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Thursday, 2 July 2015
The Presidential Library Collection Reveals Achievements of Emperor Nicholas I
Topic: Nicholas I

Monument to Emperor Nicholas I, St. Issac's Square in St. Petersburg
In honour of the 219th anniversary of the birth of Emperor Nicholas I, celebrated on July 6, 2015, the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library in St. Petersburg presented on its website the Code of Laws of the Russian Empire, and other unique materials about the Russian autocrat who ruled from 1825-1855, with whose name the location of the first electronic national library of the country is now associated with. 

The Code of Laws is a massive work in 15 volumes undertaken to restore order in the country and the state administration. Upon his accession to the throne in 1825 Nicholas I began to address a serious problem of law and order. He ordered Mikhail Speransky to prepare a new code of laws and order of the Russian empire. After four years of tireless work it was published, comprising some 30 thousand acts under the name Complete Collection of Laws of the Russian Empire. These documents are now available at the Presidential Library website.     

Many rarities, digitized by the library and placed in the collections, tell us about the nature of the emperor. December 14, 1825, Nicholas I accedes to the throne. "Gifted by major intelligence Tsar did not bother to challenge the first steps immediately felt under him a firm and reliable basis", - says the essay "The Emperor Nicholas", published in 1894. The first test of the newly made monarch awaited him on the day of his accession to the throne - the revolt of the Decembrists, which was intended to prevent the troops and the Senate to take the oath to the new emperor, and to prevent the accession of Nicholas I to the throne. The unrest was quickly suppressed, and if many of the court at first were seemed that the new emperor was not ready to state affairs, after the first decisions of Nicholas I people spoke as a strong ruler. The Presidential Library collection has accumulated a large number of electronic copies of documents, handwritten by Nicholas I. Among them there is the study of Emperor Nicholas I, General Yermolov, Project of the charter of Emperor Nicholas I, Emperor of Japan to send to Japan Vice Admiral E. V. Putyatin and the desire to establish trade relations and others.    

As contemporaries unanimously claim, "from the first minute the decisions of the supreme authority the Emperor Nicholas I started addressing public affairs with the greatest energy, patience and precision". It is written in the publication "The word in memory of Emperor Nicholas I" in 1896. Tsar often told others that duty forbids him to treat slightly even to an unimportant matter; that placing the crown, he made a vow to dedicate every minute of his life to the state and welfare of citizens.  

Nicholas I highly valued literature, painting, poetry, created by talented people. "Do you know" – the Tsar once said - "I just talked with the smartest man in Russia". And to the question: "Who was that man?" he replied: "Pushkin". Nicholas I "carefully read Pushkin’s works, not only as a "censor", but as a friendly expert, often making notes in the margins of manuscripts and corrections on the content and style, with which Pushkin sometimes quite sincerely agreed", - said in the book of Eugene Petukhov "On the relations of Emperor Nicholas I and A. S. Pushkin" 1897.   

Great advances were made during his reign in Russianu universities, science, and art. During this period in St. Petersburg there were established the Military Academy, the School of Engineering, the School of Law, the Institute of Technology, two cadet corps, the Women's Institute in Kazan and the first teachers' seminary in the Baltic region. Also in Kiev it was opened the University of St. Vladimir.

The Emperor connected Petersburg with Moscow with the first major railroad. Under Nicholas I, the architecture was enriched by such buildings as the St. Isaac's Cathedral, the Verebinsky Bridge, the Nicholas Bridge and the Alexander Column. In 1835, during his reign, the construction was completed on the building of the Holy Governing Synod. Before completing works the emperor visited the architectural complex and by his recommendations there were made some refinements in the engineering project. When the synod was opened and the meeting began, the Emperor arrived at one of them, and did not take the throne, but one of the chairs and had a long talk with the clergy. The reconstruction of the building of the Synod, which lasted from 2007 to 2009, the Hall of Presence, where it occurred, has been restored, and now they provide official events of the Presidential Library. 
© Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library and Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 02 July, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:01 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 2 July 2015 10:00 AM EDT
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Exhibition: Tsar Ivan IV and Queen Elizabeth I
Topic: Exhibitions

The exhibition hall of the Transfiguration Cathedral at the Monastery of Saint Euthymius in Suzdal is currently hosting a new exhibition: The Russian Tsar Ivan IV the Terrible and the English Queen Elizabeth I.

