For the first time in its history the Moscow Kremlin Museums exhibit such a great number of artifacts from the museum’s most valuable and significant collection of state regalia and other precious items related to Russian traditional coronation ceremonies and festivities carried out in the Moscow Kremlin from the 16th to the 19th centuries.
The Coronations and Anointing of Russian Tsars and Emperors at the Moscow Kremlin is composed of almost 400 historical relics of high artistic merit, from pieces of state regalia to rarely seen archival documents, photographs and etchings, the exhibition is intended to reveal the atmosphere of coronations and consecration ceremonies in Russia as well as to explore the evolution of these solemn rituals throughout several centuries.
The exposition incorporates two sections, those of the first one covers the consecrations of Russian tsars in the Moscow Rus in the 16th-17th centuries. The rite of anointing of tsar was regarded as one of the most important state official occasions in Russia. It involved several events and culminated in a highly-developed religious ceremonial in the Assumption Belfry, when the sovereign was crowned and invested with state regalia. This service invested the Tsars with political legitimacy; it was equally perceived as conferring a genuine spiritual benefit that bestowed divine authority upon the new sovereign. The section presents a full complex of the state regalia and ornaments, having been developed by the end of the 16th century and used during consecration ceremonies during the 17th century: the reliquary of the True Cross, the "barmy" (ceremonial collar), the crown or “cap” of Monomakh, the chain, scepter and orb. The exposition also includes other distinctive insignia and clothing worn at coronation, i.e. the throne of Boris Godunov, Cap of Monomakh of the Second set, belonged to Tsar Peter Alexeevich, his “platno” (tight-fitting kaftan) and pectoral cross. The exposed pieces of cutlery and dishware were used for serving a lavishly decorated table during sumptuous feasts, prepared on the occasion of the consecration.
The highlight of the second section, dedicated to eleven coronations of Russian Emperors during the 18th-19th centuries, is the new set of Russian regalia, which replaced the ancient tsars’ insignia after Peter the Great proclaimed himself Emperor of Russia in 1721 and declared the Russian Empire. The barmy was replaced with a new coronation mantle and the Cap of Monomakh - with one modelled on Western European-style crowns. The scepter and orb were still required for the coronation ceremony, which also involved a badge and chain of the highest Russian Order of St. Andrew the First-Called, the Banner of the State, the State seal and the Sword of the State. The exposition also includes coronation uniforms of every Russian Emperor from Peter I to Nicholas II, coronation mantles and huge baldachins (canopies) intended for coronation procession and decoration of the throne seat in the Assumption Belfry. Of special interest are the costumes of a coronation heralds, luxurious warders of Masters of Ceremonies, commemorative medals and badges.
Precious church utensils and vestments of the church hierarchs are also on display. Our visitors will admire processional sanctuary crosses, offered to monarchs at the Assumption cathedral’s door by the Orthodox prelates, the icons, venerated by them when entering the cathedral, items from liturgical set, used for receiving Holy Communion during the Divine Liturgy.
The Tsar’s banquet, held in the Faceted Chamber at the conclusion of the coronation festivities, was furnished with every delicacy which could be procured; the precious ancient silverware was derived from the Armoury Chamber for setting tables. The famous porcelain service set, served at the coronation banquets of Alexander II, Alexander III and Nicholas II is of special note.
The exhibition was preceded by laborious research and restoration works, having been carried out on many of the exposed items, which made the presentation of the relics possible.
The exhibition is accompanied by a two volume catalogue which explores the coronations and consecration ceremonies carried out in the Moscow Kremlin from the 16th to the 19th centuries. Volume I: 16th - 17th centuries, 140 pages and Volume II: 18th - 19th centuries, 372 pages. Text is in Russian with English summary and annotations.
The catalogue is richly illustrated, many of the items are published in detail for the first time. It presents outstanding masterpieces from the Moscow Kremlin funds of the 16th-19th centuries, from pieces of state regalia to rarely seen archival documents, photographs and etchings, as well as informative essays and articles on the history of coronation ceremonies in Russia throughout several centuries and peculiarities of solemn celebrations accompanying the Russian sovereigns' accession to the throne.
The Coronations and Anointing of Russian Tsars and Emperors at the Moscow Kremlin has been organized by: the Moscow Kremlin Museums with the participation of the State Hermitage, State Historical Museum, State Museum and Estate "Pavlovsk", State Archive of the Russian Federation, Russian State Archives of Ancient Documents, Russian State Library, Research Library of the Russian Academy of Arts, Russian State Archive of Documentary Films and Photographs, St. Petersburg State Museum of Theatre and Music.
