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Tuesday, 1 March 2011
Russian Silver Casket Sells for Over $250,000
Topic: Antiques

Excitement was in the air at Weschler’s February 12th auction of European & American Furniture and Decorations including Asian Works of Art when a Russian silver gilt cloisonné and en-plein enamel casket went on the auction block. The casket, made by Antip Ivanovich Kuzmichev, Moscow, 1896-1908, garnered a lot of attention prior to the auction and once bidding began the casket soared past its estimate of $30,000-$50,000 and sold to an overseas phone bidder for $256,750. 

© ARTFIXdaily. 01 March, 2011

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Friday, 1 April 2011 4:18 PM EDT
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Tsar's Throne on Display at Versailles
Topic: Nicholas II

The throne of Tsar Nicholas II is on view at the Chateau de Versailles through June 19 as part of the show "Trones en Majeste."

© Bloomberg. 01 March, 2011

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Monday, 7 March 2011 9:24 AM EST
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Tuesday, 1 January 2002
Archive for Materials Relating to Russian Emigres Opens in Paris

A new centre for the storing of historical documents relating to the emigration of Russians to France in the years following the 1917 revolution opened on 24 September, in the Parisian suburban town of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.
© Russkiy Mir Foundation. 26 September, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 1:00 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 26 September 2015 6:46 AM EDT
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The Palace Grenadiers Company

The Palace Grenadiers Company, was a special honour military unit under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of the Imperial Court. The company was established by Emperor Nicholas I in 1827 and staffed with enlisted guards who had distinguished themselves in the course of the Patriotic War of 1812 (120 men, including 69 recipients of the Order of St. George). The company was later expanded with veteran guards (also by army veterans from 1900) who had served exceptionally for no less than 20 years and gained special honours in wars. The officers’ staff of the company could include only those promoted from the lower ranks and awarded with the Soldiers' Cross of St. George. 

The Palace Grenadiers were unofficially known as the "Golden company" for their rich and ornate red and gold coloured uniforms. Their bearskin hats were similar to those of Napoleon I’s grenadiers and looked somewhat exotic in Russia. Gold braids were widely used even on their belts in red and gold. Their regimental holiday was marked on 19 December (O.S. 6 December), day of St. Nicholas the Miracle-Worker.

The Palace Grenadiers Company performed the most exclusive honour guard duties at the Imperial residences, including escorting the Emperor during major state ceremonies and standing guard over monuments to the Patriotic War of 1812. The company was disbanded in 1917. Its quarters were located in the Winter Palace, at the Guards Corps headquarters at 33 Millionnaya Street, among other locations. 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 28 October, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 1:00 AM EST
Updated: Friday, 25 March 2016 12:03 PM EDT
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Exhibition: Unrivalled Wedgwood Opens in Moscow

The large-scale exhibition of the masterpieces manufactured by Wedgwood, a legendary British company, opens on 15 November in halls of the All-Russia Decorative Art Museum. The exhibition is a part of official program of the UK-Russia Year of Culture 2014. The White Hall of the museum with the floor area of more than six hundred square meters will present artworks from the Lady Lever Collection (Liverpool) which never travelled abroad before, and unique and rare exhibits from collections of the State Hermitage, State Tretyakov Gallery, State Museum of Fine Arts named after A. S. Pushkin, palace museums of Moscow and St. Petersburg suburbs (Tsarskoye Selo, Pavlovsk, Peterhof, Ostankino, Kuskovo, Kolomenskoye estates). The main idea of this display is to show the impressive experience of Josiah Wedgwood, to illustrate the importance of innovative thinking in spheres of art, science and entrepreneurship. Visitors of the exhibition will be able to see original objects of impeccable taste, high quality, elegance and style produced by the Wedgwood Company which will be displayed in Moscow for the first time.

The exhibition will put together more than three hundred objects of highest esthetical value: jewelry, furniture pieces, costumes, works of painting and graphics from the XVIII – XIX cc. Among the unique exhibits of the display the visitors will discover one of the three marble fireplaces with Flaxman blue jasper plaquettes in its original form, porcelain plates with paintings by animalist George Stubbs, two oval medallions with portraits of Catherine II and Peter I (the unique nature of these porcelain plates and medallions is in their size and sophisticated manufacturing technology), pieces from the famous Green Frog service of Catherine II comprising almost a thousand of objects. Besides that, the exhibition will feature one of the most perfect reproductions of the famous Portland vase (the antique Roman original of it made in color glass was owned by Barberini Family, by Dukes of Portland – now it is kept in the British Museum) made in black basalt. A masterpiece of late Thomas Gainsborough, the Portrait of the Duchess of Cumberland, is another unique exhibit from the collection of the Lady Lever Collection, amazing in its virtuous performance, exquisite color scheme and noble model, one of the inimitable beauties of the period. Only one work of this master is represented in Russian collections.


