ROYAL RUSSIA: News, Videos & Photographs About the Romanov Dynasty, Monarchy and Imperial Russia - Updated Daily
« September 2014 »
1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30
Entries by Topic
All topics  «
400th Anniversary
A Russian Moment
Alexander I
Alexander II
Alexander III
Alexander Mikhailovich, GD
Alexander Palace
Alexandra Feodorovna
Alexandra Nicholayevna, GD
Alexandra Pavlovna GD
Amber Room
Anna Feodorovna, GD
Anna Pavlovna, GD
Beautiful Orthodox Churches
Benckendorff, Count Paul
Catherine II
Conspiracy Theories
Constantine Constantinovich, GD
Country Estates
Dmitri Pavlovich, GD
Dmitri Romanovich
Dowager Empress Maria
Eagar, Margaretta
Elena Vladimirovna, GD
Elizabeth Feodorovna GD
Elizabeth Petrovna, Empress
Ganima Yama
George Alexandrovich, GD
Grand Duchess Xenia Alexa
Grand Duke Mikhail Alexan
Grand Dukes
Holy Royal Martyrs
Imperial Russia
Kazan Cathedral
Kerensky, Alexander
Kolchak, Admiral
Maria Alexandrovna
Maria Feodorovna, Empress
Maria Pavlovna, Senior
Maria Vladimirovna GD
Marie Georgievna, GD
Mikhail Nikolayevich, GD
Nevsky, Alexander
Nicholas Alexandrovich GD
Nicholas I
Nicholas II
Nicholas Mikhailovich, GD
Nicholas Nicholayevich, GD
Nicholas Romanovich
Oleg Konstantinovich, Prince
Olga Alexandrovna GD
Olga Konstantinovna GD
Olga Nicholayevna GD
Paley, Princess Natalia
Paul Alexandrovich, GD
Paul Gilbert
Paul I, Emperor
Peter and Paul Fortress
Peter III
Peter Nicholayevich, GD
Peter the Great
Prince Michael of Kent
Romanov Descendants
Royal Russia
Russian Art
Russian Church
Russian Cuisine
Russian Film
Russian History
Russian Imperial House
Russian Monarchy
Russian Orders
Russo-Japanese War
Sergei Alexandrovich
Sergei Alexandrovich GD
St. Petersburg
St. Theodore's Church
State Hermitage Museum
Stieglitz, Alexander
Stolypin, Pyotr
Tauride Palace
Tsarevich Alexis
Tsarskoye Selo
Vladimir Alexandrovich, GD
Vyrubova, Anna
Winter Palace
Witte, Sergei
World War I
Wrangel, Pyotr
Yelagin Palace
Blog Tools
Edit your Blog
Build a Blog
RSS Feed
View Profile
You are not logged in. Log in
Sunday, 28 September 2014
Topic: Royal Russia
(left) This photograph reflects a quiet corner of my office and study, and includes some of my favourite books, a bust of Nicholas II that I purchased in St. Petersburg earlier this year, and a reproduction of Valentin Serov's famous portrait of the last emperor painted in 1900 - a treasured gift from a dear American friend - PG

Today - September 28th - marks the 20th anniversary of Royal Russia!

When I launched Royal Russia back in 1994, I was following a dream. I wanted to share my my lifelong passion and interest in the Romanov dynasty and Imperial Russia with others.

My publishing endeavours began with a simple 4-page newsletter, entitled Imperial Russian Quarterly and a reprint of Memories in the Russian Court by Anna Vyrubova, originally published in 1923. 

Over the next two decades, that simple 4-page newsletter evolved and grew in both name and design until in 2011, I launched the 100+ page Royal Russia Annual. To date, I have published 25 books on the Romanovs and Imperial Russia in both hard and soft cover editions, many of which are still in print and available through the Royal Russia Bookshop. 

It was in the late 1990s that I launched exclusive Romanov tours to Russia. These custom designed tours featured visits to places only read about in books, and dreamed about by Romanovphiles. These included exclusive tours of the palaces and residences of the Russian Imperial family, with little "extras" such as lunch at the Palace of Grand Duke Vladimir, tea on the verandah at the Cottage Palace at Peterhof, lectures by Romanov historians and palace curators, and much more. Royal Russia was the first group from the West to visit the Alexander Palace in 1997. Other places of interest included the Grand Kremlin Museum and the Russian State Archives (GARF) in Moscow, Livadia in the Crimea, the Church on the Blood (built on the site of the Ipatiev House) and Ganina Yama at Ekaterinburg, amony many others. The last Royal Russia tour was in 2006. While I no longer organize and host Romanov tours, I continue to travel to Russia independently on working visits, sharing my discoveries through the Royal Russia web site and magazine. 

