Serov Exhibit Opens at Moscow's Tretyakov Gallery Topic: Russian Art
The Tretyakov Gallery has put on display over 250 works of a beloved Russian artist, Valentin Serov (1865-1911), in a retrospective exhibition dedicated to the 150th anniversary of his birth.
The exhibit was one of the most anticipated art projects in Moscow this year, with the excitement boosted by the first video advertisement the museum has done. In the clip, one of Serov's most famous portraits — the 1887 painting of Vera Mamontova called "A Girl with Peaches" — comes to life and talks about posing for the artist. That portrait is included in the exhibition, along with works from 25 Russian museums, nine private collections and five foreign museums, including the Musee d'Orsay in Paris.
In his works, Serov combined Russian realism with both Western European painting traditions and innovations that were sweeping the continent at the turn of the century. He was one of the pioneers of Russian Art Nouveau at the turn of the 20th century. The exhibit is the first major exploration of all themes of Serov's works, not only his portraits — including those of the Russian royal Romanov family — but also his lesser-known landscapes, book illustrations and works for theatrical productions.
The display is divided into two parts on three floors. The exhibition begins with the world of Serov's paintings and then continues to his drawings, which are less familiar to the general public.
"Serov started with drawing," Maria Krivenko, the co-curator of the exhibition and conservator of the drawings and prints department of the Tretyakov Gallery, told The Moscow Times. "But drawing and painting went hand in hand for him. The two art forms were equivalent. Artists worked with mixed media, especially in the beginning of the century."
The exhibition opens with Serov's most celebrated painting, "A Girl with Peaches," which is considered to have inaugurated Impressionism in Russia.
"[Igor] Grabar [Serov's contemporary, painter and art historian] called this work 'the Pushkin of Russian painting'," said Olga Atroschenko, the curator of the exhibition. "It was created by the painter when he was just 22 years old, when he was unknown. It immediately brought him fame. It seems that this painting embodied something that Russian art had long dreamed of — making Russian art as light and clear as the paintings of French Impressionists while at the same time retaining its meaningfulness."
The main floor of the exhibition showcases Serov's psychological portraits, including a highly expressive painting of art patron Mikhail Morozov in front of a still life by Henri Matisse. Portraits of the royal Romanov family, which brought him many awards at international exhibitions, show Serov as a court painter. The portrait of Alexander III lent from a museum in Copenhagen is being exhibited in Russia for the first time. Serov's admiration for the mythology of the ancient world is shown in several works, including "Europa and the Bull" (1910) from the Tretyakov collection.
Drawings are presented in the second and third halls of the exhibit in smaller rooms with dimmed lighting. The range of the drawings on display — from enormous full-length portraits, like the drawing of Russian opera singer Fyodor Chaliapin, to hand-sized book illustrations for Ivan Krylov's fables and drawings for the theatrical productions of ballet impresario Sergei Diaghilev — is breathtaking.
The interaction of Serov's paintings and drawings is what Irina Shumanova, head of the Tretyakov Gallery department of drawings and prints of 18th-20th centuries, called the main "provocation" of the exhibition, forcing visitors to reconsider what they know of the artist.
The retrospective of the painter who worked for a little over 20 years is crowned with the celebrated portrait of Ida Rubinstein, a Russian ballet dancer, actress of the Belle Epoque, brought from St. Petersburg's Russian Museum. The painting was at the center of a scandal at the beginning of the 20th century, with critics reprimanding Serov for painting the ballerina nude and being too obsessed with modernism.
"There's a good reason for ending the exhibition with the portrait of Ida Rubinstein," said Shumanova. "Created in painting technique, it is a combination of the two origins of Serov's work. It brings together all the dramaturgical developments of the exhibition — formal portraits, theatrical portraits, painting from life and of antiquity. It's Serov's theater, the keystone of the exhibition."
Speaking at the opening of the exhibition on Tuesday, Tretyakov director Zelfira Tregulova emphasized Serov's great contribution to the development of art of the 20th century, adding that his works continue to be modern today.
"We wanted to introduce the painter to the modern audience, who is already somewhat skeptical about classical figurative art, so that the viewers realize how much was done by Serov — how his art and what he did paved the way for the art of the 20th century," she said.