Josiah Wedgwood, the creator of ceramic artworks, was simultaneously an artist, an inventor and a businessman. Wedgwood products came to symbolize British culture and turned into a standard of style. His business abilities and personal character helped him  to launch a flourishing business, and support of influential persons helped to shape a brand which is still inseparably associated with such notions as “superb taste” and “English traditions” today. The exhibits of our display will cover an extensive range of topics associated with culture, science and organization of production: emergence of the company in 1759, manufacturing of products in ancient Greek and Roman styles, experiments with color and form, introduction of innovative technologies, issue of new pottery and creation of fashionable jewelry.

The Unrivalled Wedgwood exhibition in our museum will coincide with the Music of the Earth festival conducted by Boris Berezovsky, a piano player. The festival will become an annual event, and it will be devoted to musical cultures of different countries. The festival will form a sort of a musical accompaniment for the exhibition during the UK-Russia Year of Culture 2014. It will open on November 26 with a gala concert at the House of Music, and then four unforgettable recitals of star performers from Russia, England and Ireland will continue its program during the next four days at our museum.

Visitors of our exhibition will also be able to participate in the UK-Russia Year of Culture 2014 intense program which will accompany the main exhibition: lectures and round-table discussions, watching of films about Wedgwood, its time and fate, recitals of British literature works popular in the XVIII century, master classes, presentations of the Russian and the English tea party traditions, educational quizes. A special souvenir shop offering Wedgwood products will be open during the exhibition.

Unrivalled Wedgwood runs from November 15, 2014 – February 1, 2015 at the All-Russia Decorative Art Museum, Moscow. 
© All-Russia Decorative Art Museum. 19 November, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 1:00 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 20 November 2014 5:27 PM EST
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Rare Russian Imperial Porcelain to be Auctioned in Toronto

A set of 12 Russian Imperial Porcelain dinner plates from the Raphael Service. Photo: Waddingtons
An extremely rare set of 12 Russian Imperial Porcelain dinner plates bearing the royal cyphers of both Alexander III and Nicholas II will be auctioned in Toronto at Waddington's on December 9, 2014.

Commissioned for the Alexander Palace in 1883, the 'Raphael Service' was the most expensive and considered one of the greatest achievements of the Imperial Porcelain Factory.

William Kime, Senior Specialist Decorative Arts at Waddington's, says, "This 12-piece set has been referred to as 'the stuff of legends'. To my knowledge, no other set of 12 plates has ever been offered." Kime added, "What makes the plates so rare and extraordinary is that they remained together, and are in such good condition."

The story behind the exquisite dinner service is as dramatic as the Russian Imperial family itself.  The design was based on the Raphael Loggia murals in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, which were ordered created by Empress Catherine the Great in the 1780s, based on the Raphael frescoes of the Vatican loggia.  Production was personally overseen by Czar Alexander III and took 20 years to complete. As new items for the service were completed, they were presented to the Emperor every year as Christmas gifts.

The set of 12 plates was sold in 1947 by Wartski (British antique and jewellery dealers specialising in Russian works of art, founded in 1865) and never seen again, until consigned to the Toronto auction house this year.

Contained in its original brass-bound mahogany box, in excellent condition. Pre-sale estimate is set at $120,000 – 150,000.

Catalogue Listing - Lot 111


with central red ground hexagonal panels painted en grisaille with classical subjects, the cavettos with gilt Greek key and cream ground borders painted with winged animals, the rims with three interjections, six grey ground panels of grotesqueries and three red ground medallions with figures, all within gilt surrounds on a foliate bordered celadon green ground, the edges and basal rims all gilt, contained in their original brass-bound mahogany case, diameter 9.5" — 24.2 cm., painted crowned ciphers and dated in red and gilt. 
© Waddingtons. 03 December, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 1:00 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 3 December 2014 4:29 AM EST
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Kremlin to Restore Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich Memorial Cross

This article was researched from Russian media sources and written by Paul Gilbert, Founder of Royal Russia © 2016
Russian President Vladimir Putin has given his approval for the restoration of the memorial cross erected on the site where the former Governor-General of Moscow Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich was assassinated in the Kremlin in February, 1905. The cross was established in 1908, but was later destroyed by the Bolsheviks.

