Tsarskoye Selo Receives Vases of Nicholas I's Wife Topic: Tsarskoye Selo
Mr. Mikhail Karisalov, an art patron and collector whose generous donations and marvellous exhibition of last year became a success at Tsarskoye Selo, has donated to the museum three Chinese-styled vases which were depicted in a watercolour of 1861 by Eduard Hau.
The bronze base vases with covers and floral cobalt painting came from the Imperial Porcelain Manufactory in the 1840s and graced the Alexander Palace's Bedroom of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, the spouse of Tsar Nicholas I, matching the wall-lining perfectly (see below).
The set of vases should complement the display at the Alexander Palace.
The bedroom of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna in the Alexander Palace. Artist: Eduard Hau (1861)
Life and Tragedy of Alexandra Feodorovna Topic: Books
On June 6th, 2013, the Alexander Palace of Tsarskoye Selo saw the presentation of a book about Empress Alexandra, the wife of the last Russian Tsar Nicholas II.
The book was written by Baroness Sophie Buxhoeveden, a lady-in-waiting to the Tsarina, and titled Life and Tragedy of Alexandra Feodorovna, the Empress of Russia. The book is published unabridged in Russia for the first time, though it first saw life in 1928 and, like the author's other two memoirs about the imperial family, is considered one of the best accounts of the Romanov family's life and final days.
It was presented together with a book of comments written by Tatiana Monakova, Kirill Protopopov and Andrei Manovtsev, who had been working on this publication for almost a decade.
The exhibit was on display in the Mountain Hall which is under restoration. Photo Credit: Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve
On 6th June 2013, Tsarskoye Selo had the Lilac Day, an event organized together with the National Association for the Revival of Historic Gardens and Parks and the International Lilac Society.
The event commemorated the birth date of Empress Alexanda, the wife of Tsar Nicholas II. Alexandra loved all tints if the colour mauve, that is why the Lilac (Mauve) Study became her favourite room in the Alexander Palace of Tsarskoye Selo. In spring and on the Tsarina's birthday it would be filled up with the scents of her favourite lilacs and lilies-of-the-valley. Her other rooms were decorated with flowers all year round too. The Maple and Palisander Drawing-Rooms had gorgeous bouquets of lilacs from either the Tsarskoye Selo Greenhouse or the Crimean Livadia.
Dressed to the 'lilac code', the participants and invitees listened to a brilliant 'lilac lecture' and saw Alexandra's authentic dress, which was put on display in the Alexander Palace for the first time, courtesy of the Pavlovsk Museum. They also visited Alexandra's Lilac Study blooming with fragrant and lovely lilac blossoms and planted lilac seedlings, provided by the Piccoplant nursery, near the White Tower in the Alexander Park.
Journey to St. Petersburg, a Short Summary of My Visit Topic: Royal Russia
I have just returned from a 10-day journey St. Petersburg in Russia, where I also received a VIP welcome by the palace administration and staff at Tsarskoye Selo, Peterhof and Pavlovsk.
This was my annual research visit which allows me the opportunity to get the latest updates on the restoration of palaces, exhibitions, new Romanov books, plus meetings with museum staff, local historians and others to gain and share knowledge on the Romanov dynasty and their legacy.
The highlights of my 2013 visit to St. Petersburg include;
The Alexander Palace. The most exciting part of my visit to Tsarskoye Selo included an oppportunity to tour three new rooms currently under restoration. These include the Mountain Hall, the Large Library, and the Small Library.
The collection of colour autochromes of the Alexander Palace interiors taken shortly after Tsar Nicholas II and his family were sent into exile in 1917 ae currently on display in the Large Library. This rare and unique exhibit, however, is only temporary pending the upcoming restoration of the room.
I can also confirm that restoration work is under way in the west wing of the palace. I took a number of photographs of the new rooms (Mountain Hall and Large Library) under restoration, the colour autochromes and the work being carried out on the west wing of the palace.
I also returned to the Children’s Island at Tsarskoye Selo which will be the topic of My Russia featured in Royal Russia Annual No. 4 (due August 2013). It will include photographs which I took during this visit, and previous visits in which I actually walked on the island on two separate occasions. My article will also include new information from Russian sources on the history of the Children’s Island and plans for its restoration.
