Early in 2013, a year of celebration in Dutch-Russian relations, the Hermitage Amsterdam will present a major exhibition devoted to Peter the Great (1672–1725), the modernizer of Russia. The exhibition will paint a picture of this unconventional, inspired and inquisitive Russian tsar, who by the time he took power at the age of 17 was determined to transform his country. His achievements include reforming the military and the church, expanding trade and industry, and improving education and public health. He turned Russia into a great European power with a brand-new capital city: St Petersburg, his “window on the West.” With historical artefacts, paintings, gold jewellery from the ancient world, weapons and unique documents, the exhibition will sketch the life of this peerless ruler. From his youth Peter collected art, including a Rembrandt, planting the seed for St Petersburg’s later Hermitage collection. An enthusiastic traveller, he went two visits to Western Europe, including the Dutch Republic. It was the city of Amsterdam, in particular, that inspired him to found his new capital.
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