A Russian Moment No. 1 - Church on the Blood, Ekaterinburg Topic: A Russian Moment
This week's Russian Moment shows snow falling on the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg. Built on the site of the former Ipatiev House (also known as the House of Special Purpose), it is the spot where Tsar Nicholas II and his family were all murdered in the early morning hours of July 17, 1918.
Surrounding the church are large images of members of the Russian Imperial family, including grand dukes and grand duchesses who perished during the Red Terror that swept across the former Russian Empire following the Russian Revolution.
Vintage Photo of Nicholas II No. 11 Topic: Nicholas II
Nicholas II on board the Rurik, dated 23rd September, 1908. The Rurik was an armoured cruiser built for the Russian Imperial Navy in 1906, and named in honour of Rurik, the semi-legendary founder of ancient Russia.
The ship was constructed by Vickers in Barrow in Furness, England. What is unusual is that the Russian Imperial Navy was not usually a customer of British shipyards.
During her service, the Rurik carried out a deployment to the Mediterranean where she joined two battleships of the Russian Imperial Navy, Tsesarevich and Slava, in representing Russia at the coronation of King Nicholas of Montenegro in 1910.
During World War I, the Rurik became the flagship of the Baltic Fleet. She saw much action and was heavily damaged by mines on several occasions. The ship was worn out by 1918, she was hulked in 1922, and sold for scrapping in 1930.
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).
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.