The Royal Russia web site has expanded greatly over the last few years and now includes a news blog and Facebook page - both updated daily with news on the Romanovs and Imperial Russian history. Royal Russia web site and blog currently offer more than 600 news articles, more than 500 videos, over 2,000 photographs, plus a blog with nearly 1,500 news clips, videos and photographs. 

Today, Royal Russia ranks among the most popular Romanov-themed web sites in the world, welcoming more than 2 million visitors from every corner of the globe. Plus, the number of people who follow Royal Russia has now surpassed the 20,000 mark! This includes more than 3,000 people who receive our FREE bi-weekly news updates, plus nearly 18,000 followers on Facebook. Our colour advertisements are regularly feautured in Majesty Magazine in the United Kingdom, and Russian Life Magazine in the United States. 

Each year since 2009, Royal Russia has issued a wall calendar. The annual calendar issued in the past three years has become a very special project for me personally, as most of the net sales from the calendar sales are donated to the Tsarskoye Selo and Peterhof Palace Museums. Between 2013-2014, Royal Russia donated 40,000 Rubles to the two palace museum reserves. The funds help them with restoration programs and the acquisition of items for their respective collections. Another donation will be made to these palaces in early 2015, based on the sale of our latest calendar. Russia has been very good to me these past 20 years, I am so pleased that I can now give something back, by making a contribution to an ideal which I hold near to my heart - the preservation and conservation of the Romanov legacy and Russia's Imperial past. 

The past 20 years have been a remarkable journey, one which I have shared with some of you from the very beginning. As I mark this memorable day, I would also like to take this opportunity to extend a very big thank you to each and every person who has supported Royal Russia over the years! This includes those who visit my web site and blog, who receive my bi-weekly news updates, those who buy books, magazines and calendars from my online shop, those who make donations each year to help offset the increasing costs of maintaining the every growing web site, to those who purchase my calendars and helping my Giving Back to Russia program, and for all of you who continually send kind words of support for my work by e-mail, letter, and telephone - without you, there would be no Royal Russia! 

Today is indeed a day to celebrate, and here's to the next 20 years of Royal Russia! 

(right) Dr. Russell E. Martin, International Communications Advisor to the Chancellery of Her Imperial Highness Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, Head of the Russian Imperial House, presents me with the Imperial and Royal Order of St. Stanislas, III Class. The Order was presented during a private investiture ceremony at the Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, New York on May 18th, 2014. The Order was presented in recognition of a lifetime of service to the Russian Imperial House, my support of the Russian monarchy, and my personal dedication to distributing accurate information about the House of Romanov and to highlight the importance of the Russian Imperial House in today's Russia. Truly, it remains the proudest day of my life!   - PG

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 28 September, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 28 September 2014 3:59 AM EDT
Permalink | Share This Post
Saturday, 27 September 2014
State Hermitage Museum to Open Branch in Ekaterinburg
Topic: State Hermitage Museum

Photo (from left to right): On September 13th, Sverdlovsk Region Governor Yevgeny Kuyvashev, head of the Union of Russian Museums and General Director of the State Hermitage Museum, Mikhail Piotrovsky and the head of the administration of Ekaterinburg, Alexander Jacob sign the agreement on the establishment of the Hermitage-Ural in Ekaterinburg in 2016.
A branch of Russia’s State Hermitage Museum is set to open in the Ural city of Ekaterinburg in 2016, following an agreement signed by Hermitage director Mikhail Piotrovsky, Sverdlovsk regional governor Yevgeny Kuyvashev and the head of Ekaterinburg’s administration Alexander Yakob earlier this month. The new museum will be the third regional branch of the Hermitage to open in Russia, after those in Kazan and Vyborg.

Details over the future of the Hermitage-Ural centre were discussed at the International Conference of Museums, which was held in St Petersburg and then Ekaterinburg in September.

The plan to create a branch of St Petersburg’s largest museum in Ekaterinburg was inspired by the city’s role in the history of the Hermitage. More than a million artefacts from the Hermitage's museum collection was sent to the Ural capital in 1941, where they remained in safe keeping at the city’s Sverdlovsk Picture Gallery until the end of the Second World War in 1945.

