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400th Anniversary
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Tuesday, 11 December 2012
Romanov Letters Go Under Hammer in Geneva
Topic: Auctions


Sales inaugurated yesterday of Romanov memorabilia at the Hôtel des Ventes in Genèva achieved a total price of CHF 1.3 million, with more than 90% of the lots sold.

The four letters by Tsar Nicholas II from the collection of Prince Nicholas Romanovich were the highlight of this sale. They were purchased for a price of CHF 120,000, compared with an estimate of CHF 9,000-14,000. Each of these letters established a world record for letters by Tsar Nicolas II. The buyer of these letters, of a large number of imperial photographs and of Grand Duke Nicholas’ helmet is a Russian collector based in Monaco who is keen on history. Bernard Piguet, director  and chief auctioneer of the HDV Geneva, said: “We are delighted with this result, which clearly shows that the HDV has established an international reputation thanks to the quality of the unprecedented and rare collections that have been entrusted to it. We should also point out that the success of this third special high-level Russia sale (following the Thormeyer Collection in December 2011, and the Lifar Collection in March 2012) means that the Hôtel des Ventes is now an indispensable specialist in the sale of Russian art.” 

The 4 letters written by Tsar Nicholas II are major historical documents that not only show Russia 's involvement in the First World War but also the Tsar’s deep concern for the well-being of his army. They also highlight the close links between the Tsar and Grand Duke Nicholas Nicholayevich, even after the latter was dismissed from his post as supreme comander of the Imperial Armies.

Prince Nicholas Romanovich said: “An outstanding result is always satisfying but it gives me great pleasure to know that these documents have been purchased by a single bidder who is keen on history. The fact that he is Russian makes it doubly satisfying. These auctions have been perfectly organised by Bernard Piguet and I am very pleased to have entrusted to him with the sale.”

The campaign helmet of Grand Duke Nicholas Nicholayevich, supreme commander of the Imperial armies, was the object of a fierce bidding war between bidders present in the auction room and Russian bidders via telephone. It was finally sold for CHF 26,700, compared to an original estimate of CHF 500 (lot 244).

The military decoration of the Imperial Order of Saint Alexander Nevsky, which was on the cover of the catalogue, attracted strong interest from collectors and its price reached CHF 79,000 (lot 136, est. CHF 10,000-15,000). It came from a highly prestigious origin, being part of the private collection of the former Queen of Spain. Other objects in this collection also aroused considerable interest. The queen’s fan decorated with the royal monogram in diamonds, rubies and emeralds changed hands for CHF 4,800 (lot 49, est. CHF 3,000-5,000), while the Star of the Order of the Precious Crown, an extremely rare decoration from the Japanese Empire, fetched a price of CHF 48,600 (lot 69, est. CHF 8,000-12,000). 

Other notable Russian items that came under the hammer were three pieces of Fabergé silverware sold for 80,300 and an enamel tea service by goldsmith Pavel Ovchinnikov, sold for CHF 48,600 (lot 181, est. CHF 15,000-20,000).

©  Hôtel des Ventes. 11 December, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 1:27 PM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 11 December 2012 2:43 PM EST
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2013: Netherlands-Russia Year
Topic: Anna Pavlovna, GD


Queen of the Netherlands, Grand Duchess Anna Pavlovna of Russia (1795-1865) 

The year 2013 will reflect the special relationship between Russia and the Netherlands and Amsterdam. Russia and the Netherlands have been important trading partners since the Golden Age. Connections between the two countries strengthened over subsequent centuries. When Napoleon fell from power in 1813 and the Netherlands ceased to be a vassal state of France, the forces which advanced to the gates of Amsterdam to liberate the city were Russian Cossacks. A number of members of the House of Orange also married members of the imperial Romanov family or their descendants. The bonds between the Netherlands and Russia were crowned in 2009 by the opening of the Hermitage Amsterdam, the new satellite of St Petersburg´s famous museum in Western Europe.

