Topic: Nicholas II
Luxury dental work: a Russian aristocrat's platinum and gold dentures made for her by Faberge
A rather unusual Faberge story made headlines this week. A mystery Russian noble woman's remains were found in a church near St. Petersburg. Her luxury dental work, platinum and gold dentures are believed to have been made by Faberge.Her identity remains a mystery and for now she is known as Lady X.
These are the first pictures of a female Russian aristocrat's bespoke dentures - made for her by Faberge from platinum and gold.
The mystery noble woman's remains were found in a church near St Petersburg during an archeological dig ahead of planned renovations - but it was the contents of her glinting jaw that astonished experts.
Her identity remains a puzzle and for now she is known only as Lady X.
She died aged between 50 and 60 in all probability in the opening years of the 20th century, before the Bolshevik Revolution engulfed her country, but scientists hope to be able to discover her real name with further research.
Her expensive tastes are already clear from what has been dubbed 'history's most jaw-dropping jaw'.
Professor Yury Molin, deputy head of the Bureau of Medical Forensic Examination for Leningrad region, said: 'We were about to finish our work when one member of our team assistant professor Alexander Gorshkov shouted: 'Yury, come here! Look what I've found!''
Buried: deformed lead sarcophagus where Lady X's remains were found
His excited voiced echoed through tumbledown Taitsy village church, badly damaged during fighting in the Second World War, and dedicated to Othodox saint Alexander Nevsky.
'He was holding a skull. After removing the mud, we immediately spotted a shiny denture in the upper jaw, obviously not a simple one but made from precious metals.
'Spectral and dental expertise proved it was a unique denture, produced around the beginning of the 20th century from gold and platinum by the Karl Faberge company.'
Dental experts from St Petersburg State Pavlov Medical University established that 'this denture is a high quality product made by jewellery dental prosthetic manufactory of the Karl Faberge Merchant House, which was based in dental department of Obukhovskaya hospital' in St Petersburg, then the capital of tsarist Russia.
'Multi-layer china dentures were produced in Germany and supplied to Russia from the middle of 19th century until the time of the First World War.
'The mixture of metals in the denture - a high alloy of platinum with silver and copper in the dental plate, and a high alloy of gold with platinum and copper in the denture clasps, points to the fact that it was produced at the end of 19th or beginning of 20th century'.
This is because before 1891 a mixture of gold and iridium was used for clasps in Russia.'
'We quickly realised the skull belongs to a noble woman,' said Professor Molin, who was called in by local Orthodox priest Mikhail Vinogradov.
'But we have not found anything about her in the archives yet. This is why we call her Lady X.
'Maybe she was from the Beloselsky-Belozersky or Lopukhin families, or from some other noble and well known family in this area.
'We have very good hopes of identifying Lady X. I believe there could be just a couple of dozen women at the time who could have afforded such a denture.
'Unfortunately, her skull was in a bad condition and almost fell into pieces in our hands, so we have little chance to reconstruct her face and compare with existing portraits which is often helpful. Still, we do not lose a hope and will continue working to identify her from material in the archives.'
Other remains dug up from the historic church have been identified as members of the Demidov family - a rich noble family from the Urals who were much earlier close to Peter the Great.
Archive evidence backed by DNA shows that the skeletons were those of Petr Demidov, his wife Elizaveta Bezobrazova and their 12-year-old son.
A surviving button on the boy's clothing shows he was a military cadet in the mid-19th century.
The church records were lost perhaps during the Russian Revolution in 1917 and the area were later overrun by the Nazis.
'We found four graves, some of them were partly open and, unfortunately, destroyed,' said the professor.
'There were a lot of German bullets and helmets around. But we can't exclude the possibility that the graves were touched before the second world war.
'There is also the fifth grave there but it is well protected with concrete cover and we have not examined it yet.'
The priest hopes that the unusual find in the church will lead to discovery of the identity of Lady X and help to raise funds for a full-scale renovation of the historic building which was badly damaged by German shooting during the Second World War.
