Alexander III: His Life and Reign - Publisher Synopsis Topic: Books
Prior to publication, a synopsis of Alexander III: His Life and Reign by Margarita Nelipa is now available on the Royal Russia web site.
This highly anticipated new book will be the first English biography on Alexander III to be published in nearly 120 years.
The author explores Alexander's life as Grand Duke and Tsesarevich, as well as his years as Emperor. Her book includes 15 chapters, numerous appendixes, an extensive bibliography and is richly illustrated throughout with more than 200 photographs and illustrations.
Painstaking research by the author focused on materials in the Russian language; some 350 references in all. These include letters, diaries, memoirs, Russian newspapers of the day and in some cases very rare publications. Her research will offer readers a whole new look at one of Russia's most obscure rulers.
Margarita Nelipa is the author of The Murder of Grigorii Rasputin: A Conspiracy That Brought Down the Russian Empire, published in 2010 by Gilbert's Books.
Alexander III: His Life and Reign is scheduled for publication in early May 2014. Further updates on the progress, production and availability of this book will be posted on this blog in the coming weeks and months ahead.
Exhibition: Denmark and the Russian Empire 1600-1900 Topic: Exhibitions
Queen Margrethe of Denmark attends the gala opening at the Museum of National History, Frederiksborg Castle
Denmark and the Russian Empire in 1600 - 1900, an exhibition devoted to Russian-Danish relations opens today at the Museum of National History in the town of Hillerød, 40 kilometers from the Danish capital.
In the halls of Frederiksborg Castle can be seen table silver from the Moscow Kremlin - derived from the collection of ambassadorial gifts of the Armoury Chamber, they had been delivered to Russia as a part of a dowry by the son of King Christian IV, Valdemar Christian, for his marriage to the daughter of the Russian Tsar. Here are also portraits of the Empress Catherine the Great, by the Danish artist Vigilius Eriksen (1779) and the Empress Maria Feodorovna, born Danish Princess Dagmar, created by the Russian painter Alexei Korzuhin (1885).
Presented are the elegant ballroom toilette of Maria Feodorovna, among them - a gorgeous dress by the famous Parisian couturier, Charles Frederick Worth. The exhibition also features a silver cup with a diameter of about one meter, created by the famous jeweller to the Russian Court, Carl Faberge, which was a gift of Alexander III and Maria Feodorovna to her parents - King Christian IX and Queen Louise, on the occasion of their golden wedding anniversary.
The exhibition tells about the arrival of Peter I in Denmark in 1716, about his stay in the country from 1780 until the beginning of the nineteenth century, the last descendants of the extinct "Brunswick" branch of Tsar Ivan Alexeyevich and, of course, about the daily life of Maria Feodorovna that 19-year-old Danish princess came to Russia in 1866 to marry the heir to the Russian throne, and after the revolution of 1917 was forced to return to her homeland.
"Few countries can match the Russian imperial style of luxury and splendour," - said in a press release, the exhibition, which has been four years in the making. During its preparation, the Danish Museum staff visited four times in Russia. Some of the exhibits provided by the Kremlin Museums, and the Pavlovsk Museum-Reserve and the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve, whose directors attended the gala opening . Other items belong to Danish museums, archives and private collections, as well as the Danish Royal Family.
The opening ceremony was attended by Queen Margrethe of Denmark, who flew in from the south of France where she is currently vacationing.
"Russian-Danish relations which span more than five centuries, has always been based on the principles of friendship, respect and mutually beneficial cooperation, - noted Mikhail Vanin, Russian Ambassador to Denmark. - It is no small measure the close links between the Imperial House of Romanov, which marks its 400th anniversary in 2013, and the Danish royal family. This is why the exhibition, devoted to the relations between the two countries, this year is especially important. "
The exhibition opens to the public on August 30 and will run until December 1, 2013.
Unknown Portrait of Tsesarevich Alexei Discovered Now Playing: Language: Russian. Duration: 2 minutes, 52 seconds Topic: Tsarevich Alexis
Hidden for nearly a century, a previously unknown portrait of the Tsesarevich Alexei Nicholayevich, the son of Emperor Nicholas II was discovered in a house on Wednesday, not far from the Catherine Palace at Pushkin. The portrait was found by workers during the restoration of the facade of the 18th century Kabinetskaya (Cavaliers) House on Sadovoi Ulitsa.