Ivan IV the Terrible and Elizabeth I of England are among the most important historical figures of European history of the 16th century. Both rulers have been the subject of artists, writers and playwrights, screenwriters and directors.
The current exhibition - which opened on June 18th - features 12 works - paintings and other works, made in different materials and techniques, united by one theme. The works are created by the masters of the Vladimir district.

During his 37-year reign, Tsar Ivan IV established very close ties with England. Russo-English relations can be traced to 1551, during which the Muscovy Company retained the monopoly in Russo-English trade until 1698.

With the use of English merchants, Ivan engaged in a long correspondence with Queen Elizabeth. While the queen focused on commerce, Ivan was more interested in a military alliance. 

The exhibition The Russian Tsar Ivan IV the Terrible and the English Queen Elizabeth I runs until July 26th in the exhibition hall of the Transfiguration Cathedral at the Monastery of Saint Euthymius, Suzdal, Russia. 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 02 July, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:40 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 2 July 2015 8:51 AM EDT
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Exhibition: Early Colour Photographs of the Russian Empire, 1890s - 1910s
Topic: Exhibitions

A new exhibit, Early Colour Photographs of the Russian Empire 1890s - 1910s opened at the Multimedia Art Museum in Moscow on July 1st. The exhibition continues the series of large-scale MAMM projects devoted to early colour photography, some of which have already been exhibited at the Manege Central Exhibition Hall in Moscow (2008), at the Photography Museum in Amsterdam (2013) and Photographers’ Gallery in London (2014). The current exhibition presents new acquisitions in the MAMM collection — pictures produced using the ‘photochrome’ technique, one of the earliest means to create a coloured image. At the same time the exhibition continues the long-term project, ‘History of Russia in Photography’, that MAMM has been developing since 1997.

The desire to master colour dates from the very earliest stages of photography. Initially photographs were hand-tinted, but specialists were already conducting endless experiments with more complex and technological methods of colour reproduction. Hans Jakob Schmid (1856-1924) made a veritable breakthrough in this respect. Working for the Swiss firm Orell Füssli, he invented the ‘photochrome’ in the 1880s. This technique made way for entirely new possibilities in the mass manufacture and distribution of colour prints, and enabled commercial production. Before long the proprietors of Orell Füssliset up a subsidiary company, Photochrom Zürich, specifically to print photochromes. Their products bore the gold initials ‘P.Z’. This trademark can be seen on the majority of prints recently acquired by the MAMM collection and showcased in the exhibition.

A catalogue from the Detroit Photographic Company, who acquired a patent for the technology in the 1890s, describes the merits of the photochrome as follows: ‘This is the only successful means yet known of producing a photograph in the colours of nature directly and without the aid of hand colour work. The results combine the truthfulness of a photograph with the colour and richness of an oil painting or the delicate tinting of the most exquisite watercolour. The colours are absolutely permanent and attain the virility and strength of nature so often lacking in hand coloured work. The prices are no more than those of ordinary photographs. The inventors have spent thousands of dollars and years of study before reaching their present success.’

Photochromes are deceptively reminiscent of colour photographs, but magnification dispels this illusion: the visible pigment particles reveal a photomechanical method of printing the pictures, based on inks. The process for creating photochromes was laborious, requiring several lithographic stones (six to fifteen, on average) coated with a specific asphalt-based mixture and specially prepared, each for a different colour. Black-and-white negatives provided the basic material. The identity of the photographer was nearly always omitted, and we can only guess who took the shots that then became photochromes. As a graphic illustration of the technical process a rare preserved pair of images features in the exhibition, with the black-and-white original and the photochrome version. The picture is entitled ‘View of the Moscow Kremlin Towers from Vasilievsky Spusk [St. Basil’s Descent]’ by Pyotr Petrovich Pavlov (1860-c.1925), the famous photographer who kept a studio on Myasnitskaya Street and consistently recorded historical events and architectural views of Moscow from 1898 onwards.