© Hermitage Amsterdam. 11 December, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:40 PM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 19 December 2012 6:49 AM EST
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Monday, 10 December 2012
Order of Saint George and Saint George Cross for Soldiers
Topic: Russian History


© RIA Novosti. 10 December, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 11 December 2012 1:46 PM EST
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Sunday, 9 December 2012
Between Orient and Occident: Treasures of the Kremlin from Ivan the Terrible to Peter the Great
Topic: Exhibitions


In 2006 the Grünes Gewölbe presented an exhibition at the Moscow Kremlin Museums under the title “The Jewel Cabinet of August the Strong”. Now, six years later, the host museums are paying a return visit to Dresden:

Around 140 masterpieces from the Moscow Kremlin Museums are on show in a special exhibition in the State Apartments of Dresden’s former Royal Palace (Residenzschloss). They include items from the collection of European silver from the Kremlin Armoury, sumptuous garments, precious jewellery and vessels, as well as arms produced by Turkish and Persian craftsmen. These objects will be complemented by 23 items on loan from the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen and the Saxon State and University Library (SLUB), and also from the Herzog August Library in Wolfenbüttel.

The exhibition covers the period between 1547, when Ivan the Terrible (1530-1584) was crowned Tsar, and 1712, when Peter the Great (1672-1725) made Saint Petersburg the new capital of the Russian Empire. The exhibition focuses on the significance of the Kremlin as a crossroads between western and eastern cultures, which led to far-reaching changes and the opening up of Russia to the outside world. The enormous growth of its influence and power, as well as its expanding trade relations, gave this huge country ever increasing importance in the political and economic power structures of the time.

This is illustrated by the lavish objects purchased by the Tsars and presented to them as gifts by foreign ambassadors from both west and east. In addition, the Kremlin workshops – inspired by the numerous diplomatic gifts – produced precious items of goldsmith’s art, garments and ceremonial weapons which combined European and oriental tastes with ancient Russian traditions to create objects of perfect form. In this way, the accumulated treasures demonstrated the Tsars’ attitude of openness to the world and were an essential aspect of courtly display. To contemporaries, they demonstrated the power and wealth of the Russian Empire, and their fascination for today’s visitors is no less great.

An exhibition between the Green Vault (Grünes Gewölbe) and the Moscow Kremlin Museums from

Dates: 1 December 2012 - 4 March 2013
Venue: Green Vault (Grünes Gewölbe), Royal Palace  (Residenzschloss) at Dresden, Germany

© Staatliche Kunstsammlungen. 09 December, 2012


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:11 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 11 December 2012 6:24 AM EST
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Friday, 7 December 2012
Monarchists Call for Patriarch Regiment
Topic: Russian Monarchy


Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All the Rus 

Monarchists in the Volgograd region have proposed launching special regiments to guard the patriarch and Orthodox sanctuaries.

Activists from the Russian Monarchal Center borrowed the name “Vladychny Polk” (Lord’s Regiment) from the pre-tsar times in Russian medieval history.

If the idea is endorsed by the Patriarch’s blessing, Orthodox squads are to operate nationwide, according the center’s head Mikhail Shorin.

“The events of 2012 demonstrate that the time has come for organized defense of Orthodoxy,” he told Nezavisimaya Gazeta in an interview published on Thursday.

Cyber attacks on the patriarch staged by “Satanists and their supporters,” Pussy Riot’s punk-prayer in the Christ the Savior Cathedral, were among those developments that pushed him to fight for the faith, according to the interview.

Earlier, Orthodox activists united to patrol areas near churches to prevent blasphemous actions of defilers when the controversial Pussy Riot case was being heard in a Moscow court. Cossacks, tsarist-era warriors from southern Russia, started patroling central Moscow last week.

Anti-clerical campaigns swept through the Russian internet and some anti-Kremlin groups after Patriarch Kirill voiced his support for Vladimir Putin during his election campaign.