Archeologists also found frescoes, old clothes and utensils.
Uncovered: the Orthodox church in Taitsy village, near St. Petersburg where the dentures were discovered
The church was associated with the Demidov family but it is not clear that Lady X was directly linked to this noble line.
The 63 year old professor waited before announcing the denture discovery until the bodies had been reburied in keeping with a request from priest Vonogradov.
'This denture was found quite a while ago but the Orthodox priest allowed us to make it public only now, when the process of second burial of the identified bodies was over,' he said.
'The local church wanted to do it the proper way - they found Demidov family descendents in Finland, invited them, and held the second funeral in the church.
'The denture was found in early December 2011. We were invited to come for a full working day to work at the scene.
'It was at the end of this working day that we spotted this amazing denture.
'Let me stress, you must call it a unique discovery. In 40 years of my expert experience, I have never come across anything like this - a full size denture.
'Tooth crowns were found before, this is not a surprise, but a full size precious denture is purely a stroke of luck.
'We are proud to tell about our work now. There is no doubt this denture belongs to Karl Faberge company, we showed it to an elderly expert who studied Faberge dentures - and a few matching dentures can be found in museums.'
The dentures from the village church do not carry the Faberge imprint, possibly because the were chipped. But he is entirely confident they are the genuine article.
'Lady X is not identified yet but we are still hopeful.
'She is re-buried now too but in a sort of temporary grave, but her remains may be removed any moment so we can access the body again. '
© The Daily Mail. 11 July, 2013
Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich (1878-1918). Artist: Ilya Repin, 1901
The Moscow Times has published the following article by W. George Krasnow, president of the Russia & America Good Will Association in Washington, D.C.
Ninety-five years ago, on June 12, 1918, Grand Duke Michael and his secretary Nicholas Johnson were abducted from a hotel in Perm by a group of Bolshevik thugs and slain in the woods outside the city. This murder, five weeks before the Yekaterinburg massacre of former tsar Nicholas II and his family, was part of the Bolsheviks' plan to get rid of the Romanovs.
They had good reason to start with Michael II. Younger brother of the tsar and his legal successor, he refused the crown in an attempt to defuse the February revolution that overthrew autocracy. For the sake of restoring civil peace and to keep Russia at war, he empowered the Provisional Government to conduct a general election to the Constituent Assembly. Having lost the election, the Bolsheviks forcibly dissolved the assembly's first session, thus precipitating the five-year civil war that followed. Michael II, not Nicholas II, embodied the democratic alternative to their dictatorial rule.
Thus, Michael II, not Nicholas II, should be remembered as the last tsar. To this end, a grassroots movement has been founded to push for Michael II's recognition as a national hero. The town of Lokot in the Bryansk region, where Michael II had his Brasovo estate, has celebrated his memory for years.
Michael II was not only a brave soldier and talented military leader, he was also a master of intercultural communication. This skill enabled him to forge a fighting force out of many different ethnic groups that became a legend of valor and loyalty. Michael II was a patriot, war hero, peacemaker and a statesman who put Russia's interests above his dynasty's and his own.
The pro-Michael II movement is neither political nor monarchist. Above all, it aims at extracting historical truth from under the rubble to which the Communist dictators reduced Russia's past. Just as they built the Iron Curtain to prevent Soviet citizens from seeing the outside world, Communist officials barred generations of Russians from understanding Russia's true history. They preferred to talk about tsar Nicholas II's autocracy rather than Michael II's one-day stellar rule that planted the seed of democracy.
The examples of Britain, Scandinavian countries, Spain or Japan show that monarchy and democracy can be a good mix and can create an equitable, fair and dynamic society. By slaying Michael II on June 12, 1918, the Bolsheviks killed Russia's chance to develop along similar lines and took the country on a historical detour that ended in 1991.
