The exhibition “Russia and The Netherlands: Interaction Space”, opened at the State Historical Museum, brings visitors into an 18th-century atmosphere: old naval maps, models of ships and Russian and Dutch flags in the same red-white-and-blue colors.
The Russia-Netherlands exhibition at the State Historical Museum plunges its visitors into an 18th-century atmosphere: old music, models of ships and men-of-war, and Russian and Dutch banners in the same red-white-and-blue colors.
The Russia-Netherlands ship enshrines all the relics of 300 years of close ties, which were only severed once before the 20th century – on account of Napoleon.
Peter the Great was a new-age ruler for Russia. His first visit as czar, which was dubbed the “Grand Embassy,” was paid to The Netherlands in 1697 – the first one in so many respects.
He admired the country so much that Russia actually remained guided and inspired by its example for decades afterward.
The main mission of the Grand Embassy was to get to the bottom of the shipbuilding secrets and experience of the Dutch seafaring nation.
Peter was the first to become a student of the Dutch masters and built the first ships himself. The czar's first handmade piece – the little boat Fortuna – is still on display in a museum in the ancient town of Pereslavl-Zalessky.
The exhibition's first hall features souvenirs from the Grand Embassy: Peter's waistcoat made of Dutch fabric, his portrait by Dutch painter Godfried Schalken, parts of the ships that were in his first fleet and pictures capturing the triumphant arrival.
Inspired by what he had seen on his journey, the czar was almost obsessed with the Dutch ways. Peter decreed that all young men not yet enrolled in any service were to go to Holland to learn the German and Dutch languages and, in particular, to study shipbuilding.
Simultaneously, the Dutch, who enjoyed the czar’s special favor, flocked to Russia and were showered with privileges. They helped chart the first naval maps (the exhibition actually features one such map of the Sea of Azov). It also prominently features the first reference to Peter as “emperor.”
Another symbolic exhibit on display is a map of ancient Amsterdam – the city in whose image and likeness the new Russian capital of St. Petersburg was built.
One whole stand at the exhibition illustrates the life of Nicholas Bidloo – a Dutch doctor and anatomist who moved to Moscow. He made history in Russian medicine by bringing it to a whole new level and founding the first hospital in Moscow.
The hospital, which has a medical school attached to it, is now named after Burdenko and is one of the city's best medical institutions.
Thus, The Netherlands actually had an influence over a vast range of areas of life and science – from urban planning and shipbuilding, to cartography and medicine, even to the fine arts and, finally, everyday life.
An etching made by the emperor under the supervision of the Dutch master Adrian Schonebeck might surprise the less-prepared. It features a subject popular at the time: the triumph of Christianity over Islam.
Even the trade in folk art felt the Dutch impact. Gzhel ceramics and majolica – two crafts thought to be original Russian folk arts – are actually a fraud, as is confirmed by painted vases and plates featured at the exhibition.
In addition to everything else, Dutch ovens patterned with Dutch ceramic tiles were a symbol of luxury in Russian manors. The ceramics were later painted in a Russian style, with typical story lines and patterns.
The love of anything Dutch is manifest in one of Russia's most refined country estates – Kuskovo, the Moscow estate of Count Sheremetev. The Dutch House that is part of the ensemble prominently features all the typical elements of the Dutch tradition.
Peter the Great granted unprecedented privileges to the Dutch merchant Jan Tesing to import books to Russia. The exhibition also boasts a book (“Aesop's Fables”) printed at Tesing's printing shop.
In addition, there is a hall dedicated to what Russia looked like in the eyes of the Dutch travelers. Their stories were the only source of information about a country deemed remote and barbaric by the rest of Europe.
Travelers used to bring shaman's costumes and various other artifacts from Siberia, for example.
Two engraved books from the time are even available in digital format: “A Journey across Moscovia to Persia and India” by Cornelis de Bruijn, and “Three unforgettable journeys through Italy, Greece, Livonia, Moscovia and other countries” by Jan Jansen Struys.
