Historian Doubts Nicholas II Abdicated the Throne Topic: Nicholas II
The original document of Emperor Nicholas II’s abdication has not survived, so there may not have been any abdication at all, principal research officer of the Russian History Institute at the Russian Academy of Sciences Vladimir Lavrov, Ph.D. believes.
"First, they said that the document kept in the State Archive of the Russian Federation is the original. But it is absolutely clear that it is not the original," Lavrov said during an interview on the program Vechnost i Vremya (The Time and Eternity - IF) on the Russian network Spas TV channel.
According to Lavrov, there are many questions regarding this document: "it is written without a letterhead, signed with a pencil, it is addressed to the chief of the headquarters, and minister of the Emperor's court, Count Vladimir Frederiks, who certified the tsar's signature, said during his interrogation that the signature was forged."
"I believe the abdication possible, but the Provisional Government concealed it as the Provisional Government wasn't happy about the text of the abdication and it was a substitution. There is no original," the historian said.
He is convinced that both the Provisional Government and Bolsheviks were interested in preserving the original as "the Provisional Government didn't have any other legitimacy, any connection with the previous authority."
"There is another option: there wasn't any abdication at all," Lavrov said.
In April 2012, Royal Russia News published an article from a Russian media source which discussed this issue. A conference on the subject was held at the State Historical Museum in Moscow, on March 15, 2012, attended by many prominent Russian historians and scientists. Click on the link below to read the article:
Tsarskoye Selo Draws Record Number of Visitors Topic: Tsarskoye Selo
Entrance to the Catherine Palace at Tsarskoye Selo
Despite the situation in Ukraine, Western sanctions and a 20% drop in the number of visitors from North America and EU countries to Russia this year, Tsarskoye Selo reported a record number of visitors during its summer season. From May to September, more than 2.5 million people visited the palace-museum complex, an increase of 100 thousand over last year.
In order to facilitate the maximum number of tourists during the summer months the museum again extended its visiting hours to the Catherine and Alexander Palaces, from 8.00 to 20.00, and on Mondays to 21.00.
The most popular museums were the Catherine Palace and Park, as well as the Alexander Palace, the Hermitage, Turkish Bath, and White Tower. The Agate Pavilion, which opened after a complete restoration last fall also welcomed a large number of visitors.
Two unique exhibits in the Zubov Wing of the Catherine Palace attracted a great deal of interest as well: The Return of the Fan and Serving Magnificence: Suppliers to the Russian Imperial Court.
The main attraction for 2014, however, was the opening of the new museum dedicated to the First World War. The opening of the museum in the Sovereign's Martial Chamber coincided with the 100th anniversary of the First World War.
The Catherine Palace and Park was also voted No. 3 of Russia’s Top 10 Attractions among the winners of TripAdvisor's Travellers' Choice 2014.
The Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Preserve was awarded the TripAdvisor's Certificate of Excellence 2014, based on the number of excellent reviews left by visitors to the palace-museum complex.
Gatchina Palace to Open Four New Halls in 2016 Topic: Gatchina
In 2015, the Gatchina State Museum-Preserve will celebrate 30 years since the opening of the museum, and a year later in 2016 - it will mark the 250th anniversary of the Gatchina Palace.
Gatchina occupies a special place in the necklace of palaces which surround the northern capital of St. Petersburg. The central building (palace) is often referred to as a castle, and differs greatly in appearance from the grand palaces at Peterhof, Tsarskoye Selo, and Oranienbaum. During the Second World War, Gatchina was very lucky: the palace suffered much less than the other palace complexes around Leningrad. But, oddly enough, that same luck turned into misfortune for the historic Romanov residence. The restoration of Gatchina did not commence until 1976, and it took almost a decade before the first exhibition opened, which consisted of just a few rooms.