The idea of opening a fourth branch of the Hermitage in the Siberian city of Omsk was also discussed at the conference. 
© St. Petersburg Times. 27 September, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:08 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 27 September 2014 6:23 AM EDT
Permalink | Share This Post
Friday, 26 September 2014
Monument to Peter the Great Unveiled in Nizhny Novgorod
Topic: Peter the Great

In Nizhny Novgorod, a new monument to Emperor Peter I was unveiled earlier this week. It was Peter the Great, who signed a decree in 1714 founding the Nizhny Novgorod province.

"Today, we talk about the Nizhny Novgorod region as a large scientific, industrial, cultural, business center. It was Peter I, who was the first to have seen the potential and opportunities of our region. After his decree, people began working on the land to prepare it for agricultural purposes, they started introducing monetary relations and practicing social division of labor - they started building and developing industrial companies, - said Nizhny Novgorod Governor Valery Shantsev. - Each district of the Nizhny Novgorod region still has the features that saw the light and developed in those times: leather and steel production, rope factories and shipbuilding. Peter I did a lot for science, education and economy."

The figure of Peter the Great stand 3.7 meters (more than 12 ft.)  high. The monument is made of bronze; the three-meter pedestal is made of granite and concrete. The artist of the monument is Nizhny Novgorod-based sculptor Aleksey Schchitov.

"Symbolically, the monument was placed on this particular location. Peter the Great is looking at Strelka, and there is the Nizhny Novgorod Kremlin and Zachatskaya Tower behind him. I think it came out great. This is where history comes together - the present and the future: the Nizhny Novgorod Kremlin, the militia, the 300th anniversary of the creation of the region - one can feel all this at once. I'm sure that at the monument to Peter I, Nizhny Novgorod residents will be holding ceremonies, landmark meetings and other important activities," said Valery Shantsev. 
© Pravda. 26 September, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 11:54 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 26 September 2014 12:04 PM EDT
Permalink | Share This Post
Thursday, 25 September 2014
Exhibition: Imperial Porcelain Factory. Dialogue of the Ages Opens at Tsaritsyno
Topic: Exhibitions

More than 1,000 pieces of Russian porcelain dating from the 18th to 20th centuries will be presented at the exhibition, which opens on September 25th at the Tsaritsyno Museum-Reserve in Moscow. The exhibition is timed to mark two anniversaries - the 270th anniversary of the Imperial Porcelain Factory and the 250th anniversary of the State Hermitage.

For the first time, 10 halls of the Greater Tsaritsyno Palace will be used to display such a large-scale exhibition. On display are the finest works of the masters of the Imperial Porcelain Factory from the collections of the State Hermitage, Tsaritsyno Museum-Reserve, the Imperial Porcelain Factory in St. Petersburg, and private collectors.

Established in 1744 as Neva Porcelain Manufacturer, Russia's oldest porcelain factory changed it’s name several times over the last 270 years: Imperial State, Leningrad, Lomonosov, and Imperial again in 2005. In 1844, the 100th anniversary of the company was marked by the creation of a museum, which is now a department of the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg.
Imperial Porcelain Factory: Dialogue of the Ages showcases 184 masterpieces - including a porcelain portrait of Empress Catherine II, from the historical collections of the State Hermitage Museum collection, 80 pieces from the Tsaritsyno Museum-Reserve collection, and nearly 700 works of porcelain from the Imperial Porcelain Factory collections, and numerous pieces from private collections within Russia.

Porcelain service from the Imperial yacht Derzhava
One unusual feature of this exhibit is the rejection of displays in chronological order. Instead, each of the 10 halls is devoted to themes, such as theatre, music, landscape, animals, and even fashion, etc. As a result, rarities from the 18th to early 20th centuries and unique products of the Soviet era can be seen next to the best works of contemporary artists. 

Exhibition organizers note that porcelain, from the time it first appeared in the history of mankind, that it has always been a mystery, and the secrets of its production were carefully guarded. "When in the first half of the 18th century, our ingenious countryman Dmitry Vinogradov invented our domestic Russian porcelain - it was a very important step in the development of the culture and art of our country," - said Svetlana Adaksina, chief curator of the State Hermitage Museum. 

She also noted that porcelain is often called the “white gold of the kings, it has always been and still continues to be a symbol of prestige and wealth."

The exhibition will run at the Grand Palace of the Tsaritsyno Museum-Reserve in Moscow from September 25, 2014 to January 11, 2015.

