Alexander III Exhibition Opens in Finland Topic: Alexander III
The Alexander III and Finland - Imperial Summer Holidays exhibition catalogue is available in Finnish, Russian and English
A new exhibition, Alexander III and Finland - Imperial Summer Holidays, opened on February 2nd at the Maritime Centre Vellamo in Kotka, Finland.
Alexander III ruled Russia and served as the Grand Prince of Finland from 1881 to 1894. The Finns built a fishing lodge for the emperor in Langinkoski, Kotka (1889), to where Alexander III and his family retired for a few days in the summer, to lead a modest country life. The emperor spent his days fishing and chopping wood while his Danish-born spouse Dagmar, also known as Marie Feodorovna, made food for the family. The freedom the emperor enjoyed in Langinkoski in the summers was in stark contrast to the highly regulated life and court etiquette that he had to endure in St Petersburg.
The Alexander III and Finland exhibition showcases the life and leisure of the imperial family through paintings, watercolours and period items. Alexander III made a total of 31 trips to Finland, occasionally accompanied by Albert Benois, who immortalised the landscapes of these trips in his watercolours. The exhibition also includes a few paintings that depict the landscapes of south-eastern Finland. A wholly different perspective is revealed by pieces that depict the emperor’s official life in St Petersburg and his coronation in Moscow.
The exhibition includes portraits of the emperor and empress painted by Ivan Kramskoi and Carl Wenig’s oil painting Russian Girl. The exhibition is complemented by numerous period objects, such as glass and silver Fabergé items and items from the Imperial Porcelain Factory, including a plate that belonged to a set used on the emperor’s yacht Tsarevna. Some of the items from the collections of the State Russian Museum will be displayed in Finland for the first time.
From the National Museum of Finland, the exhibition includes parts of the emperor and empress’ personal washing set and a screen given to the empress as a gift, designed by Albert Edelfelt and Gunnar Berndtson.
The exhibition is further complemented by items on loan from the Imperial Fishing Lodge in Langinkoski, which celebrates its 125th anniversary. The items will be displayed in the Museum of Kymenlaakso’s main exhibition from 14 February to 30 September 2014. Visitors can look forward to seeing, for example, authentic silverware used at the fishing lodge, a waffle iron adorned by the two-headed eagle of Russia and a pair of sturgeon-patterned silver fish server.
The Alexander III and Finland exhibition also includes a publication with the same title, which will be available in Finnish, Russian and English from the Vellamo museum shop.
To watch a video (in Russian) of the Alexander III and Finland exhbition, please click on the link below;
More on the Latest Anna Anderson Theory Topic: Conspiracy Theories
Anna Anderson Manahan
The Anna Anderson Manahan drama has resurfaced once again. Yesterday, I reprinted an article translated from ITAR-TASS on a new book by leading Russian historian Veniamin Alekseyev, who disputes the fact that the entire family of the last tsar were murdered. The story generated a tremendous response from readers who contacted me to share their own personal views (both negative and positive) on the issue. One fact remains clear: Anna Anderson Manahan still has a faithful following of believers. I would like to clarify again, that I do not believe that this woman was the youngest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II. I firmly maintain that the entire family were all murdered by the Ural Soviets in the basement of the Ipatiev House in the early morning hours of July 17th, 1918. There were NO survivors! Having said that, some have questioned me as to WHY I would publish articles about this issue. It is important to point out that this blog is a clearinghouse for information and news about the Romanov dynasty, their legacy, the Russian monarchy and the history of Imperial Russia. Like it or not, the story of Anna Anderson Manahan will forever remain a piece of Romanov history—Paul Gilbert.
The following article was originally published in the February 27th, 2014 edition of The Siberian Times, who own the copyright presented below.
Tsar's daughter may, after all, have escaped the execution which wiped out the royal family, says new book.
DNA evidence seemed to have put an end to the the claims of American Anna Anderson and others to be the lost princess. Now a new book to be published in Yekaterinburg, scene of the slaying of the Russian royals, will challenge the view that all the Romanovs were shot in a dank cellar in July 1918.
