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Saturday, 30 November 2013
Russian Calendar 1917
Topic: Russian History

1917 Russian Calendar depicting Tsar Nicholas II and his family
This 1917 Russian calendar presents the last Russian Imperial family: Emperor Nicholas II, his wife Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, their four daughters Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, and their only son and heir to the throne Tsesarevich Alexei. They are depicted as one big happy family, decked out in all their finery, giving the false image that all was well with the state of monarchy and the Russian Empire. Sadly, however, history tells a different story….

In 1917, Russia witnessed a series of catastrophic events which would change the course of the country’s history, forever.
The acceleration of revolutionary activity continued to threaten the lives of the tsar, his family and the monarchy. 

The country was still at war with Germany, a war which had a devastating impact on Russia resulting in the loss of an estimated 1.8 million lives. The war took its toll on Russia as discontent grew, food became scarce, soldiers became war-weary, and the devastating defeats on the eastern front threatened the tsar’s leadership.

The February Revolution was the first of two revolutions in Russia in 1917. It was centered on Petrograd, then the capital (now St. Petersburg), on March 8 (Women's Day). 

On March 15, 1917, Tsar Nicholas II was travelling by train bound for Tsarskoye Selo when he was stopped at Pskov. The Duma insisted that Nicholas abdicate, sending representatives Aleksandr Ivanovich Guchkov and Vasilii Vitalievich Shulgin to meet him there. Nicholas complied and signed the papers.

Nicholas abdicates in favour of his brother, Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich. 

The following day, on March 16, 1917 (March 3, 1917 old style), Grand Duke Michael ponders the situation briefly and then declines the offer.

Russia is no longer a monarchy.

Vladimir Lenin, exiled in neutral Switzerland, arrived in Petrograd from Zürich on 3 April 1917 O.S. He immediately began to undermine the provisional government.

In July, Georgy Lvov was replaced by the Socialist Revolutionary minister Alexander Kerensky as head of the government.
After months of being under house arrest in the Alexander Palace at Tsarskoye Selo, the Imperial family are exiled to Tobolsk, Siberia in August. 

The October Revolution, officially known as the Great October Socialist Revolution took place with an armed insurrection in Petrograd traditionally dated to 25 October 1917 (by the Julian or Old Style calendar, which corresponds to 7 November 1917 in the Gregorian or New Style calendar).

Vladimir Lenin, a Russian communist revolutionary, politician and political theorist served as the leader of the Russian SFSR from 1917.

On 20 December 1917 the Cheka was created by the decree of Vladimir Lenin. These were the beginnings of the Bolshevik's consolidation of power over their political opponents.

The year 1917 was a major turning point for the history of Russia, and also the Russian Orthodox Church. According to Lenin, a communist regime cannot remain neutral on the question of religion but must show itself to be merciless towards it. There was no place for the church in Lenin's classless society.

The assets of the Imperial family, as well as members of Russia’s aristocratic and noble families were nationalized. The Bolsheviks began the persecution, arrest and murder of thousands of innocent Russians. 

Lenin and the Bolsheviks set the stage for the Red Terror.

Imperial Russia was no more.
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 30 November, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:00 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 30 November 2013 8:29 AM EST
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A Russian Moment 21 - The Bronze Horseman, St. Petersburg
Topic: A Russian Moment

The Bronze Horseman, an impressive monument to the founder of St Petersburg, Peter the Great, stands on Senatskaia Ploschad' (Square), facing the Neva River and surrounded by the Admiralty, St Isaac's Cathedral and the buildings of the former Senate and Synod - the civil and religious governing bodies of pre-revolutionary Russia.

The monument was built by order of the Empress Catherine the Great as a tribute to her famous predecessor on the Russian throne, Peter the Great. Being a German princess by birth, she was eager to establish a line of continuity with the earlier Russian monarchs. For that reason an inscription on the monument reads in Latin and Russian: Petro Primo Catharina Secunda - To Peter the First from Catherine the Second.

This equestrian statue of Peter the Great, created by the famous French sculptor Etienne Maurice Falconet, depicts the most prominent reformer of the Russia state as a Roman hero. The pedestal is made of a single piece of red granite molded into the shape of a cliff. From the top of this "cliff" Peter gallantly leads Russia forward, while his horse steps on a snake, which represents the enemies of Peter and his reforms.

