A diamond encrusted mirror, solid gold rouge pots and more than 500 pieces of art, were available for the public to see as Catherine the Great’s treasures were exhibited at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne for the first time on Friday. The collection was transported from the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg to Melbourne for the first time and is “the greatest, the grandest, the most lavish and the most important exhibition to come to Melbourne,” according to Senior Curator of International Art Ted Gott. Patrons could enjoy works by artists such as Rembrandt, Rubens and Velazquez and marvel at collection pieces that once used to belong to Catherine the Great some 250 years ago. These included a 32 piece gold toilet set as well as 60 parts of a gold 700-piece dinner service, bought by Catherine the Great for her lover, Prince Grigory Potemkin. Catherine the Great’s 34 year reign from 1762 to 1796, is remembered as a time of reform and often referred to as ‘the golden age’, as the empress was very supportive of the arts, culture and education.
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