The 86cm x 67cm oil painting of the Tsesarevich Alexei, dressed in a sailors shirt, was found hidden between the wall and the eaves of the house. The canvas was rolled up, wrapped in newspapers dating from 1917 and 1918, and pinned down with bricks. Experts at the Tsarskoye Selo Palace Museum Preserve believe that the owners of the house removed the portrait from its frame and hid it after the revolution of 1917.
The artist is unknown but believed to be painted from a photograph of the young heir to the throne during the 1913-1914 period. Experts will now attempt to identify the artist and learn more about the original owner of the house. It is known that the house was occupied by Gendarme Corps Colonel Boris Gerardi, who served as Head of the Palace Police from 1905-1917.
Iraida Bott, Deputy Scientific Director at the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve told local media that the oil painting is dilapidated, with numerous creases and a torn-off fragment and in urgent need of restoration. Once this has been done, the portrait will then go on display at the Tsarskoye Selo Palace Museum, presumably in the Alexander Palace where the Tsesarevich spent much of his life. In the meantime, further investigation of the house will result in the discovery of other treasures from the Tsarist period.
Exhibition: The Emperors of Russia Topic: 400th Anniversary
A new exhibition, The Emperors of Russia will officially open on Friday, August 30th, at the Yaroslavl Art Museum. The exhibit which marks the 400th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty will feature portraits of the Russian emperors, from the 18th to the beginning of the 20th centuries.
In addition to paintings and drawings, the exhibition will also present cabinet bronze busts of the late 19th century from the collection of the former Governor of the Yaroslavl region, Anatoly Lisitsyn.
Most of the exhibited works were created by relatively unknown artists - Fedor Rokotoff, Semena Shchukin, Jean-Marc Nattier, Georg Groot and Johann Tanauera. It will be on display and several original works of the English portrait painter George Dawe.
Baron Pyotr Wrangel Was Born 135 Years Ago Topic: Wrangel, Pyotr
Baron Pyotr Nikolayevich Wrangel
Exactly 135 years ago, on August 27, 1878, the Russian military statesmen and one of the leaders of the White Movement, Pyotr Wrangel, was born. He was born in the Kovno Governorate in the Russian Empire (near present-day Zarasai, Lithuania). The Wrangel family was of the local Baltic German nobility.
Since the middle of the 13th century the Wrangel family produced 7 field marshals, more than 30 generals and 7 admirals who served Russia and European states. The polar explorer Ferdinand Wrangel had an island in the Arctic Ocean named after him. The father of Pyotr Wrangel – Nikolai Wrangel – was a well-known art historian and collector.
He was an officer in the Russian Imperial Army, a participant of the Russo-Japanese War and hero of World War I, Pyotr Wrangel was considered one of the most promising military leaders of Russia. His military skills were also seen during the Civil War and the successes of the White Army in 1918-1919 were due in large part to Wrangel’s mounted troops.
Having taken charge of the Volunteers’ Army, Wrangel helped hold off the advance of Red Army forces on the Crimea and organize the evacuation of remaining White supporters. In emigration he established the Russian All-Military Union, an organization established to fight for the preservation and unity of all White forces living abroad. He settled in Brussels from September 1927 and worked as a mining engineer. Wrangel's memoirs were published in the magazine White Cause in Berlin in 1928.
Wrangel died suddenly of Tuberculosis in 1928, and Wrangel's family believed that he had been poisoned by his butler’s brother, who lived in the Wrangel household in Brussels briefly and who was allegedly a Soviet agent. Wrangel's funeral and burial took place in Brussels, but he was reinterred on October 6, 1929 in the Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox church in Belgrade, Serbia according to his final wishes.
Buyer beware! After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Western market was flooded with forgeries of the 1896 Coronation Cup (photo) or Khodynka Cup of Sorrows. Highly sought after by collectors, many buyers pay huge sums to own one of these historic cups. It is just one of many items counterfeited by unscrupulous dealers.