Photochromes were in great demand from ordinary customers and proved a focus for amateur collection. As cards, striking large-format panoramas or average-sized prints on thin paper, they were pasted into albums or framed as wall decoration for bourgeois drawing rooms.

Around eighty photochromes with views of various towns and provinces of the Russian Empire from the late 19th to early 20th centuries are shown in the exhibition, depicting St. Petersburg and environs, Moscow, Warsaw, Reval (now Tallinn), Kiev, Odessa, Helsingfors (now Helsinki), Gurzuf, Tiflis and Crimea.

Early attempts to introduce colour to photographic reproduction may appear naïve to the contemporary observer whose visual experience came from colour photography. But these images are endowed with the indisputable and inimitable charm of times past, and also provide a valuable documentary record of Russian history.

The exhibition: Early Colour Photographs of the Russian Empire 1890s – 1910s, runs until September 6th, 2015 at the Multimedia Art Museum in Moscow. 
© MMAM and Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 02 July, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:49 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 2 July 2015 7:59 AM EDT
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Wednesday, 1 July 2015
Saint Petersburg Palaces: History, Architecture, Owners
Topic: Books

includes 23 Imperial Palaces * 12 Grand Ducal Palaces * and 21 Palaces and Mansions of the Nobility
Large hard cover * English text * 240 pages * 550 photographs 
This new book presents the largest collection of Russian palaces ever to be published in English. This richly illustrated volume—more than 500 illustrations—mostly in colour—features 23 Imperial palaces, 12 Grand Ducal palaces, and 21 palaces and mansions of the nobility in St. Petersburg.
St Petersburg Palaces is a showcase of some the architectural masterpieces of the former capital of the Russian empire. These include the palaces and mansions created by the most eminent architects of the time, including works by Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli, Savva Chevakinsky, Antonio Rinaldi, Ivan Starov, Giacomo Quarenghi, Harald Bosse, Andrei Stackenschneider, Auguste de Montferrand, Hippolyto Monighetti, Adam Menelaws, Andrei Voronikhin, Luigi Rusca, Maximilian Messmacher, Alexander von Gogen and other celebrated masters.
This stunning pictorial is divided into three sections: Imperial Palaces, Grand Ducal Palaces, and Palaces and Mansions of the Nobility. The accompanying text outlines the history, architecture and owners of each palace and mansion, complimented with photographs of the historic interiors, plus contemporary views. Many of the palaces and mansions featured in this volume are little known to Western readers, therefore making this book a must for collectors!


© Royal Russia. 1 July, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:09 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 1 July 2015 6:30 AM EDT
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Topic: Royal Russia


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:05 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 1 July 2015 8:35 AM EDT
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Wednesday, 24 June 2015
Exhibition: Grandeur of the Russian Empire
Topic: Exhibitions

The exhibition in the Radishchev State Art Museum is dedicated to the unique period of the Russian history which took almost 200 years. More than 170 masterpieces of Russian, West European and Eastern work of the XVIIIth – XIXth centuries are demonstrated there.

The represented monuments are of special historical and memorial significance apart from their high artistic value. Most of the exhibits come from the Imperial Ryust-Kamera, Court Office, Emperor’s chambers, Services store room of the Winter Palace, Kremlin cathedrals and the main collection of the Armoury Chamber.

The XVIIIth century marked the determinate and effective reforms of the army and weaponry as well as formation of the order system and building of the new country capital undertaken by Peter the Great. All these events are connected with the name of the first Russian Emperor.

The exposition starts with items reminding of reforms in the military sphere and weaponry, as well as organization of new factories in Sestroretsk and Olonets instead of closed armory workshop of the Kremlin. There is a dirk of Peter I from the Preobrazhenskiy Palace, officer insignia, sword and mortar which appeared in the Russian army in the early XVIIIth century.

