Tsar Nicholas II at Krasnoye Selo - VIDEO Now Playing: Duration: 5 minutes, 5 seconds. Language: NA Topic: Nicholas II
The following video offers some wonderful film footage of Tsar Nicholas II inspecting the troops during the summer military encampment at Krasnoye Selo. He is accompanied by his son and heir, Tsesarevich Alexei Nicholayevich. Also present are the Grand Duke Nicholas Nicholayevich (Junior) who served as commander-in-chief of the St. Petersburg Military District from 1905 to the outbreak of World War I (he then served as commander in chief of the Russian armies on the main front in the first year of the war, and was later a successful commander in the Caucasus); and the elderly Count Vladimir Fredericks, a Finno-Russian statesman who served as Imperial Household Minister between 1897 and 1917 under the last tsar. The date is uncertain, but most likely the late 1900s.
From 1765, by order of Empress Catherine II, Krasnoye Selo (Red Village) was used for large scale military manoeuvres, inspections and exercises, which were attended by the Empress herself. However, it was not until the middle of the 19th century that Krasnoye Selo reached its zenith, becoming the summer military capital of the Russian Empire. It was in Krasnoye Selo that, on July 25, 1914, the council of ministers was held at which Tsar Nicholas II decided to intervene in the Austro-Serbian conflict, thereby bringing about the First World War.
During the 19th century, Krasnoye Selo developed as a recreational suburb of St. Petersburg with numerous summer dachas and villas, including the summer residences of members of the Russian Imperial family. These included Grand Duke Konstantin Nikolaievich, Grand Duke Nikolai Mikhailovich, and Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich, all of which were featured in our 2014 calendar, Romanov Legacy: The Palaces and Residences of the Russian Imperial Family.
This historical film is courtesy of the Deutsches Filminstitut in Wiesbaden, Germany.
The Tsars and the East Exhibition Opens in Lisbon Topic: Exhibitions
The Calouste Gulbenkian in Lisbon, Portugal hosts a remarkable exposition of about 60 masterpieces offered as lavish gifts and tributes by the Ottomans and Safavids to the Tsars through large embassies, diplomatic missions, and trade delegations. The exhibition explores the history and peculiarities of active diplomatic and trade relations between Russia and eastern countries starting from the period of the Golden Horde.
Ranging in date from the late XVIth century to the late XVIIth century, artworks from the Kremlin collection include rarely seen arms and armor, bejeweled ceremonial vessels, state regalia, church utensils and vestments, intended for the Russian court or the Orthodox Church.
The exposition reveals the artistic excellence of the presented historical relics, their artistic and cultural impact, and the aesthetic and ceremonial etiquette they inspired, that became a defining characteristic of the Russian court and of the XVIIth century.
"This exhibition is noteworthy for being the first time that a Portuguese museum has presented these pieces, which are striking for the richness of the precious stones that decorate them, the sumptuous fabrics from which many of the objects are made, and their hitherto unprecedented originality. It will certainly constitute one of the most remarkable and original series of pieces ever presented at the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum."
The Tsars and the East exhibition runs until May 18th, 2014 at the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum in Lisbon, Portugal.
The Romanovs Remembered at Alexandrovskaya Station, Tsarskoye Selo Topic: Tsarskoye Selo
A memorial at the Alexandrovskaya Station at Tsarskoye Selo. Tsar Nicholas II and his family were sent into exile from here in August 1917.
The Alexandrovskaya Station is a major suburban railway station situated at Tsarskoye Selo (modern day Pushkin). The name of Alexandrovskaya derives from a former village, which appeared, according to some versions, in the late 18th century as the settlement of workers, engaged for the building of Alexandrovsky Park and Alexandrovsky Palace, situated nearby.
Opened on 26 November 1894, this particular railway station has a sad connection with the final days of Tsar Nicholas II. Situated not far from the Alexander Palace, it was from this station that the last tsar and his family were sent into exile from in August 1917.