According to a 19th century legend, enemy forces will never take St. Petersburg while the "Bronze Horseman" stands in the middle of the city. During the Second World War the statue was not taken down, but was protected with sand bags and a wooden shelter. In that way, the monument survived the 900-day Siege of Leningrad virtually untouched.
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 30 November, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:36 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 30 November 2013 6:42 AM EST
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Faberge Moustache Brush Sells at Auction
Topic: Faberge
Photo: Auctioneer Peter Cartwright examines the Faberge moustache brush. © The Northern Echo
A Faberge moustache brush has fetched £4,000 at auction in Great Britain. It went under the hammer at Thomas Watson’s recent fine art sale in the Darlington-based auction house on November 19th. With an original estimate of £4,000 to £6,000, it was the star item in the auction, attracting international interest by collectors.

While falling short of its £6,000 estimate, the 7 cm-long, gold and sapphire encrusted moustache brush, made by the Russian royal jewellers Faberge, its actually selling price of £4,000 still works out at £570 per centimeter.

“The Fabergé brush is really unusual and harks back to a time of glamour, evoking the opulence and perfect grooming of the Russian Imperial court," said Peter Catrwright.

“It’s exquisitely made and is certain to appeal to quality jewellery collectors and Fabergé aficionados but would also make an ideal gift for the man who has nearly everything.”
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 30 November, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:28 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 30 November 2013 6:36 AM EST
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Friday, 29 November 2013
Romanov Auction Catalogue - Olivier Coutau-Begarie (Paris) - 16 December, 2013
Topic: Auctions

||| Click Here to View and Print the Olivier Coutau-Begarie Catalogue - 124 pages |||

Highlights of the Paris auction on Monday, December 16th, 2013 include;
  • an album of photographs of the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna, taken by one of her ladies-in-waiting
  • an album of 47 engravings on the description of the funeral of Emperor Nicholas I in 1855
  • a magnificent portrait of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna by the German painter Friedrich Kaulbach
  • gold shirt buttons of Tsarevich Alexei, decorated with his monogram 
  • the correspondence and the publications of the Harold G. Graf (1885-1966), who served as chancellor to the Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich, Head of the Russian Imperial House from 1918 to 1938
  • objects from the collection of the Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna (1882-1957), wife of Prince Nicholas of Greece, which includes two frames enamelled by Carl Fabergé; a rare miniature representing the children of the Emperor Paul I; a cigarette case made of quartz with a golden mount and diamonds by Carl Fabergé; a gold pendant with a photo of her mother Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna wearing the helmet of the Chevaliers-Gardes in miniature 
  • porcelain  plates from the imperial services of the Farm of the Palace at Peterhof with the cipher of Emperor Alexander II, and those of the marriage of the sister of Nicholas II, the Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna and Duke Peter Alexandrovich of Oldenburg in 1901 

*Note: The full catalogue consists of 364 pages. I have only included the pages from the catalogue which reflect the Romanov letters and photographs being offered in the auction. Test is in French only. 

© Olivier Coutau-Begarie. 29 November, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:49 AM EST
Updated: Friday, 29 November 2013 8:42 AM EST
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Romanov Auction Catalogue - Hotel des Ventes (Geneva) - 9 December, 2013
Topic: Auctions

||| Click Here to View and Print the Hotel des Ventes Catalogue - 114 pages |||

Highlights of the Geneva auction on Monday, December 9th, 2013 include; 

  • over 230 signed and unpublished letters from Tsars Nicholas I, Alexander II and their family presenting a new aspect to 19th century Imperial Russia until the fall of the Romanovs
  • photographs of Tsar Alexander III’s family, rescued by a German Bauhaus artist during the Nazi destruction in 1944 

*Note: This catalogue offers descriptions in both French and English.

© Hotel des Ventes. 29 November, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:46 AM EST
Updated: Friday, 29 November 2013 8:38 AM EST
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Thursday, 28 November 2013
Tsar's Letters up for Auction in Geneva
Topic: Auctions
More than 230 unpublished letters from Russian Tsars Nicholas I, Alexander II and their families, along with other imperial items, will be auctioned off in Geneva next month, auctioneers said Thursday.

The December 9 Russian imperial sale is expected to rake in more than one million Swiss francs ($1.1 million, 812,000 euros), with the letters alone seen fetching 60,000-80,000 francs, Hotel Des Ventes (HDV) said in a statement.

The letters, written in Russian, French and English, were purchased by an American captain and journalist deployed in Europe during World War II, "transport the reader right into the heart of Russian Imperial life and political intrigue," it said.

