Empress put together a collection of paintings and sculptures here, part of which consisted of trophy pieces seized by Napoleon and presented to his wife as a gift.
After Josephine's death, Russian Emperor Alexander I purchased 38 paintings from her heirs, Hortense and Eugene Beauharnais, the majority of which had in fact been captured from the Kassel Gallery during the campaigns of the French army. Despite some political outcry at the purchase - the international powers had agreed that all trophy art should be returned to the original owners - the collection remained in Alexander's hands and was sent back to St Petersburg.
The most valuable paintings from this collection are The Holy Family with John the Baptist by Andrea del Sarto, two paintings of The Descent from the Cross by Rembrandt and Rubens, a series devoted to the different times of the day by Claude Lorrain, Gerard Terborch's The Glass of Lemonade, Gabriel Metsu's Breakfast and The Farm by Paulus Potter. In addition, it was from Malmaison that the Hermitage acquired four sculptures by Antonio Canova: Hebe, Paris, Dancer and Cupid and Psyche.
Landscape with Tobias and the Angel
Claude Gellee (dit Le Lorrain)
The Glass of Lemonade