Just like in the XVIth – XVIIth centuries, hunting stayed one of the most popular entertainments at the court. There are impressive specimen of Russian and West European weapons exhibited, such as gorgeously decorated saddle pistols made in Tula, rifle from Petersburg, Bohemian carbine by constructor Leopold Becher and pistols by Turin, the court armoury master of Louis XIV of France.

The construction of the new capital with its palaces and celebrations required producing of new household utensils, furniture and interior decorations. The exhibited tapestry portrait of Peter the Great was executed at that manufactory open in the newly built capital in 1717 after the decree of Peter I. Large, highly artistic pieces made of precious materials, such as the silver dish executed by the Moscow master Alexey Ratkov and presented to Catherine II by the citizens of Smolensk, were also used for interior decoration.

Special significance was given to such representative silver items as silver dinner sets which appeared in the XVIIIth century to serve as household utensils and were at the same time an evidence of the high status of the owner,. The exhibited Paris service is executed by Paris and Saint Petersburg silversmiths.

A group of precious jewelry pieces is demonstrated to relate the atmosphere of the court entertainments, amusements and balls of the gallant XVIIIth century. The exhibition represents toilet bags and watch on ribbon as well as snuffboxes , which were used not only for keeping snuff tobacco, becoming widespread in the XVIIIth century Russia inside, but also for nonverbal communications between ladies and cavaliers.

New administrative and territorial division of the country, which began in 1708 with the creation of provinces by Peter the Great, was continued by his successors. Radical reform in this area was undertaken by Catherine II. Representative silver tableware was executed by her order for delivery to provinces. The exhibition presents items from the Mitavskiy service by Saint Petersburg master N. Lund and the Kazan service by Parisian silversmith R.-J. Auguste.

A group of memorial silver pieces related to the development of Siberia in the XVIIIth century occupies the special place at the exposition. The exhibition includes a silver cup, presented to the Irkutsk voevode Larion Sinyavin by Peter I and a group of utensils made for the family of the Governor of Siberia D. I. Chicherin by masters from Tobolsk, a large center of silversmithery in the XVIIIth century Russia.

The beginning of the XIXth is inseparably linked with the name of Alexander I. It’s during his reign that the wars with Napoleon, primarily, the Patriotic war of 1812, have occurred. The exhibition presents his personal items – porcelain utensils made at the Imperial manufactories in Sèvres and Dagoty, France, presented to him by Napoleon on the occasion of the conclusion of the Tilsit peace treaty; combatant weapons used during the war of 1812; the memorial plaque with the text of the Manifesto of the Holy Alliance. Some skillfully executed weapons represented at the exhibition are produced at the factories in Izhevsk and Zlatoust, opened during the reign of Alexander I.

Moscow, destroyed by the enemy invadors, demanded restoration. The process of building begun during the reign of Alexander I continued under Nicholas I. Constuction of the Grand Kremlin Palace, the part of which the new building of the Armoury Chamber is, had the special importance. This section of the exhibition is represented by keys to the Spasskie (Saviour) and Borovitskiye gates of the Kremlin with the monogram of Nicholas I, as well as a new porcelain set made at the Imperial porcelain factory for the new Palace and tapestry produced at the Petersburg Imperial Tapestry Manufactory to serve as decoration for one of the rooms.

There is also a group of exhibits illustrating the formation of the Russian award system. Apart from the Russian orders and insignia, they include items connected to the award system, such as a granted bucket and sabre and award weapons of the XIXth century.

The concluding section of the exhibition is dedicated to the coronations of the Russian monarchs. It presents unique items reflecting the traditions respected during these celebrations which usually lasted for several days.

The exhibition: Grandeur of the Russian Empire runs from 24th June 24th - 13th September, 2015 in the Radishchev State Art Museum, Saratov, Russia. 