At least half of the items in circulation on Russia's antiques market are counterfeits, which cost scammed collectors millions of rubles every year, according to antiques experts and law enforcement agencies.
Dishonest dealers and a lack of quality experts are the core of the problem, and solving it will have to go hand-in-hand with a change in mentality among merchants and buyers, experts said.
It is hard to track whether the number of fakes is growing or increasing every year because people still have a negative attitude toward the police and hesitant to report any incidents, said Lieutenant Colonel Alexei Kistochkin whose beat is the antiques market, which is estimated to be worth about $200 million in annual sales.
One thing is sure, he added: There are a lot of fakes in every antiques segment.
"Though all of Europe is buying and selling them, there were not that many [Ivan] Aivazovsky paintings ever made," Kistochkin said. "Even if the master's students were involved, their hands would have shriveled up if they tried to draw so many paintings."
About 2 million people in Russia collect antiques in some way, according to estimates by the Eastern European Antique House.
While the popularity of collecting has grown, experts said there was still no system for controlling counterfeits or punishing those responsible for making them.
Most antique dealers have a short sighted buy-and-sell mentality that shows no respect for the items or their clients, said Sergei Yunin, a major shareholder in the First Republican Bank and founder of the Eastern European Antique House.
"Dealers have the primitive psychology of Soviet-era profiteers," Yunin said, adding that all of the dealers he has met in his life were in some way dishonest.
Antiques evaluators often facilitate sales of counterfeits. It is hard to find competent — and most importantly, honest — antique experts that give accurate assessments of the item's value, said Vladimir Kazakov, general director of the National Institute of Independent Expertise.
Many of the current experts come from state structures, are aging and find it hard to resist the temptation of bribes, Kistochkin said. The situation is so bad that some of them are virtually on salary from dishonest dealers.
Despite the well-known problems in this market segment, the perpetrators of counterfeits easily escape punishment. The law states the consequences for stealing antiques is up to 15 years in jail,
depending on the item. But there is no separate article concerning those who produce counterfeits, lawyer Vladimir Sidyakin said.
Even if the culprit is caught, it is hard to prove improper intent. The person could merely say that he painted a reproduction of a famous painting for his friends, Kistochkin said.
The Antique House plans to help control the number of fakes on the market by offering collectors an evaluation of items they are interested in through a panel of three independent experts with access to a top notch technical laboratory. However, since there will be more experts involved, the service will cost 40 to 50 percent more than similar services currently on the market, such at the expertise offered by the Historical Museum's Society of Friends.
Monument to Catherine the Great Restored in Irbit Topic: Catherine II
Melted down by the Bolsheviks 96 years ago, the monument to Catherine the Great has been restored in the Ural town of Irbit
A monument to the Empress Catherine II has been restored in Irbit, a town situated about 203 km from Ekaterinburg in the Sverdlovsk Oblast region of Russia. Founded in 1631 as Irbeyevskaya Sloboda, its name was changed to Irbit in 1662. It was granted official town status by Catherine the Great in 1775 for the town's loyalty to the Empress during the Pugachev Uprising of 1773-74. The following year, she awarded the town its official crest.
The bronze monument was originally installed in Market Square in 1883. It was created by Mikhail Mikeshin, the outstanding Russian artist and sculptor who also created the Millenium of Russia monument in Veliky Novgorod, as well as the monument to Catherine II which stands in front of the Alexandrinsky Theatre on the Nevsky Prospekt in St. Petersburg.
On May 1st, 1917 a crowd of rioters pulled down the monument. Shortly after, the Bolsheviks erected a statue of Vladimir Lenin. The bronze statue of the Russian empress was hauled off to the local smelter and melted down.
In 2002, a local historical team conducted archival research, where they found the plans, drawings and photographs of the original monument. The new monument is an exact replica of the original.
It is interesting to note, that the statue of Lenin still stands some 30 metres from the newly restored monument to the Russian empress, "For the time being, the statue of Lenin will remain," said Deputy Mayor Sergei Kulikov.