A special committee will now discuss plans for the restoration of the memorial cross, and will include the following organizations: the All-Russian Social and State Organization, the Russian Military-Historical Society, the Ministry of Culture in cooperation with the Office of Presidential Affairs of the Russian Federation and the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation. Their recommendations will be presented to President Putin on September 30, 2016.

Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich (1857-1905) served as governor-general of Moscow from the spring of 1891 until January 1, 1905. He was assassinated on 17th February 1905 just 65 steps from the Nikolskaya Tower of the Moscow Kremlin - his carriage having been blown up by a bomb thrown by the terrorist Ivan Kaliayev. Historians note that this was the first murder committed in the Kremlin, and was a portent of the coming Revolution and Civil War. 

The remains of the Grand Duke were buried with full military honours in a specially constructed tomb located in the Chudov Monastery. A temporary wooden memorial cross was erected at the site of his assassination. Muscovites began to leave money at the foot of the cross, to help fund construction of a monument to the Grand Duke. The city government approved the implementation of the project which included a monument and fence. The monument was created by the famous Russian artist Viktor Vasnetsov (1848-1926) at the personal invitation of the widow of Sergei Alexandrovich Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna.

Vasnetsov’s memorial cross was unveiled on April 1, 1908, but was demolished in May 1918 by the personal order of Vladimir Lenin. It would be the first Kremlin monument demolished after the revolutionary events. 
The Chudov monastery was demolished in 1928, and the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet was built on the site. The burial crypt of the Grand Duke was located in a courtyard of that building, which had been used as a parking lot. In 1990, building workers in the Kremlin discovered the blocked up entrance of the burial vault. The coffin was examined and found to contain the Grand Duke’s remains, covered with the military greatcoat of the Kiev regiment, decorations, and an icon. He had left written instructions that he was to be buried in the Preobrazhensky Lifeguard regiment uniform, but as his body was so badly mutilated this proved impossible. 

On September 17, 1995, the coffin was officially exhumed. His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II held a Panikhida in the Cathedral of the Archangel of the Moscow Kremlin. The grand duke’s remains were then transferred and reburied in a vault of the Novospassky Monastery in Moscow. In 1999, a replica of the memorial cross destroyed by the Bolsheviks in 1918 was erected on the grounds of the monastery. The new monument was created by D. Grishin, and the sculptor Nikolai Orlov and based on the original sketches by Viktor Vasnetsov. 

For more information on Grand Duke Sergei’s tomb in the Novospassky Monastery, please refer to the following article:

The Final Resting Place of Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 3 August, 2016


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 1:00 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 3 August 2016 9:38 AM EDT
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The Fate of the Ekaterinburg Remains

The following article was written by Paul Gilbert, Founder of Royal Russia
On July 17th 1998, the remains of Emperor Nicholas II, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Anastasia, and their four faithful retainers Dr. Eugene Botkin, Ivan Kharitonov, Alexei Trupp and Anna Demidova were interred in the Saint Catherine Chapel of the SS Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg. I was privileged and honoured to have attended this historic event, one in which I, like many others had hoped would bring some closure to what is considered one of the greatest tragedies of 20th century Russian history. Sadly, this was not to be.

The questions raised by the murders of the Russian Imperial family, including the discovery of their remains in the vicinity of Ekaterinburg, as well as the recognition or non-recognition of their authenticity, have been unsettling both Russian and Western society for the last 25 years. Recently, many people have been looking to the Russian Orthodox Church for its verdict on the matter. Many fear that more than 20 years of scientific testing, extensive theological debates, and the enormous public outcry for resolution on the issue has failed to deter the Moscow Patriarchate’s decision to resolve the issue any time soon. But expressing an objective view requires the Church to conduct a thorough examination of the historical records as well as the investigation materials and the results of scientific enquiries.

