12 Custodians of the Hermitage treasures

The Hermitage cats have become a living symbol of St Petersburg. Not content with simply showing pictures, this series offers the lowdown on each of them.

Luchik, the Winter Palace. A striking Siberian tomcat, his fur boasts the hue of what St Petersburgers call the “Neva Masquerade” hue. An avid football fan, on match day he always bags the best spot to watch his favorite Zenit.
Pingva, the Pavilion Hall. An elderly cat robed in austere black-and-white, descended from palace stock. This cat was born to guard the Hermitage. The modest, sombre black-and-white livery is evidence of her aristocratic roots. She shuns feline company in favor of solitude, preferring to live apart from her fellows in the cattery.
Gauguin, Palace Square, the General Staff building. This brightly colored cat seems to have sprung from a canvas by the French painter himself. Life’s travails have developed in him the most extraordinary skills. Gauguin knows only too well where the provisions are stocked and how to get them, using his ability to open (and close!) any door.
Francesca, the Jordan Staircase. Proud of her famous namesake, she performs her own version of arias from the eponymous opera in the dead of night from the museum vaults. Anyone who strokes her trichromatic coat gets special treatment.
Duchesse, the Atlantes. During the White Nights, some exhibits really do come to life! The cold, taciturn Egyptian cat statuettes become animated, turning into burning hot sphinxes.
Kisanya, the Gallery of the History of Ancient Painting. A cordial hostess, Kisanya pays attention to all guests of the Hermitage, who, in summer, obligingly help this voluble gourmet acquire a rounded figure.
Lipa, the Soviet Staircase. The self-sufficient Lipa is the very essence of catness, taking herself for strolls and preferring to observe proceedings from the shelter of a tree.
Rio-Rita, the Alexander Column. A graceful, expressive, and unusually melodious cat of a wild Abyssinian hue. In anticipation of human caresses, her body becomes like a bouncing ball, with her tail and hind legs performing a kind of dance. When she rubs up against your legs, resistance is futile.
Tikhon, the Large Italian Skylight Hall. Named after the pagan god of fate, old-timer Tikhon is extremely discreet and thorough. As fate itself would have it, Tikhon was moved from the General Staff building to the Great Hermitage, where he became the unofficial leader of all the palace cats.
Caspar, the Raphael Loggias. A legendary guard and photographic star, he often wanders into camera shots of the most vivid landscapes. Named after German landscape artist Caspar David Friedrich, this romantic feline soul chooses the most picturesque surroundings for his perambulations. // The Hermitage Cats Exhibition opens at the Republic of Cats multifunctional art space in St. Petersburg on October 23.
The Hermitage cats have become a living symbol of St Petersburg. Not content with simply showing pictures, this series offers the lowdown on each of them. The first open is Assol at the Nicholas Staircase. A spruce and sociable, yet bashful young lady. Evening often finds her on the Palace Embankment, gazing pensively at the ships gliding along the Neva.
Vaksa, the Jordan Staircase. The demure Vaksa suffers from poor eyesight, is not overly fond of strangers, and rarely leaves the Hermitage grounds. But here she is never short of work: fondly rubbing herself against the feet of employees, this near wholly black cat has been polishing their shoes to a shine for many years.

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