In 1771-1787 a new building next to the Small Hermitage was constructed by the order of Empress Catherine II on the Neva River embankment. Being bigger than the Small Hermitage, it was named the Great Hermitage and was supposed to house the palace collections and the library. Yuri Velten, the architect, managed to fit the new building into the existing palace complex. The austerity and simplicity of the Great Hermitage followed the canons of the 18th century Classicism. The building has no elements indicating the order such as columns or pilasters, but its structure is wholly determined by the proportions of the classic order. The lower part of the building, massive and rustic, is balanced by the lighter upper part. The decorative scheme of the facade is based on the rhythmical combination of horizontal divisions and vertical window apertures.
In 1792 Giacomo Quarenghi built an extension to the Great Hermitage to house the Raphael Loggias, 18th-century copies of the original frescoes in the Vatican, Rome.
Displayed in the Great Hermitage is Italian Renaissance art.