© The Moscow Times. 10 July, 2013
Gerard Depardieu as Grigory Rasputin, the resemblance is remarkable!
An exhibit at the Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg will present documents from the archives of Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna starting July 12th, 2013.
The exhibit will include diary entries and rare photographs dating 1917-1919. Together they offer unique historical evidence of the final years of the monarchy in Russia. It is the story of war, revolution and the beginning of years of exile for the Romanov survivors.
Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna (1875-1960) was the eldest daughter of Emperor Alexander III and Empress Maria Feodorovna, and sister of Emperor Nicholas II. She fled Russia along with members of her family on April 11th, 1919 onboard the British warship HMS Marlborough.
The exhibition is organized by the State Museum of the History of St. Petersburg and the Charity Foundation of St. Basil the Great. It will be open to visitors in the Ioannovsky Ravelin of the Fortress until August 4th, 2013. Tickets are 50 RUB.
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 08 July, 2013
Unlike most churches in St. Petersburg after the Revolution, the Transfiguration Cathedral was never closed
During my recent visit to St. Petersburg I had the opportunity to explore several areas of the city that were new to me. Within the vicinity of my hotel I stumbled across several beautiful Orthodox churches, including the magnificent Transfiguration Cathedral. Located next to a beautiful square on Preobrazhenskaya Ploschad, just off Liteiny Prospect, the Transfiguration Cathedral occupies an area that was once the home of the Russian Imperial Army's Transfiguration Regiment in St. Petersburg.
On the night of the 24th November 1741, Peter the Great's daughter Elizabeth came to gain support from the soldier's regiment for a coup against Empress Anna Ioannovna and her appointed successor Ivan, who at the time was 2 months old.
As a sign of gratitude, Empress Elizabeth commissioned the construction of a church after her accession to the throne on the 7th December 1741. Mikhail Zemstov was commissioned as architect to design and build the church, but construction was actually carried out by Antonio Trezzini after the sudden death of Mikhail. Construction began in St. Petersburg on the 9th June 1743 when Empress Elizabeth laid the first stone of the foundation. On the 5th August 1754, on the eve of the Feast of Transfiguration, the church was consecrated and declared a Cathedral by order of Empress Elizabeth.
On the November 12, 1796, during the reign of the Emperor Paul I, the regimental Transfiguration Cathedral received the honorary title "of all the Guards."
The magnificent fence which surrounds the cathedral is dominated by 102 bronze cannon barrels, set on 34 granite bases and surmounted with gold double-headed eagles with crowns. After the Revolution the eagles were removed but were restored in recent years
The Cathedral's interior, including the marvelous gold iconostasis and altar vestibule were designed by Bartolomeo Rastrelli. This iconostasis was rescued from a fire that almost burnt down the Transfiguration Cathedral on August 8th, 1825. Construction of a new church on the site in St. Petersburg began in 1827 designed by Vasily Stasov and was consecrated on 5th August 1829.
According to Stasov's plan a beautiful square was laid out around the new church in 1830. From 1832-1833 under Stasov's direction a fence was built around the cathedral commemorating the victory in the Russo-Turkish War of 1828-1829, the basis of which was formed by the barrels of Turkish cannons taken from Turkish fortresses. Preserved on the barrels is the engraved coat of arms of the Ottoman Empire, and on some of the barrels can be seen the names given to the cannons.
The fence consists of 102 bronze cannon barrels, set on thirty-four granite bases, and three barrels per base. They are set with the muzzles facing downwards to signify that they will never again be used in combat. All of the middle barrels are decorated with gold double-headed eagles with crowns. All the groups of barrels are linked by massive decorative chains. The two sides of the main gate are decorated with shields with bronze depictions of the medals presented for the war. Also, around the cathedral stand twelve cannons and two Unicorn (long-barreled) cannons, which are the properties of the Preobrazhensky regiment.
