The lives of the tsars and their subjects from 1855 to 1918, told through rare archival photographs.
This year marks the 400th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty, and the world's fascination with Russia’s royal family and the lost world of Tsarist Russia has only increased. Now a new book, Twilight of the Romanovs: A Photographic Odyssey Across Imperial Russia, by historians Philipp Blom and Veronica Buckley, features the vast panorama of the final configuration of the Russian empire before and at the time of the Bolshevik Revolution. The aim of its authors, was to find photos that had never been published before. The arresting photos taken between 1855 to 1918, were selected from "thousands and thousands" according to the authors, with some of the best images published in colour.
Large hard cover with 248 pages, 360 photographs, 114 in full colour.
Peabody Essex Museum to Host Faberge Exhibit Topic: Faberge
More than 230 rare and storied treasures created by the House of Fabergé, between 1855 and 1916, are celebrated in a new exhibition at the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM), Fabergé Revealed. Imperial eggs, ruby-encrusted brooches, gold and diamond cigarette cases, enameled parasol handles and carved stone animals display the diverse and exquisite designs of Peter Carl Fabergé’s craftsmen. Fabergé Revealed is drawn from the Collection of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and will be on view at PEM from June 22 until September 29, 2013.
The name Fabergé is as inextricably linked to luxury as it is to intrigue, due to the loss of iconic works when the Romanov regime was toppled during the Russian Revolution. This year marks the 400th anniversary of the founding of the Romanov dynasty, whose fall scattered a priceless cache of Fabergé eggs, jewelry and precious objects into the hands of the world’s most powerful families. From Queen Victoria, who used a red-and-white Fabergé notebook, to the royal family of Monaco who possess one of the oldest imperial eggs and America’s Forbes family who sold the largest collection of imperial eggs to a Russian oil tycoon. Fabergé’s creations have become larger than life in the popular imagination, symbolizing imperial decadence as much as the fate of millions of Russians struggling to feed themselves in the early 20th century.
“The legacy of Fabergé is one that has continually captivated the public imagination,” says Dean Lahikainen, PEM’s Carolyn and Peter Lynch Curator of American Decorative Art. “Equally compelling are the concurrent histories of these exquisite objects and the people who possessed them.”
Designed for Russian tsars to bestow as Easter gifts on their loved ones, Fabergé’s iconic imperial eggs –– of which there are only 42 still known to exist –– are sublimely intricate creations laced with precious metals and jewels. The Imperial Tsesarevich Easter Egg of 1912, on view at PEM, was a gift to Empress Alexandra from her husband, Emperor Nicholas II. The egg commemorates their son Alexei who nearly died the previous year of hemophilia. For the shell, craftsmen joined six wedges of highly-prized lapis lazuli and hid the seams with an elaborate gold filigree encasement. Inside the egg, a diamond encrusted Romanov family crest frames a two-sided portrait of the young child.
To understand why these objects were associated with refinement and luxury, one has only to examine the relentless pursuit of perfection and the savvy business strategies of the House of Fabergé. Beyond the elegant showrooms in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, hundreds of the country’s finest goldsmiths, enamellers, stone carvers, gem cutters and jewelers were at work creating innovative and complex designs that could not be readily imitated. In the hands of Fabergé craftsmen, even the most familiar objects were given the highest level of aesthetic consideration and no expense, material or man hour was spared. When commemorating a royal occasion, nothing but a Fabergé trinket, bonbonnière or enameled cigarette case would do, thereby making the wealthy and powerful ambassadors of the Fabergé label.
The presence of the Romanov family –– Emperor Nicholas II, Empress Alexandra and their five children –– is most intimately felt in the exhibition through the display of more than 40 family photographs held in enameled Fabergé frames. These family photographs and jewels were some of the only possessions the Romanovs took with them when they were forced out of St. Petersburg during the Revolution. In an effort to preserve their wealth, the Romanov daughters are said to have sewn Fabergé jewels into their undergarments. In the end, their diamond-lined corsets managed to prolong their execution and sealed the fate for the inevitable fall of the dynasty.
