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400th Anniversary
A Russian Moment
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Paul Gilbert
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Sunday, 18 November 2012
Russian Academy of the Arts Turns 255 Years Old
Topic: Museums
The Inauguration of the Academy of Arts. Artist:Valery Jacobi

On November 17, 1757, Empress Elizaveta founded the Imperial Academy of Three Noble Arts was on the initiative of Ivan Shuvalov, a noted enlightener of that time who also served as the first curator of the academy. Shuvalov brought in teachers from Europe, attracted the first Russian students to be trained at the Academy and donated his remarkable private fine arts collection that became a core of the Academy Museum and Library.

In 1764, Catherine the Great emphasized the significance of the Academy by proclaiming it the Imperial Academy of Arts, approved its charter and staff and granted the Academy a special privilege. The construction of the imposing building of the Imperial Academy of Arts in Neo-Classical style overlooking the Neva-River designed by Alexander Kokorinov and Jean Vallin de la Mothe also began in 1764 and was completed in 1788.

The Imperial Academy of Arts was one of the most progressive cultural entities in those days. The Academy’s first homegrown talents, such  artists and architects as A. Losenko, F. Shubin, V. Bazhenov, F. Rokotov, testified to the high level of art education in Russia. The Academy students studied all the pictorial and graphic genres, as well as the art of sculpture and architecture. The most gifted of them were given scholarships to continue their education in France and Italy.   

Later, the Academy’s roll call of graduates included eminent painters A. Ivanov, K. Bryullov (who with his masterpiece “The Last Day of Pompeii” became the first Academy painter to enjoy an international reputation in 1834  when it won the Grand Prix at the Paris Salon), I. Repin, V. Polenov, V. Surikov; sculptors  I. Martos, V. Demut-Malinovski, S. Pimenov, I. Prokofiev, M. Antokolski; architects A. Voronikhin, N. Benois, K. Ton, I. Fomin, V. Shuko and many others.

In 1992, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, by a presidential edict the USSR Academy of Arts was transformed into the Russian Academy of Arts. Since 1997 to the present day the academy of has been headed by the world-renowned artist and sculptor Zurab Tsereteli.

© Russkiy Mir. 18 November, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:32 AM EST
Updated: Monday, 19 November 2012 9:38 AM EST
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Saturday, 17 November 2012
Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna Visits Zlatoust
Topic: Maria Vladimirovna GD


HIH Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna is greeted at the Church of Saint Seraphim of Sarov in the Ural city of Zlatoust 

On November 16th, HIH Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna visited the Ural city of Zlatoust. It is the latest stop on her 3-day official visit to the Chelyabinsk region.

The Head of the Russian Imperial House visited the local history museum where they will host an exhibition marking the 400th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty in 2013.

Grand Duchess Maria remarked: "I really liked Zlatoust, it was good to see that the people remember the history of their country and of my family, and thus supporting the link between past and present."

From there HIH made a short visit to the Church of Saint Seraphim of Sarov to attend a prayer service. She then visited the patriarchal workshops where she was shown samples of of church plate, which the Zlatoust masters make for many of the larger churches across Russia.

Situated 160 km (99 miles) west of Chelyabinsk, the city was documented by Sergei Produkin-Gorsky in 1910. The photographer had been outfitted with a specially equipped railway car darkroom provided by Emperor Nicholas II in which he documented the Russian Empire in colour photographs between 1909 through 1915.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 17 November, 2012


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:51 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 17 November 2012 9:10 AM EST
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Friday, 16 November 2012
Russian State Historical Archives Marks 300th Anniversary
Topic: Russian History


The Russian State Historical Archives (RHSA)  at St. Petersburg is marking its 300th anniversary this year. Housing more than 6 million items, it is Europe's largest repository of of historical documents.

RHSA archives documents from the former Russian Empire, mostly from the late 18th to early 20th centuries, as well as public organizations, institutions and individuals of pre-Revolutionary Russia. It is one of two federal archives based in St. Petersburg, the other being the Russian State Naval Archive.