In September of 2015, I published an article on my Royal Russia blog announcing that the investigation into the Ekaterinburg remains had been reopened. The investigation includes a new series of genetic studies, and a comprehensive review of the evidence accumulated since 1918 into the murders of the last Russian Imperial family. With the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill and at his request to the Investigative Committee a new team of experts was formed. A complex examination would be carried out for the first time – a historical, anthropological and genetic one - one in which the ROC would be involved in all aspects of the investigation.

In early January 2016, Bishop Tikhon of Yegoryevsk noted that the “examination of the Ekaterinburg remains may take several years.” This statement was confirmed the following month during the bishops’ council of the Russian Orthodox Church, when Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia announced at the opening ceremony that “the inquiry will last as long as is necessary in order establish the truth”.

Since the publication of these announcements, I have published more than 30 news stories and articles on the subject, mainly translated from Russian media sources. Over the course of the last six months, I have received a tremendous number of emails and telephone calls from readers frustrated by the ROC's position on the Ekaterinburg remains. 

With a lack of reliable information published in the Western media and social forums on the subject, much of what has been written has caused a wave of indignation towards the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian Imperial House. Many Westerners felt that the ROC should have taken the findings of the original DNA and forensic tests carried out years prior at face value, simply because a team of "experts" found the remains to be authentic. As Archpriest Oleg Mitrov points out in his recent essay The Investigation Into the Deaths of the Russian Royal Family and Persons of Their Entourage (published in Royal Russia No. 9 Winter 2016, pg. 31-44), in the early 1990s, the Moscow Patriarchate suggested "a temporary burial, then completing the investigation which, once it produced indisputable results, could stop all discord that this question created in society.” Their request fell on deaf ears, "the voice of our church wasn't heard at the time,” added Mitrov.

Non Orthodox Christians must understand the position of the ROC on the matter of both relics and canonization. The Legitimist web site notes: “Any remains of the murdered Imperial Family are ipso facto religious relics, and therefore the internal procedures of the Russian Orthodox Church in completely satisfying itself of their genuineness must be followed. The Russian Orthodox Church wants to address any remaining doubts about the remains, given the fact that, once accepted by the Church as the remains of Emperor Nicholas II and his family, they will become relics venerated by the faithful.”
Given the weight of evidence accumulated by experts in their respective fields since the early 1990s, it is highly unlikely that the Moscow Patriarchate will dispute the remains recovered from the two burial sites in Ekaterinburg between 1979 and 2007 any further. Recent statements made in the Russian media offer some hope that they are moving in that direction:
"The re-examination of the criminal case is not an attempt to reconsider the evidence received earlier and established facts, but rather represents the necessity of additionally investigating the new facts, which was requested by the Russian Orthodox Church," Russian Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin told the TASS News Agency (24 September, 2015). 

Markin went on to say, "an interdepartmental working group for the study and burial of the remains of Tsesarevich Alexei and Grand Duchess Maria gave its consent to conducting additional identification studies of the objects previously inaccessible for investigators." To this end, the investigators exhumed the remains of Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna in the SS Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg. Blood samples of Emperor Alexander II, Nicholas II’s grandfather who died in a terrorist act in 1881 and whose blood stains are found on his full-dress uniform, kept in the State Hermitage Museum, have also been taken. Additional DNA samples were extracted from Emperor Alexander III in November 2015, in a bid to conclusively answer questions about the fates of Nicholas II and his family.

Markin’s statements would suggest that the Moscow Patriarchate have accepted the Ekaterinburg remains as authentic, although no official statement has yet been issued by the Church.

The Russian Orthodox Church also believe that it is necessary to continue the search for the remains of Nicholas II's children. Presumably, only a small part of the remains of Tsarevich Alexei and Grand Duchess Maria have been found, therefore, the search must be continued, said a spokesman for the Russian Orthodox Church. The investigation into the criminal case of the murder of the royal family should also include an examination of the remains found by Nikolai Sokolov in the 1920s and later transferred to St. Job’s Church in Brussels.
In the meantime, as the world awaits the final results of new DNA and forensic studies on the Ekaterinburg remains, and the conclusion of the current investigation headed by the Russian Orthodox Church into the deaths of Emperor Nicholas II and his family, further new questions are sure to arise about the fate of the remains. 