The exhibition runs until January 22nd, 2014 in the Assumption Belfry and the Patriarch's Palace of the Moscow Kremlin.
Reflected Glory: the Romanovs, Wurttemberg and Europe Topic: Exhibitions
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.
The exhibition runs from 5 October 2013 – 23 March 2014 at the Landesmuseum Württemberg, Altes Schloss in Stuttgart.
The Final Resting Place of Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich Topic: Sergei Alexandrovich GD
The remains of Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich, Novospassky Monastery in Moscow
On February 17, 1905, Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich was assassinated near the Nikolsky Gate of the Moscow Kremlin. Unlike all the other grand dukes who were buried in the Peter and Paul Cathedral St. Petersburg, his remains were buried in a crypt of the Chudov Monastery within the precincts of the Moscow Kremlin. On April 2, 1908, a memorial cross designed by Viktor Vasnetsov was erected on the spot where he was murdered. The cross was later destroyed by the Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin himself on May 1, 1918.
The Chudov Monastery was demolished in 1930, to make way for the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet which was built on the site. The burial crypt of the Grand Duke was located in a courtyard of that building, which had been used as a parking lot. The crypt remained undisturbed for decades, when in 1986, building workers doing repairs in the Kremlin discovered the blocked up entrance of the burial vault. The coffin was opened and found to contain the Grand Duke’s remains, covered with the military greatcoat of the Kiev regiment, decorations, and an icon. He had left written instructions that he was to be buried in the Preobrazhensky Lifeguard regiment uniform, but as his body was so badly mutilated this proved impossible.
On September 17, 1995, the coffin was officially exhumed. His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II held a Panikhida in the Cathedral of the Archangel of the Moscow Kremlin. The grand duke’s remains were then transferred and reburied in a vault of the Novospassky Monastery in Moscow. In 1999, a replica of the memorial cross destroyed by the Bolsheviks in 1918 was erected on the grounds of the monastery. The new monument was created by D. Grishin, and the sculptor Nikolai Orlov and based on the original sketches by Viktor Vasnetsov.
A replica of Vasnetsov's memorial cross now stands on the grounds of the monastery marking the spot of the grand duke's crypt
Russia Celebrates Life of St. Sergius of Radonezh Topic: Russian Church
St. Sergius of Radonezh
October 8 marks the anniversary of the death of the St. Sergius of Radonezh, a spiritual leader and monastic reformer of medieval Russia and one of the Russian Orthodox Church’s most highly venerated saints. Today Patriarch Kirill will preside over a service in honor of the saint at the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius.
According to the saint’s life tale, he was born to a boyar family near Rostov Velikiy, where Varnitsy Monastery now stands. He was originally baptized with the name Bartholomew. His parents Kirill and Maria became impoverished and moved to Radonezh together with their three sons: Stefan, Bartholomew and Peter.
In 1334, after the death of his parents, Bartholomew moved to to Khotkovo near Moscow, joining his widowed older brother Stefan. In 1337, he was tonsured a monk with the name Sergius and was ordained to the priesthood. In seeking a more secluded place, he and his brother found such a place in the deep forest near the Marovets hill and built a small cell and a simple chapel dedicated to the Holy Trinity in 1340.
The brothers lived a secluded life in the forest, and in time Stephen found the life of seclusion difficult and left Sergius to live in Epiphany monastery in Moscow. With the departure of his brother Sergius lived alone for a number of years. The wild animals seemed to recognize him, as packs of wolves and bears would come to his hut but would not harm him. According to legend, one bear came to his hut to share Sergius' last piece of bread with him.
Gradually people learned of Sergius and approach him for spiritual guidance. Soon, the cell grew to a small hermitage of twelve monks. The hermitage of the Holy Trinity soon became the spiritual center that eventually became the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius.
Sergius of Radonezh blessing Dmitri Donskoi before the Battle of Kulikovo. Artist: Ernst Lissner
As Holy Trinity monastery grew, Sergius began to send his disciples to spread the Gospel to the natives across central and northern Russia during the reign of Dmitry Donskoy. The number of monasteries founded by these disciples approached 400, some of which were established in the most difficult places. These included the monasteries of Borisoglebsky near Rostov, Ferapontov, Kyrillo-Belozersky, Golutvin in Kolomna, and Pokrovsky near Borovsk. All these monasteries formed links of a new country centered around Moscow. As the commerce centering on Holy Trinity monastery increased a settlement was formed at the monastery gates that grew into the town of Sergiev Posad.
The news of his life and works of wonder spread far and wide. The Patriarch of Constantinople, Philotheus sent him a charter confirming the new rules of community cloister life established by Sergius at the Holy Trinity Monastery. Metropolitan Alexis of Moscow honored Sergius as a friend and entrusted him in the tasks of reconciling differences among the princes of Moscow and Russia.