© Moscow Kremlin State Museums. 24 June, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 5:55 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 24 June 2015 6:05 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 23 June 2015
Russian Lawmaker Wants Romanovs to Return to Russia
Topic: Russian Imperial House

HIH Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna 
Head of the Russian Imperial House and de jure Empress of All the Russias
The decision to invite back the Russian royals is one of the most significant events of the post-Soviet period. This article was originally published in the June 23rd, 2015 edition of Russia Today, and edited for clarification by Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia

A regional lawmaker has addressed the heirs of the Russian Imperial House and descendants of the Romanov dynasty with a request to return to Russia promising them a special legal status and one of historic palaces in Crimea or St. Petersburg.

The move proposed by Vladimir Petrov, a law maker from President Vladimir Putin's party, and member of the legislative assembly of the Leningrad Region, has prompted speculation that it has the Russian leaders' direct approval. Petrov wrote letters to Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna and Dimitri Romanovich asking them to become symbols of national culture and maintaining traditions, similar to that of the European nations that retained their monarchies to this day.

“For the whole length of its reign the Romanov imperial dynasty remained a foundation of the Russian statehood. At present Russia is undergoing a complicated process of regaining its glory and worldwide influence. I am sure that in this historical moment the Romanovs would not stay away from all processes that are taking place in Russia,” Petrov writes in his letter.

The politician suggested that this move would help to smooth political controversies within Russia and help to restore the “spiritual power” of the nation.

Petrov added that he and his colleagues from the Leningrad regional legislature would very soon develop and draft a bill “On the special status of representatives of the Tsars’ family” that would give some guarantees to the returning Romanovs. He also said that the royals could use one of the palaces that belonged to their ancestors before the revolution and that now remain vacant or are misused.

“To this day a lot of wonderful Tsar’s palaces near St. Petersburg are either empty or used not according to their destination. I think if one of these palaces is used as an official residence of the Romanov family it would only be for everyone’s benefit,” the lawmaker said in comments to Izvestia daily. He noted that another option was to settle the royals in the Livadia Palaces in Crimea.

The head of the Chancellery of the Russian Imperial House, Aleksandr Zakatov, told Izvestia that some representatives of the dynasty were ready to move to Russia. However, he noted that Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna held a high post of the head of the imperial house and therefore her return should be decent and solemn.

“She has no claims for property or political privileges and powers, she only wants the imperial house to become a historical institution and part of the national legacy, similar to royal houses of many other countries. And this recognition must be manifested in a legal act,” Zakatov said.

Currently there are two major branches of the Romanov dynasty – one is headed by Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, Head of the Russian Imperial House and the other by Dimitri Romanovich, Head of the Romanov Family Association. Their representatives often visit Russia and take part in various events, but so far none of them have made any political claims.

An opinion poll conducted in 2013 in connection with the 400th anniversary of the Romanov royal house showed that 28 percent of Russian citizens would agree to the rule of Tsars, but only 6 percent said that this modern monarch must be from the Romanov dynasty. About 13 percent hold that a contemporary Russian politician could become a new Tsar and suggested a nationwide referendum to decide on the candidate.

The majority of the people - 67 percent - said that Russia should leave monarchy in the past and remain a democracy.

© Russia Today. 23 June, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 11:23 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 25 June 2015 2:00 PM EDT
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Monday, 22 June 2015
Exhibition: Russia and Denmark 1700-1900
Topic: Exhibitions



Click on the START button above to watch a short video of the Russia and Denmark 1700-1900 exhibition (in Russian)
Commemorating 300 years since Peter the Great’s visit to Denmark in 1716, this joint exhibition of Tsarskoye Selo and the Museum of National History Frederiksborg Castle (Hillerød, Denmark) is focused on some remarkable moments in Danish-Russian relations from 1700 to the early 1900s.

The idea of this project was conceived at the opening of a joint exhibition titled ‘Denmark and the Russian Empire 1600–1900” at the Frederiksborg Castle in 2013, attended by Queen Margrethe II of Denmark and by Danish and Russian officials.

The core of the exhibition ‘Russia and Denmark 1700–1900’ is made up of art and historical objects from the Museum of National History Frederiksborg Castle and completed with items from the collections of Tsarskoye Selo, Peterhof and the State Hermitage Museum.