The latter is more important, owing to its influence even on contemporary ethnographers and historians.
Many Dutchmen who came to Russia back then remained in the country and were granted citizenship. For instance, Franz Devollant built 12 ports and cities across Russia and founded Odessa on the orders of Catherine II.
In 1813, Russians helped the Dutch win their independence from Napoleon, and the two nations later reaffirmed their union with the marriage of the Prince of Orange and Anna Pavlovna (sister of the two Russian emperors Alexander I and Nikolai I).
The exhibition at the Historical Museum has already brought together over 4,000 exhibits from 14 Russian museums and 13 Dutch collections, including the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Maritime Museum of Rotterdam, the Central Museum of Utrecht and others.
“The exposition's main idea is to reveal the deep historical relations between the countries and tell the public about the times when Holland used to be Russia's major trading partner and investor,” supervisor of the exhibition, Vladimir Bulatov, told the Culture TV channel.
© Russia Beyond the Headlines. 27 June, 2013
A new private museum devoted to the history of fans has opened in Kamennostrovsky Avenue in St. Petersburg.
The Bowers Museum (Santa Ana, CA) hosts The Tsars’ Cabinet, which highlights two hundred years of decorative arts under the Romanovs, from the time of Peter the Great in the early eighteenth century to that of Nicholas II in the early twentieth century. Many of the more than 230 objects in the exhibition were designed for public or private use of the tsars or other Romanovs. Others illustrate the styles that were prominent during their reigns.
On June 18th, the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) marked the 400th anniversary since the accession of the Romanov dynasty to the Russian throne. The main events of the celebration were held in the Cathedral of the Icon of Our Lady of the Sign in New York City including a remembrance vespers service for the late czars and emperors of Russia.
The solemn service was conducted by ROCOR’s Supreme Hierarch, Metropolitan Hillarion, and the Administrator of the Moscow Patriarchate’s parishes in the U.S., Archbishop Justin of Naro-Fominsk. The congregation included activists of the organizations of Russian fellow-countrymen, representatives of the U.S. public quarters, the successors of Russian noble families who emigrated to the U.S. after the Bolshevik revolution of November 1917, and diplomats of the Russian Federation.
After the service, a gala party organized by ROCOR and Russia’s Consulate General in New York was held in the cathedral. An exhibition featuring Russia during the Romanovs’ rule /from 1613 through to 1917/ that was organized by the Federal Service for Relations with Compatriots Abroad /Rossotrudnichestvo/ was opened in its halls.
It is really impossible to overestimate the role that the Romanov dynasty played in the fostering and disseminating of the Eastern Orthodox Christianity that made up the backbone of Russian statehood, Metropolitan Hillarion told ITAR-TASS in an exclusive interview.
One feels particularly glad today upon seeing the rebirth of olden Orthodox tradition in today’s Russia and the way that the rank-and-file citizens and the country’s leadership hold the history of their great homeland in esteem, he said, adding that a testimony to this is found in the all-Russia span of celebrations devoted to the 400th anniversary of the Romanovs dynasty.
© Russkiy Mir and ITAR-TASS. 24 June, 2013
Shpanin staning in front of one of his paintings in which two conflicting historic scenes are connected by shape
Stass Shpanin's paintings can be found in the private collections of major world leaders, including the President of Azerbaijan and former U.S. President George W. Bush. His works have been exhibited worldwide on numerous occasions.
This Wednesday, he will give a talk at the Moscow International Festival of Art in honor of the 400th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty, at which he will present "The Royal Family Through the Eyes of an American Artist."
This year, more than 300 artists from over 20 countries, including the former Soviet Union, Europe, India, China, and North America, will participate.
Shpanin will be discussing the paradoxes of pre-revolutionary Russia at the tail end of the Romanovs' reign and presenting a painting based on their final days.