The Peter and Paul Cathedral. The restoration of the magnificent wooden gilded Baroque iconostasis is now complete. Designed by Ivan Zarudny and carved by Moscow craftsmen in the 1720s, the iconostasis contains 43 original icons of the eighteenth century, it is absolutely beautiful. The Grand Ducal Burial Vault is still closed due to restoration and is scheduled to open next month.
Mikhailovsky (Engineers) Castle. The former Imperial residence of Emperor Paul I is currently hosting an exhibition dedicated to the 400th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty. The exhibit offers a stunning collection of portraits, busts, and miniatures of members of the Russian Imperial family. Three busts by M. Antokolsky are included of Emperor Nicholas II, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna and the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna. I was also pleased to see a selection of the original watercolours of the coronation of Emperor Alexander III, painted in 1883 by a variety of artists.
Pavlovsk. It has been several years since I was last at this beautiful palace. I spent an entire day here and saw a number of newly restored rooms, including the Rossi Library, Empress Maria Feodorovna’s private apartments and the Costume Museum which is housed on the ground floor of the north wing of the palace.
The Costume Museum offered two unique exhibits, including the fabulous Naryshkin Treasure. Pavlovsk currently have some 299 pieces on display from the collection found in the former Naryshkin Mansion at No. 29 Ulitsa Tchaikovsky at St. Petersburg in March, 2012. Beautifully presented in two rooms of the museum the gold and silver items on display include cutlery, tea pots, sugar bowls, serving dishes and platters, many bearing the Naryshkin coat-of-arms.
The second part of the exhibit which consists of four rooms is devoted to a collection of dresses and personal items of the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna and her daughter-in-law, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna.
Large glass display cases showcase a total of 13 dresses and evening gowns, including 7 of the Dowager Empress and 6 of the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna. Other display cases allow visitors to open drawers which are filled with a large collection of colourful and decorative fans, purses and lace. Also on display is a large pink silk handkerchief holder, embroidered with Empress Alexandra’s monogram on the front.
Probably the most interesting pieces on temporary display are two kokoshniks that were presented and worn by the Grand Duchesses Tatiana and Anastasia Nicholayevna in 1913.
Scattered throughout the costume exhibit are a selection of portraits of members of the Russian Imperial family, including two beautiful portraits of the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna and Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna, both of which are new to me. Two busts of Grand Duchess Alexandra Youssifova by Alexandre Munro and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna by Pietro Canonica are also on display.
Aside from these highlights I also visited many other places of interest: The State Hermitage Museum, Russian State Museum, Academy of Fine Arts, Summer Gardens of Peter the Great, Church on the Spilled Blood, Holy Trinity Alexander Nevsky Lavra (including St. Nicholas Cemetery and Lavra Necropolis), Transfiguration Cathedral and the newly restored Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (one of the most beautiful churches in the entire city).
I spent three full days at Tsarskoye Selo (Catherine and Alexander Palaces, Feodorovsky Cathedral and Feodorovsky Gorodok); Peterhof (Grand Palace, Imperial Yacht Museum, Catherine Block, Bath Block and the Peter and Paul Cathedral); and Pavlovsk (Palace, Costume Museum and park).
During my stay, I did a tremendous amount of research, and complied over 50 large sheets of notes, and took more than 400 photographs, some of which are shown above. I look forward to sharing them with Royal Russia subscribers on my web site and blog, as well as the pages of Royal Russia Annual* in the coming weeks and months ahead.
I also met with the company in Russia who supply my online shop with a steady stream of photo albums, biographies and palace guidebooks. I brought back samples of more than a dozen new books on the Romanovs and their palaces, several of which I have placed large orders for and will offer in my online shop upon receipt from my supplier in St. Petersburg in the coming months.
Beautiful Orthodox Churches of Russia No. 15 Topic: Beautiful Orthodox Churches
The Church of the Saviour Not Made by Human Hand was named after a legendary Byzantine icon, a copy of which was brought to St. Petersburg by order of Empress Anna Ioannovna. This large neo-classical church on Konyushennaya Ploshchad - "Stable Square" - is an integral part of the architectural ensemble that once made up the Imperial Stables. The first wooden church was built on this site in 1737, while the current building was designed by Vasiliy Stasov and erected in 1817-1823. Significantly expanded and altered forty years later by the serf architect Pyotr Sadovnikov, the church retained its neo-classical grandeur, with soaring Doric columns and deep porticos beneath bas-reliefs depicting Christ's entry into Jerusalem and the bearing of the cross.