In 1886 a chapel (restored in 1988) was built in the fence by the architect Ivan Blazheyevich Slupsky. In 1916, construction of a burial-vault for the burial of officers fallen in World War I was planned by the architect Sergei Osipovich Ovsyannikov, but the project was never realized.
After the 1917 October Revolution the cathedral remained open for worship. In 1918 it became a parish church, and the banners, ordnance, and war trophies being kept there were removed and transferred to the Artillery Museum; since 1950 those relics have been part of the Hermitage collection. Also during the 1920s many valuable icons were removed.
The interior of the Transfiguration Cathedral
From 1922 to 1926 (under Antonin Granovsky's Union of Church Regeneration) and from 1935 to the spring of 1944 the cathedral was in the hands of the Renovationists; and from 1939, after the closing of the Church of the Savior on the Sennaya, it was the main Renovationist church in Leningrad. During the Siege of Leningrad an air-raid shelter capable of holding 500 people was constructed in its basement, where first aid was given to the wounded. A restoration of the facades and the interior was carried out between 1946 and 1948.
In the cathedral are kept the regimental relics and war trophies, and on the walls are bronze plaques with the names of officers of the Preobrazhensky regiment fallen in battle. Under glass in separate cases are the Preobrazhensky uniforms of Alexander I, Nicholas I, and Alexander II, as well as a saber that Alexander II was wearing during an attempt on his life on March 13, 1881 (March 1, O.S.), which still has some of his blood on it.
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 07 July, 2013
Photo: The camera often caught the Empress lost in thought. Her heart carried a tremendous burden, one that eventually took its toll on her overall physical and mental health. Over the past century she has been unfairly treated by Western historians and biographers who based their research on malicious gossip - PG.
Recently, The Siberian Times received a remarkable response to a stash of pictures of the Russian royal family found in a vault in the Urals. Now they continue the theme with Keith Waldegrave's recollections of handling the diary of Alexandra who, with the rest of her family, was moved from Siberia back to Yekaterinburg on their final journey.
It was a small dusty lilac pink book thinner and smaller than a paperback novel. The cover bore a Buddhist swastika symbol and on its plain pages were the inner-most thoughts of a woman deemed to be an evil foreign influence on the Russian ruler Tsar Nicholas II.
It was the personal diary of the Tsarina.
To read the article, please refer to the following link at Royal Russia News:
© The Siberian Times. 06 July, 2013
Ball at the Assembly Hall of the Nobility in St. Petersburg on 23 February 1913. Artist: Dmitry Kardovsky
A presentation of the painting, Ball at the Assembly Hall of the Nobility in St Petersburg on 23 February 1913 by Dmitriy Nikolaevich Kardovsky and 47 portrait sketches are currently on display in the Rotunda of the Winter Palace (State Hermitage Museum) in St. Petersburg. The exhibition is dedicated to the 400 year anniversary of the House of Romanov, as well as to the centenary of the great ball.
The program of the jubilee events of 1913 was quite vast, the celebration lasted from February till autumn. It was an all-state event, meaning the triumph of the state, power and national spirit. The ceremonial day of the solemn celebration of the 300-year anniversary of the Romanovs reign, approved at the highest level, was 21 of February 1913. At that day at 11 o’clock 21 salvos of the Petropavlovskaya fortress announced the beginning of the celebrations to the habitats of the capital. Sacred processions were coming from the main churches to the Kazan cathedral, and at the exactly determined time a train with the members of the tsarist family came. At the same day folk festivals took place in the capital and surrounding neighborhoods, historical jubilee performances took place in the theaters. On the 22 of February there was a solemn ceremony in the Winter Palace, during which the Emperor and Empress accepted congratulations.