The station also has another connection to the Russian Imperial family. During the 1867 World Fair in Paris, Polish immigrant Antoni Berezowski attacked the carriage carrying Tsar Alexander II, his two sons and Emperor Napoleon III. The assassin misfired his pistol and only a horse of an escorting cavalryman were hit. During his return to St. Petersburg, the tsar stopped at Alexandrovskaya where he was greeted by an enthusiastic crowd.
In the summer of 1868 a small chapel was constructed near the Alexandrovskaya Railway Station at Tsarskoye Selo to commemorate the tsar’s miraculous survival from a second assassination attempt. On September 14th, Tsesarevich Alexander (the future Emperor Alexander III), laid the first stone for the chapel erected in memory of the salvation of His Imperial Majesty in Paris 25 May 1867 year.
The elegant white stone Chapel of the Ascension was consecrated on 25th May, 1869 in the presence of Alexander II and members of the Imperial family.
After the Revolution, the chapel was to meet the same fate as so many other holy sites connected with the Russian Imperial family. On 28th August, 1923, Trotsky's executive committee ordered that the chapel be closed, it’s property confiscated. The chapel became a storage room at the train station, a decision which saved it from immediate demolition.
Preserved during the Great Patriotic War, the chapel, according to the recollections of old-timers, was demolished during the Komsomol work day on 10th January, 1949.
Today, all that remains of the chapel is a small stone-lined elevation. Many residents are unaware that a chapel once stood on the spot, one with such an important history attached to it.
Several years ago, a memorial cross depicting the image of Tsar Nicholas II was erected on the site of the demolished chapel, bearing the inscription "Emperor Nicholas II. Grateful Russia". It is a fitting reminder of that fateful night when the Imperial family were sent into exile, never to see their beloved Tsarskoye Selo again. Nearby is an icon and commemorative plaque, which now tells passers-by of the chapel in honour of Emperor Alexander II’s salvation at Paris in 1867.
War Against the Bolsheviks: Canada's Siberian Expedition 1918-1919 Now Playing: Duration: 2 minutes, 2 seconds. Language: English Topic: Russian History
The following article was originally published in the March 8th, 2014 edition of The Calgary Sun. The author Michael Platt owns the copyright presented below.
One lonely name inscribed on a memorial at The Military Museums of Calgary — and for an Alberta man who died invading Russia, it’s almost all that remains.
Bugler David Higgins was his rank and name, and like the other 4,200 Canadians ordered to occupy Siberia in 1918, the young cobbler’s assistant from Medicine Hat was probably caught between disbelief and despair.
The Great War was supposed to be over: Armistice signed, the Hun surrendered, and everyone in uniform looking forward to a future that didn’t involve rifles, mud and barbed wire.
Higgins, a 21-year-old who’d been conscripted only seven months before the war ended, was surely counting himself lucky, even as he was recruited — imminent German defeat meant no need for the battlefields of Europe, where 61,000 of his countrymen had perished.
Instead of dodging bullets, Scottish-born Higgins could quickly get back to repairing shoes in his uncle Alexander’s shop, or perhaps the job he’d held just before being ordered into the army, working in a Medicine Hat grocery store.
But fate had something more grim in store for Higgins, and on Dec. 26, 1918, he found himself aboard the SS Protesliaus, waving goodbye to the port of Victoria, and wondering what he and 984 other unhappy soldiers from 260th Battalion could expect in Vladivostok, Russia.
Had he anticipated the disease, dreary days, and longing for home ahead, Higgins might have welcomed a good war.
As invasions went, this one was a dud — and about as far from Canada’s First World War glories as you could get.
For the few aware it even happened, the whole half-baked stalemate has become known as the First Cold War.
It’s a good description. If Russia’s current meddling in Crimea leads to a new chapter of the snarly arms race that lasted from 1947 to 1991, the allied invasion of Siberia just after the Great War certainly qualifies as the prologue.