In the last years of his life, the great Russian poet Alexander Pushkin was a regular visitor to the church from his nearby apartments on the Moika Embankment. After his fatal duel with Georges Dantes, his body was carried from this church to his final resting place at the Svyatagorsky Monastery, and to this day the bells are rung to mark his birthday and the day of his death.
During the Soviet years, the church became Police Precinct No. 28, with toilets installed on the site of the alter. The building was returned to the Orthodox Church in 1991, and has since been fully restored.
Although the building's facade is in chronic need of restoration, the interior of the church is richly decorated with marble and gilt, and worth a quick inspection. The church is fully functioning, with ceremonies to mark all Orthodox holidays, as well as the anniversary of the Icon of the Saviour Not Made by Human Hand (August 29), a copy of which takes pride of place in the church's iconostasis. The church is also regularly used for concerts by pupils of the church's Sunday school.
Restoration of the Winter Palace Church Topic: Winter Palace
Next year marks the 250th anniversary of the State Hermitage Museum, an occasion which will be marked by some very exciting exhibitions and events. Among them is the long-awaited restoration of the former Grand Church of the Winter Palace.
The restoration of the church will also include a reconstruction of the three-tier iconostasis (the original iconstasis was destroyed by the Soviets in 1938) at the cost of 128.8 million Rubles (more than 4 million USD). Specialists will reconstruct the framework of the iconostasis, manufacture the lost ornamental gilded stucco carvings, restore icons which survived, and reproduce those destroyed by the Bolsheviks. The State Hermitage will also pay 70 million Rubles for repairs to the church dome and the cross.
The Grand Church of the Winter Palace was originally built by Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli (1700-1771) in the Baroque style in 1763. It was considered "one of the most splendid rooms" in the palace. After a devastating fire in 1837, the church was rebuilt by Vasily Stasov (1769-1848) who recreated its original look.
The space of the church is divided into three architectural volumes; two of them - the one closest to the entrance and the altar portion - are provided with double rows of windows. The central volume is crowned with a dome and accentuated by pylons with double fluted Corinthian columns. The walls are decorated with the Corinthian pilasters alternating with the arched windows that give light to the church on two sides. The lower row of the windows is separated from the upper one with the highly projected and fractured cornice. The gilded stucco ornament made of papier-mache is the principal artistic decoration of the church along with the ceiling painting The Ascension of Christ by Pyotr Basin and the images of the four evangelists by Fiodor Bruni on the vault sides under the dome. The crimson draperies and gilded chandeliers complete the impressive décor of the interior.
The new church was consecrated by Metropolitan Filaret on May 25th, 1839 in the presence of the Imperial family. At the end of the 19th century a belfry was added with five bells.
The wedding of Emperor Nicholas II and Princess Alix of Hesse-Darmstadt took place in the church on 26 November [O.S. 14 November], 1895. Artist: Laurits Tuxen (1853-1927)
The Cathedral was the repository of multiple relics and memorabilia related to the Romanovs. It was used as the imperial family's private place of worship, with the imperial family's members usually praying in a special room beyond the sanctuary. This was the place where Nicholas II prayed at the liturgy before exiting onto the balcony to face the crowd on the day of declaring war on Germany in 1914. In May 1918, the church was officially closed for worship.
For decades the church has served as an unconsecrated exhibition hall of the State Hermitage Museum. The newly restored church will be part of a new permanent exhibit dedicated to Russian religious art. The newly restored Grand Church of the Winter Palace is scheduled to open in 2014.
New Life for Arkhangelskoye Now Playing: Language: Russian. Duration: 2 minutes, 24 seconds Topic: Yusupov
After being closed for nearly 30 years, the palace-estate complex of the Yusupov family at Arkhangelskoye (situated about 20 km west of Moscow) has once again opened its doors to visitors.
Arkhangelskoye is a perfect example of an historical monument reflecting several eras of Imperial Russia. Rich in history, the estate has retained the main features of the old manor building, and various other buildings scattered throughout the vast park. The characteristic features of several artistic styles are united to reveal its classic foundation.
In the early 1980s, a decision was made to carry out a complex repair and restoration work around the manor complex, and therefore, in November 1985 the palace was closed to visitors, and the museum began work in preparation for the upcoming restoration.The work lasted only two years. The staff was reduced to 18, the exhibits moved to temporary storage. The restoration costs were disproportionately higher than the funding received from government coffers.Therefore, the museum began to work on the restoration of the vast park surrounding the palace. Today, it is considered one of the finest parks not only Moscow but also Russia.