On the 23 of February 1913 Saint Petersburg nobility gave a great ball at its meeting at Mikhailovskaya Street, in which more than 3200 guests attended. It was the last large-scale celebration of Tsarist Russia. The ball was begun at half past nine, when the Tsar, tsarina and members of the imperial family came to the imperial box. The ball was opened with the polonaise from the opera Life For the Tsar by M.I.Glinka, which was performed by the ball orchestra of the Preobrazhensky Lifeguard Regiment. Nicholas II was dancing with V.A.Somova, the wife of Saint-Petersburg district marshal of nobility, Empress Aleksandra Feodorovna - with S.M. Somov, Saint-Petersburg district marshal of nobility. After the polonaise other dances took place, including waltz, quadrille, cotillon, mazourka with a large number of natural flowers and bright ribbons. Nicholas, along with his daughter Olga left the ball after eleven.
Watercolor works, depicting the scene of the jubilee ball, became one of the few large-format works of Dmitriy Nikolaevich Kardovsky, an outstanding Russian artist. D.N. Kardovsky, a student of P.P. Chistyakov and I.E. Repin in Saint Petersburg Art Academy, and of professor A. Azbe, was a famous Russian illustrator, genre painter, theater painter. The Hermitage work Ball into the Hall of the Nobility 1913, not being a historical painting, was performed according to the examples of academic multifigure composition, each character of which is portrayed with photographic accuracy and psychological authenticity. At the center of the composition 17-year old princess Olga Nikolaevna, the first daughter of the Tsar, is waltzing with his highness I.N.Saltykov, this is the first grownup event for her. At the imperial box you can see members of the tsarist family - Nicholas II, Alexandra Feodorovna, Grand Duchcess Maria Feodorovna, Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna, Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich (Junior), Grand Duke Peter Nikolaevich and Grand Duke Boris Vladimirovich. Among those dancing you can see Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna, a sister of the emperor, dancing with her cousin Grand Duke Dmitry Pavlovich; as well as P.M. Raevsky, master of the ceremonies of the court, N.S. Voevodsky, one of the first Russian military pilots. In the crowd of people you can easily recognize famous politicians and statesmen, among them - A.G.Bulygin state secretary, who was the head of the Committee on preparation for the celebration of the Romanov’s house 300-year anniversary, duke A.A.Bobrinskiy, Duke D.I.Tolstoy, director of the Hermitage; chief master of the court A.S.Taneyev, a composer.
47 portrait sketched, made by the artist to the picture, are provided for the exhibition by the grandson of Dmitriy Nikolaevich Kardovsky - Nikolay Petrovich Vesyolkin, corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, director of I.M.Sechenov Institute of Evolutionary Physiology and Biochemistry.
© State Hermitage Museum. 05 July, 2013
The pair run a museum in Kolomna, near Moscow, dedicated to the apple-flavoured confectionery.
Now they have brought a taste of it to London - using the medium of dance to put their delicious message across.
Wearing an enormous red skirt that falls three metres to the ground, a Russian noblewoman drops eggs into a giant copper saucepan held by servant girls below. Then using a whisk the size of a broom, she mixes in the apples. While she’s stirring a ballerina dances a pas de deux with a mysterious man in a cape and top hat. The crowd applauds and boxes of traditional Russian apple sweets slide down the noblewoman’s apron to baskets at her feet.
Food and national identity are often intertwined. But when it comes to squeezing a huge chunk of history into a bite-size sugary treat, not many can compare with the Russian pastila.
The spongy-apple flavoured sweet, similar to marshmallow, was produced in the medieval town of Kolomna, 100km south east of Moscow, back in the 17th Century as a way of preserving apples. At the outbreak of WWI, the last factory was closed, then came the Russian revolution and pastila was forgotten for nearly a hundred years.
Although the original pastila disappeared a century ago, the word was used to describe a different type of sweet produced during the 20th century, but it was a substitute with a different taste.
Recently the original pastila has been brought back to life, thanks to two creative Kolomna ladies – Natalia Nikitina and Elena Dmitrieva.
Natalia Nikitina said:
“If you want to take it humourously it’s because we like sweet things and we wanted to try all sweet things ourselves. But speaking seriously, pastila used to be a famous Russian brand which then was forgotten and it deserves better fate.”