OTMA's Bookcase Returned to Livadia Topic: Livadia
The wall panels and bookcase in the grand duchesses classroom were made from the same oak tree. Photo credit: Old Yalta
The Livadia Palace Museum has acquired a unique new exhibit - the original bookcase from the classroom of the daughters of Tsar Nicholas II. [OTMA was an acronym used by the Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia.]
After the Bolsheviks nationalized the Imperial residences, Livadia Palace was opened as the world's first sanatorium for peasants. Much of the furniture, paintings and objects of everyday life were distributed to other museums in Russia, while others were sold through thrift shops in Yalta. In 2000, I hosted a group tour to the Crimea in which Marina Zemlyanichenko was a featured guide and speaker. Ms Zemlyanichenko was the former curator of the Livadia Palace, and author of numerous books and articles about the Romanovs at Livadia and the Crimea. She told me that a number of pieces of furniture, including rare Persian rugs were moved to the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg where they remain in storage to this day.
During the postwar period it became a guest house for members of the Soviet government. In 1953 the building was handed over to the Council of Trade Unions, and used to treat cardiology patients. In 1974, the palace became the History and Art Exhibition Centre. It was not until 20 years later, in 1993, that the Ministry of Culture of the Autonomous Region of the Crimea decided to open the Livadia Palace Museum.
During the ensuing years great efforts were made to track down furniture, art and other items that were once housed in the former Imperial residence. Sadly, the fate of most of them is unknown, so each new find is considered a great success. Recently, however, the opportunity to purchase an authentic piece of furniture from the former Livadia Palace came about. In addition to belonging to the Imperial Palace, it is interesting to note that this particular piece of furniture in the "modern style", was not only fashionable at the turn of the century, but also characteristic of the decoration of the Livadia Palace itself.
The bookcase, like other pieces of furniture in the grand duchesses classroom was made by the Austrian furniture company Jacob & Josef Kohn. In the late 19th-early 20th century Jacob & Josef Kohn had firmly established themselves in Russia. They created about a thousand pieces of furniture for the Russian Imperial family, and aristocratic homes in Tsarist Russia. They were one of the first to adopt the style of Art Nouveau and thus involved in the development of new products and designers.
Due to the wide popularity of the modern style in Russia, the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna invited the Petersburg Company factory to participate in furnishing the interiors of Livadia Palace. In January 1910, the palace’s architect Nikolai Krasnov, granted a contract to the firm on a number of interior design living spaces, in particular, the grand duchesses bedrooms, their living room and classrooms. The classroom of the grand duchesses, created in the modern style, the furniture (including the bookcase) were all created from the same oak tree. Today, the bookcase has been beautifully restored and returned to its historic location in the former grand duchesses classroom at Livadia Palace. The grand duchesses rooms, which are located on the first floor of the palace are today part of a permanent exhibition dedicated to the Romanovs at Livadia.
New Monument to Emperor Alexander III at Nizhny Novgorod Topic: Alexander III
A new monument to the Emperor Alexander III was unveiled on August 23rd at the Annunciation Monastery in the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod. The monument was sanctified by the Metropolitan of Nizhny Novgorod and Arzamas.
"Today we are witnessing a very important event - the unveiling of a monument which honours a significant figure in Russian history. In 1866, Alexander III, while still Tsesarevich, visited our monastery and prayed in this holy place, - he said, - discovering these sites, we restore a historical memory. We are celebrating the 400th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty in Russia. This dynasty has made the Russian Empire a great and prosperous nation. "
"Peace Tsar" is inscribed on one side of the pedestal. During the years of his reign, Russia was not engaged in any military conflict, actively developed industry and agriculture, and reached an unprecedented flowering of Russian culture and art. Alexander III has been hailed as a true Orthodox tsar. During his reign, many new churches and monasteries were built in Russia.
The monument to Emperor Alexander III is the second dedicated to a Russian sovereign, established in Nizhny Novgorod in the nationwide project "Avenue of the Russian Glory", which was intended to revive the patriotic spirit of the Russian people and to perpetuate the memory of our great ancestors and compatriots. The artist of the bronze bust on a marble pedestal is the Russian sculptor Alexander Apollo.
