ONE WAY to measure the impact of a ruler, politician or even a pop star is to count the number of scurrilous rumours that surround them.
The greater the number of myths, the greater the impression they have made. Using this rule, Catherine the Great must have made a massive impact on Russia as stories of her colourful personal life would have kept the 18th century version of Grazia mag (Grazki?) in a constant supply of tittle tattle.
Not that there is any need to pay attention to the gossip; the empress’s achievements tell their own story. During her reign, she presided over a massive extension of Russian territory and cultivated a glowing reputation as a patron of the arts. Her art collection formed the basis of the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg and some 600 of those works go on display in the National Museum on Chambers Street from today in an exhibition which is simply called Catherine the Great: An Enlightened Empress.
Scotland and Russia have had numerous links over the centuries, not least a shared appreciation of Robert Burns. National Museums Scotland have been developing their relations with the Hermitage and these borrowed exhibits are some of the fruits of that work.
Also opening this weekend is the Scottish National Gallery’s summer blockbuster, Van Gogh to Kandinsky: Symbolist Landscape in Europe 1880-1910. The exhibition features some 70 landscapes by 54 avant-garde artists such as Van Gogh, Gauguin, Munch, Monet, Whistler, Mondrian and Kandinsky. This is the first time that some of the works, such as Van Gogh’s The Sower and Kandinsky’s Cossacks, have been shown in Scotland.
In Glasgow, meanwhile, the Riverside Museum will host the Kronos Quartet as they perform Terry Riley’s Sun Rings against a massive backdrop of Nasa footage showing deep space. Visitors to the outdoor performance are promised solar flares and, most intriguingly, the sound of space itself.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Wednesday 22 May 2013
Temperature: 3 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 5 C to 11 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: North west