Unknown Treasures of the Romanovs Topic: Exhibitions
The M.A. Vrubel Museum of Fine Arts in Omsk, Siberia is hosting a new exhibition, Unknown Treasures of the Romanovs.
More than 300 items fill five halls of the museum and include many personal items of members of the Russian Imperial family dating from the 17th to the early 20th century.
Much of the museum's Romanov collection dates back to the 1920s, when the Bolsheviks began the distribution of personal items of the Imperial family to museums across the country.
The core of the museums unique Romanov collection are from Empress Alexandra Feodorovna (wife of Nicholas I), Empress Alexandra Feodorovna (wife of Nicholas II), Grand Dukes Konstantin Konstantinovich, Mikhail Nikolaevich, Nikolai Mikhailovich, and George Mikhailovich.
Works of art and sculpture, furniture and porcelain that once graced the rooms and halls of the Winter Palace, the Novo-Mikhailovsky Palace and Marble Palace at St. Petersburg, as well as the country palaces at Ropsha and Strelna have been hidden away in the storage rooms of the Omsk Regional Arts Museum for nearly a century.
Some of the more unique items include Faberge items and a throne chair, a gift from the Kalmyks to the last Russian Empress; paintings from the collection of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna (wife of Nicholas I); a toilet set from Ropsha, part of the dowry of Grand Duchess Maria Nikolayevna (daughter of Nicholas I).
The exhibition is complimented with an exquisite full-colour catalogue (pictured left).
Romanov Dynasty Exhibit Opens in Moscow Now Playing: Language: English. Duration: 2 minutes, 11 seconds Topic: Exhibitions
An exhibition dedicated to the 400th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty has opened in the State Historical Museum in Moscow.
More than 250 relics from museums all over the world tell stories about the history of Russia from the so-called Time of Troubles. That's from when the Rurik dynasty ended at the end of the 16th century, to what's called the Peter Period, which is when Peter the Great came to power.
Olga Teslenko, Curator: "We have tried to highlight the most iconic artifacts that present the first Romanovs as people and as statesmen."
The evidence of the Time of Troubles was imported from abroad. At that time the Russians were not the only ones fighting for the throne. Poland and Sweden also tried to seize Russia by force.
The Polish king Sigismund III supported another claimant to the throne and even started a war against Russia, but was ultimately defeated. One of king Sigismund's banners was lent out to the exhibition by the Army Museum in Stockholm. On the famous 45-foot rollout, the king is riding to see his bride.
And Russian relics, such as icons from Kostroma, are no less unique. All the items here - the tools, furniture, weapons - everything a story. This is the helmet of Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich - the cap is forged of Damascus steel and it's called Jericho.
Alexey Levykin, Director of the State Historical Museum: "If you talk about the significance of the helmet, it's the object that defined the Russian tsar as a warrior, as the leader of the Russian army. In the system of the sovereign's treasury, it had an honorable fourth place. In fact, it was the fourth battle crown of the Russian tsar."
The helmets of king Alexis and king Michael were also part of the exhibition, borrowed from the Kremlin Armory.
Peter the Great's ascendence to the throne is widely credited by historians are having brought Russia out of the Middle Ages and ushered in the Renaissance.
Russian Farmer Ivan Susanin Gave his Life to Save the First Russian Tsar Topic: Romanov
Many Russian poems, paintings and musical pieces are devoted to Susanin’s feat
400 years ago, in 1613, Russian farmer Ivan Susanin gave his life to save the life of the first Russian tsar of the Romanov dynasty, Mikhail.
Various sources name various details of this event. It is sometimes very difficult to separate historic truth from myths and legends. Besides, the significance of what Susanin did is estimated variously by various historians.
