Hermitage puts the Middle Ages in the spotlight

The museum would like to turn out a lot and spectacular again now that the doors can open again after the temporarily stricter corona measures. For the first time, several highlights from the above collections can be seen in the Netherlands. They bring the Middle Ages to life, with knights and maidens, courtly love and tournaments. Plus the romantic nineteenth-century revival of this in Europe and at the Russian court. The design is heroic and romantic at the same time, culminating in the spectacular knights hall with a tournament setting in which knights on horseback are engaged in a joust. The exhibition offers a beautiful journey through time that, with the collaboration of Herman Pleij in the audio tour, among others, gives color to what is often referred to as the Dark Ages.

Romanovs and the Knights with Known Masters, Roman de la Rose, Bazilevski Collection and Imperial Armor

The eighteen exhibited full armor from the collection of Tsar Nicholas I are of top quality and are characterized by masterful craftsmanship, often by famous armor makers. A number of these armor are closely associated with legendary rulers. For example, an armor of Emperor Charles V and a unique sixteenth-century specimen that was specially made for Nicholas I. Another eye-catcher is an approximately fifty kilogram German tournament armor from around 1500, a present that Nicholas I received from his wife Tsarina Alexandra Fyodorovna.

Collection Bazilevski

One of the main components of the exhibition is a selection from the Hermitage’s European medieval art collection

With work by well-known masters, such as the fifteenth-century triptych The Adoration of the Magi by Hugo van der Goes, paintings by Cranach and the circle of Agnolo Bronzino and a Garden of Delights by a follower of Hieronymus Bosch. The main role is played by the impressive collection of medieval art of the Parisian collector Aleksandr Bazilevski. He decided to auction his collection in 1884, but just before the auction it was bought in its entirety by Tsar Alexander III, which caused a great stir in France. Several masterpieces from this collection are on display, such as the beautiful gilded reliquary from Limoges from around 1200 with scenes from the New Testament. Or the five ivory plaques with scenes from the story of Tristan and Isolde. There is also the bust of Saint Thekla (circa 1325–50), on loan from the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, where the statue from the Hermitage ended up after a series of wanderings. Now it is temporarily reunited with other pieces from the Bazilevski collection.

Courtly love

One of the themes in the exhibition is courtly love, the chaste passion between man and woman much described in the Middle Ages

The Hermitage Amsterdam shows a highlight with this theme: a beautifully illuminated manuscript of the Roman de la Rose. It is one of the most controversial and popular medieval literary works, an erotically charged love story from the thirteenth century. Czar Nicholas I and Alexandra Feodorovna, nicknamed “the white rose” after a historic nineteenth-century “knight novel” she devoured, eagerly embraced this medieval courtesy. As a symbol of their romantic love, large white roses climb the walls of the exhibition.

The first real family exhibition of the Hermitage Amsterdam

The adventure story of Romanovs and knights is specially designed for the whole family. From a breathtaking medieval art collection to different tours and routes for children and young adults. There is the exciting dragon treasure hunt with radio play, for children from 6 years old. Especially for the little ones (3–6 years old), numerous “did you know” are included in the exhibition. They are combined with quotes from talents from the Hermitage for Children from the well-known Open Gaze route. Suitable for anyone who wants to discover the exhibition in a playful way with his or her (grand) children. There is also a hashtag tour in which TV personality Tim Hofman connects some high-profile masterpieces to popular themes of today. Suitable for young people from 15 years old. Finally, there is a special Knight Edition of the Grand Art Game playable online. It challenges young players (15–24 years) to collect the most impressive art collection.


To raise awareness for the exhibition, the museum always uses a tried and tested strategy with free publicity, digital / social media, outdoor, RTV and media partnerships. Martijn van Schieveen, Press, Publicity & Digital Media coordinator at the Hermitage: “We do not work with an advertising agency, but with regular designers. Una Design is responsible for the campaign, Studio Berry Slok designed the new house style of the Hermitage, which we introduced this summer. The marcom campaign is aimed at various target groups, of which families in particular are new to us. This exhibition lends itself well to that and we seize that opportunity to achieve it. “

Other target groups are museum card holders who are reached via a special newsletter, domestic tourists who are targeted through partnerships with ANWB and Lego, among other things. Foreign tourists are reached through Amsterdam Marketing, partnerships with foreign (online) guides and Thalys / Eurostar (city trippers) / KLM (Holland Herald).

Romanovs Under the Spell of the Knights can be seen by the public from Thursday 19 November 2020 until the summer of 2021. Online booking is mandatory, tickets are now available at


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