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400th Anniversary
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Sunday, 25 March 2012
Catherine the Great: An Enlightened Empress
Topic: Catherine II


Portrait of Catherine II on her horse Brilliant, by Vigilius Eriksen, after 1762.

© The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg.

Catherine the Great: An Enlightened Empress will highlight the truly spectacular collections of one of Russia's most successful rulers. Co-developed by the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg and National Museums, Scotland, this major exhibition will only be shown in Scotland.

Catherine the Great (1729-96) was one of the greatest art collectors of all time. Her collecting reflected both the personal and political ambitions of a woman who put Russia on the cultural map of Europe. She accumulated, mainly through purchases and commissions abroad, more than 4,000 paintings, 10,000 drawings and 32,000 engraved gems, as well as medals, jewels and antique sculptures.

Explore Catherine’s reign through her collections, which vividly reflect her own interests and achievements and provide a fascinating glimpse of the dazzling wealth and magnificence of the Imperial Russian court.

Come and experience more than 300 magnificent works collected and commissioned by the Empress from some of the most illustrious European and Russian artists of the 18th century.

See outstanding portraits, spectacular costumes and uniforms, snuffboxes inlaid with precious gems, gold and silver, Ancient Greek and Roman carved cameos depicting figures from biblical stories, mythology and history and many of the finest examples of porcelain, glass, metal and polished stone items ever made in Russia.

Catherine the Great: An Enlightened Empress
Open: 13 July - 21 October 2012
Venue: Exhibition Gallery 1, Level 3, National Museum of Scotland

© National Museum of Scotland. 25 March, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 26 March 2012 7:19 AM EDT
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Friday, 23 March 2012
Bust of Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich
Now Playing: Language: Russian. Duration: 5 minutes, 37 seconds.
Topic: Alexander Mikhailovich, GD

A new bust of the Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich is being created by sculptor, Albert Charkin.

Grand Duke Alexander, was the son of the Grand Duke Mikhail Nicholayevich and Grand Duchess Olga Feodorovna. In 1894, he married the Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna, eldest daughter of the Emperor Alexander III and the Empress Maria Feodorovna. The couple had seven children, many of whose descendants are alive today. Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich is known for his memoirs, Once a Grand Duke (1932) and Always a Grand Duke (1935).

The famous St. Petersburg artist has always had an interest in Russian history, particularly those individuals who devoted themselves in the name of the Fatherland.

He has already created a version of the bust in clay, and will now proceed with a bronze copy. Once completed, the bronze bust will be housed at the St. Petersburg Sailing Club. According to archival sources, the grand duke was a trustee of the yacht club in the late 19th century.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 24 March, 2012


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:05 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 22 July 2012 2:04 PM EDT
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Grand Duchess Anna Feodorovna
Topic: Anna Feodorovna, GD

Little is known of the Grand Duchess Anna Feodorovna, wife of the Grand Duke Constantine Pavlovich.

She was born Princess Juliana Henriette Ulrike of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld on 23 September 1781. She was the third daughter of Franz Frederick Anton of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld and Countess Augusta Reuss of Ebersdorf.

Juliana, along with her two elder sisters, Sophie and Antoinette travelled to Russia at the request of Empress Catherine II, who wanted a bride for her second grandson, Grand Duke Constantine Pavlovich. The young Grand Duke chose Juliana.

She was not yet fifteen years of age when she took the name of Anna Feodorovna in a Russian Orthodox baptismal ceremony and married Constantine (who was only seventeen years old at the time) in St. Petersburg on 26 February 1796.

The marriage was a very unhappy one for the young grand duchess. After only three years of marriage, Anna left her husband in 1799 and returned to Coburg.

Shortly thereafter, however, she returned to Russia in an unsuccessful attempt at reconciliation. In 1801, Anna, who had become involved in several frivolous intrigues, was sent home permanently to Coburg.

During her years in exile, she gave birth to two illegitimate children, a son in 1808, and a daughter in 1812. She moved to Bern, Switzerland in 1812.

Two years later, in 1814, Constantine, accompanied by her brother Leopold, tried to get Anna to return with him to Russia, but her firm opposition prevented this attempt from succeeding. That year, Anna acquired an estate on the banks of the Aare River and gave it the name of Elfenau. She spent the rest of her life there, and, as a lover of music, made her home a center for domestic and foreign musical society of the era.

Finally, on 20 March 1820, after nineteen years of separation, her marriage with the Grand Duke Constantine was formally annulled. He remarried two months later and died on 27 June 1831. Anna survived her former husband by twenty-nine years.

Grand Duchess Anna Feodorovna died at the age of 79, on 15 August, 1860.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 23 March, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 22 March 2012 11:34 AM EDT
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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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