According to experts, only 25-30 per cent of the palace has been restored and open to visitors. Funding for the restoration projects was carried out very poorly over the decades. The museum staff tired of answering questions about why restoration was so slow, and thus invented a very special tour. The "No access is allowed" tour allows visitors a first hand look at the halls and rooms of the palace which currently under restoration. This unique tour provides visitors with a unique opportunity to see for themselves the tremendous amount of work which remains to be done.
Today, the completion of each restoration project becomes a great holiday for the museum and their staff. The main event marking the anniversary season in 2016 will be the opening of four halls, that will include the Greek and Chesma Gallery’s.
The museum plans to fill the restored galleries with authentic objects. In addition, the restoration of the marble staircase, which connects the main building of the palace with the Arsenal Block will be completed. Its opening will allow visitors to access the suite of private rooms of the family of Emperor Alexander III located on the mezzanine floor of the Arsenal Block.
THE CHESME GALLERY ranks among V. Brenna's finest creations, its interior glorifying the victory of the Russian Navy off Chesme in 1770. The reserved rhythm of the pilasters adorned with moulded medallions of Roman warriors and fasces, the decorative trophies of arms, the oak leaf garlands, the huge canvases by P. Hackert representing scenes of the naval battle, the standards in stucco-work, and the figure of a victorious eagle above the overmantel mirror - all joined to lend the hall an air of solemn dignity. At the side end of the gallery was the balustered choir section for the orchestra. The gallery overlooks the broad span of the White Lake. The mirrors set between the windows reflected the festive decor of the opposite wall and created an impression of great spaciousness. The semicircular layout of the interior served to enhance its decorative effect. Source: Gatchina State Museum-Preserve
THE GREEK GALLERY looked lit with the radiant sun due to the light-orange hues of the walls and the orange-coloured curtains of the semicircular windows. As a kind of reminder of sunny Hellas, golden air hovered in the apartment which intrinsically combined the furnishings and decor details associated with the art of ancient Greece. The walls were adorned with reliefs of dancing bacchantes and medallions showing profiles of antique heroes, moulded bracket carried marble busts of Roman emperors and philosophers and marble statues of antique gods and goddesses were standing opposite the windows. Four large canvases by Hubert Robert depicted architectural sights of ancient Rome. The Greek Gallery completed by Vincenzo Brenna in the 1790s terminated the ceremonial palatial apartments retaining the 18th-century decorations. Source: Gatchina State Museum-Preserve
Artefacts Stolen by Nazis Returned to Tsarskoye Selo Now Playing: Language: Russian. Duration: 3 minutes, 58 seconds Topic: Tsarskoye Selo
Note: I would like to draw your attention to the video included with this news post. The audio is in Russian, however, do not allow that to deter you from watching it. First, you will see the four artefacts that were stolen by the Nazis, and now returned to Tsarskoye Selo. Second, you will see some archival film footage of the destroyed Catherine and Alexander Palaces which was filmed shortly after the liberation of Pushkin by the Red Army. The scenes of destruction are truly shocking. The footage also shows the Nazi cemetery dominated by an SS monument, in the square in front of the Alexander Palace - PG
A German family has returned museum treasures stolen from Tsarskoye Selo during WWII. Jens and Franziska Harmzen hope that the act might help strengthen ties between the Russian and German people and set an example to other owners of war trophies.
The artefacts arrived from Munich on Monday and presented to the Tsarskoye State Museum Preserve near St. Petersburg. Palace-museum staff compared the original inventory markings on the items, matching them with those on their expansive archival inventories, confirming that they had originated at the Catherine and Alexander Palaces.
A rare book from the personal library of Emperor Alexander I, two vases and an icon which belonged to one of the maids of honour of Russian Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, are among the returned treasures.
The book is bound in red morocco leather, with gold trim. It was published at Paris in 1810, the 10th volume of the collected works of Francois Fenelon, the emperor's favourite writer. The volume is from the personal library of Alexander I, a small room which has not survived.
The icon has an interesting provenance. According to the inscription on the back of the icon of the Kazan Mother of God can be seen an inscription noting that it belonged to Countess Anastasia Hendrikova, the maid of honour of the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna .
She survived all that befell the family of Nicholas II by following the Romanovs into exile, first in Tobolsk, then to Ekaterinburg, where she was placed under house arrest in the Ipatiev House with the Imperial family and other faithful retainers. They were all shot by a Bolshevik firing squad in 1918 - there were no survivors.
During WWII Nazi soldiers, who occupied the town of Pushkin where the Catherine and Alexander Palaces are located, it was common for them to send their stolen trophies back home to Germany. Thus, one of the German families came into possession of the icon and the rare book, and the other one acquired the luxurious vases. The descendants of the two families got married, and their fathers handed down the treasures to the couple.
"My father wrote to his mother every day. Here, for example, a letter of 5 October 1941. Father writes:" Last night, I and Arnold were in Tsarskoye Selo, in the famous palace of the Russian tsar. During this time we often came under heavy fire. During the last rays of daylight, the palace sparkled with gold. But at the same time it became clear that outside the palace was severely damaged, "- says Jens Harmzen.
"Before his death, my father talked a lot about the war. And once I reminded him of the stored items at home from Tsarskoye Selo. We decided to return these things to their rightful place. Hopefully, this will help strengthen the ties between our peoples, as well as encourage other holders of stolen property from the war time to return them back to Russia. " - Said Franziska Harmzen.
The artefacts will be returned to their rightful place in the Alexander Palace. The black vase with painted irises will be placed on one of the shelves in the Pallisander Room, the olive green vase and icon - in the Maple Room. The volume of Fenelon will be placed in the Imperial Library.
During the Second World War, the Alexander Palace housed the German army staff and the Gestapo. The cellars became a prison and the square in front of the palace a cemetery for members of the SS (see film footage in video). Prior to the Germans advance on Tsarskoye Selo, the museum staff managed to evacuate some of the exhibits, the rest were lost to history. Hitler's armies organized special units who were engaged solely in the theft of works of art. Artefacts and treasures that could not be evacuated were destroyed. Museum staff estimate that more than half of the exhibits in the Catherine Palace were irretrievably lost. The Alexander Palace was almost completely looted.
The search for the treasures stolen from the Catherine and Alexander Palaces at Tsarskoye Selo was launched shortly after the town was liberated in 1944. The search for the missing museum treasures continues to the present day. In recent years 15 rare museum pieces have been returned either by persons who took them away in war time or their families.
The occupation of the town of Pushkin lasted 28 months, during which the former imperial residences at Tsarskoye Selo were looted and destroyed. One Soviet veteran who arrived at Pushkin together with the advance units of the Red Army in January 1944, described what he saw: "The ingenious creation of Rastrelli - the Catherine Palace - a burned out shell! Some parts of the building that stretched up to 300 meters in length had been exploded. The few rooms that had survived had been turned into latrines by the German soldiers. Precious furniture, mirrors, paintings, the silk and satin which covered the walls, was all taken away to Germany."
By 1942, the palace libraries had been raided. The Nazis helped themselves to some 6-7 thousand books in French and more than 5,000 books and manuscripts in Russian, many of which were extremely rare.
As the Nazis launched their siege on Leningrad, they had circulated a special list prepared by a German art historian at the direct order of Hitler. The list contained information on 55 objects and their precise locations. The order instructed the Nazis to specifically target 17 museums, 17 archives, 6 churches and a library in Leningrad and the surrounding region. Among the museums listed was Tsarskoye Selo.
In 1951, a special commission of the Central Depository Museum Collections of the USSR during the Great Patriotic War was established. According to their report, more than 30 thousand artefacts had been lost or stolen from the Catherine Palace, and more than 22 thousand from the Alexander Palace.
Royal Russia Annual No. 7 - Winter 2015 - COMING SOON! Topic: Books
The next issue of Royal Russia is coming together very nicely and on schedule to go to the printers in early January 2015. The articles and their respective authors combined promise to make it our finest issue to date.