A qualitatively new stage in the history of the museum began in January 1997 when, in accordance with a decree of the Russian Federation, "On measures for the preservation and further use of the historical and cultural monuments at Arkhangelskoye in the Moscow region," the Arkhangelskoye Museum-Estate was transferred from the Ministry of Defence to the Ministry of Culture, and received the new status and the official title of "Arkhangelskoye State Museum-Estate".
Views of the cermonial halls restored in 2007
After the restoration of several palace interiors in the spring of 2007 - the museum was able to open for the first trial show tour during the summer season. Visitors got their first look at three ceremonial halls - Entrance Hall, Antechamber and the Oval Room.
Since then there has been ongoing restoration of the state rooms located on the first floor of the palace, including: the State Dining Room, Tiepolo Hall, North Hall, Antique Hall, South Hall, front bedroom, and the Imperial Hall.
On May 31st, 2013, after years of restoration the Arkhangelskoye State Museum-Estate unveiled the next room - the Main Dining Room. The multi-style decor which includes Egyptian frescoes and chandeliers, as well as a collection of rare Japanese and Chinese vases is both spectacular and elegant.
The video (in Russian) shows visitors to Arkhangelskoye getting their first peek at the newly restored dining room
While the palace is now officially open, the parmount task of the museum will now be the preparation and opening of more rooms, with several planned for this summer. Now comes the hard work: the restoration of paintings, frames, objets d'art and furniture which will fill the rooms of the palace-museum. Much of this work will be carried out by experts selected by an advisory board. Their restoration will be based on old photographs which depict the interiors as they looked before the Revolution.
On a more personal note, I have been travelling to Moscow since 1986, a year after Arkhangelskoye closed its doors. I have visited the estate on several occasions over the years only to find it closed and falling into a sad state of disrepair. I look forward to my next visit to Moscow in which Arkhangelskoye will be on my list of places to visit. I look forward to seeing yet another fine example of the Yusupov legacy.
The Romanov Dynasty: The Tradition of Philanthropy and Patronage Topic: 400th Anniversary
The Alexander Solzhenitsyn Memorial House of Russians Abroad hosted the conference, The Romanov Dynasty: The Tradition of Philanthropy and Patronage in Moscow this week. The conference was held from June 4th-6th and focused on the history of the Russian Imperial family with government institutions, charities and the contribution of members of the Imperial family in the development of Russian culture, education and science.
Speakers from more than a dozen countries presented 60 papers (in Russian), including Russia, Azerbaijan, Germany, Canada, Greece, Latvia, Norway, Poland, Serbia, United States, Ukraine, Finland and France.
The conference program includes works in the following:
·Charity and helping the poor in Russia under the auspices of the Romanov dynasty, prominent patrons of the Russian Imperial family as an example of public service
·The Romanov dynasty and Russian culture
·The Romanov dynasty and Russian science and education
Here is a partial list of the speakers and the topics presented at the conference:
·Natalia Feodorovna Gritsenko (Moscow, Russia) The Romanov Dynasty – 300 Years of Service to Russia
·Dr. Alexander Rostislavovich Sokolov (St. Petersburg, Russia) Russian Charity Under the Patronage of the Romanov Dynasty
·Galina Ulyanov, PhD. (St. Petersburg, Russia) The Empress Maria Feodorovna: Half-Century of Russian Charity (1866-1917)
·Father Andrei Pasternak (Moscow, Russia) The Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna and the Concept of Charity, from Her Letters
·Edward Kasinets (New York, USA) Armand Hammer and Treasures of the Romanovs
·Fr. Vladimir Tsurickov (New York, USA) The Romanov Collection and the Diaspora – The Preservation of Historical Memory