© The Moscow News. 07 December, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:39 AM EST
Updated: Friday, 7 December 2012 12:36 PM EST
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Thursday, 6 December 2012
Russians Celebrate Alexander Nevsky Feast Day
Topic: Nevsky, Alexander


On December 6 the Russian Orthodox Church remembers Saint Grand Prince Alexander Nevsky, born in 1219. He was a descendant of Prince Vladimir the Sun, and is considered by the Russian Orthodox Church to be equal to the Apostles.

Nevsky was the Prince of Novgorod and Grand Prince of Vladimir during some of the most trying times in the history of Ancient Rus. Commonly regarded as the key figure of medieval Rus, Alexander was the rose to legendary status on account of his military victories over the German and Swedish invaders while accepting to pay tribute to the powerful Golden Horde.

The Neva battle of 1240 saved Rus from a full-scale enemy invasion from the North. Because of this battle, 19-year-old Alexander was given the sobriquet "Nevsky" (which means of Neva). This victory, coming just three years after the disastrous Mongol invasion of Rus, strengthened Nevsky’s political influence, but at the same time it worsened his relations with the boyars. He would soon have to leave Novgorod because of this conflict.

After Pskov had been invaded by the crusading Livonian Knights, the Novgorod authorities sent for Alexander. In spring of 1241 he returned from his exile, gathered an army, and drove out the invaders. Alexander and his men faced the Livonian heavy cavalry led by the master of the Order, Hermann, brother of Albert of Buxhoeveden. Nevsky faced the enemy on the ice of the Lake Peipus (Lake Chud) and defeated the Teutonic Knights during the Battle of the Ice on April 5, 1242.

In the late 13th century, a chronicle was compiled called the Life of Alexander Nevsky, in which he is depicted as an ideal prince-soldier and defender of Russia.

Veneration of Alexander Nevsky as a saint began soon after his death. The remains of the prince were uncovered in response to a vision, before the Battle of Kulikovo in the year 1380, and found to be incorrupt. He was glorified (canonized) by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1547. His principal feast day is November 23 (which falls on December 6 according to the current calendar).

By order of Peter the Great, Nevsky’s relics were transported to the Alexander Nevsky Lavra in St. Petersburg where they remain to this day. A second feast day was instituted on 30 August in commemoration of this event. He is also commemorated in along with other saints of Rostov and Yaroslavl on May 23.

© Russkiy Mir. 06 December, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:42 PM EST
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Tsarskoye Selo Plans Restoration of Arsenal
Topic: Tsarskoye Selo


The Arsenal situated in the Alexander Park and Tsarskoye Selo as it looks today. 

Before the Revolution, visitors to the Arsenal at Tsarskoye Selo were struck by the beauty of its interiors, including its arched windows with medieval stained glass windows. Today, the building which is situated in the Alexander Park lies in ruins. After numerous appeals, the Ministry of Culture has allocated funds for "priority restoration work" to be carried out to save the historic building.

Considered the most striking of the Neo-Gothic pavilions in the Alexander Park, the Arsenal was constructed in the early 19th century on the site of Monbijou. The former hunting lodge of the Empress Elizabeth Petrovna was built in the Baroque style by Rastrelli. It was Emperor Nicholas I who ordered the construction of the new Arsenal. 

Monbijou Pavilion. Photo Credit: Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Preserve 

Monbijou was partially dismantled in 1819 by the architect Adam Menelaws, and following his death was completed by the Emperor's favourite architect, Konstantin Thon in 1834.

In 1827, the Arsenal became the first public weaponry museum in Russia after Nicholas I had his large weapons collection moved there from the Anitchkov Palace in St. Petersburg. 

Once restoration begins, restorers will reply on  a series of watercolours by the artist A. Rokstule who painted the interiors of this unique, three-story castle-palace.