For more information on the Imperial Porcelain Factory, please refer to the following article:

The Imperial Porcelain Factory: Three Centuries of Russian Fine China 

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 25 September, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:41 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 26 September 2014 11:40 AM EDT
Permalink | Share This Post
Wednesday, 24 September 2014
Kremlin Museum Hosts World War One Exhibition
Topic: World War I

The exhibition, titled World War I: Forgotten Feats, Heroes and Awards of The Russian Army, marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the WWI. Over five hundred historical relics and documents are presented at the exhibition to reveal the significance and importance of the exploit performed by Russian soldiers and officers, the gallantry displayed by many distinguished representatives of the Russian people during the World War I, the website of the Kremlin Museums reports.

In 1917, when St. Petersburg (then called Petrograd) was under threat of attack of German troops, treasuries of the Imperial family as well as precious decorations and various order insignia from the Chapter of the Russian orders were carefully transferred to the Armoury Chamber. The collection of the Royal family was successfully rescued and preserved in 1918 during the fighting for the Kremlin and later on in 1920s-1930s, in the period of expropriation of the Kremlin treasury, when the newly formed Soviet authorities, requiring a serious financial support in foreign currency, were on the edge of selling the Tsars' treasuries for nothing.

The project introduces military insignia — orders and medals — received by Russian soldiers and officers, including those of the Order of Saint George — the highest military decoration of the Russian Empire. The exposition presents foreign decorations, some of which were awarded to Russian warriors. Most part of these artifacts was transferred to the museum in 1918 as a part of the Chapter of the Russian orders collection. Statute of the Order of Saint Olga, Equal-of-the-Apostles, is of special interest — this decoration was intended for women as an award "for the merits in the various arenas of public and community service, as well as for the deeds and works for the benefit of their neighbour."

The exposition incorporates photographs from the State Archive of the Russian Federation, which still preserve the images of Russian war heroes. Among them are the general A. Brusilov, major-general I. Kostin as well as photos of ordinary soldiers and officers, decorated with various military insignia.

A special group of the exposed relics is closely related to the history of the Royal family. Emperor Nicholas II assumed the role of commander-in-chief of the Russian armed forces in August 1915, therefore took the responsibility for the military actions of Russia in war, its victories and losses. Here you can see the famous Easter egg by Carl Faberge firm, which was presented by the Emperor to his wife — Empress Alexander Fyodorovna — for Easter 1916, and a noteworthy memorial item —  the officer cavalry broadsword, which had belonged to Grand Duke Sergei Mikhailovich of Russia, who was appointed Inspector general of Artillery.

The Grand Duchesses of the Romanov family made a valuable contribution to the development of military medicine in Russia during the war:  the mother of Nicholas II, Dowager Empress Maria Fyodorovna, the president of Russia's Red Cross, and his daughters were involved in the organization of hospitals, sanitary trains and sanatoriums; they worked as medical nurses, provided financial support for various social activities, participated in public events intended for the Russian servicemen, injured during the hostilities. At the exhibition you can see decorations granted to medics and other health-care workers —the insignia of the Order of Red Cross — as well as remarkable photographs with Grand Duchesses in hospital.

As in the Soviet period the World War I has been referred to as a tragic "Imperialist war", launched by European countries along with Russia, the project provides a unique opportunity to learn something new about this historical period, to unveil an interesting page of the Russian history. 
© Russkiy Mir and Kremlin Museums. 24 September, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 11:42 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 24 September 2014 11:54 AM EDT
Permalink | Share This Post
Tuesday, 23 September 2014
Russia Clears Name of Faithful British Servant Murdered by the Bolsheviks
Topic: Grand Duke Mikhail Alexan

The last known photograph of Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich and Nicholas Johnson in Perm, April, 1918
Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the September 23rd, 2014 edition of The Daily Mail. The author Will Stewart, owns the copyright of the work presented below.

He had devoted his life to serving his master  -  and, even in the face of certain death, that loyalty never wavered. 
Yet for 90 years, Briton Nicholas Johnson  -  murdered by Bolshevik revolutionaries in Russia  -  was officially branded an 'enemy of the people'. 

As valet to Michael Romanov, younger brother of Tsar Nicholas II, Johnson had known he faced execution as the 300-year-old dynasty was swept aside in 1917. 

Michael pleaded with his faithful servant to flee to the safety of Britain  -  but Johnson bravely refused to leave his side. 

On June 12, 1918, both were shot by a bloodthirsty rabble. 

