Do you have lots of pictures you'd like to hang up, but aren't sure how to best show off your hodgepodge? Whether you bring your bare walls to life with paintings, art prints, photographs or an exciting mix of styles depends entirely on your personal preferences, of course. In order for a larger number of pictures to be visually perfect, you should follow a few rules when staging them. How about an orderly chaos on the wall, the so-called Petersburg hanging? What at first seems like a contradiction, is a particularly beautiful way to arrange different pictures so that the bottom line is an effective and stylish work of art.
Hanging pictures: the St. Petersburg hanging
The Petersburg hanging owes its name to the famous Hermitage in Saint Petersburg. The former headquarters of the Russian tsar's family now serves exclusively as a museum, displaying some 60,000 works of art in more than 350 halls. The paintings hang closely, above, below and next to each other, sometimes up to the ceiling, which coined the term Petersburg hanging. In the 18th century, the nobility in particular presented their wealth in the form of opulent collections of paintings on the walls of their salons. That is why the Petersburg hanging is often called salon hanging. Behind the hanging, which appears loose at first glance, is a consistent principle that runs through all works of art. The almost identical size of the pictures, similarities in their framing, recurring color nuances or similarities in content allow the individual works to merge into a single unit. Even today, in the age of monochromatic painted walls and purist furnishings, the Petersburg hanging is the perfect way to present diverse works of art in such a way that they combine into a harmonious whole, without losing the tension of each individual work.
Bildergalerie in der Petersburger Eremitage (Eduard Hau, 1860)
Petersburg hanging: play with styles, sizes and colors
Portrait next to landscape format, large next to small, painting next to photographic art: the Petersburg hanging brings order to the seemingly greatest chaos. Equal distances, similar colors or frames create connections between the otherwise different individual elements. Although the Petersburg hanging ignores visual axes, identical formats or mounts visually create calm on the picture or photo wall. If you want to see the Petersburg hanging in its originality, you do not necessarily have to travel all the way to Petersburg. The great effect of salon hanging can be admired even today in almost all reconstructed German castles and in many picture galleries.
Worth seeing examples of Petersburg hangings
Sanssouci Palace in Potsdam
Weissenstein Castle in Pommersfelden
Picture gallery in the Zwinger in Dresden
Historical Museum in Frankfurt
Interestingly, you can also find Petersburg hanging in many cafes and pubs. Arranged closely next to and on top of each other, the owners and landlords present prominent guests, historical photographs or art with a local connection.
Petersburg hanging - a tutorial for home
If you are now in the mood for a private picture gallery à la Petersburger Hängung and would like to decorate your home with an effective collage, we have the following tips for you:
The most suitable wall is large, painted white or subtle monochrome.
You have free choice in the selection of pictures or photos. Works that support each other either in terms of color or style look especially nice. By using passe-partouts, a certain color can be taken up again and again or emphasized in particular.
The frames should harmonize as well as possible with each other. If you are unsure, choose frames in one color, in different sizes.
A top line and a bottom line on the wall, along which all the pictures are oriented, gives balance and tranquility to the overall work of art.
Petersburg hanging is given clarity by a horizontal and a slightly offset from it vertical auxiliary line.
Do not be too meticulous. The guide lines are for orientation only. Don't be afraid to mix different sizes and shapes. This is explicitly allowed by the Petersburg hanging.
If you have enough space, you can first lay out all the pictures on the floor and arrange them until you are satisfied.
To avoid having to measure each spacing individually, you should make spacers out of sturdy cardboard.
If you want to hang several pictures on one line, it is advisable to use either a laser measuring device or a tightly stretched string to help you.
Examples and inspiration in the picture gallery:
©living4media/ Bauer Syndication
Petersburger Hängung im Sra Bua by Tim Raue © Martin Leuze
Objects by Boconcept
The Petersburg hanging compared to other hanging styles
Besides the Petersburg hanging, there are of course other ways to present photos, paintings & co. in an appealing way. When gallery owners and other professionals hang paintings, they most often use these hanging styles:
A particularly beloved, beautiful or unusual picture gets a place of honor on the wall and can unfold its effect without restriction. It is important here to consider the relation between the size of the wall and that of the picture.
In contrast to the Petersburg hanging, strict symmetry and geometry is required here. An even number of photos of the same size are each placed horizontally and/or vertically on a line. All spacing between them is the same.
All images are arranged on a theoretical center line. This hanging style works well for low spaces.
A large format picture consists of several elements which, when put together, form a large whole. They do not necessarily have to be elements of the same size. However, the individual parts should be attached to the wall in a row, on edge and at a small distance from each other. A classic example of a multi-part piece is the triptych.
Inside the Lines Hanging:
Similar to the Petersburg hanging, paintings are not necessarily hung on edge or equally spaced. However, all works are arranged within an imaginary geometric shape. This can be a rectangle, a diagonal, an oval, or a circle. Within this shape, the images hang unconstrained.
Specialty stores offer special ledges on which you can place your pictures on the wall. In addition, other objects can be placed on the ledge. This type of picture arrangement gives you the opportunity to decorate according to your mood, very flexible.