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Thursday, 22 March 2012
Four Sisters: The Vanished World of the Romanov Daughters
Topic: Books


A new book on the daughters of Tsar Nicholas II will be published next year by British author and historian, Helen Rappaport. From her web site, Ms Rappaport notes:

They were the Princess Dianas of their day – perhaps the most photographed and talked about young royals of the early twentieth century. And with good reason, for the four captivating Russian Grand Duchesses – Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia Romanov – were much talked about and admired for their happy dispositions, their looks, the clothes they wore and their privileged lifestyle.

From an early age they were at the centre of unceasing gossip about the dynastic marriages they might make. But who were they really beyond the saccharine image perpetuated by those now familiar photographs of them as pretty girls in white dresses and big hats?  What were their personal hopes, dreams and aspirations and how did they interact with each other and with their parents?   What was life really like within the highly insular Imperial Family and how did they really feel about their mother’s obsessive and all consuming love for their spoilt brother Alexey?   

Over the years, the story of the four Romanov sisters and their tragic end in a basement at Ekaterinburg in 1918 has clouded our view of them, leading to a mass of sentimental and idealized hagiography. They are too often seen merely as set dressing, the beautiful but innocuous background to the bigger, more dramatic story of their parents – Russia’s last Tsar and Tsarina, Nicholas and Alexandra.   They are perceived as lovely, desirable and living charmed lives. But the truth is somewhat different.

For most of their short lives the four Romanov sisters were beautiful birds in a gilded cage, shut away at their palaces at Tsarskoe Selo or Livadia as a reaction to the fear of terrorist attacks on the Imperial Family.  In reality the girls had few friends and ever fewer playmates and were largely cut off from the real world outside and thenormal life experiences of other girls – that is, until everything changed in 1914. Suddenly, with Russia’s entry into the war, the girls had to grow up fast.

In a deliberate echo of the title of Chekhov’s play, Four Sisters sets out to capture the joy as well as the insecurities and poignancy of those young lives against the backdrop of the dying days of late Imperial Russia. It will aim to present a new and challenging take on the story, drawing on previously unseen archival sources, as well as photographic and other material in private collections and opinion drawn from the author’s considerable personal network of royalty experts.

Helen Rappaport is the author of Ekaterinburg: The Last Days of the Romanovs (2009) and her most recent royal biography, Magnificent Obsession: Victoria, Albert and the Death That Changed the Monarchy (2011). Her forthcoming book, Four Sisters will be published in 2014.

© Helen Rappaport. 22 March, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:04 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 24 March 2012 1:00 PM EDT
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Christie's Russian Works of Art Sale Features Tsarist Treasures
Topic: Antiques


Christie's Russian works of art sale on Monday, April 16th features an extravagent selection of tsarist treasures, including Faberge and cloisonne enamel, porcelain and more.

A highlight from the Russian Imperial court is a jeweled gold maid of honor badge by the court jeweler Hahn (estimate: $70,000-90,000). The badge was presented in 1904 to Countess Olga Alexandrovna Nieroth (b. 1876), maid of honor to Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, whose family had a distinguished record of military and civil service to the Russian empire.

||| Click Here to View Christie's Russian Works of Art Catalogue |||

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 22 March, 2012



Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:45 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 22 March 2012 7:56 AM EDT
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First Glimpse of New Monument to Alexander III in Siberia
Topic: Alexander III


On March 13th, I reported that a new monument to the Emperor Alexander III is to be erected in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk this summer.

Earlier this week, organisers released sketches of the proposed statue to the Russian tsar who initiated the construction of the Trans Siberian Railway in 1891.

The monument will be erected in a square facing the railway bridge that spans the Ob River.

The unveiling is expected to take place at the end of June when the Siberian city will celebrate the 110th anniversary of the Trans Siberian Railway.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 22 March, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:57 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 22 March 2012 7:06 AM EDT
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Wednesday, 21 March 2012
Personal Impressions of the Russian Imperial Family: Nicholas II
Topic: Nicholas II

© Royal Russia. 21 March, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 1:30 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 22 March 2012 8:15 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 20 March 2012
400th Anniversary of the Romanov Dynasty Memorial Bell
Topic: 400th Anniversary


A memorial bell weighing 17 tons will be cast to honour the Romanov dynasty which marks its 400th anniversary in 2013.

The Russian Orthodox Church has announced a national fund raiser for the project, and has the blessing of His Holiness the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, Kirill I. Donations can be made through the Russian Orthodox Church web site.

The bell will be cast for the Novospassky Monastery in Moscow, which is closely connected with the Romanov dynasty. It is here that many members of Romanov boyars are buried, as well as the remains of the Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich, who was murdered by an assassin in 1905.

During the Soviet years, the Novospassky Monastery was converted into the NKVD prison and a police drunk tank. Following the closure of the monastery, many graves and tombstones were defiled or destroyed. In the 1970s, it was used as an art restoration center. It was not until 1991 that the monastery was returned to the church.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 20 March,  2012


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:49 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 20 March 2012 7:08 AM EDT
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Sergei and Ella: Images from an Exhibition
Topic: Sergei Alexandrovich GD


More images from the exhibition of photographs of the Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich and his wife, the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, which opened in Belgorod, Russia on March 8th.

The organiser of the exhibit is the Berlyukovskogo Monastery of St. Nicholas Foundation.

