Masterpieces of the Hermitage-Volume 4 (1992)

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Released 28-Oct-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Art Gallery-Photo
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1992
Running Time 84:48
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By L. Schwartz

Warner Vision
Starring R. Parsons
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI ? Music W. A. Mozart
J. S. Bach

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The State Hermitage Museum of St Petersburg is one of the largest museums in the world, with a collection of around 3,000,000 works of art. It is housed in seven buildings constructed by Catherine the Great and her successors, starting in the mid-Eighteenth Century. Following the construction of the Winter Palace, Catherine decided that she wanted a smaller, less formal building to hold balls and parties. This new building was known as the Hermitage, literally the dwelling place of a hermit, after the French fashion.

    The fourth disc in this series looks at the collections of paintings from the 15th and 16th Centuries. Note that while the titles shown on the back of the case are correct, the details shown for each are for the episodes on disc three.

    This is where the material gets even more interesting. The remaining episodes in the series give a history of European art from the Renaissance onwards, with the development of new styles and themes in art. Again, this disc is narrated by R. Parsons.

    The three episodes on this disc are:

Art of the Early Italian Renaissance (28:22)

    This episode traces the origins of the Renaissance through the art of the early Italian masters, such as Fra Angelico and Martini, and the development of religious art from the late Middle Ages..

The High Italian Renaissance (27:24)

    The work of such masters as Leonardo Da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo, Titian and Tintoretto is highlighted, and through paintings and sculpture the splendour of the Renaissance is revealed.

Art of the Netherlands: 15th and 16th Century (29:02)

    The Northern Renaissance occurred in the relatively small countries of Flanders, Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg. Here we get to see masterworks by Van Eyck, Leyden, Holbein and Breughel the Younger.

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Transfer Quality


    As in the other discs in this series, the video quality is quite disappointing.

    The video is presented in the original aspect ratio of 1.33:1, being a series made for television.

    Most of the time, the video is not sharp. This has the look of being transferred from a video master. At times, it looks as if it was transferred from a VHS copy, but thankfully most of the time this is not the case. Shadow detail is not really an issue with this sort of material.

    Colour is somewhat muted, but I suspect that this is due to the colour of a lot of the works of art, which have faded over the years. Bright colours appear when paintings and frescoes that include such colours are shown, although as I am not familiar with the originals, I cannot comment on the fidelity of the image to the original.

    There is some grain present, particularly in the opening and closing sequences, which are repeated from episode to episode and look different to the rest of the material, as if they were from a different source, such as stock footage. This footage also has some film artefacts, such as dirt and black flecks.

    This transfer is badly affected by aliasing throughout. The moving camera rarely remains still, and the continual movement brings out aliasing in almost every shot, with some examples being at 1:12, 29:55 and 33:31. This makes a lot of the video difficult to watch. This may be less of an issue with small display devices.

    There is also a problem with some of the darker works, particularly those that are dark brown. There appears to be a sort of thin gauze over the image, resulting in a scaly appearance to the image. Some of the more obvious examples are at 1:27 and 3:54.

    No subtitles are provided on this single-layered disc.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    As with the other discs in this series, there is a loud hum present throughout, possibly due to interference during either the recording or transfer process. It is not dissimilar to the background hum you get from a record player or turntable. This is annoying at times, although as it is continuous, the ear adjusts to a point.

    There is one audio track, in English Dolby Digital 2.0.

    Dialogue is generally clear and easy to understand, the narrator's foibles notwithstanding. Audio sync is not an issue.

    Classical music excerpts are played in the background. The sound is a little thin and the dynamic range is that of video. Not all of the musical excerpts complement the images, but this is not a major distraction.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    10 photographs of Italian paintings. Of minor interest, if only to see them without aliasing.


    Five pages of history relating to the acquisition of artworks by Catherine the Great, and the construction of two of the Hermitage buildings. The grammar is not always very good, and the information provided is not detailed, so this extra is really not worth very much.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This series has been released as a 2 disc set in Region 1. I have not been able to locate any reviews of this set to determine whether the transfer is better or the same, so at this time the best version cannot be determined.


    An interesting series of programmes about the massive art collection held by the Hermitage Museum, which is spoiled by the transfer.

    The video quality is very poor.

    The audio quality would have been satisfactory if it were not for the omnipresent hum.

    The extras are not substantial.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Monday, January 26, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationYamaha RX-V596 for surround channels; Yamaha AX-590 as power amp for mains
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Richter Harlequin; Rear: Pioneer S-R9; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

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