In memory of the Swiss poet and artist Salomon Gessner
The Gessner Grotto
Originally this was the grotto of the hermit. A painted plank showed a resting hermit with his walking stick and canteen.
Upon the death of Salomon Gessner in 1788 the grotto was redecorated and dedicated to him. A memorial made from red sandstone was erected in his honour and bore the inscription 'Gessner', a painter's pallet with a brush, a lyre and a torch on one band. Gessner was world famous at the time for his idylls and his landscape paintings. This adaptation to current events shows clearly that the Ermitage in its early days was lively and made reference to contemporary events. The natural beauty that surrounds the grotto is equally as noteworthy as the memorial. Both things together present themselves to the viewer as a united whole. Directly next to the grotto is a small waterfall, whose sound hints at the lyric poetry of Gessner. The Gessner Grotto soon became one of the main attractions of the Ermitage and attracted hundreds of visitors.