Each room displayed a separate group of objects united by a central theme. Thus, the foyer contained suits of armour creating the illusion of an honour guard; the Albanian Room showcased the most valuable objects from the Oriental collection, including Japanese, Chinese, Persian and Turkish weapons; and at the foot of the staircase stood a group of figures demonstrating the initiation of a knight. Marvellous Spanish, Italian and German swords could be viewed in the study, and the library across the hall was filled with firearms.

The interior of the Arsenal was splendid: arrow-shaped windows filled with authentic medieval stained glass acquired at auctions in various European countries. The elegance of light, twisting columns, octagonal halls, delighted visitors. Other rooms included a bed-chamber and a Hall of Knights complete with a round table.

The foot of the staircase in the Arsenal. 

During World War II the Arsenal was badly damaged. Now, after more than 70 years of falling into decay and near ruin, the building will be restored and reopened as a museum.

"The state of the building is in a state of emergency," said Natalya Kudryavtseva, Chief Architect at the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Preserve. "Workers are not permitted inside the building until scaffolding has been set up. The stairs have been completely destroyed, and it is not safe."

Original fragments of stucco have been found inside the Arsenal, and the structure itself, including the roof have stood the test of time and still in good shape despite more than 70 years of neglect.

The first stage of restoration will secure the doors and windows of the building, reinforce the facade, and begin the restoration of the brick masonry. The debris found in the basement took two weeks to clean up.

There is a legend of an underground passage that linked the Arsenal to the Catherine Palace, however, restorers have not found any evidence of such a tunnel.   

The restoration of the Arsenal is expected to take any where from three to five years to complete, at which time it will once again house the extant weapons collection of Emperor Nicholas I, currently in the storage reserves of the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg and the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Preserve.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 06 December, 2012


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:33 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 6 December 2012 8:51 AM EST
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Wednesday, 5 December 2012
Attacks on Church Pre-Revolution Reminder - Patriarch
Topic: Russian Church


After the Revolution, the Bolsheviks led brutal attacks against the church in Russia that led to the looting and destruction of churches and monasteries, as well as the persecution and murder of thousands of clergy and Orthodox Christians  

In a speech to a group of Cossack commanders, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church has warned the recent string of attacks on the church is similar to what happened before the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917.

Just like now, back then they performed a reconnaissance by engagement – to see what will be the Orthodox Christians’ reaction. They performed acts of blasphemy, humiliation and provocation,” Patriarch Kirill told the heads of the Cossack hosts of Russia Ukraine and Belarus.

The Patriarch noted that the methods of the “enemies of the Church” (that he again did not name) were too uniform to his taste. “It is all the same, these accusations – in the beginning of the twentieth century, after the revolution and now “. However, he expressed hope that the people of Russia would understand the dangers that come with the attempts to resurrect the spectres of the past.

The violations of religious rights are committed under an invented excuse of freedom of expression. We all know very well that there can be no freedom of expression if it violates the rights of ethnic groups but it is somehow possible, through the wrongly understood freedom of expression, to insult the believers, destroy their inner world and humiliate their dignity,” the top cleric added.

The Patriarch thanked the Cossacks for their vigilance for preventing many acts of blasphemy and called on them to continue their work to defend the church.

This was not the first time the representatives of the church accused some mysterious unnamed forces of launching a concerted attack against Christianity in Russia. These statements became more often after the mass media started reporting of the clergy’s growing interference in public life, as well as the impious and luxury lifestyles of some of the priests.

The public discussion led to the preparation of a bill that criminalized insults to believer, that is expected to be submitted for approval next year. Also the Church has officially allowed the clergy to take part in elections  though their participation in political parties is still banned.