A monument to Emperor Alexander II was erected in the Ascension Caves Monastery. There are plans to erect a new monument to Emperor Nicholas II at the Nizhny Novgorod Women's Cross Monastery in the near future.
In addition, according to Anatoly Migunov, the Minister of Regional and Municipal Policies of the Nizhny Novgorod region, plans are underway for the publication of a new book The Romanovs in Nizhny Novgorod and the Nizhny Novgorod Region, which will feature the collected letters, diaries, memoirs of contemporaries of the Emperor Alexander III, and members of the House of Romanov. "This monument will testify about the historical roots of the glorious spiritual heritage of Russia and will be one of the worthy symbol of the Nizhny Novgorod region", - said Anatoly Migunov.
Beautiful Orthodox Churches of Russia No. 19 Topic: Beautiful Orthodox Churches
Vladimir Mother of God Cathedral, St. Petersburg
Completed in 1783, the beautiful and historic Vladimir Mother of God Cathedral is one of the oldest churches in St. Petersburg and presents a truly fascinating combination of baroque and classical architectural styles. The church is crowned with five onion-shaped cupolas, which rise into the sky above Vladimirskaya Ploschad in one of the most historic areas of the city. An impressive four-tiered bell tower stands adjacent to the church. The church is also home to one of the oldest and most elaborate iconostases in Russia.
The church was built to shelter the historic Vladimir Mother of God icon. The icon traveled to Jerusalem, Constantinople and then Kiev, where Prince Andrey Bogolyubskiy bought it and brought it to the ancient Russian city of Vladimir after which it is named. Subsequently the icon was credited by the Orthodox Church with freeing Moscow from the control of the Mongols.
The founding of the cathedral dates to 1746 in the house of a certain Yakimov where the first iconostasis was assembled. On August 25, 1748 a new wooden church was dedicated in the name of the Vladimir Mother of God. On the following day Empress Elizabeth attended a special church service in honour of the new church's opening.
Because the construction of the current stone church dragged on for more than 20 years and several different architects were involved in its design and construction, the cathedral is not credited to any one architect.
With its unique combination of baroque and classical features, the church is an important addition to St. Petersburg's architectural history. No other church in the city can claim a design quite like the Vladimir Mother of God Church, with its five different-sized onion-shaped cupolas rising into the sky and topped off with glistening Orthodox crosses, and including five sections, two stories and three porticos.
In 1831, a stone portico was added to the main building with two stairways leading to the second floor, designed by A. Melnikov. In 1833, another two-story portico was built on the northern and southern facades of the church including a two-story room for a staircase, designed by A. Golm. In 1848-1849 a fourth tier was added to the bell tower to a plan by architect F. Rusk. In 1850-1851 a fence was installed around the church, and two stone chapels were also added. The Vladimir Mother of God Church, bell tower and chapels were also gilded at this time.
The church was closed in 1932, the building was transferred to the State Public Library. The former church housed the department of anti-religious literature. During the years 1930-1940, it was one of the few places in Leningrad where one could read a copy of the Bible.
Although most of the church's treasures were looted during the Revolution, the incredible Baroque iconostasis (transferred from the Anichkov Palace chapel in 1808) on the church's upper level survived. It is one of only a very few of its kind in Russia is now an architectural monument and well worth seeing, and was created in the middle of the 18th century by Italian sculptor Bartolomeo Rastrelli.
The Vladimir Mother of God Icon Cathedral is located in one of the favourite areas of the city's intelligentsia, and has had many notable parishioners, including Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
A vigorous restoration of the church began in the 1970s, including restoration of the facade and icons. Nevertheless, the effects of years of neglect have been difficult and slow to correct. In 1990, after the church had been returned to the Russian Orthodox Church, the first services where conducted in what observers described then as a gloomy and cold environment where there were only two icons donated by church parishioners. Moreover, the church did not have a cross for more than a year after it reopened.
In May 2000, the church received the status of cathedral. Today, a magnificent view of its domes and bell tower can be enjoyed from the 7th floor bar of the Hotel Dostoevsky, which is situtated directly across the street.