As Johnson lay dying, the wounded Michael went to his aid, begging the execution squad: 'Let me say goodbye to my friend.' Moments later, he too was dead. 

Now, however, the Kremlin has officially rehabilitated Johnson  -  meaning he no longer carries any stain of guilt on official records. 

The Russian government declared Johnson, Michael and other members of the Imperial Family had been unlawfully persecuted and killed by the feared Cheka, the forerunner to the KGB. 

'The analysis of old archive materials leads to the conclusion that these persons were subject to persecution in the form of arrest, exile and surveillance by the Cheka without being charged with any specific crime, on account of their class and social status,' said officials. 

Johnson's remains have never been found. Nor have those of Michael, whose brother Nicholas and his family were infamously murdered a month later. 

It is not known if Johnson has any relatives in Britain to celebrate the official clearing of his name.

Johnson had been Grand Duke Michael's private secretary since 1912 and was described as being 'round faced, not very tall, and speaking three languages'.

His father, Nicholas, was a Briton, although it is not known exactly where he was from.

Nor is it known how he came to meet and marry Nicholas's mother, a Russian woman who was a music teacher at the Russian Imperial Court. 

Nicholas Johnson was an accomplished pianist, and a shared love of music led to his friendship and then employment with the lanky Michael.

The pair became known as 'Little and Large' around the court. Michael represented his brother, the Tsar, at the funerals of both Queen Victoria in 1901 and Edward VII of England in 1909.

As a result of his travels, he became something of an Anglophile.

Many of his tastes and preferences shaped during those years reflect those of the English aristocracy. He was an accomplished equestrian, an avid automobile driver, and loved animals and country living.

Johnson's moment in Russian history came in 1917 after Tsar Nicholas abdicated on behalf of himself and his sole heir, his haemophiliac son Alexey, 12.

Rather than renounce the throne altogether, Nicholas quit as absolute ruler in favour of his younger brother.

Johnson was involved in drawing up Michael's response a day after Nicholas' abdication on 15 March.

The response did not turn down the throne, but agreed to accept it only if Russia became a constitutional monarchy supported by the 1917.

Russian historians argue that while never crowned, Michael technically ruled for a matter of hours before Russia was declared a republic by the provisional government.

Aware of the dangers ahead, Michael told Johnson he should flee to Britain, but the aide refused to go unless Michael went with him to safety.

But the royal refused to leave Russia, which was then engulfed in the First World War. Both were soon exiled to the city of Perm.

Despite having to report to the guards every day at 11am, they lived in some luxury in a hotel, with a Rolls Royce at their disposal, much to the chagrin of local Bolsheviks.

It was local 'workers' who conducted the execution in a nearby forest  -  apparently on the orders of Vladimir Lenin, founder of the Soviet Union, amid fears the anti-revolutionary White Russians would liberate Michael.

Michael was struck by the first bullet, then Johnson was shot and mortally wounded.

After going to Johnson's aid the wounded Michael was shot at point blank range in the head.

The servant's antique watch was stolen by the man who killed him, Andrei Markov.

He boasted years later: 'I took it as a memory of him after I shot him dead.

'Since that moment, I haven't taken it off. It hasn't required any repair work.'

The murders were the first in an orgy of Romanov killings between June 1918 and January 1919. In all, 18 members of the Imperial Family were executed. 
© Will Stewart / The Daily Mail. 23 September, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 5:45 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 23 September 2014 5:55 PM EDT
Permalink | Share This Post
Monday, 22 September 2014
The Art of Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna Exhibition Opens in Kaluga
Topic: Olga Alexandrovna GD

The grand opening of the exhibition The Art of Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna, took place on September 20th, at the Kaluga Museum of Fine Arts. Kaluga is situated 50 kilometers (93 mi) southwest of Moscow. The exhibition which is dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the First World War, received the blessing of Metropolitan Kliment of Kaluga and Borovsky and the support of Governor Anatoly Artamonov of the Kaluga Region. 

The exhibition presents more than a hundred watercolours painted by the Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna (1882-1960), as well as photographs, portraits, and other personal items of the youngest daughter of Emperor Alexander III. The exhibition has been organized by Mrs. Olga Kulikovsky, the chairman of the Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna Memorial Fund. Mrs. Kulikovsky is the widow of Tikhon Kulikovsky, the eldest son of Grand Duchess Olga.