The No. 7 Winter 2015 edition will welcome Margarita Nelipa as resident writer. Nelipa enjoys a faithful following, thanks to her previously published books - The Murder of Grigorii Rasputin (2010) and Alexander III: His Life and Reign (2014), and her yet to be published third book, Alexei. Russia's Last Imperial Heir: A Chronicle of Tragedy (to be published in 2015). Many readers are anticipating her debut in the pages of our popular periodical with great interest and enthusiasm. Nelipa's contribution will compliment our other gifted writers in bringing you new, previously unpublished works on the Romanovs, their legacy and the history of Imperial Russia.
The following articles will be featured in the next issue of Royal Russia:
Servant to Three Emperors: Count Vladimir Borisovich Frederiks
- a prominent figure in the public life of pre-revolutionary Russia, his career spanned over six decades. He outlived three Emperors and was witness to several remarkable events, including the abdication of Nicholas II in 1917. At the peak of his career Frederiks served as Minister of the Imperial Court and Appanages as well as Chancellor of the Russian and Imperial Orders and the Commander of the Imperial Apartments. Widely recognized by his white drooping moustache, he is often seen in photographs shadowing Emperor Nicholas II, however, for the most part few today have any idea as to who Count Vladimir Borisovich Frederiks was and what role he had played as the key Minister in the last imperial Court
by Margarita Nelipa
'A True Friend of Russia' - Russia's Relations with Siam
- the relationship between the royal courts of Russia and Siam (Thailand), includes the visit of Nicholas II as Tsarevitch to Siam, plus Grand Duke Boris Vladimirovich's visit for the King of Siam's coronation in 1910
by Coryne Hall
The Youth of Catherine the Great: Stepping into History
- the period of her childhood and youth is explored, including the circumstances of her marriage to the Russian Grand Duke Peter Feodorovich
by Irene Galaktinovna
The Red Cross and the Romanov Women: The Imperial Family in Service to the Wounded (1867-1917)
- the Russian Imperial Family and nursing is explored, plus the Faberge Red Cross eggs of 1914
by Nicholas B.A. Nicholson
My Russia: The Imperial Hermitage Theatre
- built during the reign of Empress Catherine II, the history of one of St. Petersburg’s oldest theatres is explored. It served in part as the venue for the famous luxurious ball held in 1903, in which members of the Russian Imperial family and the aristocracy wore costumes of 17th century from the time of Tsar Alexis Mikhailovich
by Paul Gilbert
Mr. Stewart and the Romanovs
- Herbert Stewart served as tutor to the children of Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich and Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna in Imperial Russia from 1908 to 1917
by Peter Rogers
Moscow Kremlin: 20th Century Losses
- the architectural losses of the Moscow Kremlin during the Soviet years include the Chudov Monastery, the Ascension Convent and the Maly Nikolaevsky Palace
by Paul Gilbert
Plus 2 collections of rare and vintage photographs:
Frozen in Time
- featuring photographic memories of the Russian Imperial family
The Lost World of Imperial Russia
- featuring vintage photographs of Imperial Russia before the Revolution
Please note that the contents of this issue are subject to change without notice. This issue will be available for purchase in February 2015. We are currently not accepting any pre-orders for this issue. Standing orders for Royal Russia are currently available.
Watch for our advertisements in upcoming issues of Majesty and Russian Life magazines. Royal Russia Annual can be purchased at the NEW Royal Russia Bookshop (Canada), Amazon.com (United States), Booksellers van Hoogstraten (Den Haag, Netherlands), and Librairie Galignani (Paris, France).
A Russian Moment No. 48 - The Portrait Hall, Alexander Palace Topic: A Russian Moment
Portraits of Grand Duke Nicholas Nicholayevich (left) and Grand Duke Alexander Nicholayevich - the future Emperor Alexander II (right)
by the German artist Franz Krüger
The Portrait Hall was created in place of the Second State Hall of the Alexander Palace at Tsarskoye Selo. The Portrait Hall was classically decorated with artificial marble encrusted walls, and vaulted ceilings. The furnishings included gilded furniture sets and other exquisite objects. Large windows afforded grand views of the Alexander Park.