The exhibition will run at the New Tretyakov Gallery until January 17.
Nicholas II's Doctor, Servants May be Canonized Topic: Holy Royal Martyrs
The Russian Orthodox Church may canonize the doctor of Russia's last emperor Nicholas II Eugene Botkin and his three servants.
A proposal to this effect was made by the Ekaterinburg diocese. The issue is expected to be discussed at a meeting of the Holy Synod, Archpriest Alexei Kulberg, first aide to Metropolitan of Ekaterinburg and Verkhoturye Kirill.
"We have no information that the life of these four loyal servants of the tsar was sinful and that they did anything in the course of their lives that would tarnish them as Christians. Enough materials have been collected on their life and death, which indicate not only the highest quality of life of these people as citizens, but also the fact that they lived a good, righteous Christian life," he said.
"The loyalty that those people manifested by following the tsar's family to Tobolsk and Ekaterinburg is not 'just words'," he said.
"Read the story of the tsar's family after the tsar's abdication, how people who before that had come in crowds, trying to get the slightest benefit from the tsar's family, instantly turned a way, disappeared, and shunned their acquaintance with the tsar's family. They felt that it smelled of blood and retreated. But the four servants stayed loyal and voluntarily gave their lives, fulfilling the Christian commandment on love and faithfulness," he said.
The priest said that people in the Urals have a special attitude to Eugene Botkin, as well as the other three tsar's servants who suffered together with the tsar's family.
"That attitude is reflected in the interior of the Church-on-the-Blood built on the site of the Ipatiev house. In the southern apse of this church, there are memorial boards with the names of the emperor, the empress and their children, and on the opposite, northern apse, there are memorial boards with the names of their faithful servants," he said.
The representative of the diocese expressed hopes that the names of Eugene Botkin and the tsar's servants "will soon be said in prayers that are different from the request to rest their souls with the saints at memorial services."
In 1981, the Russian Church Outside of Russia canonized Eugene Botkin along with the servants of the tsar's family (cook Ivan Kharitonov, footman Alexei Trupp and maid Anna Demidova), who were shot and killed in the Ipatiev house. In 2000, the Russian Church canonized the new Russian martyrs and confessors Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra Feodorovna and their five children.
The members of the tsar's family, their doctor and three servants were martyred in the early hours of July 17, 1918 in the house of engineer Ipatiev. Liturgies have been served in the Church-on-the-Blood, which was built on the site where the tsar's family was killed on the 17th day of every month since September 2012. Sacred processions take place from the Church-on-the-Blood to Ganina Yama (21 km) every year on July 17 after the divine service.
On This Day: Charter of the Imperial St. Petersburg Yacht Club Signed Topic: Yachts
Early 20th century photograph of the Imperial St. Petersburg Yacht Club
On 7 October (O.S. 25 September 25) 1846, Emperor Nicholas I signed the Charter of the Imperial St. Petersburg Yacht Club — the first official yacht club in Russia.
The history of sailing sport in Russia dates back to the times of Peter I, when in April 1718 the Emperor set up the “Neva Poteshny Fleet” (literary: Neva Amusement Fleet) in St. Petersburg. With a special decree Tsar ordered not only his admirals, shipwrights and doctors, but also dignitaries, bishops and even monks “who abide in St. Petersburg, to sail across the Neva River if the wind permits”. He granted them “perpetual and hereditary possession” of 141 vessels, and prohibited to use them for transportation or any other needs, “because vessels have been granted to be used like carriages and coaches on the road, and not like dung carts”. Meanwhile on the Fontanka River bank opposite the Summer Garden was established a “particular” (civil) shipyard responsible for building fairly small sport and travelling ships for “…the beauty of the reigning city, as well as for amusement of citizens, but still more for the best training”.
After the death of Peter I the “Neva Poteshny Fleet” ceased to exist and it was only in 1840s during the reign of Nicholas I, that the first St. Petersburg Imperial Yacht Club was officially registered.
To run this institution a special committee was set up which included Duke A.Ya. Lobanov-Rostovsky, Rear-Admiral M.A. Putyatin, I.A. Ribeaupierre, Count I.A. Shuvalov, Duke B.D. Golitsyn and Count F.K. Apraksin. Among its honorary members were Admirals F.F. Bellingshausen and M.P. Lazarev — discoverers of Antarctica, and also Admiral F.P. Litke — explorer of the Arctic Ocean, initiator of foundation of the Russian Geographic Society and its vice chairman.