The enemy was Russia’s Bolshevik Party, led by Vladimir Lenin, and responsible for a revolution that had ended in the death of the Czar and a refusal to pay back 13 billion rubles borrowed from Britain and France to finance the war.
Before the Bolsheviks, Czarist Russia had been a staunch ally of Britain and Canada — but as soon as Lenin seized control, Russia quit the war and abandoned the cause.
Hurt feelings, coupled with a fear of the Red revolutionaries and the fate of 700,000 tonnes of allied war supplies stored at Vladivostok, led to the formation of an allied force bent on supporting Russia’s pro-Czarist White Army.
At least partially. Historians have since pointed to a multitude of other excuses for the invasion by Canadian, British, French, Chinese and Japanese forces, including the rescue of 60,000 Czechoslovak legionnaires trapped near Vladivostok by hostile Bolsheviks.
Whatever the cause, the allied soldiers sent to Siberia were not happy, and in Victoria, prior to departure, there was a small uprising that saw Canadian troops fighting their own, using belts to whip the unhappy rabble into order and onto the ship.
With leaders of the mutiny in shackles, the Canadians sailed to Russia — and then they waited. And waited.
Called “the worst hellhole on earth” by one Canuck, Vladivostok left Higgins and his bored comrades desperate for distraction, and soccer, hockey, tug-of-war and hiking were regular actives — plus, of course, visiting prostitutes.
Syphillis was the worst enemy the Canadian forces faced in Russia, with a full-quarter of casualties linked to venereal disease caught from local hookers — being bored young men, no amount of threat or confinement could stop them.
As far as real fighting, other than some minor railway skirmishes with the Bolsheviks, not a single Canadian bullet was fired in anger — and 14 months later, the pox-ridden Canadians were aboard a ship headed back home.
But not Higgins — and not 13 other Canadians left behind at Vladivostok Marine Cemetery, having failed to survive Canada’s only invasion of Russia.
Most were victims of pneumonia, one was a suicide, and in the case of Higgins, a bout with periocarditis — inflammation of the heart — made sure he never saw Alberta again.
Fourteen Canadian soldiers who died during the 1919 Invasion of Russia are buried at the Churkin Naval Cemetery at Vladivostock.
The following article was originally published in the March 7th, 2014 edition of The Financial Times. The author Gareth Harris owns the copyright presented below.
Last November, during Russia Art Week in London, an imposing van with blacked-out windows was parked in close proximity to the capital’s bustling auction houses. The vehicle, emblazoned with the word “Fabergé”, belongs to Russian collector Alexander Ivanov, who was busy buying up items made by Peter Carl Fabergé (1846-1920), a name synonymous with opulence, wealth and healthy art market returns.
Fabergé’s workshops in Moscow and St Petersburg, which employed more than 500 craftsmen at the end of the 19th century, are known for their fantastic Easter eggs made for the Russian Imperial court: Fabergé was appointed Imperial goldsmith in 1885.
Royal patronage was key to the brand’s success; the London branch sold more than 10,000 objects between 1903 and 1915, with King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra among its clients. “Fabergé’s flair for combining exquisite design and technical skill meant that the firm soon became the most popular supplier of gifts for the wealthy elite,” says the UK’s Royal Collection Trust.
Today, a new wealthy elite is hunting down Fabergé objects. Ivanov is a man on a mission: in 2009, he opened a gallery, the Fabergé Museum in the German spa town of Baden-Baden, and he has to fill it. “There are around 2,000 items in his Fabergé and ancient gold jewellery collection,” said his spokesman, who added that in early 2013, Ivanov’s collection was divided with his ex-wife. Last month the museum unveiled an intriguing acquisition: the 1,400-piece banquet service of the Maharaja of Patiala, which was first used at a state dinner in 1922.
Ivanov made his fortune by importing computers into Russia as a student. He sold the hardware to Soviet industries in the early 1990s, generating huge profits. He candidly admits that he now acts as a quasi-dealer to eastern European oligarchs, using the proceeds to fund his acquisitions.