In the Russian struggles with the Tatar Khan Mamai, Sergius blessed the Prince Dimitry Donskoi as he departed for battle in 1380 with the words, "Go fearless prince and believe in God's help". Dimitri's victory at the Battle of Kulikovo was a momentous one in the history of Russia.
There are churches and cathedrals throughout the world built in honor of St. Sergius. The Roman Catholic Church officially recognizes Sergius as a saint, listing him in the Martyrologium Romanum. He is honored with a feast day on the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church (USA) on September 25, the date of his death according to the Old Style calendar.
Sergius died 1392 and was glorified (canonized) in 1452. His incorrupt relics were found in 1422 and placed in the new Trinity Cathedral of the Lavra. The church commemorates him on the day of his death, and on July 5, the day his relics were uncovered. Among the many affectionate titles given him, he has been referred to as the "Abbot of Russia" and "valiant voevod" of the Russian land.
In 2014 Russia will mark the 700th anniversary of the birth of St. Sergius. A working group has been established by the president of Russia to organize the festivities.
A new exhibition Willem II and Anna Pavlovna: Royal Splendour at the Dutch Court opened on September 26th at the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg.
The exhibition is at the heart of the Year of the Netherlands and Russia. It deals with one of the most significant episodes in the relations of the two countries which had an impact on entire nineteenth-century European history - the marriage of Grand Duchess Anna Pavlovna and Prince Willem of Orange, heir to the Crown (Netherlands and Luxembourg). The wedding arranged after a number of war victories and Willem's wounding at Waterloo was ceremoniously held half a year later at the Winter Palace.
Upon visiting St Petersburg and seeing Imperial collections, Willem also developed a passion for art collecting and assembled one of the best collections of paintings in Europe. Due to economic difficulties his family had to pawn it to Nicholas I and then sell it at auction to pay the debt. Nicholas I wanted to have the entire collection but had to take part in the auction on equal terms with others, through his special agents, and purchased thirteen pictures, most of which are displayed at the Hermitage permanent exhibitions. An irreplaceable loss for the museum was the sale of Jan van Eyck's picture from this collection in 1917.
The exhibition features more than 250 items, and has been produced by the State Hermitage in cooperation with the Dordrecht Stedelijk Museum, Dutch Royal Collection and Villa Vauban Museum (Luxembourg). Since the collection of Willem II was sold out after his death and dispersed all over the world, the exhibition has also been contributed by other large art museums and private collections.
The exhibition is on display in the Armorial Hall, Winter Palace (Room 195) until January 12, 2014.
Monument to Nicholas II in Belarus Topic: Nicholas II
The largest church in the Belarusian town of Kreisky was named in honour of St. Nicholas. Situated near the church is a bronze bust of Saint-Tsar Nicholas II, in gratitude to the Royal Martyrs for many years of heavenly assistance to Christian believers.
To this day there remain only two active churches in Kreisky. One of them was built in 1897 in honour of Alexei of Moscow, and the second in honour of St. Nicholas was built in 1874. The second, larger church, which is located in the centre of the agricultural town was closed for 70 years due to local communist views. But in 2000, the Church of St. Nicholas in Kreisky was returned to believers. The consecration of one of the chapels was carried out on July 19, 2009.
The bust was installed thanks to the efforts of local parishioners and Rev. Fr. Sergei Podolsky, the church priest. The artist of the bust is the Russian sculptor, Vladimir Zelyanko. The establishment of the memorial bust in 2008 was timed to coincide with the 90th anniversary of the murder of the royal family in 1918. Under the sculpture is placed the following inscription: "The Holy Martyr Tsar Nicholas II. This bust - our thanks to the Royal Martyrs for many years of heavenly assistance, from believers, Christians and Orthodox Kreisky our parish."
The Romanovs and the Russian People Forum in Ekaterinburg Topic: Russian Church
On October 10, in the "Kosmos" cinema and concert theatre of the city of Ekaterinburg, the second public forum of Middle Urals "The Romanovs and the Russian people" will take place.
This event will complete a chain of all-Russia celebrations, being held in 2013 in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kostroma and Ekaterinburg, devoted to the 400th anniversary of the end of the “time of troubles" (1610-1613) and accession to the throne of the royal dynasty of Romanov, reports the website of the Diocese of Ekaterinburg.
Ekaterinburg became the site of martyrdom of the last Romanovs, which is why the organizers decided to hold the final event, dedicated to the 400th anniversary of the royal dynasty, in this very place.