·Marina E. Soroka, PhD. (Montreal, Canada) Charity: A Commitment of Personal Debt? Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna Before and After 1917
·Dmitry M. Sofyin, PhD. (Perm, Russia) The Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich as Philanthropist and Cultural Activist
·Veronica A. Shenshin, PhD. (Helsinki, Finland) The Romanovs and Culture – the Spiritual Life, Education and Health in the Grand Ducky of Finland (1808-1917)
·Amir A. Khisamutdinov, Professor of History (Vladivostock, Russia)The Romanov Family and Charity in the Russian Far East
·Irina L. Zhalnina-Vasilkiotti (Athens, Greece) Charity of the Romanovs in Greece in the Twentieth Century
·Sergey Kulikov, PhD. (St. Petersburg, Russia) Emperor Nicholas II and the Sick and Wounded Soldiers During the Great War, 1914-1918
·Lubov Zhvanko (Kharkov, Ukraine) The Role of the Committee of Grand Duchess Tatiana Nicholayevna in the Assistance of Assistance of Refugees of World War One
·Konstantin Milovidov (St. Petersburg, Russia) Assistance by Members of the House of Romanov to the Grand Army Prisoners of War, 1812-1814
·Tatyana G. Frumenkova, PhD. (St. Petersburg, Russia) Empress Maria Feodorovna as Head of the Educational Institutes (1797-1828)
·Victoria V. Tevlina (Tromso, Norway) The Participation of the Romanov Dynasty in the Development of Scientific Research in the Field of Social Assistance in the Late 19th to early 20th Centuries
·Emma A. Annenkov (St. Petersburg, Russia) Prince P.G. Oldenburg – The Enlightened Philanthropist
·Anastasia Koltochihina (Moscow, Russia) Philanthropic Activities of Princess E.M. Oldenburg as an Example of Public Service
·Konstantin Semenov (Moscow, Russia) The Last Leuchtenberg – The Fate of Prince Sergei Romanovsky
·Dr. Katherine Basargina (St. Petersburg, Russia) The Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich – Head of the Imperial Academy of Science
·Denis N. Shilov, PhD. (St. Petersburg, Russia) The Grand Duke Nicholas Mikhailovich and His Role in the Development of Historical Science in Russia
·Natalia S. Andreeva, PhD. (St. Petersburg, Russia) The August Historian and His German Correspondent (Grand Duke Nicholas Mikhailovich and T. Schiemann)
·Nadezhda V. Slepkov (St. Petersburg, Russia) The Contribution of the Romanov Family in the Creation and Collection of the Zoological Museum in St. Petersburg
·Elena Gruzdeva (St. Petersburg, Russia) The Grand Duke Konstantin – Honorary Trustee of the Women’s Pedagogical Institute
·Anna Bazhenov (Lublin, Poland) In Search of a Solution to the Polish Question: The Romanovs and Imperial Warsaw University (1869-1915)
·Rafiq Farhad Dzhabbarov, PhD. (Baku, Azerbaijan) Russian-Muslim Women’s College Named After the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna in Baku
·Fr. Alexander Bertash (Bremen, Germany) Grand Duchess Alexandra Petrovna and Her Founding the Sisters of Mercy Intercession Community
·Svetlana Fomenko (Pont-a-Mousson, France) The Karageorgevich Palace Complex in Belgrade Developed on the Architectural Traditions of the Russian Imperial Residences in the Crimea
·Marina Vershevskaya Vilovna (St. Petersburg, Russia) The Romanov Dynasty and the Phenomenon of “Russian Wiesbaden”
·Gregory A. Moses (Moscow, Russia) The August Patronage in the Music World: Grand Duke Konstantin Nikolaevich and the Russian Musical Society
·Olga Kuzminichna Zemlyakova and Victor V. Leonids (Moscow, Russia) Relics of the History of the Romanov Dynasty in the Collection of the Russian Cultural Foundation
·Valentina Ushakov (St. Petersburg, Russia) Monuments of Charitable Activities of the Romanov Dynasty
·Natalya Mozohina, PhD. (St. Petersburg, Russia) Representatives of the House of Romanov and Charity in Late Nineteenth – Early Twentieth Centuries
·Marina V. Udaltsov (Moscow, Russia) The Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna – Trustee, Protector and Charity Art Associations
·Galina K. Schutskiy (Moscow, Russia) Emperor Alexander II – Founder of the House of Romanov Boyars Museum