Mrs. Olga Kulikovsky at the opening of the exhibition in Kaluga, Russia. Photo: SmileKaluga
Exhibits cover the life and career of the Grand Duchess, inviting visitors on a fascinating journey of her life. Her watercolours reflect her observations and experiences, which are displayed on a background of cultural and natural features of the three countries - Russia, Denmark and Canada - countries in which she lived at different stages of her life.

The artistic works of the Grand Duchess have been touring Russia for nearly two years now, exhibited in museums in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Tyumen, Yekaterinburg, Yaroslavl, Kostroma, Balashikha, Tobolsk Lipetsk, Odintsov and Vladivostok. 

Among the works of the August artist are a number of watercolours created during the First World War, or devoted to a military theme. A special book has been published to mark the exhibition in Russian and English. The album Life at War: 1914-1918, includes rare vintage photographs and drawings, and letters written by Grand Duchess Olga during the war years. The presentation of this unique album took place at the opening ceremony in Kaluga. 

The photo album published to mark the exhibition
Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna was the younger sister of Emperor Nicholas II. She was born on June 13th (O.S. 1st June), 1882 in Gatchina, situated outside of St. Petersburg. The life of the Grand Duchess was not an easy one. The premature death of his father, the revolution, the murders of those close to her - were all part of her life's trials. Staying true to her duty to the Fatherland, the Grand Duchess helped those in need. During the First World War she established a hospital and worked there as a nurse. As a deeply religious person, she always believed in the liberation of the Motherland from Bolshevism and totalitarian dictatorship. In 1901, she was appointed Honourary Commander-in-Chief of the 12th Akhtyrsky Hussar Regiment.

The Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna is also known as a talented artist, producing over 2,000 paintings during her life. Her paintings are in many museums and private collections throughout the world, they are highly sought after by private collectors to this day. On November 20, 1960 the last Grand Duchess died in Toronto, and was buried next to her husband, Nikolai Alexandrovich Kulikovsky (1881-1958) at the cemetery in North York. A collection of watercolors is the creation of its more than 200 works.

The Art of Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna exhibition runs at the Kaluga Museum of Fine Arts until October 19th, 2014. 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 22 September, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:23 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 23 September 2014 9:47 AM EDT
Permalink | Share This Post
Sunday, 21 September 2014
Legendary Imperial Russian Cruiser Aurora Towed to Kronstadt for Repairs
Now Playing: Language: NA. Duration: 2 minutes, 16 seconds
Topic: Russian History
Aerial filming shows tug boats towing the cruiser Aurora along the Neva River in central St. Petersburg, September 21, 2014. The former cruiser, which was used during the Russian-Japanese War in 1904-05 and the October Revolution in Russia in 1917, was towed to Kronstadt for planned repair works.
The legendary Russian battle cruiser Aurora has been towed from its traditional post in St. Petersburg to the Kronstadt shipyard for repairs, ITAR-TASS reports. For the first time since 1987, when the museum-ship was last repaired, residents St. Petersburg had the opportunity to watch the Aurora be towed by tugboats under overhanging arms of Troitsky, Dvortsovy and Blagoveshchensky bridges. Tugboats towed the cruiser to a dockyard of Kronshtadt maritime plant for a distance of 40 kilometers. 

Defence Ministry hopes that the cruiser will return to its ‘eternal mooring’ berth at the Petrograd embankment after the overhaul in 2016. Deadlines for repairs will be announced after the ship is docked and the underwater part of its hull is examined, chief of the culture department of Defence Ministry Anton Gubankov said. 

The Imperial Russian cruiser Aurora being towed along the Neva towards Kronstadt
After the overhaul an exposition on board the museum-ship will almost double, meanwhile, the 1917 events, including the October Revolution, will cease to be its main topic, Ruslan Nekhai, director of the Central Naval Museum, announced earlier.

In the previous year the warship celebrated the 110th anniversary of its commissioning. The gun cruiser was on combat duty in the Navy for almost half a century from 1903 to 1948, fighting in the battles of the Russo-Japanese War, the First World War, the Great Patriotic War and the 1917 revolutionary events.

In 1948 the battle cruiser was moored at the Petrograd embankment and has served as a training base for Leningrad Nakhimov Naval Academy up to 1956. In 1957 cruiser Aurora was turned in a museum ship, hosting a branch of the Central Naval Museum. In 1992 the St. Andrew naval flag was hoisted aboard the warship. Now the cruiser is registered in Culture Ministry as a federal cultural heritage site.
© Russkiy Mir and Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 21 September, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:21 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 23 September 2014 7:58 AM EDT
Permalink | Share This Post
Saturday, 20 September 2014
The Forgotten Tutor: John Epps and the Romanovs
Topic: Books

This notice is for information purposes only.