In 1989, the captain's widow gave the letters to a historian friend, without realising what they contained.

Discovering that a number of the letters had been written by the tsars themselves, he quickly realised he was in possession of a historical treasure, explained Claire Piguet, HDV specialist on Russian imperial family manuscripts.

Most of the letters were addressed to Grand Duchess Olga Nicholaievna, the daughter of Nicholas I and sister of Alexander II, who moved to Stuttgart after marrying a German prince who would become King Charles I of Wurttemberg.

Through the missives, "intimate secrets and plots of the Russian Court are unveiled as well as the beliefs and political pains of the two emperors," HDV said.

The auction house will also sell an unpublished set of photographs of Alexander III's family which was rescued from the flames when the Nazis destroyed the Gatchina palace in 1944.

The snaps were rescued by Otto Hofmann, a German Bauhaus artist who was serving with the Nazi forces.

"Acting against martial law and putting his own life at risk, the soldier hid and brought back around 30 images which he considered historical evidence and culturally important for Imperial Russia," the auction house explained.

The family of Hofmann, who managed to hide the shots during several years as a prisoner of war, had decided to sell the pictures to "reveal his gesture to all," HDV said.

The auction house, which for years has been hosting a Russian imperial sale, will also be auctioning off a range of objects, including a rare pair of porcelain vases made in 1849 given by Nicholas I to his sister-in-law Elena Pavlona.

The vases, which are expected to fetch between 300,000-500,000 francs, were bought by a Swiss couple in Paris in the 1960s, and have been decorating their home in Geneva ever since.
© Agence France-Presse. 28 November, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:22 PM EST
Updated: Thursday, 28 November 2013 6:29 PM EST
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Wednesday, 27 November 2013
Russians Ponder Restoration of Monarchy
Topic: Russian Monarchy

The popularity of a recent exhibit on the House of Romanov has led some observers to believe there is a growing sympathy towards the monarchy in Russia and perhaps the desire to return to it. A recent poll by the All-Russian Center for Public Opinion has shown that 28 percent of Russian citizens would support a restoration of the monarchy.

Journalists asked some of the thousands who stood in line to see the exhibit why they were so interested and if they could imagine the return of the monarchy in today’s Russia.

David Gzgzyan, head of the department of theological disciplines and liturgy of St. Philaret Orthodox Christian Institute

People want to have iconic figures to look up to, and today in Russia the choice is very limited. The two most prominent figures in popular consciousness are Stalin and Nicholas II. This exhibition plays up the glory of the monarchy and makes the institution appear attractive; it does not dwell on the monarchy as an institution of power.
Russian people are used to looking backward. The future scares people with its uncertainty. Our compatriots are especially frightened of the future, because everything is unstable. There are no social institutions that work. Everything exists due to inertia, and the inertia forces a person to seek support in the past. Therefore, there is a demand for attractive symbols of this past.

Sergey Moshchenko, 59, retired astronaut, Moscow

I stood in line for three hours. After I retired, I had a lot of free time and became interested in history. Much has been said on television and on the Internet about the dynasty; it seemed that there was no one as outstanding as Peter the Great. But after I began to study it, it turned out that there were other outstanding tsars worth talking about. The entire history of the House of Romanov was thorny and intricate. Peter chopped off heads, and sometimes this was necessary, and he performed the dirty work. He was able to understand the people. They would steal, yes, but also work. As a result, the country prospered.
A return to the monarchy? Yes, why not?

Vera Ilincheva, senior citizen, Moscow Region

I came together with my friend; we go to the same church. We came to learn about the history of the Romanovs. Moreover, we want to see the icon – Our Lady of St. Theodore – which was the patron icon of the Romanov family and the patron saint of Nicholas II. We wish to have a faith as strong as his.
It is difficult to say whether we need a monarchy. People have lost faith, and they cannot believe that the monarchy will bring a bright future to our children.

Alexey Bulygin, 28, engineer, St. Petersburg

Yesterday I came to Moscow on a business trip and learned from friends about this exhibition. I decided to visit since I have some free time. I heard that the exhibition is presented in a new, interactive format, and I am curious as to what it looks like. Generally speaking, I do not visit exhibitions.
I think that maybe someday we shall return to the monarchy. People have been given such freedom that perhaps they will ask someone to stand over them and make them do things.