·Elena Konyukhova (St. Petersburg, Russia) The Dukes of Mecklenburg-Stelitz, Their Ancestors as Philanthropists and Oranienbuamï¿½amp;#339;Ð¾Ð·Ð¾ï¿½amp;#8230;Ð¸Ð½Ð° ï¿½Ð°ï¿½amp;#8218;Ð°Ð»ï¿½amp;#338;ï¿½ ï¿½Ð»ÐµÐºï¿½Ð°Ð½Ð´ï¿½amp;euro;Ð¾Ð²Ð½Ð° , ÐºÐ°Ð½Ð´Ð¸Ð´Ð°ï¿½amp;#8218; Ð¸ï¿½Ðºï¿½amp;#402;ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½amp;#8218;Ð²Ð¾Ð²ÐµÐ´ÐµÐ½Ð¸ï¿½ (Ð Ð¾ï¿½ï¿½Ð¸ï¿½, Ð¡Ð°Ð½Ðºï¿½amp;#8218;-
·ï¿½amp;#353;Ð¾Ð½ï¿½amp;#381;ï¿½amp;#8230;Ð¾Ð²Ð° ï¿½amp;#8226;Ð»ÐµÐ½Ð° ï¿½amp;#8217;Ð°ï¿½Ð¸Ð»ï¿½amp;#338;ÐµÐ²Ð½Ð° (Ð Ð¾ï¿½ï¿½Ð¸ï¿½, Ð¡Ð°Ð½Ðºï¿½amp;#8218;-ï¿½amp;#376;Ðµï¿½amp;#8218;Ðµï¿½amp;euro;Ð±ï¿½amp;#402;ï¿½amp;euro;Ð³) Dean L. Trofimov (Moscow, Russia) Representatives of the Romanov Dynasty in the Formation of Funding Public Libraries in Pre-Revolutionary Russia
·Natalya Ehina, PhD. (Moscow, Russia) The Activities of the Moscow City Department of Relief Society Under the Chairmanship of the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna
The exhaustive acts of charity of the Romanovs are often overlooked by contemporary historians who prefer to portray members of the Romanov dynasty as evil demigods who did little to alleviate the sufferings of the lower classes. This conference surely proves otherwise, and is also an indication of the magnitude of resources held in Russian archives, museums, libraries and other institutions which remain untouched by Western scholars, historians and writers.
The Romanovs: The Finishing Touches to the Biography Topic: Exhibitions
In honour of the 400th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty, the Alexander Solzhenitsyn Memorial House of Russians Abroad in Moscow is hosting a new exhibition entitled The Romanovs: The Finishing Touches to the Biography.
The exhibition coincides with the conference The Romanov Dynasty: the Tradition of Philanthropy and Charity, which was held June 4-6 at the Solzhenitsyn Memorial House (please refer to above article for more information about this conference).
The exhibit consists of three sections dealing respectively with Emperor Nicholas II, Grand Duke Nicholas Nicholayevich, Jr., and Prince Gabriel Konstantinovich (son of the famous poet, KR) and includes letters, documents, photographs and personal items of the Russian Imperial family from the archives of the Solzhenitsyn Memorial House.
The first section shows the family life, and the military and political activities of Nicholas II. On display is a unique album of photographs of Nicholas as Tsesarevich (from the private collection of General M.N. Plautin). In addition are documents from the Coronation of Nicholas II at Moscow in 1896 (from the Dolgorouky-Dietrichstein Family Foundation), and another album of photographs of the Imperial yacht Shtandart, which offer a collection of historic images of the Imperial family onboard the famous yacht during happier times. A number of items from the Ipatiev House are also on display from a private collection of T. Venturoy-Laduska (Shcheglova). These items were handed down from Nikolai Uspensky, the confessor of Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna.
The second section is dedicated to Grand Duke Nicholas Nicholayevich, Jr., who served as Commander-in-Chief of the Russian army at the beginning of World War One. It features the correspondence of the Grand Duke from the collection of Prince Nikolai Leonidovich Obolensky(obtained by A.I. and N.D. Solzhenitsyn) with foreign royals and heads of state, such as King Alexander I Karadjordjevic of Serbia, King Alfonso III of Spain, Winston Churchill, along with documents on the interaction of the Grand Duke with church organizations, as well as a collection of letters of condolences on the death of Grand Duke Nicholas in 1929.
Finally, the third section of the exhibition is devoted to the Konstantinovich branch of the Romanovs, and in particular the Prince of the Imperial Blood Gabriel Konstantinovich. This section is based on documents from the private collection of the Prince (obtained by A.I. and N.D. Solzhenitsyn). They include rare photographs of Gabriel, his memoirs, and those of his wife, Antonia Rafailovna, plus his correspondence with his mother, Grand Duchess Elizabeth Mavrikievna. This section also presents documents that reflect his life in exile and the various organizations he was affiliated with.