What can be said with more or less certainty is that Ivan Susanin lived in the village of Domnino, which was an estate of Mikhail Romanov. The village was in 80 km from the city of Kostroma.
As a rule, monarchs are not elected – they inherit the throne from their parents. However, after Russians overthrew the regime of the Polish invaders in 1612, they had to appoint or elect someone as the country’s new ruler. Thus, something like a council was convoked to elect a tsar.
Mikhail Romanov, a son of a high-ranking clergyman, who was very young at that time, was not present at this council. He was in the city of Kostroma when he heard the news that he was elected the tsar of Russia.
The Poles, wanting to take revenge for their defeat, decided to capture or even kill the newly elected tsar before he had managed to ascend the throne. They came to the village of Domnino and ordered a local farmer, Ivan Susanin, to tell them where the young tsar was.
A widely spread version of Susanin’s story has it that allegedly, he said that he would take the Poles to the place where Mikhail Romanov was hiding. But instead, he led them into an impassable forest. When the enemies realized that Susanin had deceived him, they killed him. But they never managed to get out of the forest because they drowned in a bog.
However, historians say this version is probably a legend that appeared later. The version that sounds more real to them is that Susanin did not lead the Poles to any forest. He categorically refused to say where Mikhail Romanov was. The Poles severely tortured Susanin, but he did not betray the tsar. Finally, the enemies killed the brave farmer.
The only documented mention of Susanin which dates back to his time and has preserved till our days is a decree of Mikhail Romanov, by which he presented one half of the Domnino estate to Ivan Susanin’s descendants.
The Director of the Chancellery of the Romanov Royal House Alexander Zakatov believes that the significance of Ivan Susanin’s feat can hardly be overestimated:
“The Gospel says: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13.) Ivan Susanin sacrificed his life for the Romanov dynasty. The history of the Romanov dynasty did not start from a large-scale battle or from a historic deed of a certain noble person. It started from a selfless feat of a modest farmer who, most likely, never expected that people would glorify him in songs within many centuries and build monuments to him.”
“In fact, Ivan Susanin gave his life not only for the young Mikhail Romanov,” Alexander Zakatov says. “It would not be an exaggeration to say that he saved the entire Russia. If the Polish invaders’ regime resumed in Russia, this would have been a real catastrophe for our country.”
Unexpected as it may sound, although Susanin saved a tsar, the Soviet authorities also proclaimed him a hero. Soviet propaganda, however, didn’t stress that he saved a tsar. It said that he saved Russia from enemies.
Russian historian Alexey Shishov says:
“Artifacts or documents may be destroyed or lost. But if a hero lives in people’s memory, his feat can never be erased from this memory. In the case of Susanin, it is very hard, if possible at all, to separate the truth from legends. However, legends do not appear at an empty place. Some minor details of legends about Susanin may be not true, but these legends are obviously based on real events.”
Many Russian poems, paintings and musical pieces are devoted to Susanin’s feat. Probably the best known of them is the opera “Ivan Susanin, or a Life for the Tsar” by 19th-century composer Mikhail Glinka.
It is believed that a certain Western military commander allegedly said: “As long as Russia has people like Ivan Susanin, it would be madness for anyone to start a war against Russia.”
Beautiful Orthodox Churches of Russia No. 5 Topic: Beautiful Orthodox Churches
A picture postcard view of the golden Baroque spires, domes and bell tower of St. Nicholas' Cathedral
The golden Baroque spires and domes of St. Nicholas' Cathedral (known locally as the Sailors' Cathedral) rises in the western part of central St. Petersburg. It is home to a number of revered 18th-century icons and a fine carved wooden iconostasis. Its beautiful bell tower overlooks Kryukov Canal.