The archive houses 1368 funds from among the highest State institutions in Russia before the Revoution. Among them are documents from HM Imperial Chancellery, the State Council of Russia (1810-1917), its departments, the Main Committee on Peasant Affairs, as well as foundations of Russia's first elected legislative authority - the State Duma of the Russian Empire (1905-1917). The archives holds funds of the Council of Ministers of the Russian Empire (1802-1917), a complete collection of the Laws of the Russian Empire, and documents of the codification of the State Council and the separation of the Laws of the State Chancellery. 

RHSA houses the voluminous former Archives of the Governing Senate of the Russian Empire (1711-1917). Of particular interest is the vast repository of Imperial edicts, correspondence with governors, senatorial audits, and criminal appeals.

Another fund includes the Department of Heraldry (1757-1917), and includes a collection of charters, diplomas and  ranks, substantial genealogical records, and information about granting titles.

The archive also contains documents on religious and cultural history, including proceedings of the Holy Synod, the Archive of the Alexander Nevsky Monastery, and documents of the Ministry of the Interior, Justice, Trade and Industry, Post and Telegraph, Public Education and Finance.

The archive includes many rare treasures of the Romanovs, including one of its oldest documents, an ABC handwritten by Peter the Great as a child. Also found are documents from Catherine the Great to Prince Potemkin, letters, book plates, books, and autographs.

It is estimated that the total length of the filing system which make up the massive collection housed at RHSA would measure some 220 miles. It is truly remarkable that this rich repository of Imperial Russian treasures survived the madness that came with the Red Terror, but Russians and historians alike can now celebrate the tercentenary of this remarkable institution.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 16 November, 2012



Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:13 AM EST
Updated: Friday, 16 November 2012 9:30 AM EST
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Naryshkin Treasure to be Divided Between Museums
Topic: Antiques


The vast trove of Imperial treasures found in the former Naryshkin-Trubetskoy Mansion in St. Petersburg earlier this year will be divided between two museums.

One half will go to the Konstantin Palace at Strelna, while the other half will go to Pavlovsk Palace-Museum. It is not known at this time exactly what items each museum will receive, but Pavlovsk have already announced plans to create an exhibition once they have been received and catalogued their share.

Restoration work was being carried out at the former Naryshkin-Trubetskoy mansion at 29 Tchaikovsky Street (the same street that housed the former palace of Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna) when a secret room was discovered. The room measuring about 5 square meters contained an enormous treasure of more than 2,000 items that had sat hidden since before the Russian Revolution.

For more information, including photographs and a video of the treasure, please refer to the following links at Royal Russia News:

||| Tsarist-Era Treasures Found in 18th-century St Petersburg Mansion includes more than 50 colour photos! |||

 ||| Tsarist-Era Treasures Found in 18th-Century St Petersburg Mansion  includes 16 minute video|||

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 16 November, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:02 AM EST
Updated: Friday, 16 November 2012 10:49 AM EST
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Thursday, 15 November 2012
Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna Visits Chelyabinsk
Topic: Maria Vladimirovna GD

Governor Mikhail Yurevich welcomes HIH Grand Duchess Maria to Chelyabinsk  

HIH Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, Head of the Russian Imperial House has arrived in the Ural city of Chelyabinsk, which is situated about 210 km (130 miles) south of Ekaterinburg.

Today, HIH met privately with Mikhail Yurevich, Governor of the Chelyabinsk region, who informed the Grand Duchess that the region had received three August visitors before the Revolution: Emperor Alexander I in 1824, Grand Duke and Tsesarevich Alexander Nikolayevich (the future Emperor Alexander II) in 1838, and Emperor Nicholas II in 1904. The Governor noted the importance of HIH's visit to the region, noting: "We are very pleased that the Chelyabinsk region has been visited by the Head of the Russian Imperial House."

HIH Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna visits the regional museum in Chelyabinsk 

After her meeting, the Grand Duchess went on a walking tour of the city, which included pre-Revolutionary mansions, and the local regional museum. Later she held a conference on the history of the Romanov dynasty for students at the South Ural State University.