Here are some points to further ponder on the fate of the Ekaterinburg remains: 
  • in the summer of 2000, the Moscow Patriarchate canonized the Holy Royal Martyrs as Royal Passion-Bearers. The ROC’s official recognition of the Ekaterinburg remains would result in their glorification as saints to be venerated by Orthodox Christians. This will result in an elaborate glorification ceremony headed by Kirill Patriarch of Moscow and all Rus'.
  • many people are expecting that the remains of the Tsesarevich Alexei and his sister, Grand Duchess Maria will be interred with those of their family in the Saint Catherine Chapel of the Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral. The ROC’s recognition of these remains would make this highly unlikely. Both the Saint Catherine Chapel and the SS Peter and Paul Cathedral are museums under the administration of the State Museum of the History of St. Petersburg, in which visitors may pay an admission to gain entry. This is something that the Church would vehemently oppose, and rightly so.
  • it seems highly likely that the remains of Emperor Nicholas II, Empress Alexandra, Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, Tsesarevich Alexei, and their four faithful retainers would be reinterred to another church. Given the historic significance of such an event, it is likely that a new church would be constructed in their honour, one which would allow Orthodox Christians to enter freely to venerate the Holy relics. During the past few months, there has been some speculation in the Russian media that such a church would be constructed in Ekaterinburg.  
  • despite the ROC’s earlier statements that the examination and investigation may take years, it seems highly likely that the canonization and veneration of the remains of the Holy Royal Martyrs will take place around the date which will mark the 100th anniversary of the murder of Russia’s last royal family on 17 July 2018. 
I am very optimistic that both the examination and investigation will conclude before the 2018 centenary, one which will at long last see the remains of all members of the last Russian Imperial family laid to rest together. Not only will their holy relics be venerated by the faithful, they will receive the honour which they truly deserve. Their glorification will help Russia to heal the wounds of the Bolshevik and Soviet regicide which engulfed the nation for more than 70 years.
To review more than 30 articles on the Ekaterinburg remains and the Holy Royal Martyrs, please click on the link below:

More articles on the Ekaterinburg remains and the Holy Royal Martyrs 



Posted by Paul Gilbert at 1:00 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 12 March 2016 7:51 AM EST
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The Lost Imperial Train Museum at Peterhof

In 1929, a unique museum was opened in the Alexandria Park at Peterhof. It consisted of two wagon cars of the former Imperial train of Emperor Nicholas II, It was in one of the wagons, on 15th March (O.S. 2 March ) 1917, that the last Russian Emperor signed his abdication.

During the Second World War, the wagons of the Imperial train were badly damaged, and have not survived.

Photos taken 1930-31. From the collection of the Peterhof State Museum Preserve. 

For more information on the Imperial trains, please refer to the following articles:

The Imperial Trains - Nicholas II

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 20 March, 2016

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 1:00 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 19 March 2016 5:56 PM EDT
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Christie's to Auction Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna Gold Service

Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna Service. Photo © Christie's New York
A two-colour gold tea and coffee service of Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna (1784-1803), the fourth child and second daughter of Emperor Paul I, and his wife Empress Maria Feodorovna has been put up for auction at Christie’s in New York on 13 April, 2016. Estimate: $1,500,000-2,500,000. 

The Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna Service includes a vase-shaped teapot, coffee-pot, milk-jug, two-handled sugar-bowl and waste-bowl, an oval two-handled tray, six teaspoons and a pair of sugar-tongs, 

The set was a present to the Russian Imperial family on the occasion of Grand Duchess Elena’s marriage on the 23 October 1799 to Hereditary Grand Duke Friedrich Ludwig of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (1778-1819). After her death, the set was passed on by descent to their daughter, Duchess Marie Luise of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (1803-1862), who married in 1825 Georg Duke of Saxe-Altenburg (1796-1853), son of Friedrich Duke of Saxe-Hildburghausen subsequently Duke of Saxe-Altenburg and his wife Charlotte Georgine of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, and then presumably by descent to their eldest son, Ernst I, Duke of Saxe-Altenburg (1826-1908) and then by descent in the family. 
The last time the Swiss-made set, which weighs almost three kilograms, was put up for auction at Christie’s London was 12 May 1931, by an anonymous buyer. 

Historians believe that a tradition to give golden tea or table sets to children and grandchildren dates back to 1779 when Russian Empress Catherine the Great ordered a golden coffee set for her two-year-old elder grandson Alexander Pavlovich (future Russian Emperor Alexander I).

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 23 March, 2016


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 1:00 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 23 March 2016 2:28 PM EDT
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