The first paragraph of the society’s charter read that the yacht club was given the name of the Imperial. Accordingly in the picture of its flag (the white with a blue cross) appeared an image of the Imperial crown. The charter also stipulated that only noblemen, who owned “a sailing vessel not less than 20 tons in weight, which did not have a trading purpose” were allowed to become members of the yacht club.
At first the member list of the yacht club numbered only 19 people, who possessed five yachts. These were mainly representatives of military élite, court officials, representatives of foreign states’ diplomatic services.
On 20 July (O.S. 8 July) 1847 members of the yacht club held the first sailing race in Russia, which brought together seven yachts. The winner was called the tender “Varyag”.
As long as the club’s yachts were equaled to military vessels with a right to hold St. Andrew’s Flag during long voyages, their permanent crew often included Navy officers and Guards depots sailors, seldom hired sailors.
An active work of the Imperial St. Petersburg Yacht Club members lasted only for about 12 years, which was caused by the Crimean War and loss of interest to sailing sport (more and more often members of the yacht club were buying more comfortable steam vessels, unlike yachts). The last sailing race launched by the yacht club took place in 1859.
In 1860 was officially set up the first public St. Petersburg River Yacht Club, with a larger number of members but smaller sized yachts.
Until 1917 about 70 sport associations, which practiced sailing, rowing and other sports were operating in Russia.
The Enduring Mystique Around the Romanovs, Russia's Last Royals Topic: Nicholas II
Emperor Nicholas II and his family
Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the October 2nd, 2015 edition of The Conversation. Katy Turton owns the copyright of the work presented below. Please note that articles published on this blog are for information purposes only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Royal Russia. This article has been edited and annotated by Paul Gilbert.
The 1918 execution of the last Russian Tsar Nicholas II and his wife Alexandra at the hands of Bolsheviks in Ekaterinberg has coloured popular understanding and many histories of the Romanov family’s life. Now another chapter has been opened in Romanov mythology with news that Russian investigators are exhuming their bodies to work out whether new remains found in 2007 are those of two of their children, Alexei and Maria.
Tsar Nicholas was a young man unsuited to autocratic rule, but utterly determined to uphold his father’s strict authoritarian regime regardless of the need to reform a modernising Russia. The Tsarina was a devoted wife, tormented by the ill-health of her haemophiliac son, embroiled in a *scandalous relationship with advisor Grigori Rasputin and keen to make every effort to support her weak husband in his aim of preserving the autocracy. *the alleged "scandalous relationship" with Rasputin is nonsense, history has proven it as such - Ed.
Their lives seem dominated by ominous portents and ill-judged decisions, relentlessly propelling them towards their inevitable fate after the 1917 revolution. In 1896, the Tsar’s coronation was overshadowed by the Khodynka field tragedy when *thousands were killed and injured – the royal couple made matters worse by attending a lavish ball later that evening. In 1905, Nicholas granted but then limited democratic reforms. And during World War I, he became commander-in-chief while Alexandra took charge on the home front, advised by Rasputin. *the official estimate was 1,200 killed, not "thousands" as alleged by the author-ED
Amid all this, the Romanovs had a romantic family life. Nicholas was a devoted and loving husband and father, Alexandra a supportive wife and dedicated mother. Numerous photographs of them with their beautiful daughters and beloved son Alexei highlight the universal aspects of their family life, despite the fabulous wealth and luxury that they enjoyed. The contrast between these perfect images and the chaotic, brutal nature of their execution and the disposal of their bodies ensured that their deaths came to symbolise the violent conflict of the Russian Civil War, and eclipsed the millions of other deaths caused by it.
A tainted history
One of the reasons for the enduring mystique surrounding the Romanovs is the range of powerful narratives about their lives created by governments, political factions, the press and the public. In the revolutionary period, there was a perceived gender imbalance at the heart of the autocracy with Alexandra (and Rasputin) being thought to wield female, mystical, foreign and corrupt influence over her husband – the rational, male, Russian leader. This was used by many to explain the rottenness at the heart of the existing order.
In the aftermath of Nicholas’s abdication in 1917 and the Romanov family’s imprisonment in the Urals, King George V decided that Britain could not risk offering sanctuary to the Romanov family. He worried that their reputation as a symbol of monarchical oppression would destabilise Britain and radicalise his own people against the royal family and the state.
Meanwhile, the Bolsheviks feared that while the Romanovs lived, their White Russian enemies' efforts to destroy the new Soviet state in the civil war would be intensified. Yet the execution and secret burial of the Tsar and his family by Urals Bolsheviks did not fully erase them as a focal point of opposition to the Bolsheviks. The very absence of visible remains ensured that individuals claiming to be Alexis and his sister Anastasia appeared in both the Soviet Union and America, enabling Russians and Westerners alike to dream that the family’s executioners had failed. The Bolsheviks did not make this mistake again, displaying both Lenin and Stalin’s bodies for all to see.
Questions over their remains
These fantasies were reinforced when the first set of Romanov remains were exhumed, identified and found not to include the bones of Alexei and one (unidentified) Romanov daughter.
With the fall of the Soviet regime, questions arose about the appropriate way to deal with the Romanov remains. In 1998, Boris Yeltsin attended their controversial burial in the St Peter and Paul Cathedral in St Petersburg, despite the Russian Orthodox Church expressing concern whether the remains had been accurately identified.
Yet it, in turn, made the contentious decision in 2000 to canonise the family. The Romanovs’ worthiness was justified on the grounds of their Christian humility in the face of their execution, yet others questioned whether it was appropriate in view of the negative and violent aspects of their regime.
The Church is now determined to ensure that the most recently discovered Romanov remains – found in 2007 – are those of Tsesarevich Alexei and, it seems most likely, his sister Maria. It has argued that it is vital for people praying to saints to know that their relics are genuine. It is significant that the state is cooperating in full with these demands, at the same time as some moves have been made to invite the surviving members of the Romanov family to return to Russia.
This is happening as the Orthodox Church consolidates its renewed importance in Russian society and the president, Vladimir Putin, forcefully asserts Russia’s significance on the global stage. Once again, powerful groups are seeking to control the enduring symbolic power of the last Tsar of Russia.
New Blood Samples to Help Romanov Investigation Topic: Holy Royal Martyrs
The widow of Nicholas II’s nephew, Mrs. Olga Kulikovsky is ready to cooperate with the current investigation on the murder of the tsar and his family.
"I am ready to give blood of my husband Tikhon Nikolayevich Kulikovsky - grandson of Alexander III and nephew of passion-bearer Nicholas II," Mrs. Kulikovsky said in her statement conveyed to the Russian media on Friday.
Mrs. Kulikovsky, who has been living in Canada since 1980s, now spends much of her time in Russia. She was a participant and witness to the canonization of the Holy Royal Martyrs by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) in 1981 and by the Moscow Patriarchate in August 2000. She does not believe that the Ekaterinburg remains are authentic.
She warns against hurry in the new investigation and noted that if these remnants would be mistakenly recognized authentic and declared holy relics it will lead to a church schism.
A grave with nine bodies was found on Staraya Koptyakovskaya Road near Ekaterinburg in July 1991. The remains were identified as those of Emperor Nicholas II, his 46-year-old wife Alexandra Feodorovna, their daughters Olga, 22, Tatiana, 21, and Anastasia, 17, and their servants Eugene Botkin, 53, Anna Demidova, 40, Alexei Trupp, 62, and Ivan Kharitonov, 48.
Members of the imperial family were buried at a sepulcher in St. Catherine’s Chapel of the Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg on July 17, 1998.
The remains of two more people were discovered during archaeological excavation works 70 meters south of the first grave on July 26, 2007. The remains have still not been buried, but numerous expert analyses indicate that the remains were most likely those of Tsesarevich Alexei and his sister Grand Duchess Maria.
The Investigative Committee stated in January 2011 that it had completed an investigation into the death of Nicholas II, his family members and entourage and closed the criminal case.
In March 2015, head of the Russian State Archives Sergey Mironenko called for the remains of Tsesarevich Alexei and Grand Duchess Maria to be buried alongside those of the rest of the family.
Monument to Prince Oleg Konstantinovich Unveiled at Tsarskoye Selo Topic: Oleg Konstantinovich, Prince
Monument to Prince of the Imperial Blood Oleg Konstantinovich (1892-1914)
Yesterday, a memorial monument to Prince Oleg Konstantinovich was unveiled at the St. Sophia Cathedral in Tsarskoye Selo.
"Today is a truly historic day. It is a day when we remember a wonderful representative of the Romanov dynasty, who died at the young age of 21, at the front during World War I. He gave his life for the honour, glory and freedom of the Fatherland", - said chairman of the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society (IOPS), Sergei Stepashin.
He stressed that the appearance of the monument to Prince Oleg Konstantinovich - it is also a tribute to all the Russian heroes who died in the Great War.
The initiator of the installation of the monument was made by Ludvig Nobel Foundation. The monument to Prince Oleg is based on a model created in 1915 by the Russian sculptor V. Lishevym.
Prince of the Imperial Blood Oleg Konstantinovich was born 27 November [O.S. 15 November], 1892 in St. Petersburg. His father was Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich, also known as the poet under the pseudonym of "KR". Prince Oleg engaged in literary work and wrote poems and prose, was fond of music and painting.
At the beginning of World War I his regiment took part in the fighting in the North-Western Front. On 27 September, 1914 he was seriously wounded in battle, and two days later - on 29 September [O.S. 12 October] - died in hospital.
Upon learning of his wound, he said: "It had to be. This will raise the spirit of the troops, and will make a good impression upon them knowing that the blood of a member of the Imperial House has been spilled."
For more information on Prince Oleg Konstantinovich, please refer to the following articles:
Emperor Paul I and the Order of Succession Topic: Succession
Portrait of Emperor Paul I by Vladimir Borovikovsky
The following article was published today by the Presidential Library in St. Petersburg. The text has been further edited and revised by Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia.
October 1, 1754 marks the 261st anniversary of birth of the Russian Emperor Paul I, who was born into the family of Grand Duke Peter Feodorovich and his wife, Grand Duchess Catherine Alexseyevna, the future Catherine the Great. The Presidential Library collection of electronic copies of materials, dedicated to Paul Petrovich, contain many rare books which characterize this figure as the most controversial among the heirs to the throne of the Romanovs.
The electronic copy of the collected works "Materials for the biography of Emperor Paul I” edited by E. Kasprovich, published in 1874 in Leipzig, includes in particular the following assessment of his activities, "The reign of Emperor Paul I appeared on the Russian horizon as a terrible meteor; his actions seemed even more striking considering the fact that his reign followed the age of Catherine II, full of prudence. Russia had already started to enjoy the statutes published by the Empress, when suddenly the rule of laws began to give way to self-will, respect for the long service, generating competition, disappeared; disparate punishments for lighter offences were applied contrary to patent of nobility; people without merit, without skills were granted the highest honours, new regulations contradicting each other were constantly released."
The very first law developed by Paul contained hidden but a real threat to the dynasty, indicating the inability of the monarch to think several moves ahead. Having inherited the throne after his mother's death in 1796, Paul, in order to prevent coups and intrigue in the future, decided to replace by his act the previous system introduced by Peter the Great. Paul promulgated it during his coronation on April 5th, 1797 at the Assumption Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin.
His Law on the order of succession to the throne excluded the possibility of dismissal of the legal heirs from the throne. Paul introduced a legal succession, as he put it in the act, "so there was no doubt who inherits the throne, in order to maintain the rights of families in the succession, without violating the natural rights, and to avoid difficulties in the transfer of power from generation to generation." The act also contained an important clause on the impossibility of accession to the throne of a person not belonging to the Orthodox Church. The law of Paul I, which defined the procedure for the transfer of supreme state power in Russia, was in effect until 1917.
However, it contained a significant flaw - the act provided for a preferential right to inherit the throne for the male members of the imperial family. With regard to the family of the last Russian Emperor Nicholas II, this law deprived his daughters of the prospect of succession, while Tsesarevich Alexei was terminally ill with haemophilia (a hereditary disease inherited by the child from his mother Alexandra Feodorovna; Nicholas was fairly warned about it before the marriage, but his love for Alexandra outweighed everything). This fact motivated partly the difficult decision of Nicholas to renounce the throne of Russia in March 1917 and condemned Russia to a fratricidal civil war.
The attempts of the new emperor to reform the army and state apparatus "on the patterns" of the Prussian military system and the Prussian police state also proved unsuccessful. Paul’s reforms in this area caused resistance of the top management: repressions against the generals and officers were too brutal, which is confirmed by an electronic copy of "The orders of the Emperor Paul I of 1800-1801."
Sometimes it happened that "in one day there were fired three full generals, three lieutenant-generals, 9 majors, 68 senior officers of the Guards regiments, 90 non-commissioned officers and 120 men of the Preobrazhensky Regiment! No one knew what for." Even the hero-generalissimo, who conquered the Alps, was unable to avoid the unjust persecution: among the orders of Paul there was also "a reprimand to Suvorov for unauthorized vacation of Colonel Baturin," and then the "exclusion from the service."
Introduction of the uncomfortable army uniform after the Prussian model caused a murmur among the military. Injured officers resigned in large numbers.
The policy of Paul I in combination with his despotic nature and unpredictability caused discontent among the court and in the army leading to another coup. On the night of March 25th, 1801 the Emperor was killed by conspirators in his new residence, the Mikhailovsky Palace in St. Petersburg.
Remains of Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna May be Included in Royal Family Inquiry Topic: Elizabeth Feodorovna GD
Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna 1864-1918
The following article was published today by the Interfax News Agency in Moscow. It supplements the previous articles published on September 23, 24 and 25. The text has been further edited and revised by Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia.
The Russian Investigative Committee does not rule out that samples of the remains of Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna may be delivered from the Church of Mary Magdalene in Jerusalem to Moscow for a new examination within the royal family inquiry but a final decision has yet to be made.
"We are holding negotiations with the Russian Orthodox Church. This is a very complicated matter: international relations and the delivery from a foreign country. A final decision has yet to be made," senior investigator of the Russian Investigative Committee main criminal investigation department Vladimir Solovyov told Interfax.
The future Grand Duchess Elizabeth, one of British Queen Victoria's favourite granddaughters, was born in Germany and spent her early years in England. She was a sister of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna and a daughter of Ludwig IV, Grand Duke of Hesse and Princess Alice of Great Britain. She was brought up in Christian spirit and compassion.
She was a Protestant, but during her pilgrimage to the Holy Land she adopted Orthodoxy and after her husband Moscow general-governor Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich had been assassinated by a terrorist in 1905, she founded the SS Martha and Mary Convent in 1909 where nuns combined prayer with active social ministry, helping the sick and wounded, especially during World War I. People called Grand Duchess Elizabeth the White Angel of Russia.
She refused to leave Russia during revolutionary days and was arrested in the spring of 1918 and martyred in Novay Selimskaya not far from Alapayevsk, in the Ekaterinburg Region. Elizabeth Feodorovna was canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia in 1981, and in 1992 by the Moscow Patriarchate as New Martyr Yelizaveta Fyodorovna.
Archive for Materials Relating to Russian Emigres Opens in Paris Topic: Imperial Russia
A new centre for the storing of historical documents relating to the emigration of Russians to France in the years following the 1917 revolution opened on 24 September, in the Parisian suburban town of Sainte-Genevieve-des-Bois. The cemetery of the town, which is located at a distance of 23 kilometres from the centre of Paris, contains the graves of members of the Russian Imperial family, as well as many famous Russian writers and artists. The Russian government took an active role in creating the new archive and memorial-research centre, which has been laid out on the territory of the Maison Russe.
Russian financing has ensured the documents are kept in top condition, and the staff at Maison Russe will help academics access material necessary for their research.
Maison Russe director Jean de Boyer expressed his sincere thanks to the Russian president for supporting the project. Russian Ambassador Alexander Orlov noted the huge cultural and intellectual contribution the Russian emigres made to the life of their new adopted homelands, and especially to France. He also thanked the Paris authorities for helping to keep this memory alive. "The Maison Russe is a testament to the dreams of those, who always dreamt of going home, but never could", he said.
A memorial plaque in honour of the founder of the Maison Russe, Princess Mescherskaya, was also unveiled today.