A Russian Moment No 33 - The Monument to the Millennium of Russia, Novgorod Topic: A Russian Moment
The Monument to the Millennium of Russia consists of 129 individual figures representing Russian monarchs, clerics, generals, and artists
The Monument to the Millennium of Russia, standing at the centre of Novgorod, was unveiled on September 8, 1862. It was erected to celebrate the millennium of Rurik's arrival to Novgorod, an event traditionally taken as a starting point of Russian history. The bronze monument is the work of Mikhail Mikeshin, an eminent Russian sculptor active in the second half of the 19th century.
The monument consists of a grandiose, 15.7-metre-high bell crowned by a cross symbolizing the tsar's power. The bell is encircled with several tiers of sculptures, 129 individual figures representing Russian monarchs, clerics, generals, and artists active during various periods of Russian history.
The kneeling figure in the upper tier of the monument personifies Russia. Below, around the sphere, there are six groups symbolizing different periods of Russian history up to the first quarter of the 18th century. Represented, among others, are Prince Rurik who, according to legend, was invited in 862 to rule Novgorodian lands; Princes Vladimir, Dmitry Donskoi, Tsars Ivan III, Mikhail I and Peter I.
The high-relief frieze in the lower tier of the memorial depicts military heroes, statesmen, educators, poets, writers and artists - 109 figures altogether. Here one can see the chronicler Nestor, Princes Yaroslav the Wise and Alexander the Nevsky, the Ukrainian hetman Bogdan Khmelnitsky, the founder of the Russian theatre Volkov, the satirical writer Fonvizin, the composer Glinka, the poets Derzhavin, Zhukovsky, Pushkin, Lermontov, the historian Karamzin, and the artist Karl Briullov.
The most expensive Russian monument up to that time, it was erected at a cost of 400,000 roubles, mostly raised by public subscription. In order to provide an appropriate pedestal for the huge sculpture, sixteen blocks of Sortavala granite were brought to Novgorod, each weighing in excess of 35 tons. The bronze monument itself weighs 100 tons.
During the World War II , the Nazis dismantled the monument and prepared it for transportation to Germany. Luckily, they never succeeded to accomplish this plan. After Novgorod's liberation, the monument was restored and in November 1944 once again unveiled to the public.
On March 4th, while responding to reporters' questions about the events in Ukraine and the Russian people’s reaction to them, Russian President Vladimir Putin referred to Tsar-Martyr Nicholas as “Bloody Nicholas”. His inappropriate choice of words have riled Russian monarchists and Orthodox Christians, who are deeply offended by the use of an old expression popular with the Bolsheviks and enemies of the monarchy. According to reports on monarchist web sites and blogs in Russia, this was not the first time that the Russian President has referred to the last tsar in such a derogatory manner. In the summer of 2011 at a meeting with members of the Olympic construction team in Sochi, Putin, unfortunately, used the same "epithet."
Critics of the last tsar nicknamed him “Bloody Nicholas” because of the Khodynka Tragedy, Bloody Sunday, and the anti-Semitic pogroms that occurred during his reign. Under his rule, Russia was defeated in the Russo-Japanese War. As head of state, he approved the Russian mobilization of August 1914, which marked the first fatal step into World War I and thus into the demise of the Romanov dynasty less than four years later.
Dmitri Sysuev, Head of the Russian Imperial Union-Order, issued the following statement regarding Putin’s use of the vulgar epithet: “It seems that after the large-scale, true folk celebrations, held last year in honour of the 400th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty that such expressions are inappropriate and offensive to the feelings of millions of Orthodox people. Moreover, such ‘rhetoric’ in the current situation in Ukraine today is unlikely to contribute to the pacification of the country and the fraternal unity of those who are willing to resist the anti-Russian nationalist extremists, regardless of political persuasion, and the difference in assessment of various historical periods of our country.”