The Forgotten Tutor will be available December 2014. Please NOTE that we are NOT accepting any pre-orders at this time. Additional updates, including price and availability will be posted on our blog and Facebook pages, as well as the Royal Russia Bookshop.

Gilberts Books - the publishing division of Royal Russia - is pleased to announce the forthcoming publication of a new title to be released in December 2014. The Forgotten Tutor: John Epps and the Romanovs is the first book written about the virtually unknown tutor to the Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia, between the years 1905-1914.

In December 1914 the eldest daughter of the last Tsar sent her former tutor a photographic portrait of herself. The soulful picture, signed ‘Olga 1914’, was the last communication the devoted tutor received from any of his former pupils. In July 1918 the family of Nicholas II were brutally murdered by a Bolshevik firing squad in the basement of the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg.

After his return to England in 1914, John Epps took particular pains to preserve his Imperial mementoes. Over nine years — between 1905 and 1904 — he collected every letter, card and drawing he received from the ill-fated children. About 30 of his papers were discovered more than a decade ago at an antiquarian book dealer in London, England. They had lain untouched at the bottom of a tin document drawer for nearly 70 years.

The lives of the four daughters of Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna have been carefully preserved through the post-Revolution memoirs of Pierre Gilliard, Sydney Gibbs, Margaretta Eagar and Anna Vyrubova. These names recorded for posterity tell the story of their lives and their influence on the Imperial children. Of John Epps, however, there was no mention. He had been totally lost to history. Until now. 

Janet Epps - an Australian descendant of the tutor - and Dr. Gabriella Lang tell the story of John Epps, who arrived in Russia in 1880 to take up a post in an English school. From 1900, he was employed as a teacher at the Imperial Lyceum in Tsarskoye Selo.

It was not until 1905, however, that he was offered the position of tutor to the four daughters of Russia's last tsar. On Monday April 25th, 1905, John Epps arrived at the Alexander Palace where he was met by Princess Sonia Orbeliani - the Tsarina’s lady-in-waiting who took him to schoolroom, where he encountered “a tall, slender woman.” He describes this meeting: “Have I the honour of speaking to the Tsarina?” he asked hesitantly. “Yes, you do,” she replied. His new August employer smiled and did her best to make him at ease.

Many of John Epps’ observations of the grand duchesses are now preserved in the pages of this charming book. To John Epps, they had not been historical figures but real people with whom he had a relationship and these historical documents were tangible proof of that.

The highlight of the book are the reproductions of the letters, cards and drawings created by the grand duchesses for their beloved tutor, and published for the first time in The Forgotten Tutor. These childish drawings and sketches - so lovingly prepared and just as lovingly collected and carefully preserved - coupled with Epps' impressions of life in the Alexander Palace, tell of a different age, a magical world that ended so brutally. The stage is now set for John Epps' story to be told, for acknowledgement of his contribution to the rich tapestry of the Romanov saga and - most importantly - to finally bring these poignant personal mementoes of the last tsar and his family into the public arena.
The Forgotten Tutor: John Epps and the Romanovs will be the 25th title published by Gilbert's Books - the publishing division of Royal Russia - since 1994.

For more information on the discovery of John Epps papers, please refer to the following news articles published in the Australian press in 2004:

Romanov Children's Ephemera Found in Trunk in London (ABC - The World Today, 14 October, 2004)

A Rare Glimpse into History (The Sunday Age, 14 October, 2004)

© Gilbert's Books. 20 September, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 10:12 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 20 September 2014 12:20 PM EDT
Permalink | Share This Post
Friday, 19 September 2014
The Imperial Porcelain Factory: Three Centuries of Russian Fine China
Topic: Russian History

Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the September 18th, 2014 edition of Russia Beyond the Headlines. The author Nina Freiman, owns the copyright of the work presented below.

The Imperial Porcelain Factory, Russia’s oldest producer of fine china, turns 270 years on Sept.18. The creations of its masters are exhibited in the world’s best museums, sold at high-profile auctions, and set on the tables of international summits. RBTH finds out how the company began and how it acquired the secret of porcelain production from China.

This month marks the 270th anniversary of one of Russia’s most cherished institutions, the Imperial Porcelain Factory in St. Petersburg. Yet although the name of the factory has become synonymous in Russia with fine china and tableware, the story of the company’s origins and how it acquired the secret of porcelain production from the Chinese are not so well known. 