The exhibition will run from June 6th to August 15th at the Alexander Solzhenitsyn Memorial House of Russians Abroad, which is located at Ulitsa Nizhnaya Radishchevskaya 2 in Moscow. ï¿½Ð¸Ð¶Ð½ï¿½ï¿½ Ð Ð°Ð´Ð¸ï¿½amp;#8240;ÐµÐ²ï¿½ÐºÐ°ï¿½, Ð´. 2 It was founded 17 years ago by Alexander Solzhenitsyn; his widow is on their board. The Foundation is also partly supported by the city of Moscow.
The Foundation hosts conferences, exhibitions, lectures, films and occasionally concerts, publishes a wide range of texts and is building an archive of material relating to the activity, usually to the literary activity, of Russians outside Russia. It is a substantial operation, located in a large modernized building and with a professional staff of 40.
Faberge Cigarette Case Sells at Bonhams Topic: Faberge
A stunning Faberge cigarette case has sold at Bonham's in London for £205,250 ($317,000 USD).
Fabergé, workmaster August Holmström, c. 1897, scratched inventory number 56102 of rectangular shape with rounded corners, with finely chased leaf vines in silver-gilt covering the entire surface and encircling a magnificent heraldic double-headed eagle, the reverse with similar vines forming a four-pointed arabesque centred with four-petal flower, all against guilloché enamel in delicate hue of lavender, with rose diamond thumb piece; interior of the lid inscribed 'from your loving Alix' and further in Cyrillic 'Peterhof/ 29 May 1897', 88 standard 9.4 x 6.5cm (3 5/8 x 2 1/2in.)
Bonhams offered a number of Fabergé pieces in this year’s auctions, but this one comes with a story.
The double-headed Romanov eagle and inscription, “From your loving Alix, Peterhof 29 May 1897,” testify that this was a gift from the Tsarina, Alexandra, to her husband, Tsar Nicholas II, on the day their second daughter was born.
Bonhams’ Sophie Law sees the design as a reflection of shy Alexandra’s dual existence in public and private life: “A grand, stately dynastic eagle set against lilac enamel, a favourite colour of the Empress’s.”
PROVENANCE (Courtesy of Bonhams)
- Purchased by Empress Alexandra Fedorovna, 28 April 1897 - Presented by Empress Alexandra to Nicholas II, 29 May 1897, on the occasion of the birth of their second daughter Grand Duchess Tatiana (29 May 1897 - 17 July 1918) - Collection of Emperor Nicholas II, St. Petersburg - Moved to the safe storage of the Kremlin Treasury in late 1917 for safekeeping - Nationalized as part of Imperial treasures after October 1917 and probably de-accessioned in late 1920s - Acquired by an American businessman in Moscow, at the Torgsin store on 18 August 1931 for 103 roubles (copy of the original invoice is offered with the lot)
This historic cigarette case, recently discovered in the collection of an American family, can easily be considered as one of the most important artistic discoveries of the Russian art season.
Made by the legendary Fabergé firm this stunningly beautiful cigarette case features delicate gilded vines intricately arranged into arabesque cage work showcasing lavender guilloché enamel. The elaborate design and flawless craftsmanship alone suggest Imperial ownership, but the dominating presence of the large Romanov double-headed eagle leaves no doubt that the cigarette case has a Russian Imperial provenance. Furthermore, the inscription on the lid confirms that its significance goes beyond its stunning beauty.
In a perfect facsimile reproduction of the last Russian Empress's handwriting, the inscription reads, 'from your loving Alix. Peterhof 29 May 1897'. The cigarette case was a gift from the Empress Alexandra Fedorovna to her husband Emperor Nicholas II on the day that their second daughter, Tatiana, was born at Lower Palace at Peterhof, a family summer retreat. Alexandra's pregnancy was difficult; period documents recorded that Empress Alexandra had spent seven weeks bedridden due to concerns about her delicate condition and the danger of miscarriage. The Imperial couple was under considerable pressure to produce an heir to the Russian throne; without a male heir, the future of the Empire and the order of succession would have been uncertain. Only two years earlier, the joy of first pregnancy was tinged with sadness that the first-born child was a girl. Named Olga, she was enthusiastically welcomed by the Imperial parents, but met with almost palpable disappointment by the Court.