“On behalf of the oldest Russian monarchist organization urge those responsible for the fate of our country continue to avoid in formal political speeches similar expressions,” said Sysuev
The Russian Imperial Union-Order (RIUO) is a traditional Russian monarchist organization that was chartered in 1929 by white emigres living abroad. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the organization also gained chapters in the motherland. The organization supports the claim of HIH Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, as the sole legitimate heir of the crown of Russia. The RIUO is member of the International Monarchist Conference. The RIUO marks its 85th anniversary in 2014.
Restored Portrait of Emperor Alexander I Returned to Novgorod Now Playing: Language: Russian. Duration: 2 minutes, 7 seconds Topic: Alexander I
On March 4th, a press conference was held in the conference hall of the Museum of Fine Arts in Novgorod, where a portrait of the Emperor Alexander I by the British artist George Dawe (1781-1829) was unveiled after a restoration process that took five years to complete.
In 2009, the painting was sent to the All-Russian Scientific and Artistic Restoration Center in Moscow, where it was restored by a team of experts led by the Russian academician, Igor Grabar. The work went according to plan, but was interrupted by a fire in July 2010, during which the painting was badly damaged. Restorers had to start from scratch. But experts coped with the task, thanks to the efforts of the restorers of the oil painting under the guidance of Nadia Koshkina.
An inscription on the reverse of this portrait of Tsar Alexander I, records that it was given by Alexander's brother, Tsar Nicholas I to Charles Moberley of St.Petersburg in 1826. Charles was one of the seven sons of Edward Moberley, a merchant of St.Petersburg by his wife Sarah, daughter of John Cayley, British consul-general in Russia.
In 1948, Dawe’s portrait of Alexander I was transferred from the Artillery Museum to the collection of the Novgorod Museum. It is one of a number of official portraits of the Tsar which were commissioned for presentation. The prototype is probably a copy of the original in the Royal Collection. Other versions include a large full-length also in the Royal Collection, and another which was formerly at Londonderry House.
In the coming months, Dawe’s famous portrait of Alexander I will once again become part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Fine Arts in Novgorod.
Video (in Russian) - Presentation of George Dawe's portrait of Emperor Alexander I at the press conference held in Novgorod on March 4th, 2014
It is believed that Alexander I first met Dawe during a visit to London in June 1814. Dawe enjoyed the patronage of the Duke and Duchess of Kent and also that of Princess Charlotte and Prince Leopold. In 1819, while travelling with the Duke of Kent through Europe he once again caught the attention of the tsar who commissioned Dawe to paint the portraits of senior Russian military staff who had successfully fought against Napoleon and his army.
Dawe established a studio in St. Petersburg later that year, and with the help of royal patronage quickly established himself. He is reported to have built up a fortune of some £100,000 during this period. He remained in the Russian capital for the next nine years, painting over 300 portraits for the military collection. He also executed a 20 ft. high equestrian portrait of Tsar Alexander. This group of portraits was installed in a purpose-built gallery in the Winter Palace.
He became a celebrity throughout Europe and mixed with the Russian intellectual elite. Among others he met and knew were Pushkin who wrote a poem about him entitled "To Dawe Esq." In 1826 Nicholas I invited him to his coronation ceremony and in 1828 he was officially appointed First Portrait Painter of the Imperial Court.
He returned to England in 1828 and stayed for several months. During this time he exhibited many of his recent works and George IV was among those to whom they were privately shown.
He returned to St Petersburg in 1829 but soon became increasingly unwell with breathing difficulties following a serious cold. He had had pulmonary weakness throughout life following childhood illness. He returned to London in August 1829 and died on 15 October at the home of his brother-in-law, Thomas Wright, a celebrated engraver. He was buried in the crypt of St Paul's Cathedral and his funeral was attended by many artists and officials from the Russian embassy.
The significant body of work he created in Russia is currently housed in the War of 1812 Gallery in the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg. Many of his paintings are also included in the British Royal Collection. Despite the international celebrity he enjoyed in his own lifetime his popularity has not endured in his home country of England, although in Russia he is still well-known and held in high regard.