The women chanced across a passage about the traditional sweet in a book by the Russian writer Ivan Lazhechnikov. It described a very large woman invited by the 18th century Empress Anna of Russia to prepare pastila for a masquerade ball.
The story inspired Nikitina and Dmitrieva to track down an old recipe and recreate it.
Elena Dmitrieva said:
“Pastila is a traditional Russian apple sweet that was special to Russia. Nowhere else was it produced. It’s the flavour of Russia. That’s why it was so important to revive it. We want the whole world to know about it.”
Pastila was a favourite among the Russian elite. When Emperor Nicolas II visited Kolomna, he was presented with the treat wrapped in silk.
It was also loved by Empress Catherine the Great – whose image adorns the boxes produced by Nikitina and Dmitrieva today.
Natalia Nikitina said:
“Empress Catherine the Great visited Kolomna in the beginning of the 18th Century and she was greeted as a royal person. In Kolomna there was a habit to meet and greet important guests with Pastila so they offered pastila to Catherine the Great. She liked it so much she demanded to have pastila delivered to her court.”
The biggest names in Russian literature also feature in the story of Pastila. It was a favourite of both Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky.
Natalia Nikitina said:
“Dostoyevsky is linked to pastila in many ways. He spent his childhood near to Kolomna and he was very fond of sweet things. He always asked his wife to buy pastila for him and his children. He liked several types of pastila, red pastila and also soft white pastila”.
The different types of pastila are explored in Nikitina and Dmitrieva’s Kolomna museum, the Museum of Forgotten Flavours. But don’t expect any display cases - the museum is an exercise in nostalgia, replacing dusty objects with traditional tastes and smells.
“As far as we know it is the first museum in Russia which presents non-materialistic culture,”said Natalia Nikitina. “But it’s not just taste. It’s also traditions. It’s the tradition of Russian tea parties, how to meet and greet people, how to speak and how to make nice presents.”
A very new way of presenting something past that was almost lost forever.
© The Voice of Russia. 05 July, 2013
The Landesmuseum Wurttemberg will host a new exhibition Reflected Glory: the Romanovs, Württemberg and Europe from October 5th, 2013 to March 23rd, 2014.
Five marriages, four generations, one story
At Stuttgart’s Old Castle, an imposing structure steeped in history, a special exhibition entitled Reflected Glory: the Romanovs, Württemberg and Europe tells the story of five legendary women whose marriages formed the basis of the extraordinary history shared by the House of Württemberg and the Russian Romanov dynasty. For the first time, an exhibition sheds light on the impact of these marriages on European politics, on the domestic and social policies of the two countries as well as on their respective courts.
The special relationship between the Romanovs and Württemberg began in 1776, when Württemberg Princess Sophie Dorothee married Russian Tsar Paul I. As Empress Maria Feodorovna, she was as actively involved in Russian charitable institutions as she was present on the stage of European power politics.
The ambitious Friederike Charlotte Marie of Wurttemberg, too, found her fortune in Russia. Under the name Elena Pavlovna, she fostered the cultural advancement of St. Petersburg and, amongst other activities, founded the Russian Red Cross.
Maria Feodorovna’s daughter Catherine and her granddaughter Olga, both remembered as noble-minded queens of Württemberg, took the hearts of the Württemberg population by storm. Even today, many local institutions continue to bear withness to their great social commitment.
The marriage of tempestuous Grand Duchess Vera Konstantinovna, Olga's adopted daughter, to Duke Eugen of Württemberg is a brilliant concluding chapter in the marital relations of the Russian and Württemberg royal families.
Selected art treasures from the Württemberg State Museum and high-profile Russian museums such as the Kremlin or the Pavlovsk and Peterhof imperial palaces reflect pomp, power, splendour and glory, but also homesickness, daily routine, faith and legend.
©Landesmuseum Wurttemberg. 04 July, 2013