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400th Anniversary
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Wednesday, 21 November 2012
Ropsha Palace to be Transferred to Peterhof
Topic: Ropsha




Ropsha Palace as it looks today 

Over the past few years I have reported on the dire condition of Ropsha Palace. Situated in the suburbs of St. Petersburg, the former Romanov palace which is now in a deplorable state may yet be saved.

The Russian Ministry of Culture announced this morning that the administration of Ropsha Palace will be transferred over to the Peterhof State Museum-Preserve.

Ropsha Palace and the surrounding park is part of the UNESCO World Heritage and thus protected by the State. Plans for the palaces restoration have yet to be announced.

The Peterhof State Museum-Preserve includes more than 100 historic buildings, including Peterhof, Oranienbaum and Strelna. Peterhof is currently Russia's No. 1 museum with over 4 million visitors each year.

© Paul Gilbert. 21 November, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 11:45 PM EST
Updated: Monday, 12 January 2015 6:56 AM EST
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Tuesday, 20 November 2012
All Monuments of Lenin to be Removed from Russian Cities
Topic: Bolsheviks


Statue of Lenin in central Ekaterinburg. Photo © Paul Gilbert (2012) 

Russian lawmakers believe it is time to remove monuments to the leader of the Bolshevik Revolution, Vladimir Lenin, from town and city squares across the country.

Memorials to such “a controversial figure” should be re-located in museums or alleys with statues of other historic persons, suggested the author of the initiative, Liberal-Democratic party (LDPR) Deputy Aleksandr Kurdyumov.

The idea of “De-Leninization” was welcomed by the ruling United Russia party, writes Izvestia daily.

According to Kurdyumov, the main argument in favor of the removal of monuments is the high cost of maintenance. He says they would be better looked after and safe from vandalism in museums.

Soviet-legacy statues of Vladimir Ulyanov (Lenin) can still be seen in central squares of almost all Russian towns. There is hardly a single settlement in the country without a street named after the Bolshevik leader.

The time has come to get rid of Lenin’s “stranglehold” and leave only monuments that are considered true masterpieces of art and only in those places where local population want to see them, the LDPR lawmaker insists.

It often happens that there no other memorials but to Lenin in Russian towns and that is “unfair” to other outstanding personalities – such as Peter the Great, General Aleksandr Suvorov, Tsar Ivan the Terrible and others.

Under the proposal, municipal authorities should hold referendums to find out where people want the Lenin statues to be placed. If they do not want to see the leader of the 1917 Revolution at all, such monuments should be dismantled, sent to museums or sold to collectors, Kurdyumov suggests. The money received from the sales could be used, for instance, to create new parks.

United Russia’s lawmaker, Valery Trapeznikov agrees that the idea should first be discussed with the people. In the USSR, monuments were erected at the government’s bidding. If now they are dismantled by order of the authorities, “it can lead to a wave of protests,” he told Izvestia.

Meanwhile, the Communist party (KPRF) is strongly opposed to the idea of removing monuments to their key ideologist.

“Lenin is the founding father of the Russian Federation…Same as George Washington in America,” a senior member of the party, Sergey Obukhov stressed. He noted that some laws signed by the Bolshevik leader are still valid in Russia.

Besides that, the destruction of “architectural pieces” of historic value is illegal, the KPRF deputy pointed out.

© Russia Today. 20 November, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 1:33 PM EST
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New Annex Could Make Hermitage an "Epoch-Defining Museum"
Topic: Museums


The State Hermitage (former Winter Palace)  is fully engaged in fitting out 800 rooms of the General Staff Building to welcome be the new home for art from the turn of the 19th century onwards, with a full opening scheduled for 2014. Mark Hudson of The Telegraph reported from St. Petersburg on this major new development for the museum/

“As an extension to the Hermitage Museum, the General Staff Building is far more than a mere annex. Viewed across the majestic sweep of Palace Square, the curving Neo-classical facade of this vast early-19th-century office complex already feels like a challenge to the Baroque opulence of the parent institution opposite,” Hudson writes. “And that’s before you’re aware that its 800 rooms are about to be filled with art, much of which has been deemed revolutionary.”

“Devoted to art from 1800 onwards, the new wing will bring the story told in the old Hermitage — which houses the largest collection of paintings in the world — bracingly up to date. On paper at least it has the capacity to be a truly epoch-defining museum, the way the Musée d’Orsay was in the Eighties and Tate Modern in the 2000s,” Hudson says. “And it will, it is hoped, make Russia appear central to the story of modern art in a way it never quite has before — despite the importance of much that has taken place here.”

© Russkiy Mir. 20 November, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:50 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 20 November 2012 6:53 AM EST
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Monday, 19 November 2012
Royal Russia Annual No. 3 (2013)
Topic: Books


Progress on the third issue of our official magazine, Royal Russia Annual is well under way and scheduled to go to the printers in January 2013..

Included in this issue will be the following full-length articles:

Grand Duke Nicholas Alexandrovich: Life & Death of the Tsesarevich

- An in-depth look into the son of Emperor Alexander II who was engaged to Princess Dagmar of Denmark. He died at Nice, France on 24th April, 1865.

Imperial Yacht Livadia

- A study of the most elaborate, yet peculiar yachts of the Russian tsars. Her maiden voyage proved to be her last. Richly illustrated with beautiful photos of the yacht's interiors.

My Russia: The Revival of the Alexander Palace

- A history of the Alexander Palace at Tsarskoye Selo and plans for its revival over the next 5 years. Richly illustrated with photographs by Paul Gilbert.

plus, these articles by Russian and British historians:

  • The Imperial Family Celebrates the Winter Season by Irene W. Galaktionova
  • The Royal Nun: Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna by Irene W. Galaktionova
  • Exile at Hvidore by Coryne Hall
  • Faberge: The Missing Imperial Eggs by Annemiek Wintraecken and Christel McCanless
  • Nicholas II: A Re-Evaluation of the Reign of Russia's Last Tsar by Katie Wilkens

Plus 2 collections of rare and vintage photographs:

  • Frozen in Time featuring photographic memories of the Russian Imperial family
  • The Lost World of Imperial Russia featuring vintage photographs of Imperial Russia before the Revolution

Note: this is just a partial list of the full-length articles scheduled to be published in this issue and is subject to change without notice.

Royal Russia Annual No. 3 (2013) will be available in February 2013. Watch for our advertisements in upcoming issues of Majesty and Russian Life magazines.

For more information on Royal Russia Annual, or to place an order for current and back issues, please refer to the following link;

||| Royal Russia Annual - Click Here for More Information |||

© Gilbert's Books. 19 November, 2012



Posted by Paul Gilbert at 11:35 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 21 November 2012 12:01 PM EST
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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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