The Imperial Porcelain Factory was founded in 1744 at the order of Empress Elizaveta Petrovna, the daughter of Peter I. Elizaveta invited Saxon specialist Christopher Hunger to start the factory. His assistant was Dmitry Vinogradov, one of the first Russian chemists and associate of renowned Russian scientist Mikhail Lomonosov. 

Hunger turned out to be a charlatan – not only did he not invent Russian porcelain, but he even failed to replicate German fine china. He only managed to manufacture six cups, and low quality ones at that. Hunger was driven out in the fall of 1746, and Vinogradov took his place. From formula to production Vinogradov deduced the treasured porcelain formula soon after, in January 1747. How did he uncover the secret so thoroughly protected in Europe and China in just a few months?

From formula to production 

Vinogradov deduced the treasured porcelain formula soon after, in January 1747. How did he uncover the secret so thoroughly protected in Europe and China in just a few months?

According to modern historian Konstantin Pisarenko, the secret was spirited from China by ensign Alexei Vladykin, who spoke Chinese perfectly, was involved in trade (and, of course, intelligence), and spent time in the company of Chinese ministers. 

Vladykin learned the secret behind porcelain production from a Chinese document back in 1741, but he was only able to bring it to Russia in 1746. 

Vinogradov’s factory started manufacturing fine china according to the recipe provided by Vladykin, and the teacups turned out to be on a par with their Chinese counterparts. 

Although Vinogradov was glorified as the inventor, he did not forget Vladykin, whom he promoted and placed at the head of the next trade caravan to China.  

Porcelain cemetery and the subway 

In the nearly 300 years of its existence, the factory has expanded to five-and-a-half hectares and influenced the local toponymy: It is neighbored by the Farforovskaya Railway Station (farfor is the Russian word for porcelain), the Farforovskoye Cemetery, and the Farforovsky Overpass. The St. Petersburg subway station closest to the factory was also named in its honor: Lomonosovskaya (the factory was called Lomonosov during Soviet times). 

According to Tatyana Tylevich, general director of the Imperial Porcelain Factory, the enterprise currently employs around 1,200 people. There are three workshops: one for soft-paste porcelain (animalistic sculpture), one for hard-paste porcelain, and one for bone china (items made of bone china are so thin that they literally shine in the light).

The factory’s main European competitors are British producer Wedgwood and German manufacturer Meissen. However, these companies transferred production to South-East Asia long ago, leaving just the brand and design in Europe. 

“The Imperial Factory is one of the few in Europe that has not moved its production facilities to other regions,” Tylevich said. “Our products can’t be torn away from the place where they have been manufactured for 270 years,” she added. 

But while the factory’s management, equipment, and manpower are Russian, its raw materials are imported from abroad – from Ukraine, to be exact. When the Ukrainian crisis began, the factory was forced to procure a year ahead. “We’re looking forward to a rapid conclusion to this conflict. We had several stores in Ukraine,” Tylevich said. “Now they’ve suspended their operations, but their owners are focused on future cooperation,” she added.

A jack of all trades Even though she has been working with porcelain for as long as she can remember and has been with the factory for 40 years, Nelya Petrova, the Imperial Factory’s chief artist, admits that porcelain is a capricious material. One has to take into account 13-14 percent shrinkage, possible deformation during firing, and of course, the fact that paints require various firing temperatures.

“You can do a lot of things with porcelain; for example, a table or chandelier. We have an artist who can improvise a whole dress from pieces of porcelain,” Petrova said. “The material isn’t good except for jewelry. It’s too fragile,” she added. 

Porcelain masters have their own professional language. For example, they refer to white glazed unpainted porcelain as “white ware.” Unglazed porcelain is called “bisque,” and in its liquid state it is called “slurry.” 

Slurry, by the way, which is reminiscent of cocoa in terms of color and texture, is poured into porous plaster molds. Each sculpture requires several molds; for example, one for the head and one for the body. When the slurry solidifies, the parts of the sculpture are combined and sent away for firing. 

The drawings on the cups and saucers seem completely black at first, but they turn gold after hours in the oven. This gold never fades, even after many years. Despite its deceptive fragility, fine china can survive for hundreds of years and stand the test of history, with all its quirks and kinks. 
© Nina Freiman / Russia Beyond the Headlines. 19 September, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:19 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 19 September 2014 6:26 AM EDT
Permalink | Share This Post

Newer | Latest | Older