Olga Trinkunas, 41, entrepreneur, Moscow

I was advised by a colleague to visit this exhibition, which had had a great impact on her. I wanted to see the icon. It is too bad that there is such a long line. When I came on Saturday, the line was so long that I did not wait. I thought that during the week the line would be smaller, but unfortunately the situation is the same. I wonder what they are showing about the Romanovs that so many people are waiting in line. I think the Romanovs have done a lot for the country.

The sad fate of the last emperor cannot make people indifferent. The monarchy has perspectives. The country needs a strong hand.

Dasha Popova, 15, student, Moscow

I have been waiting for three hours. My teacher advised us to visit this exhibition. I came here for the sake of learning something new. What this exhibition is about, to be honest, I do not know. I think we spoke about the Romanovs during history lessons. Many people have come, because the entrance is free. In Moscow these days, almost nothing is free. I do not support the monarchy.
© Rossiyskaya Gazeta and Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 27 November, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:52 PM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 27 November 2013 1:15 PM EST
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Tuesday, 26 November 2013
Dolls and Toys Donated to Tsarskoye Selo
Topic: Tsarskoye Selo

Photos © Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve
Tsarskoye Selo is another step closer to a revival of the Children’s Rooms' collections at the Alexander Palace, thanks to recent donations from the International Association of Doll Artists (IADA).

Svetlana Pchelnikova, President of IADA and our Friends Society’s Art Patron, handed the donations over to the Museum at the 9th International Doll Salon in Moscow.

The most valuable gifts are two antique dolls (see above). One of the 1900s by the Société Française de Fabrication de Bébés et Jouets (S.F.B.J.). The other is a German Kestner doll of the 1860s-90s in a long white dress with a black lace apron and a lush black wig. Dolls made by these firms were created for the daughters of Tsar Nicholas II, who played with them in the Children’s Rooms of the Alexander Palace.

Photos © Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve
The other gifts include a modern replica of an old black toy carriage with a Prussian crown (above left), a toy tricycle (above right), and three replicas of some late 1800s – early 1900s dolls (below left), made by the Mexican artist Patricia Ramos Molina in 2010–12.

A German benefactor Nadezhda Othmer donated antique children’s fishnet gloves to the Museum. Lyudmila Titova of Sergiev Posad added to our collection some publications from the late 1800s – early 1900s: La mode illustrée #8 of 25 February 1872, a coloured gravure inset to La mode illustrée #1 of 1870, a children’s book Our Menagerie of 1906, and clothes for children and dolls. (below right)

Photos © Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve
The IADA members are very enthusiastic about the recreation of the imperial children’s doll collection. This project started in 2010 and now brings together over 50 specialists from different countries of the world. 
© Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve. 26 November, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:48 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 26 November 2013 9:59 AM EST
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Museum of Russian Art Documents Tragic Tsarist Past
Topic: Exhibitions

The following article is from the November 22nd, 2013 edition of The Star Tribune. The author Mary Abbe owns the copyright presented below. Some of the text was edited by Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia 
Amid all the dazzling memorabilia — maps, letters, coronation menus, photos, paintings, china and even bejeweled Fabergé buttons — in “The Romanovs: Legacy of an Empire Lost,” it’s a humble petticoat that most haunts the mind after leaving the Museum of Russian Art in south Minneapolis.

Made of white batiste linen so fine it’s almost translucent, Anastasia’s half-slip and someone else’s pretty blouse now adorn a tall mannequin in a little side room. Her floor-length petticoat is simple, unembellished aside from embroidery at the hem and two initials stitched in red at the back of the narrow waistband: A.N. for Anastasia Nicholayevna, daughter of Nicholas II, the last tsar of Russia.

Anastasia wasn’t wearing that slip when she was murdered in the early morning hours of July 17, 1918, in a basement in Ekaterinburg in the Ural Mountains. She and 10 others were murdered there — her parents, three sisters, a brother, their doctor, maid, valet and cook.

Afterward reports were sent to Moscow, things were packed and shipped. The civil war dragged on between the “Red” Bolshevik revolutionaries and the “White” Russians loyal to the tsar. The Romanov dynasty, which ruled Russia for three centuries, faded into history and legend. But Romanov things survived and found their way into the outside world, cherished by monarchists, sold by the Soviet government, sought by collectors, preserved by museums.

“Legacy” gathers more than 200 Romanov artefacts and historic documents from 25 institutions and private collections, including souvenirs from the 1896 coronation of Nicholas II brought home by a pair of pretty Minnesota girls who were among the 15 American “Strangers of Distinction” invited to the Kremlin festivities.