© Royal Russia. 20 March, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:40 AM EDT
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Monday, 19 March 2012
Vintage Photo of Nicholas II No. 5
Topic: Nicholas II


Emperor Nicholas II in regimental uniform reviews the Egerski on its regimental holiday. The Emperor is followed by his son, the Tsesarevich Alexis and the Grand Duke Nicholas Nicholayevich. Tsarskoe Selo,  17th August, 1912. Following this visit the regiment was granted permission to replace its band of fifes and drums with sixty-three horns.  (Photo: Karl Bulla)

© Royal Russia. 19 March, 2012


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:12 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 20 March 2012 6:50 PM EDT
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Sunday, 18 March 2012
Faberge Egg Shines at Queen's Jubilee Exhibition
Topic: Faberge


This is one of the series of fifty Imperial Easter Eggs made by Fabergé for the Russian imperial family between 1885 and 1917.  It demonstrates the extraordinary craftsmanship of Fabergé’s team of designers, jewellers, goldsmiths and enamellers.  The design of the flower motif is inspired by petit-point embroidery, while each of the tiny precious stones is precisely cut and calibrated to fit the platinum mesh of which the egg is constructed. The medallion on a jewelled stand (the ‘surprise’) painted with the portraits of the five children of Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra fits inside the egg and was revealed when the egg was opened on Easter day.

Technically one of the most sophisticated and extraordinary of Fabergé’s Imperial Easter Eggs, the Mosaic Egg retains its ‘surprise’. It takes the form of a medallion painted on ivory with the portraits of the five children of Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra on one side and a basket of flowers and their names on the other, on a stand surmounted by the Russian imperial crown, held within the egg by gold clips.

The egg was theTsar’s Easter gift to his wife in 1914, but the original invoice was destroyed and the cost is therefore unknown. The Tsarina’s monogram and the date 1914 are set beneath a moonstone at the apex of the egg. It comprises a platinum mesh into which tiny diamonds, rubies, topaz, sapphires, demantoid garnets, pearls and emeralds are fitted – perfectly cut, polished and calibrated to fill the spaces.This extraordinary technical feat is all the more impressive because the platinum is not welded but cut.The five oval panels around the centre of the egg feature a stylised floral motif, replicating the technique of petit-point.

In the list of confiscated treasures transferred from the Anichkov Palace to the Sovnarkom in 1922, the egg is described thus: ‘1 gold egg as though embroidered on canvas’. The designer, AlmaTheresia Pihl, was inspired to produce the needlework motif when watching her mother-in-law working at her embroidery by the fire. Alma Pihl came from a distinguished family of Finnish jewellers employed by Fabergé. Her uncle, Albert Holmström, took over his father August’s workshop and was the workmaster responsible for the production of this bejewelled egg. The egg was confiscated in 1917 and sold by the Antikvariat in 1933 for 5,000 roubles. It was purchased by King George V from Cameo Corner, London, on 22 May 1933for £250 ‘half-cost’, probably for Queen Mary’s birthday on 26 May.

The Mosaic Egg is one of numerous Faberge treasures currently on display at the Treasures from the Queen's Palaces exhibit in the Queen's Gallery, Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, Scotland. The exhibition runs until 4th November, 2012.

© The Royal Collection. 18 March, 2012 

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:10 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 20 March 2012 6:20 AM EDT
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Saturday, 17 March 2012
Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna's Books on Display
Now Playing: Language: Russian. Duration: 1 minute, 59 seconds
Topic: Paul I, Emperor

A unique and rare collection of books from the library of the Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna (1786-1859), have gone on display in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don.

The collection was given to the State Public Library in the Rostov in 1947, but it was not until many years later that the original owner of these books was found to be that of the grand duchess.

The books are bound in leather, their pages trimmed with gold leaf. It is believed that the grand duchess' library consisted of several thousand volumes, however, the library in Rostov retains only a fraction of the original collection. Many of the books are kept in special storage rooms and in need of repair. Experts estimate that the restoration would cost millions of rubles.

Born in 1786, the Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna was the third daughter of the Emperor Paul and the Empress Maria Feodorovna. In 1804, she married Charles Frederick, Hereditary Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach. The couple had four children together. The Grand Duchess retired from public life after the death of her husband in 1853. She died on 23 June, 1859, and was buried in a Russian style chapel at Weimar.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 17 March, 2012


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 10:53 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 17 March 2012 11:15 AM EDT
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Friday, 16 March 2012
4th Annual Russian Monarchist Conference in Moscow


On March 13th, a group of more than 100 historians, scholars and politcians from across Russia gathered at the Russian State Trade and Economic University in Moscow for the 4th Annual All-Russian Conference dedicated to the Monarchist Idea in the 21st Century. This years theme was Russian Imperial Politics Past and Future.

The Presidium of the conference included A.N. Zakhatov, Director of the Chancellery of HIH Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna; and Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, Head of the MP Synodal Division for Church and Public Relations.

The event coincided with the 20th anniversary of the Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna as Head of the Russian Imperial House.

The hall was decorated with the imperial standard, and large portraits of Grand Duchess Maria and her son, Grand Duke George Mikhailovich. The Russian Imperial National Anthem God Save the Tsar, was sung at the beginning and the end of the day-long conference.

Support for a restoration of the monarchy in Russia continues to grow as more and more Russians become despondent with modern day politicians. A poll taken in May 2011 found that 39% of Russians favour a constitutional monarchy, compared with 24% for the current democratic republic, and only 12% favoured a return to Communism.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 16 March, 2012



Posted by Paul Gilbert at 2:35 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 18 March 2012 9:05 AM EDT
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