Nicholas I was one of the first emperors who placed his and family members’ portraits in the palace. The Portrait Hall boasted one of the best portrait series by the German artist Franz Krüger, commissioned by the Emperor. The portrait of Nicholas I with a group of horsemen, his retinue, was restored to the hall several years back and today hangs in its original location, in the centre of the hall. The enormous portrait is flanked by the portraits of the Emperor’s sons, including the two pictured above: Grand Duke Nicholas Nicholayevich (left) and Grand Duke Alexander Nicholayevich - the future Emperor Alexander II (right).
The Portrait Hall is symmetrical to the Semi-Circular Hall and the Marble Hall (also known as the Mountain Hall - currently under restoration). In June 2010, the Portrait Hall was one of three former ceremonial State Rooms opened to the public after an extensive restoration. The event coincided with the 300th anniversary of Tsarskoe Selo and was marked with great pomp and pageantry.
Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the October 17th, 2014 edition of Russia Beyond the Headlines. The author Elena Bobrova, owns the copyright of the work presented below.
Two hundred and eighteen lots containing pieces made by the official supplier of jewelry to the Russian imperial court will be auctioned off at Sotheby’s in October. A series of autographed prize medals is expected to generate particular interest among bidders.
Items of jewelry, silverware and a collection of prize medals from the workshops of the House of Fabergé, the illustrious supplier of jewelry to the Russian imperial court, will appear in a Sotheby's auction in New York on Oct. 23.
“This sale includes 71 lots of items from Fabergé; the lots of miniature pendant Easter eggs (lots 68 and 69) include works from many different jewelers of the period. Fabergé is one of the most desirable names on the world market and we are always trying to find the very best examples to offer our clients,” said Karen Kettering, Senior Specialist in Sotheby’s Russian Works of Art Department.
A serious bidding war is also anticipated for some of the enamelwork.
"Undoubtedly, we are all thrilled to offer the enamel, gold, silver and hardstone study of a violet (lot 36),” said Kettering. “The freshness and delicacy of the piece represents the very best of the Fabergé flower studies: the workmasters and artisans worked the most precious materials with the greatest of skill to create an object of refined simplicity”.
A gilded silver tray ladle with the enameled coat of arms of the Russian Empire is also expected to attract a high level of interest. ”The large and impressive Fabergé silver jardinière in Rococo taste (lot 101) is extraordinarily heavy and, at 48 cm in width, quite an imposing object. We had a similar centerpiece with the same coat-of-arms in a 2010 sale. We have not yet identified the family’s name, but it was obviously part of an important silver service for a very wealthy family,” said Kettering.
Collectors and investors are also only showing interest in precious autographed prize medals. In the days of the Russian Empire, these were given to specially merited directors of commercial railways, large auction houses and industrial associations. Their starting prices range from $5,000 to $25,000.
The auction's overall revenue, even if all the items are sold at starting prices, is expected to be over $1 million.
Kettering said that the current geopolitical tensions between Russia and the U.S. have not affected the demand for Russian art. “Sotheby’s auctions of Russian art in June 2014 achieved their highest total in six years, dispelling pre-sale doubts that had been raised about the market. Specifically, demand for Russian masterpieces has never been higher, with more lots selling for over £1 million at our Evening Auction than at any Russian sale before. These record sales demonstrate that there isn’t always a clear correlation between socio-political tension and the strength of the art market,” Kettering said.
Other American auction houses are also not backing off Russian art treasures. In December, New York will host the traditional international art and antique auctions with the participation of the largest auction houses and dealers from the U.S., the UK, Germany and France. Additionally, a collection of unique mechanic timepieces will be auctioned in December at the Antiquorum, a house that auctions pocket watches, hand watches and mantelpiece clocks made by the best watchmakers and jewelers from the mid-17th to 20th centuries. The collection to be auctioned is expected to contain a series of gift watches belonging to Russian Emperor Nicholas II. They were produced in a limited edition by the Pavel Bure Company, the official supplier of the imperial court.