Beautifully designed and installed, as always at TMORA, the show offers a transporting experience of Russia’s tragic past.

‘They became close to me’

It’s important to remember that “everything in this exhibition is authentic; it’s the real stuff,” said curator Masha Zavialova, who tracked down the material with help from a team of consultants.

A substantial portion is on loan from the Foundation of Russian History at Holy Trinity Seminary, a Russian Orthodox repository in Jordanville, N.Y.

Anastasia’s skirt came indirectly from the tsar’s sister, who was in London when the family was killed. Fifty boxes of their goods were shipped to her via Siberia, of which about half arrived, Zavialova said. She in turn entrusted much of the material to the Orthodox church, a traditional supporter of the tsar.

“Working on this was really hard because I had to touch these things and it was heart-wrenching,” said Zavialova, who grew up in St. Petersburg in the Soviet era before moving in 2001 to Minnesota, where she earned a doctorate at the University of Minnesota. “No leaders are perfect, as we know, but Nicholas was a good person and they became close to me, people I really feel I know.”

Romanov saga

For all their tragic fame, Anastasia and her family are bit players in the Romanov saga.

The marquee actors include Peter I the Great, who built St. Petersburg as a gateway to the West during his reign from 1682 to 1725; Catherine II the Great (1762-96), a wilful German princess who disposed of her Romanov husband and established her own imperial court as a center of European art and culture, and Alexander II (1855-81), a modernizer who emancipated the serfs in 1861, introduced jury trials and began to reorganize the country as a constitutional monarchy before being assassinated.

The wealth of Russian royals in their heyday is almost unimaginable now. Paintings by Rembrandt, Raphael, Leonardo and luminaries of that ilk lined their palaces; intellectuals including Voltaire enlivened the court; bling abounded.

“Under Catherine the Great, you were served on silver and gold if you were not important,” said Zavialova. “Only the imperial family was served on porcelain because it was so expensive.”

But once the Romanovs established their own porcelain factory, they turned the stuff out in bulk — exquisite hand-painted, gold-rimmed, 47,000-piece table settings. The show’s coronation memorabilia ranges from a deep blue 1825 bowl rimmed with golden military insignia to a banner-length menu for Nicholas II’s 1896 fete at which guests munched an all-Russian menu of borscht, pickle soup, fish, pastry and ice cream.

Come the revolution, the luxurious life ended as aristocrats fled the country fearing for their lives. Strapped for cash, the Soviet government sold paintings from the Hermitage palace in St. Petersburg to, among others, American financier Andrew Mellon, who made them the core of what is now the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Porcelain, jewellery, icons and other artefacts were sold through New York’s Hammer Galleries, where royal dinner plates fetched $55 each.

Newspaper articles, bank notes, stamps and other documents show the change from Tsarist to Soviet power.

“We’ve studiously tried not to proselytize for or against the aristocracy,” said TMORA director Brad Shinkle. “We’re just trying to provide a context for the history of Russia over 400 years.” 
© Star Tribune. 26 November, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:41 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 26 November 2013 8:06 AM EST
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Monday, 25 November 2013
A Russian Moment 20 - Naval Cathedral of Saint Nicholas, Kronstadt
Topic: A Russian Moment

Photo © Sergei Grigoriev 

Winter has arrived in St. Petersburg. This beautiful photograph of the Naval Cathedral of Saint Nicholas at Kronstadt was taken by photographer Sergei Grigoriev. The warm glow of the floodlit cathedral set against the early evening sky seem to beckon passersbys to enter the now fully restored cathedral for prayer, reflection and solitude. 
The Naval Cathedral of Saint Nicholas in Kronstadt is the main shrine of the Russian Navy. The cathedral was founded in 1902 by decree of Emperor Nicholas II in honor of the 200th anniversary of the Russian Navy. It was initially consecrated in 1913, but in 1929 it was closed and desecrated.
In 2009, at Patriarch Kirill’s initiative, a board of trustees was established to restore the cathedral with the goal of fully restoring the church in time for the 100th anniversary of its first consecration.
Earlier this year, on the day of its 100th anniversary the Naval Cathedral of Saint Nicholas in Kronstadt on the Baltic Sea reopened its doors. Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill and his guest Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem consecrated the cathedral. 
For more information on the Naval Cathedral of Saint Nicholas at Kronstadt, please refer to the following article;

Beautiful Orthodox Churches of Russia No. 14 

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 25 November, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 3:50 PM EST
Updated: Monday, 25 November 2013 4:55 PM EST
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