Given the enormous pressure of this second pregnancy, one might argue that the Empress deliberately commissioned the dynastic Romanov double-headed eagle as the main decorative element on the cigarette case in the hope that the second pregnancy would yield a male heir. Her hopes did not materialize until 1904 when Tsarevich Aleksei, the fifth child of Nicholas and Alexandra, was born.
The offered lot was a personal gift from the young Empress, born Alice Victoria Helen Brigitte Louise Beatrice, the daughter of Grand Duke Ludwig IV of Hesse-Darmstadt, who only three years earlier moved from a small German principality to the cosmopolitan St. Petersburg to marry her beloved Nicholas, heir to the Russian throne. The premature death of her father-in-law Emperor Alexander III made them an Imperial couple before the young Nicholas and Alexandra were even fully acquainted with each other. The ascent to prominence was not an easy transition for the naturally reserved and shy Alexandra, simply known as 'Alix' to her immediate family.
Alexandra struggled with the duality of both roles: a public figure symbolizing Imperial grandeur and a private figure with a personal relationship with her family. The cigarette case reflects this duality; a grand, stately dynastic eagle set against lilac enamel, a favorite colour of the Empress. The personal quarters at the Alexander Place at Tsarskoe Selo were furnished and decorated in a lavender and lilac palette, reflecting Alexandra's preference for a delicate hue of this unusual colour.
The State Russian Historical Archives preserved a bill submitted by the Fabergé firm on 3 June 1897 to Empress Alexandra's office that included all purchases made by the Empress from the beginning of that year. Listed on 28th April under the firm's inventory number 56102 is 'a cigarette case of lilac enamel with eagle and diamond' purchased for 350 rubles.
The case became part of a collection of more than two hundred cigarette cases accumulated by Nicholas II, a serious smoker, who frequently received cigarette cases for birthdays and holidays. When the First World War broke out, the State Imperial regalia and many cherished personal possessions of the Imperial family were transported to the Armory in the Kremlin for safekeeping. This was the last time Nicholas II saw the cigarette case.
Between 1917 and 1931, the whereabouts of the cigarette case are unclear. The case was likely kept at the Kremlin art storage until a new government resolution instructed curators to evaluate stored collections and to allocate objects 'without museum and cultural significance.' Those 'newly-found' treasures were used to finance the First Five-Year Industrialization Plan. Items made of gold and silver, especially those associated with the Imperial family and their immediate aristocratic circle, were de-accessioned and initially sold at European auctions. Then in 1931, they were sold through Torgsin shops frequented by affluent European and American diplomats, businessmen and tourists. At that time, foreign visitors were allowed to bring foreign currency to Soviet Russia, but were forbidden to take it out. They were encouraged to shop these treasure troves for Russian and European antiques and for personal mementos of the Russian Imperial family. That is exactly how the present cigarette case ended up in the family of the current owner.
The original receipt issued by Torgsin store located on Armianskii pereulok 2 listed the cigarette case as a 'gift from the last Tsarina to Tsar Nicholas II.' According to a written note preserved in the family, it was sold for 103 rubles. The American businessman discovered Torgsin's store on his second business trip to Russia where he purchased the Imperial cigarette case, a pair of porcelain vases, Yusupov silver (also offered in this auction, lots 178 and 197), Imperial porcelain plates and a marble clock. Later, he left his family a vivid description of his experiences at the Torgsin shop:
At the 'Torgsin' shop, exclusively for trade with foreigners. What an attractive shop, such gorgeous things. At the jewelry counter I fingered a string of pearls, then I noticed many intimate trinkets and I asked, 'Where did you buy all these things?' 'Well', the Russian stuttered, 'you see they became nationalized'. An American engineer enlightened us. 'This is what the Soviets stole from everyone, for if you had a house worth more than $1500.00 all you had was taken and this is the government fence; stolen goods. They have 40 of these shops stretching from Manchuria to the Baltic'.
Regardless of how this cigarette case was viewed by Soviet cultural authorities in 1931, at least its commercial importance was not entirely lost on the Soviet officials who even then could appreciate its appeal to the American and European collectors.
Lovingly preserved by three generations of an American family, the cigarette case survived many odds to tell the story of a romantic but doomed love, the Russian revolution and the displacement of Russian cultural patrimony. As an embodiment of all these complex and intertwined personal and historical narratives, this lot stands as a particularly fascinating object. The exceptional quality and unparalleled elegance of the cigarette case exemplify the enduring qualities associated with the famous Fabergé Firm and the legendary opulence and luxury of the Russian Imperial court.