1769: The acquisition of Count Heirich von Bruhl's collection
The Bruhl collection arrived in St Petersburg in the summer of 1769. It contained a vast number of prints and drawings, as well as over 600 paintings from the Dutch, Flemish, French, Italian and German schools. It was acquired from the heirs of Count von Bruhl, chancellor of Saxony, who imitated his master, King Augustus III, in collecting works of art. Following the advice of his secretary Heinrich von Heinecken, a notable connoisseur, Count von Bruhl was able to put together a large and valuable collection, with the help of the king's own agents. Amongst his masterpieces were Rembrandt's Portrait of a Scholar and Portrait of an Old Man in Red, Rubens's Perseus and Andromeda, Nicolas Poussin's The Descent from the Cross, Antoine Watteau's An Embarrassing Proposal and landscapes by Salomon van Ruysdael. Bruhl was also the source for a series of views of Dresden and Pirna by the Italian artist Bernardo Bellotto, which the Count had commissioned. Amongst the Italian canvases, of particular interest is Maecenas Presenting the Arts to Augustus by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, which was commissioned by Count Francesco Algarotti in 1745 in honour of Augustus III by Count von Bruhl.
Perseus and Andromeda
Pieter Paul Rubens
An Embarrassing Proposal