Our visitors will see portraits and memorial items of Russian and Danish monarchs. Also noteworthy is the famous Flora Danica porcelain depicting Danish flora. It was in production at the 1775-founded Royal Porcelain Manufactory from the late eighteenth century until 1802. Pictures of plants were accurately copied from their colour engravings in Flora Danica, a comprehensive atlas of botany. Legend has it that the tableware was meant as a gift for Catherine II to commemorate peace and ‘eternal alliance’ between Denmark and Russia. However, Flora Danica remained in the country and was split between several collections, the one of Frederiksborg Castle being on display in Russia for the first time now.

Among other stories, the exhibition tells about Tsar Peter’s visit to Copenhagen in 1716, the role played by Catherine II in resolving the Gottorp question and the situation of the imprisoned siblings of the murdered Emperor Ivan VI, and the life of Princess Dagmar of Denmark who came to Russia at the age of 19 to marry the heir to the throne and then had to return back home after the 1917 revolution.

The exhibition: Russia and Denmark 1700–1900 runs from 21 June to 20 September 2015 in the Zubov Wing of the Catherine Palace at Tsarskoye Selo. 
© Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve. 22 June, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:48 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 23 June 2015 11:00 AM EDT
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Nicholas II Snuff Box Sells for $665,000 at Auction
Topic: Auctions


Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the June 22nd, 2015 edition of the Arizona Daily Star. The author Danielle Arnet owns the copyright of the work presented below.

What: A jeweled, enameled, two-tone gold snuff box estimated at $120,000 to 180,000 sold for $665,000 in a Russian Works of Art sale recently at Christie’s New York.

Made by the Imperial court jeweler, the 3¼-inch-wide rectangular box has a blue enameled top with yellow gold flowers, pink gold rosettes and cabochon emeralds at the corners. The center is pink enamel with a diamond border and a diamond-set Imperial double-headed eagle.

More: Intended as a presentation piece, the box has two types of enamel work. Guilloche enamel features a translucent color applied over a patterned engine cut ground. A red enamel border at the edges is champleve, a technique where enamel is set into raised edges.

Smart collectors know: Imperial enamel and Fabergé objects were produced by workmasters who had artisans and apprentices. The workmaster involved is critical. The mark here is Carl Blank, St. Petersburg, 1899 along with K.Hahn.

Hot tip: Because the French engraving on the box says it was presented by Emperor Nicholas II to the Bulgarian minister at a conference, it can be linked to the giver, the recipient and an event. All important.

Bottom line: Work of such beauty and quality no longer exists. Add historical importance and the piece is priceless.
For more information on this item, please refer to the following article and review the 274-page auction catalogue:

Christie's Sale of Russian Works of Art Features Collections With Imperial Provenance

© Danielle Arnet / Arizona Daily Star. 22 June, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:21 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 24 June 2015 6:25 AM EDT
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Sunday, 21 June 2015
Faberge Exhibition Brings Romanov Luster to Oklahoma City
Topic: Faberge


Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the June 21st, 2015 edition of NewsOK. The author Michaela Marx Wheatley owns the copyright of the work presented below.

Between 1885 and 1916, Peter Karl Fabergé created fifty lavish eggs as Easter presents for Russia's last two emperors. These supreme examples of jewelers’ art have become symbols of the rise and fall of the Romanov Empire. Oklahomans now have a chance to take a close look at these rare works.

Four Imperial Eggs and nearly 230 other treasures crafted by the House of Fabergé are on view in the special exhibition “Fabergé: Jeweler to the Tsars” at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art through Sept. 27.

“Visitors will experience the wonder of these unique objects, but also have a chance to discover the stories of the people who made them possible, from the Romanov family to Karl Fabergé to the craftsmen themselves,” said Tracy Truels, OKCMOA education curator.

Audio guides designed for children and adults and a hands-on Design Studio, where visitors can create their own Imperial eggs, are available daily. A Gallery Talk Series is scheduled at 1 p.m. on select Sundays throughout the exhibition. Museum staff will discuss a Fabergé topic while touring through the gallery. Each experience is free with paid admission to the Museum.