Construction of the new stone church began in 1753, and the main altar in the current cathedral was consecrated in 1760 in the presence of Empress Elizabeth. St. Nicholas Naval Cathedral consists of two separate churches. The lower Saint Nicholas Church is located on the first floor, while the upper Epiphany Church is on the second floor. The altar of the upper church was consecrated in the presence of Catherine the Great. The church officially became a naval cathedral in July 1762 by order of Catherine II. Today, it is one of the best - and last remaining - examples of Baroque architecture.
The walls of the cathedral are decorated with scenes from the history of the Russian Navy. In 1907, two marble plaques were hung on the south wall of the upper church in honor of sailors who died in the Russo-Japanese War in 1904-5. At the same time, in the square next to the cathedral a memorial was erected to all the sailors of the battleship Alexander III who lost their lives in 1905.
St. Nicholas Naval Cathedral is home to a number of revered 18th-century icons and a fine carved wooden iconostasis
The cathedral houses 10 spectacular icons in gold frame that were a gift from Catherine the Great. The icons portray saints who are celebrated at Russian Navy celebrations. One of the most revered places in the cathedral is the image of Nicholas the Miracle-Worker, given to the church by Greek sailors, which was taken from Russia by the French in 1812, and returned to Nicholas I by the Prussians in 1835.
St. Nicholas Cathedral is one of a very few cathedrals in the city that was not closed in Soviet times. In 1941, it became the official residence of Metropolitan of Leningrad and Novgorod Alexey (Simanskiy), who served in the cathedral from 1941 to 1944 during the 900-day siege of the city.
Two Russian Plates Sell for Small Fortune at Auction Topic: Auctions
Two side Russian Imperial plates sell for £5,600 at a UK auction
Two side plates owned by the Russian Royal Family were sold for more than 100 times their listed price at an auction in Pewsey.
In the catalogue for the auction at Jubilee Auction House last Wednesday, the price set for the plates was between £30-£45 but they sold for a massive £5,600.
The two plates are from the Imperial Palace in Russia and were part of a dinner service made between 1880 and 1902.
On the back of one of the plates there is a cipher for Alexander III and on the other there is the symbol for Nicolas II, who was the last the last tsar of Russia.
Auctioneer David Harrison said: “It’s the sort of thing we don’t usually find in the middle of the countryside. Where they have come from and how they have come out of Russia to Pewsey God only knows, but they are in amazing condition.”
A private vendor brought the plates into the auction believing they were not worth very much.
Mr Harrison said: “It wasn’t until we started doing a bit of research that we worked out what they were and notified quite a lot of people that we had them.”
The asking price for the plates started at £1,000 and after a tense bidding war they were sold to a buyer from New York and are believed to be going to a Russian museum.
A Russian Moment 9 - Rasputin House-Museum, Pokrovskoye Topic: A Russian Moment
The Rasputin House-Museum situated about 80 km east of Tyumen in the village of Pokrovskoye, Siberia. Note: this is not the house in which Rasputin lived for the first years of his life. His original house was demolished by the Soviets.
The museum was founded in 1990 by Vladimir and Marina Smirnov. They became interested in the life of Grigorii Rasputin, who was born at Pokrovskoye in 1869. The Smirnov's note that back in 1990 there were still a few "old-timers still alive who remembered Rasputin."
The museum was originally located in the house of a former pilot by the name of Zubov. It was moved to its current location in 2009.
In the courtyard are a series of window frames, all that remains of Rasputin's original home. Also found is a monument bearing a quote from Emperor Nicholas II dated April 14th, 1918.
Over the past 23 years the couple have amassed a collection of items connected with the life of Rasputin. They are proud of their collection and act as guides for visitors to the museum. They share their knowledge of the former strannik, dispelling many popular held myths. The Smirnovs are co-authors of several books on Rasputin.
Inside are a number of personal items of Grigorii Rasputin, including dressing-table and chair, a bowl and a spoon bearing the monogram of the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, an icon, among others.
The Smirnovs have a large collection of photographs of Rasputin, his family, and members of the last Imperial family. A large bookcase displays numerous biographies written about Rasputin in Russian, English and other languages.