The House of Fabergé (Dom Faberzhe in Russian) was founded by Gustav Faberge in St. Petersburg in 1842 and continued by his son Peter Carl Fabergé. The company became renowned for the high quality of its intricate pieces, in particular the ornate jewel-encrusted Fabergé eggs it created for the Russian tsars. The firm was nationalized by the Bolsheviks when they came to power in 1918.
The Head of the St. Basil Russian Cultural and Educational Foundation, Vasily Boiko-Veliky has appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin to demolish the Lenin Mausoleum on Red Square and build a church in honour of the Mother of God in it’s place.
The appeal was made to Putin by Boiko-Veliky on the opening day of the exhibition dedicated to the 300th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty, at the Manege in Moscow on 4 November 2013. Boiko-Veliky suggested the idea to Putin and quotes the Russian president as saying it “an interesting idea worth considering."
V.Boiko-Veliky notes that his foundation prepared the preliminary designs for the Church in Honour of Our Reigning Lady of Sorrows on the site of the mausoleum. He went on to claim that the church blended into Red Square, maintaining the historic ambiance of the famous landmark, and without damaging any of the burial vaults located in the Kremlin walls.
The design for the proposed Church in Honour of Our Reigning Lady of Sorrows would be in the neo-Russian architectural style, and could accommodate 800 people. Its size would be noticeably smaller than the Cathedral of the Intercession (St. Basil's Cathedral), thus respecting it as the main church on Red Square, and one of the most important architectural symbols of Russia. If anything, the new church would resonate with the nearby Museum of History, also built in the Russian style.
It is interesting to note that a proposal to erect a church on the site of Lenin’s Mausoleum has been raised on numerous occasions since the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. Boiko-Veliky notes that he recently sent a letter to Putin reminding him of their discussion last year and hopes that the Russian president would now make a decision on the matter, which Boiko-Veliky notes is timely, citing Putin’s proposal to reconstruct a Kremlin church and two monasteries that were destroyed by the Soviets in the late 1920s to early 1930s.
Romanov Legacy: The Palaces and Residences of the Russian Imperial Family 2015 Calendar Topic: Royal Russia
Cover: Likani Palace, the summer residence of Grand Duke Nicholas Mikhailovich (1859-1919), located near the town of Borjomi, Georgia.
Photo: Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky
Royal Russia is pleased to present it's 2015 calendar. For a third year in a row, the calendar's theme showcases the palaces and residences of the Russian Imperial family.
Our new Romanov Legacy 2015 Calendar features a dozen additional Romanov palaces and residences. Each residence featured includes a short history, complete with unique vintage photographs as they looked before 1917 - including historic interiors.
The following palaces and residences are featured in this years calendar:
- Alexander Palace (Tsarskoye Selo)
- Mikhailovka (near St. Petersburg)
- Palace of Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaievich, Jr (St. Petersburg)
- Sergievsky Palace (St. Petersburg)
- Gatchina (near St. Petersburg)
- Znamenka Palace (near St. Petersburg)
- Massandra (Crimea)
- Sergievka (near Peterhof)
- Marble Palace (St. Petersburg)
- Cottage Palace (Peterhof)
- Alexandria Palace (Moscow)
- Mikhailovksy Palace (St. Petersburg)
Your purchase is helping to preserve Russia's rich Romanov legacy
Once again, the net profits from the sale of the calendar will not only help Royal Russia, but a donation will be made to the Tsarskoye Selo and Peterhof State Museum Palace Preserves. These donations are part of Royal Russia's 'Giving Back to Russia' campaign, and assist the palace museum's with ongoing and future restoration projects and the acquisition of items for the palace museum collections.
In the last two years, a total of 40,000 Rubles ($1,200 USD) was donated to the two palace-museums from the sale of the 2013 and 2014 Romanov Legacy calendars.
To order your copy, please click on the link below: