A Russian Moment No. 65 - State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg Topic: A Russian Moment
State Russian Museum - formerly the Emperor Alexander III Russian Museum, St. Petersburg
120 years ago, on April 3 (25), 1895, Emperor Nicholas II decreed the foundation of the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg. Today, the museum has become the city’s greatest repository of Russian fine art, its collection now numbering more than 400,000 works of art.
Moscow was always a merchant's city, Petersburg – an imperial one. This distinction can be seen even in the cities’ museums. While Moscow’s Tretyakov Gallery was established in 1856 by merchant Pavel Tretyakov as his private collection, the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg was established by decree in 1895 by Tsar Nicholas II in fulfilment of his father's wishes and was called the Emperor Alexander III Russian Museum.
On April 25, the museum, officially opened in 1898 in the specially purchased Mikhailovsky Palace, marks the 120th anniversary of its foundation. In the 12 decades of its existence, the State Russian Museum has established itself as one of the country’s greatest storehouses of Russian art, with a pedigree to rival that of its more illustrious Petersburg counterpart, the Hermitage, and one of the world’s finest collections of art by members of the various movements that made up the Russian avant-garde of the early 20th century.
To celebrate its 120th birthday, the museum is preparing a special commemorative exhibition titled "Gifts and Acquisitions," which will feature 19th-century works acquired by the museum since 1998. Visitors will be able to admire paintings by Russian masters such as Borovikovsky, Aivazovsky, Repin, Shishkin, Goncharov, Kustodiev, Serebryakov and others.
In February of this year, after a complete restoration which lasted several years, rooms ï¿½„– 18-29 (from the Parade Staircase to the Garden Vestibule) are once again open to the public. The permanent exhibition created in these rooms include some of the finest works by Russian artists, including Fyodor Vasiliev, Vasily Vereshchagin, Nikolai Ge, Konstantin Makovsky, Vasily Perov, Alexei Savrasov, Henryk Semiradski, Pavel Chistyakov, Konstantin Flavitsky, Ivan Shishkin and other masters of Russian art, as well as examples of sculpture of the second half of the 19th century.
The museum is currently home to two monuments to Emperor Alexander III: a bust of the Emperor by the sculptor R.R. Bach (1898), sits on a pedestal at the top of the main staircase under a large banner marking the founding and opening of the museum; the second is a large portrait statue by the sculptor M.M. Antokolsky (1899). It is situated in a passageway on the lower ground floor between the main museum and the Benois Wing.
Count Vladimir Frederiks Topic: Frederiks, Count Vladimir
Russian historian and author, Margarita Nelipa made her debut as Royal Russia’s resident writer in the No. 7 Winter 2015 issue of our popular magazine, which is now published twice a year. She joins our other gifted writers in bringing readers new, previously unpublished works on the Romanovs, their legacy and the history of Imperial Russia.
Her debut article, Servant to Three Emperor explores the life and career of Count Vladimir 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, whom he served faithfully. He was praised in this role by the French ambassador, Maurice Paléologue, who called him 'the very personification of court life'. Other than minor mentions in a few memoirs, little is known of this man and his loyal service to the last monarch and to Russia. 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. For the first time, Margarita Nelipa offers readers the first comprehensive study of this honourable gentleman of the Imperial Court.
Margarita Nelipa, who enjoys a faithful and growing following, is the author of two books: The Murder of Grigorii Rasputin A Conspiracy That Brought Down the Russian Empire (2010), Alexander III: His Life and Reign (2014). Her highly anticipated third book, Alexei: Russia’s Last Imperial Heir, A Chronicle of Tragedy, the first comprehensive biography in English on the only son of Nicholas II, and Heir to the Russian throne is due to be published in Spring 2015.
Nelipa’s article, Servant to Three Emperors: Count Vladimir Frederiks consists of 34 pages of text, with 20 photographs and illustrations, including the issue’s cover colour portrait by D.P. Zhuikov. Royal Russia No. 7 has proven to be our fastest selling and most popular issue to date! Click on the link below to order your copy from the Royal Russia Bookshop:
Faberge Documentary to Get Global Screening Topic: Faberge
Event cinema specialist Arts Alliance is to bring the award-winning documentary Fabergé: A Life of Its Own to cinemas worldwide for one day only. Directed by Patrick Mark, the film explores the history of the Fabergé dynasty.
The film, which has picked up festival prizes at Newport Beach, Palm Beach and Beverly Hills, will be shown on June 29 in more than 20 countries across more than 400 screens.
Fabergé: A Life Of Its Own tells the epic story of the Fabergé name, from Imperial Russia up to present day -- a period spanning one hundred and fifty years of turbulent history, romance, artistic development and commercial exploitation.
From the priceless bejewelled Easter eggs of the Romanov Empresses, to the more accessible 1970s allure of 'Brut by Fabergé' aftershave, the brand’s enduring appeal is still recognized by today's fashion-conscious consumers worldwide. The film explores a multi-faceted empire that began with one man -- the prodigiously talented Peter Carl Fabergé, Court Jeweller of St. Petersburg.
The film was shot at locations across Russia, Europe and the US, including the collection of HM Queen Elizabeth II, and includes interviews with the world’s foremost Faberge authorities, as well as personal reminiscences from Faberge family members, including Tatiana Fabergé, Sarah Fabergé, Géza von Habsburg, Katharina Flohr, John Andrew, Olga Vaigatcheva, André Ruzhnikov and Miranda Carter.
Exhibition: European Orders of Knighthood Topic: Exhibitions
On 24th April 2015 the ‘European Orders of Knighthood’ exhibition opened in the One-Pillar Chamber of the Patriarch’s Palace. This exhibition presents insignia of European Orders of Knighthood, from the collection of the Moscow Kremlin Museums, from the prominent private collection of Andrei Khazin and pieces of insignia of the Order of the Garter from the Royal Collection bestowed upon Emperor Alexander II. The other contributors to this project are the Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Empire (now a part of the Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation) which is lending rare documents and the State Historical Museum which is lending portraits of members of the Russian Imperial Family.
The exhibition ‘European Orders of Knighthood’ introduces visitors to the honours systems of Great Britain, the Austria-Hungarian Empire, Prussia, Spain, Portugal, the Holy See and France. For the first time more than three hundred signs of the highest orders of XVII-XX centuries are exhibited in one exhibition space in Russia.
"The exhibition ‘European Orders of Knighthood’ continues the tradition of showing in the Moscow Kremlin Museums exhibitions dedicated to the insignia that was started in 2004. This subject constantly evokes high level of interest among the visitors, since orders are not only symbolic signs of exclusiveness, nobility, of the heroic and zealous service to ones country and people, but also a wonderful piece of jewelry, made by the best masters and jewelry firms - noticed Elena GagarinÐ°, General Director of the Moscow Kremlin Museums - Today we are pleased to present the exhibition that is a complete display of the honours systems of a number of European countries and includes some virtually unique pieces that one can seen only in the Moscow Kremlin during the exhibition".
An important part place of the exhibitions display is the orders of knighthood of Great Britain. The British honours system is one of the oldest in the world, is has existed for six and a half centuries without interruption. The British system has had a significant influence on the development of honours and award systems of the European countries, including the Russian Empire.
Particular attention is given to the Russian Emperors who were Knights of the Order of the Garter as well as to the dynastic alliance of the Romanovs and the British Royal Family. The appointment of Russian Emperors as Knights of the Order of the Garter reflected the position of the Russian Emperor and the diplomatic and dynastic connections between Russia and Great Britain through the nineteenth century. First to be appointed, in 1813, at the end of the Napoleonic wars, was Emperor Alexander I. His appointment as a Garter Knight - alongside the sovereigns of the other victorious allies - was an acknowledgement of the contribution of Russia to the defeat of Napoleon.
The insignia of the Order of the Garter of the Emperor Alexander II, who died tragically at the hands of terrorists, are kept with care as part of the British Royal Collection at the behest of Queen Victoria. The insignia, which occupies a central place in the exhibition has been generously lent by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and returns to Russia for the first time since the revolutionary event.
An important discovery was made while working on the exhibition. It was revealed that in the collection of Andrei Khazin there is an award which once belonged to the last Russian Emperor, Nicholas II - a Royal Victorian Chain, founded in 1902 by King Edward VIIof Great Britain as an award of honour reserved for foreign monarchs, princes and heads of state. It was sold by the Bolshevik government after it was removed from the Armoury Chamber where it was passed from Petrograd with other evacuated imperial possessions, to Gokhran (the State Repository of valuables).By lucky circumstances, nearly a century later it is returning to the Moscow Kremlin to be displayed in the exhibition.
The exhibition European Orders of Knighthood runs until 30 August, 2015 in the One-Pillar Chamber of the Patriarch’s Palace, Kremlin in Moscow
Naryshkin Proposes Reburial of Grand Duke Nicholas Nicholayevich on April 30 Topic: Nicholas Nicholayevich, GD
Portrait of Grand Duke Nicholas Nicholayevich, Jr. taken in exile, 1925
The ceremony to rebury the remains of Grand Duke Nicholas Nicholayevich Jr. and his wife is expected to take place in Moscow on April 30, Russian State Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin said.
"I suggest that the ceremony for reburying the remains of the great prince and his wife should be conducted on April 30. The necessary negotiations and approvals have been conducted by our colleagues and everything is ready for that," Naryshkin said at the final meeting of the interdepartmental working group on the organization of this reburial.
The meeting was held in the State Duma on Wednesday.
The speaker recalled that a ritual event will be conducted in the Les Invalides building in Paris before this date.
Naryshkin pointed out that Nicholas Nicholayevich was not only a representative of the imperial family, but also commander-in-chief of all ground and naval forces of the Russian Army in the initial period of WWI.
"Like our entire Fatherland, he had a difficult fate: the fate of a statesman, a politician, a military commander," Naryshkin said.
Grand Duke Nicholas Nicholayevich had to spend the last years of his life outside of Russia, he said. He died in France and was buried there. "Only many years later, conditions emerged for the return of his remains to Russia," the politician said.
Naryshkin emphasized that the remains of the great prince are being transferred at the request of his descendants, who have chosen a place of his future reburial in Russia.
"The family has an unwritten will of the great prince, in which he says he would like to find rest in his native land and he would like to be reburied next to Russian soldiers and officers killed in WWI," Naryshkin said.
I have published a number of articles on the proposed reburial of Grand Duke Nicholas Nicholayevich in Moscow over the past year. To review these articles, please refer to the following links:
On 17 April 2015 the Duty Stables of Tsarskoye Selo saw the return of an 18th-century carriage of Empress Catherine the Great after 1.5 years in the hands of the experts of the Phenomenon Restoration and Research Association in Moscow. The carriage has now been added to the Exhibition of Court Carriages at Tsarskoye Selo.
The 5.15 x 2.10 m four-seater Berline carriage took part in many sumptuous ceremonies at the Russian imperial court. Produced in London from materials such as wood, metal, gilded bronze, leather, velvet and taffeta, the light and elegant vehicle was probably used during coronations, as well as christenings, betrothals and weddings of Russian grand dukes and duchesses.
After a century of frequent relocations and storage under far from ideal conditions, the glitter and some embellishments were lost, yet the dust layers could not belittle the high quality of this harmoniously crafted artifact, so it was rightfully picked first for restoration.
This Berline came into the Tsarksoye Selo collection after the Court Stables Museum closed down in 1928, where it had been registered as a French carriage bought in 1809 for Emperor Alexander I of Russia. However, its design and decoration are likely to date back to 1760s-80s.
According to Ms Irina Bredikhina, Tsarskoye Selo Carriage Curator, there is no reference to a maker’s name or the provenance, except for a ‘London’ mark on the rear springs. British workshops didn’t mark their carriages in the eighteenth century. The records of the Carriage Makers’ Guild were lost during the aerial bombardments of London in WWII.
The shape and details of the carriage are similar to those of the 1763 Paris-made Berline which was one of Catherine’s classicism-styled favourites, currently on display at the Armoury of the Moscow Kremlin.
Nikolai Sokolov: The Man Who Revealed the Story of the Romanov Killings Topic: Ekaterinburg
Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the April 18th, 2015 edition of Russia Beyond the Headlines. The author Alla Astanina, owns the copyright of the work presented below.
In March 1917, the Russian Tsar Nicholas II Romanov abdicated. A year and a half later his life and the lives of his family were cut short at the hands of the Bolsheviks. The details of the execution of the Romanovs may have remained in shadow forever had it not been for the investigative work carried out by Nikolai Sokolov, whose papers later formed the basis for a further probe by the Russian authorities after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
A little-known figure in Russian history, in many respects the story of Nikolai Sokolov differs little from millions of other provincial Russians who rose to regional prominence in the latter days of the Russian Empire by dint of their education and ambition. However, it is due to this man that the world can now be sure that it knows the full story of the death of the last Russian tsar.
Sokolov was born in the province of Penza (350 miles southeast of Moscow) on May 22, 1882 and received a degree in law. Before the revolution, he served as a court investigator. By 1917, he had risen to the post of a major case investigator at the Penza district court. After the revolution and the overthrow of the monarchy, he remained faithful to the old system.
"Having taken sick leave, Sokolov went to Siberia," says Vladimir Solovyov, a senior investigator and criminologist of the Main Department of Criminology at the Investigative Committee of Russia and the man who headed the reopened investigation into the case of the murder of the Romanovs from 1993 to 2011.
Beyond the Urals, Sokolov met with representatives of the Siberian government, which was organized by the White Army during the Civil War, and was subsequently hired by the Prosecutor's Office of Irkutsk and, later, Omsk. He found himself in Yekaterinburg with the army of the Siberian government, eight months after the Bolsheviks had executed Nicholas II along with his family in the same city.
Instructions from the top
"On February 5, I was summoned by the Admiral [Alexander Kolchak, White Army commander – RBTH] ... and entrusted with the investigation," Sokolov wrote. He realized that he had been assigned a case that would become of crucial importance for the history of the whole of Russia. "In our judicial work, we often seek the truth, operating with well-known facts. They have a special character here – they are historical facts," he wrote later in his book, Ubiistvo Tsarskoi Semi (“The Murder of the Royal Family").
Now it is clear it would be difficult for our contemporaries to understand the events of that time without his evidence. "The main achievement of Sokolov was that he was able to prove that the royal family was indeed shot," says Solovyov today. "There were a variety of theories about the fate of the Romanovs at that time, including those that led to the appearance of false heirs."
Both testimony and physical evidence led to a single conclusion: "The murder took place on July 17," Sokolov would write later.
As we now know, the Bolshevik officers of the Cheka (the predecessor of the KGB), anticipating the entry of White troops in the city and fearful that the royal family would be rescued, took the family and the members of the household into the basement of Ipatiev House, where they had been kept under house arrest since April 30, and shot them.
Since time was of the essence, after executing their prisoners they took the dead bodies of the Romanovs from Ipatiev House to the village of Ganina Yama, where there was an abandoned mine. "The investigator found a large number of small chopped and burnt bone fragments, things and objects that have been identified by persons close to the royal family," historian Lyudmila Lykova says. At the time Sokolov came up with the suggestion that the bodies were burned, but this conclusion was later disproved. It turned out that after unsuccessful attempts to burn the bodies, the Cheka officers buried them.
Emigration and death
Even when the Whites were forced to retreat to the east after suffering a series of defeats, Sokolov did not call a halt to the investigation. He collected priceless documents, preserved them and took them out of the country, Lykova says. The documents were sent to France in two parts; on a warship and in a special carriage with diplomatic seals. Sokolov himself left Russia for Paris in March 1920.
In Europe, the relatives of the Romanovs distrusted the investigator; they believed that the Tsar's family was alive. In the last years of his life, Sokolov prepared a full report of the investigation for Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna, the mother of Nicholas II, and wrote his book based on the investigation. There is evidence that the investigator wanted to secretly return to Russia and to continue the investigation. Sokolov died at the age of 42 in France in 1924.
Royal Russia Annual No. 8 - COMING SUMMER 2015! Topic: Books
I am pleased to announce that the production of the No. 8 - Summer 2015 issue of our official magazine, *Royal Russia Annual is now in full swing. This issue is scheduled to go the printers in June, and available for purchase in July.
The following full-length articles will be featured in this issue. Please note that this is just a partial list, additional articles will be added prior to publication (this summary will be updated as new articles are added):
Cover Story: Emperor Paul I: Neither Demon Nor Saint
by Andrew M. Cooperman
For most of the two hundred fourteen years since his assassination, Emperor Paul I has either been demonized or canonized by historians. In truth, Paul I was neither demon nor saint, but rather a remarkable man who lived and reigned during an important time in Russia's history. Caught as he was between the more polished and genteel courts of his mother, Catherine the Great, and his son, Alexander I, Paul's short reign of four years is too often viewed by some as harsh and tyrannical. Others, however, have insisted that Paul's serious attempts at internal reform and international peace entitle him to greater recognition. More recent scholarship has attempted to place Paul and his policies as emperor in a balanced perspective. That Paul was a different type of monarch in both style and in policy than his mother and son is certain. However, historians are now viewing those differences on their own merits, rather than measuring them against those of Catherine and Alexander. In that spirit, this article presents Paul wielding a sceptre rather than a pitch fork, and wearing a crown rather than a halo.
Physicians of the Imperial Court
by Margarita Nelipa
Medicine intervenes not only in the lives of the common folk during the period of their vulnerability, be it during childbirth and when dying, it similarly encroached into the intimate lives of Russia’s imperial families. With the benefit of diaries and archival records, the author examines several personal physicians who attended the imperial Court over a period of two hundred years and accordingly offers a unique portrayal about several monarchs and their heirs during their final moments of life, following chronic illness or foul play. While only a select few physicians received a formal request to serve the Court, when summoned these trusted individuals gained unfettered entry into the private bedroom chambers of the emperor, the empress and their children. Though Professors Sergei Fyodorov and Evgenii Botkin are familiar to many, those who attended the courts of Peter I, Nikolai I, Alexander II and III are also deserving of recognition.
A Loyal and Affectionate Friend. Ferdinand Thormeyer and the Family of Alexander III
by Coryne Hall
Ferdinand Thormeyer served as the French tutor to the children of Emperor Alexander III and Empress Maria Feodorovna: Tsesarevich Nicholas Alexandrovich (future Emperor Nicholas II), the Grand Dukes George and Michael, and the Grand Duchesses Xenia and Olga. Later, he became almost a substitute father-figure to Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich. Olga and Michael, especially, poured out their hearts to him about various matters.After the Revolution, Thormeyer continued to correspond with Olga until her death in 1960. His extensive correspondence with the children of Alexander III, along with photographs and drawings were sold at a Geneva auction in 2010 for more than $400,000.
The Tsar's Bride. A Story of Mikhail Romanov and Maria Khlopova's Star-Crossed Love
by Irene Galaktinovna
When the first of the Romanovs, the young Tsar Mikhail Feodorovich, first came to power, he was obliged to take a wife. Although the tsar himself was deeply in love with the girl he'd chosen, his political advisors had other plans. As a result, the tsar and his bride spent six years apart, hoping to be reunited - which ultimately never happened. Mikhail only married years later, deeply disappointed.
A Friend for Better or Worse. The Romanovs and Their Dogs
by Irene Galaktinovna
Few people realize that it was the Romanov dynasty who introduced dog breeding into Russia. The Russian Royals' relationship with their four-legged companions evolved over time, from breeding and keeping palace pooches to finally viewing dogs as trusty partners and friends.
Princess Vera Konstantinovna Remembered
by M.N. Tretiakova and M. Ardov
The authors have compiled an article on Princess Vera Konstantinovna, which includes an interview with the youngest child of Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich in 1994, in which she shares her memories of her parents, her siblings, among other members of the Russian Imperial family.
Was the Tsar Right to Abdicate in 1917?
by Vladimir Moss
Why did the Tsar agree to abdicate from the throne in that lonely railway carriage near Pskov in February, 1917? And was he right to do so? These questions are relevant not only to our understanding of the Tsar himself, but also of Russia and her destiny. For, as we know, the abdication of the Tsar led to the destruction of Russia, a catastrophe of the most terrible consequences both for Russia and the world, which are still being felt to this day. So could it all have been avoided if the Tsar had simply refused the pleas of his generals and the other plotters against him, and continued to rule?
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
* Our official magazine was intended to be published only once a year as an annual, but due to its popularity, Royal Russia Annual is now published twice a year, while still retaining its original name. An annual Winter edition and an annual Summer edition will now be issued.
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).
Please note that this summary is for information purposes only. No pre-orders for this issue of Royal Russia will be accepted at this time. Check this blog and the Royal Russia Bookshop for updates and information on product availability.