© Russia Today. 05 December, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 11:50 PM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 5 December 2012 3:26 PM EST
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Faces of Russia Exhibit Opens in St. Petersburg
Topic: Exhibitions


Portrait of Dowager Empress Marie Feodorovna. Artist: Vladimir Makovsky (1912) 

The 'Faces of Russia' permanent exhibition has opened in the Mikhailovsky (Engineers) Castle, a division of the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg. The new exhibit has one of the richest collections of Russian paintings in the world. This is another realization of the idea of the National Portrait Gallery around which the discussions have long been in progress.

As it appears, the collections of Russia’s three leading museums, including the State Tretyakov Gallery and the State Historical Museum in Moscow, and the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg can serve as a basis for such a gallery. Each of them has extensive collections of portraits, which are real masterpieces. This became clear during the first exhibition presentation that was arranged by the Historical Museum. Next in turn is the Russian Museum.

The residents of St. Petersburg say that the idea to create a national portrait gallery was expressed by their compatriot - the prominent Russian artist and art critic – Alexander Benois who considered the Mikhailovsky Palace in St. Petersburg to be an ideal place for paintings reflecting Russia’s history. The new exposition of the State Russian Museum, “Faces of Russia”, has been staged exactly in the Mikhailovsky Palace, the exhibition’s curator Yevgeniya Petrova said in an interview with the Voice of Russia.

"The exposition is divided into two parts. One is dedicated to the emperor’s portraits and the second – to people belonging to other sections of the population (18th century until modern times). It consists of 220 works, including the paintings of well-known artists – such as Repin, Serov, and Kramskoy, and also the works of less known artists. Among their characters are people well known by historical textbooks but only a few people have their visual images. And visitors to the Mikhailovsky Palace will be able not only to learn more about them but also see their portraits."

The Mikhailovsky or Engineers Castle, St. Petersburg 

Of course, the audience is attracted by the possibility to see the portraits of the Russian rulers, including Tsar Ivan the Terrible who ruled in the 16th century, those who ruled after him and the last Russian Emperor Nicholas II. There are portraits of the members of the royal family there too. This chapter of the exhibition in the Mikhailovsky Palace resembles the Romanov gallery that existed in the emperor’s palace until the 1917 revolution. By the way, the official portraits of the Russian tsars and tsarinas are arranged close to their allegorical portraits represented as antique gods and heroes. The portraits of the Russian commanders – mainly, the heroes of the Patriotic War of 1812, are also put on display there. Of course, visitors to the Mikhailovsky Palace can see the portraits of politicians, priests, representatives of the of the world of arts, and rich merchants. The portraits of ordinary people, including town-dwellers and countrymen are also displayed in the Mikhailovsky Palace. The works of old masters have something in common with the works of the 20th - century artists: in the Soviet era times preference was given to the images of workers and peasants – in other words, to the front-rank workers and of course, to the portraits of their leaders. Of interest here is the fact that the photo portraits of visitors to the exhibition – the people of the 21st century are the last in this “historical circle”.

It is not clear yet how the idea of a national portrait gallery will be realized. However, there is a modern and well-tested way of uniting the collections of all museums –the multi-media Internet-portal. Representatives of the museum community favour this proposal.

© The Voice of Russia. 05 December, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 11:45 PM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 5 December 2012 12:21 PM EST
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Tuesday, 4 December 2012
Romanov Auction Catalogue - Geneva, December 10, 2012
Topic: Auctions

||| Click Here to View and Print 25 Page Romanov Section of the Catalogue |||

Together with the letters and pictures offered by Prince Nicholas Romanovich, the Hotel Des Ventes in Geneva is offering some 3000 Russian items including other rare photographs of the Russian Imperial family from the private collection of Ferdinand Thormeyer, who served as tutor at the Russian Court, and some 46 pages of love letters from Tsar Alexander II to his mistress, Princess Katia Dolgourovky.

*Note: The full catalogue consists of 372 pages. I have only included the pages from the catalogue which reflect the Romanov letters and photographs being offered in the auction. 

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 04 December, 2012


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 5:13 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 4 December 2012 5:37 AM EST
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