The Romanov treasure trove of diamonds and jewels that helped to formally identify the last ruling family of the dynasty after their murder in Yekaterinburg in 1918 inspired Shpanin to produce a new painting entitled 'Diamond' for the occasion.
"Looking at the history of the 19th and 20th centuries is particularly interesting now. Only 20 years ago, it was kept under lock and key," he stated, acknowledging the severity with which Imperial Russia was treated under Soviet rule.
The notoriety of his recent works and passage of his early artistic development is all quite striking when you realize that Stass Shpanin is only 23 years old.
Born in Baku to a family of Russian and Azerbaijani descent, Shpanin began training as an artist at the tender age of four. At seven he had his first solo show, and at 12, the Guinness Book of World Records named him the Youngest Professional Artist in the World.
The following year his family moved to the United States, where Shpanin continued to paint and exhibit widely.
The intensity of attention he garnered at such a young age could have been a recipe for hubris, but the unassuming young artist seems in no danger of resting on his childhood laurels. "It's the history," he said, "it's past, you have to do something present."
While not belabored by his own personal history, Shpanin remains deeply preoccupied with the nature of historical memory, which will receive a heavy focus in his presentation.
History as experienced in Shpanin's works is a delicate, mutable, and highly personal process. "I definitely believe that history is being written right now by people living today, even the history of the past," he said.
In one of his earlier series, history is staged as layers of apparently unrelated images united solely by geometric elements in the composition. "We want to see history as one image, and I'm showing that it's not one image … This is the battle, the historical battle, that happens on canvas," Shpanin said.
As a student at Hartford Art School he began mining the rich visuals of 19th and early 20th century Russian history in his work.
Last year, he was awarded a Fulbright grant, which brought him to Moscow to develop his projects under the tutelage of esteemed artist and Vice-President of the Russian Academy of Arts, Tahir Salahov.
While they are meant to provoke and intrigue, Shpanin insists that his paintings are not intended to be beautiful. "Painting ideas and painting some images that might be uncomfortable for a viewer is more important than pleasing the audience," he said.
Although the fall of representational painting and rise of conceptual art have left many traditional painters dissatisfied with the modern art world, Shpanin is happy to embrace it as is.
"I definitely believe in conceptual art and I definitely believe in postmodernism," he said, describing upcoming plans for forays into video and installation art.
These typically American attitudes stand in strong contrast to the approach Shpanin has witnessed in Russian arts education. "(In Russia), in many cases, art is about process, art is about painting nice images," he said. This disconnection between Russia and the international art scene is among the factors that can prevent Russian artists from attaining a major international presence.
Despite some shining counter-examples, such as Ilya Kabakov or Alexander Kosolapov, according to Shpanin there is "a small percent, unfortunately, of artists who are very knowledgeable of what's going on in the art world outside of Russia."
Among the institutions working to bridge this divide is the major festival hosting Shpanin's presentation, the colossal Moscow International Festival of Art, which runs from Wednesday to Sunday this week.
The massive exhibition involves competitions spanning eight different media formats and the display of projects in a number of Moscow galleries, including among its aspirations "the development of cultural dialogue between countries and the strengthening of friendship between nations," according to organizers.
Ideally, relationships formed during the festival will give rise to further collaborations, strengthening cross-cultural dialogue and the presence of Russian artists abroad.
"Russian art is presented in great quantities in other countries just after this type of festival, because all the participants meet each other, new cultural relationships are established, and new projects are planned in various galleries and museums and then brought to fruition," said organizers.
Stass Shpanin's presentation, "The 400-Year Anniversary of the House of the Romanovs: Imperial Russia Through the Eyes of an American Artist," (in Russian with simultaneous translation) will take place on June 27 at 6 p.m. at the Central House of Artists , 10 Krymsky Vall, Metro Oktyabrskaya.
© The Moscow Times. 24 June, 2013
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.
© Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve. 23 June, 2013