During her stay, HIH will attend the premiere performance of Glinka's Life for the Tsar at the local opera and ballet theatre.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 15 November, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:35 PM EST
Updated: Thursday, 15 November 2012 6:57 PM EST
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Wednesday, 14 November 2012
Russian Jeweller Recreates Great Imperial Crown
Topic: Jewels

 A copy of Russia’s Great Imperial Crown, produced by the Smolensk Diamonds jewellery firm was displayed at a Moscow restaurant earlier this week. The original crown was used at the coronation of the Romanov Tsars, starting with Catherine II (the Great) 250 years ago and ending with Nicholas II in 1894.

The copy of the Great Imperial Crown is nearly 200 grams heavier than the original, which is on display at the Kremlin Armoury in Moscow. The new crown is encrusted with 11,500 diamonds compared to 5,000 in the original.

The crown’s frame is made of white gold, diamonds, pearl, and rubellite. The makers themselves are having difficulty in placing a dollar value on their creation.

The crown will be displayed at various exhibitions in Moscow, St. Petersburg and other cities across Russia. Its location at other times will be a closely held secret. The duplicate will probably be auctioned off at some point, although its creators hope it finds a permanent home in a Russian museum.

© RIA Novosti and Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 14 November, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 5:59 PM EST
Updated: Thursday, 15 November 2012 6:03 PM EST
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Tuesday, 13 November 2012
Patriarch Kirill visits Convent of St. Mary Magdalene in Jerusalem
Topic: Russian Church


As he continued his pilgrimage to holy places in Jerusalem, the Primate of the Russian Church visited the Convent of St. Mary Magdalene at the Garden of Gethsemane and said a prayer there for the holy martyrs Grand Duchess Elizabeth Fyodorovna and Sister Varvara.

The mother superior of the convent, Elizaveta (Schmelts), presented Patriarch Kirill with a portrait of the wife of Emperor Alexander II, Empress Maria Alexandrovna, noting that she gave a great support to the work of Father Antonin (Kapustin), the founder of ‘the Russian Palestine’.

Addressing the archpastors, nuns and pilgrims, Patriarch Kirill said that the last time he had been in that church it looked desolated, but in recent years it was transformed ‘as the golden cupolas of the Convent of St. Mary Magdalene began to sparkle again over Jerusalem’.

‘Looking at this beauty… we cannot but recall the feat performed by those who laid the foundation for the presence of Russian holiness and Russian devotion here’.

It was Father Antonin (Kapustin), he said, who proposed to Grand Dukes Sergey and Pavel Alexandrovich, who came to Jerusalem together with Grand Duke Constantine, that a church and a monastery be erected there, and the royal brothers accepted it and expressed the wish that the church be devoted to their pious mother, Empress Maria Alexandrovna.

In 1888, he continued, the church was consecrated in the presence of Grand Duke Sergey and his wife Elizabeth Fyodorovna, who was not yet Orthodox at that time. ‘And we know that she became Orthodox not only of necessity but also because of her beliefs. All that was to happen to her later pointed to the profundity of her faith with which she adopted Holy Orthodoxy’.

Elizabeth Fyodorovha did not choose an easy way during the 1917 Revolution. She stayed with her suffering people ‘who rose in rebellion against each other and God’. She suffered martyrdom at Alapayevsk in the Urals. ‘Later, by God’ mercy’ her honourable remains were taken through Siberia, the Far East and China to the Holy Land to rest here’, Patriarch Kirill said.

‘For a long time the Russian Church bore the stamp of terrible divisions, but by God’s mercy and through the intercession of the Royal Passion-Bearers the spiritual, canonical and Eucharistic communion of the parts of the Russian Church divided by human ill will has been restored… Many believed that the 1917 Revolution and the Civil War was the end of the world, the coming of Antichrist, the end of history. One can imagine what our devoted ancestors felt seeing the destruction of churches, defilement of shrines, the triumph of the theomachist power who insulted people’s deepest religious feelings – the feelings which have always been inherent in our people. It seemed there was no deliverance. Later, it took only a few days to have the chains cast off and our Church was given an opportunity to unite and, most importantly, to bear witness to the inscrutable ways of Divine Providence.