Leading Russian specialists in state building, demography, interethnic relations, history, and philosophy will take part in the second forum, organized by the Diocese of Ekaterinburg, the governor’s administration, and the “World Russian People's Council”.
The distinguished guests include: Metropolitan Kirill of Ekaterinburg and Verkhotury, The governor of the Sverdlov Region Evgeny Kuivashev, chief federal inspector of the Sverdlov region Vladimir Shabanov, Metropolitan Theophan of Chelyabinsk and Zlatoust, Archpriest Dimitry Smirnov, Mufti of Ural Sibagatullah Hazrat Saydulin, co-chairman of the “World Russian People's Council” Vladimir Khomyakov, Prince Alexander Trubetskoy, test cosmonaut of the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center and mayor of "Star city" Valery Tokarev, pilot-cosmonaut Viktor Plakida, Russian politician, statesman and scientist Sergey Baburin, writer Sergey Chekmaev, editor-in-chief of the portal Russkaya Narodnaya Liniya Anatoly Stepanov, Russian economist and professor of the Moscow State University Marat Musin.
During the forum, the icon of Holy Royal Martyrs that was taken into near-earth orbit with the crew of the Russian Space Station will be given to the Diocese of Ekaterinburg. At the present time, the icon is in the Zvyozdny Gorodok ("Star city", situated in the Shchelkovo district of Moscow region), where Russian and foreign cosmonauts live and receive training.
Theft of Tsar Nicholas II's Gifts from Swiss Museum Topic: Nicholas II
Pierre Gilliard with Grand Duchesses Olga and Tatiana at Livadia Palace in the Crimea
The jewellery given by Emperor Nicholas II to his children’s tutor Pierre Gilliard of Switzerland was stolen from a safe in the Cantonal and University Library of Lausanne four years ago, the Swiss newsagency 24heures has reported.
Though the theft took place in 2009, it became known only after Gilliard’s nephew paid a visit to Lausanne and asked to be shown the Russian emperor’s gifts – a gold cigarette case adorned with the emblem of the House of Romanov and four jewellery pieces for the tutor’s bride – Gilliard’s family had handed over to the library.
The nephew was told that the jewellery had disappeared under unclear circumstances. No one explained to him why he hadn’t been informed about the theft earlier. The local police authority confirmed that the library’s safe had been cracked open and emptied on the night of October 29, 2009. The library reported the incident to the local police authority. An inquiry was launched but nothing has been found so far.
Pierre Gilliard was employed as a French language tutor for Nicholas II’s daughters in 1905. In 1912, he became a tutor for his son and heir, Tsesarevich Alexei. He followed the family into internal exile at Tobolsk in 1917, however, the Bolsheviks prevented him from joining them when they were transferred to the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg in May 1918.
Gilliard remained in Siberia after the murders of the Imperial family, assisting White Russian investigator Nicholas Sokolov. In 1919, he married Alexandra Tegleva, a nurse to the Grand Duchess Anastasia. In 1920, he returned to Switzerland. In 1921, he wrote his classic memoirs, Thirteen Years at the Russian Court, which have since been translated into Russian.
In 1958, Gilliard was severely injured in an automobile accident at Lausanne. He never fully recovered from his injuries and died on May 30th, 1962.
State Hermitage Museum Gets Official Namesake Hotel
Russia’s famous State Hermitage Museum has opened an official namesake hotel in St Petersburg. This is the first experiment of the kind in which a museum cooperates with hotel business executives, ITAR-TASS reports. “The designers of this project didn’t try to reflect the Hermitage here,” Mikhail Piotrovsky, the Director General of the State Hermitage Museum said at the opening ceremony. “Some elements here reveal an obvious connection between the museum and the hotel but no attempts to copy anything are visible.”
Pitrovsky said that this five-star hotel is the only one in Russia and in the world that has received the official right to use the Hermitage Museum’s trademarks on the basis of a licensing agreement. The museum will not be receiving any commercial profits from the hotel but the two will rather launch joint programs. For instance, the customers staying at there will get “privileged rights” in the museum, Piotrovsky said. “We’ve set a very good precedent of a cultural institution and a business outlet working together.”
The hotel is located in a downtown building erected in the 1930’s. It housed a Food Industry Workers’ Club during the Soviet period. Complete overhaul was made inside the building with a due observance of all the requirements for protection of architectural monuments.
The inside décor of the hotel echoes the décor of half at the State Hermitage Museum. Many things there are styled to resemble the old times - the decorative furnishings on the panels, door handles, parquet, and so on. Engravings depicting the Hermitage Museums can be seen in the lounges. Films and videol clips depicting the museum’s collection are demonstrated on overhead screens.
For more information on this hotel, including a video, please refer to the following article;