Introduced to the works of Fabergé at an exhibition in Moscow, Tsar Alexander III appointed Fabergé jeweler and goldsmith to the Russian Imperial Court. Fabergé went on to create hundreds of exquisite objects, including the legendary series of eggs.

 “Hundreds of unique objects, including the famed Imperial Easter Eggs, were commissioned by the Romanovs until the Russian Revolution in 1917. The intertwining relationship between Fabergé and the last Russian dynasty has been a real point of fascination for people over the last century,” Fabergé  curatorial assistant Catherine Shotick said.

Alexander III presented an egg each year to the Empress Maria. The gifting tradition was continued by his son, Nicholas II.

“Peter Karl Fabergé worked very closely with the Imperial family, producing work that would become treasured parts of the Romanovs lives,” added Michael Anderson, special exhibition curator. “Naturally, one sees this in the Easter eggs.”

Each egg on display at OKCMOA tells a story; each one meant something to the Romanovs.

The Imperial Tsesarevich Easter Egg celebrated Nicholas’ son Alexei, who suffered from hemophilia. The boy nearly perished that year. He had been so close to death the court had already written his death notice. Alexei survived, and Fabergé designed a special tribute. It is said that it was Empress Alexandra's most cherished egg.

The Pelican Egg, the first Oklahoma audiences see when entering the exhibition, dazzles in its detail. It’s made of engraved gold, topped by a delicate pelican feeding her young. This egg commemorated the Dowager Empress’ patronage of various charitable institutions, which are depicted on a folding screen in eight ivory miniatures.
The Red Cross Egg signaled that the Romanov's protective shell of imperial privilege had been dangerously cracked by the onset of World War I. Alexandra enrolled herself and her older daughters in nurses' training and converted the Winter Palace into a provisional hospital to care for the wounded. The egg reveals portraits the Romanov women dressed in the Sisters of Mercy uniform.

Also on display is an egg celebrating the 200th anniversary of the founding of St. Petersburg, from which a miniature statue of Peter the Great emerges.

However, the show offers much more than eggs from elegant jewelry to exquisite dishes and ornate frames.

Born in 1846, Fabergé was educated in St. Petersburg and Dresden, where he fell under the influence of Renaissance and Baroque art. He trained with goldsmiths in France, Germany and England, eventually building a business catering to the tastes of Russia’s upper class.

“Fabergé’s workshops were managed by only the most accomplished master metal smiths and jewelers, and great care was taken in the selection of materials to assure the highest quality,” said Shotick.

OKCMOA President and CEO E. Michael Whittington said each staff member has been intrigued by a different piece. For him it’s a small star frame with the photograph of Grand Duchess Tatiana.

“For me, the beauty of this object lies in its simplicity and superb craftsmanship. Its tragic history, however it was included in the inventory of personal effects from the murdered Romanov family makes it endlessly fascinating,” Whittington said.

“For whatever it represented, this object matter dearly to the Romanov family,” Anderson added.

Bringing the exhibition to Oklahoma City is the culmination of years of work, Whittington said, acknowledging the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts for their collaboration.

 “It has truly been an exciting international collaboration.”

Whittington is excited people are taking note of Oklahoma as an art destination with institutions like the OKCMOA, the Gilcrease and Philbrook in Tulsa, and the Fred Jones Museum of Art in Norman.  

 “Fabergé: Jeweler to the Tsars builds on the already strong reputation of the Oklahoma City Museum of Art in showcasing major exhibitions. Later this summer, we’ll be announcing an even more ambitious exhibition and partnership with one of the world’s leading art museums,” Whittington said.  

Buy tickets online at or at the Museum’s admission desk. Audio guides are available for adults and children to immerse visitors in the artwork and mystery of the Romanov dynasty. 

© Michaela Marx Wheatley / NewsOK. 21 June, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:11 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 22 June 2015 9:16 AM EDT
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