‘Today our people, tempted by new attacks of godliness based on a somewhat different ideology but having the same goal, face the risk of repeating the terrible mistakes of the past. Standing here we realize with special clarity how important it is not to repeat the same mistake, not to blaspheme holy places, not to destroy God’s cause which has been built by many generations in our Motherland’.

Patriarch Kirill thanked Archbishop Mark of Berlin-Germany and Great Britain for his concern for the part of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission which is under the jurisdiction of the Synod of the Russian Church Outside Russia.

© DECR Communications. 13 November, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:50 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 13 November 2012 7:55 AM EST
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Romanov Palace at Borjomi to Become Museum


Metropolitan Seraphim of Borjomi-Bakuriani and Georgian MP Gedevan Popkhadze have put forward an initiative to transform the Likani Palace at Borjomi into a museum.

Borjomi is situated in south central Georgia. During the Tsarist period the region was popular for its warm climate, its mineral springs, and forests making it a popular summer resort for Russia's aristocracy.

In 1871, Borjomi was bestowed upon Grand Duke Mikhail Nicholayevich, who had been appointed the Viceroy of the Caucasus region. In the 1890s, his son Grand Duke Nicholas Mikhailovich (1859-1919) built a magnificent Tuscan style residence and surrounding park at Litani, at the western end of Borjomi.

The palace was designed by L. Benois and built in 1892-95 by the architect L. Bielfeld. 

Since 2004, the palace has served as the residence of the Georgian President and recently it was reported that the palace and grounds was transferred to the Economy Ministry. The idea to turn the palace into a museum was expressed by many tourist companies in the region, who claim that at least 70% of tourists in the area want to visit the palace.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 13 November, 2012


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:35 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 14 November 2012 7:44 AM EST
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Monday, 12 November 2012
Patriarch Kirill and Grand Duchess Maria Discuss Ekaterinburg Remains
Topic: Maria Vladimirovna GD




HIH Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna with His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia 

On November 6, 2012, during a meeting with His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, the Head of the Russian Imperial Family, Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, raised the question of the position that the Russian Orthodox Church takes on the evidence discovered in Brussels. It was originally found in 1918 by the investigator Nikolai Sokolov at Ganina Pit near Ekaterinburg, the site connected to the tragedy of the Royal Family.

In the opinion of several scholars and public figures, the physical materials discovered in Brussels should spur further research with the aim of establishing the truth of the matter of identifying the so-called “Ekaterinburg remains.”

At the present time, the Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church is not prepared to assume as a fact the results of the genetic testing of the Ekaterinburg remains, since their representatives were not granted access to the information on exactly which genetic materials were used for comparing data.

During the meeting, His Holiness declared that the Church is prepared to participate in continuing research of the identification of the remains of the Royal Family with the consideration of the newly-found materials, on the basis of transparency in the expertise and access to all genetic materials connected to the Romanov Dynasty. His Holiness expressed the hope that such research will help establish the truth, which many Orthodox faithful hope for.

© 12 November, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:21 PM EST
Updated: Thursday, 17 April 2014 12:56 PM EDT
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Sunday, 11 November 2012
Russian Auction Offers Alexander II Letters
Topic: Auctions


Six letters of Emperor Alexander II to Princess Catherine Dolgorukova, dated January-February 1868, will be  auctioned today at the Central House of Artists in Moscow.

The letters are valued at 230,000-300,000 roubles (7,200-9500 USD). 

The auction will also offer orders, medals and insignia of the Russian Empire, busts, portraits and photographs of the Russian Emperors and members of their families, as well as porcelain from the Imperial yacht Tsarevna.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 11 November, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 11:45 PM EST
Updated: Monday, 12 November 2012 8:02 AM EST
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