Photo: Tsar Ivan IV ("the Terrible") demonstrates his treasures to the ambassador of Queen Elizabeth I of England. Artist: Alexander Litovchenko (1835-1890
A new exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, England next year will examine the development of cultural diplomacy and trade between Britain and Russia from its origins in 1555 when the Muscovy Company was founded. Treasures of the Royal Courts: Tudors, Stuarts and the Russian Tsars will reveal the majesty and pageantry of the royal courts of Henry VIII to Charles II and Ivan IV (Ivan the Terrible) to the early Romanovs as they sought to strengthen their power against a backdrop of religious and social upheaval.
The exhibition will begin with Henry VIII’s consolidation of the Tudor dynasty following his accession to the throne in 1509 and the establishment of the English court style. Charting the exchange between consecutive British sovereigns and ambassadors and their corresponding rulers and diplomats in Russia, it will conclude at the end of Charles II’s reign in 1685, after the re-establishment of the British monarchy had resumed contact with Russia.
Comprising more than 150 objects, the exhibition will chronicle the ritual and chivalry of the royal courts with heraldry, processional armour and sumptuous textiles including furnishings and fine clothing. The leading figures of the time including monarchs, diplomats, wealthy merchants and courtiers will be introduced through portraiture, including paintings and miniatures by court artists. Magnificent examples of jewellery and luxury goods will illustrate the valuable gifts presented by ambassadors.
Martin Roth, V&A Director said: “This exhibition tells us about Britain’s longstanding relationship with Russia as well as highlighting similarities of diplomacy and exchange between both countries - then and today. Our partnership with the Kremlin Museums continues this association and we are delighted to bring together such extraordinary treasures from both museums.”
The works will be drawn from the V&A’s collections, with important loans from Russia, including the Kremlin Armouries Museum and the State Historical Museum in Moscow, alongside objects from British collections including the National Portrait Gallery, National Maritime Museum, the Royal Collection and Royal Armouries.
The exhibition marks the 400 year anniversary of the Romanov dynasty and is part of an ongoing programme of exchange between the V&A and the Kremlin Armouries Museum in Moscow. The exhibition will run 9 March to 14 July, 2013 at the V&A in London, England.
© Victoria & Albert Museum. 21 October, 2012