Anastasia - the youngest of the tsar's four daughters - was 17 when she was supposedly killed in 1918.
What makes the theory even more intriguing is that the author is leading Russian historian Veniamin Alekseyev, an academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences who was a member of the Russian government commission which investigated the authenticity of bones purporting to the those of the royals. He became convinced Nicholas II's remains had been found, but he is far less certain about Grand Duchess Anastasia's, whose bone remnants are - officially - interred in St Petersburg.
'I do not assume presumptuously she was executed by the Bolsheviks, nor do I assume she remained alive', he said, reported Itar-Tass. 'This is for the reader to decide. On the basis of the archive documents discovered, and new Russian and foreign evidence I have seen since 1991 as a scientist, I have reasons to believe the royal family's fate is not as certain as it has been believed for almost 100 years'.
The mysterious Anna Anderson - also known at various times by the family names Tschaikovsky and Manahan - was for years during the Cold War seen as a possible Anastasia, though her claim was rejected by a number of relatives and servants of the royal family after they met her. Later DNA tests after her death in 1984 were seen to establish her real identity as Franziska Schanzkowska, a Polish factory worker with a history of mental illness. A lock of her hair and medical samples showed no link to the Romanovs, according to scientists.
Yet the author of the new book - 'Who are you, Ms Tchaikovskaya?' - is concerned that she has been labelled an imposter too easily.
Alekseyev has unearthed documentary evidence from the Russian State Archive and elsewhere to produce 'the first-ever publication of evidence of the imperial family's confidantes, opinions of Romanov House members and doctors, who treated the woman and came to the conclusion 'the patient's identification as the Grand Duchess is quite possible and even probable'.'
Russian historian Veniamin Alekseyev
He argues against the sole reliance on DNA testing of remains discovered in the Porosyonkov log locality, near Yekaterinburg. Historians have ignored archive documents that cast considerable doubt over this version, he said.
'The interests of both the Bolsheviks and Kolchak (leader of the White Guard Movement which opposed Communism) under whose auspices the Yekaterinburg tragedy was investigated in 1918, uniquely coincided in this case. The former needed an image of an uncompromising new government determined to wipe out the old world without a trace, and the latter - a Great Russia without an emperor,' said Alekseyev.
Alekseyev admits he touches on a very delicate issue regarding whose remains were buried in the Peter and Paul Cathedral in St Petersburg. He hopes for new insights when documents pertaining to the royal family are released in 2018. These evidently concern secret diplomatic contacts between Germany and the Soviet Union over the German born tsarina Alexandra and her daughters, and a possible secret exchange in the First World War.
Leading French historian Marc Ferro has long argued that the wife of Nicholas II and the imperial couple's daughters were saved. Documents in Vatican archives are said to support this.
'Why such mercy on the part of the Bolsheviks? After the leftist Social-Revolutionaries assassinated German Ambassador Mirbach, Wilhelm II could breach the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, which would have ruined the Soviet regime. Therefore, they had to negotiate,' said Alekseyev. 'All over the world this issue has been degraded for decades by unpretentious stage productions, garbage literature and films.
'We need scientific clarity over this complicated issue. Therefore, I am only publishing the documents. Where the truth lies, is up to the readers to decide.'
In 1995 Alekseyev discovered a document in the Siberian town of Tobolsk which convinced him the tsar's bones had been discovered.
'Before I got my hands on these documents six months ago I had strong doubts that the remains were those of the Tsar. But today my doubts have vanished,' he said at the time.
One of Alekseyev's documents belonged to a dentist, Maria Rendel, who examined Nicholas from late 1917 until mid-1918. Rendel wrote that the Tsar had 'a mouthful of rotten teeth'. Decades later a medical expert studying what was thought to be the Tsar's skull said it showed signs of the dental disease paradontosis.
The historian has long argued that evidence hidden in Russian archives, and those of European royal families, can hold clues as to the fate of the Russian royals. Following Anderson's appearance, the Soviet Foreign Minister Georgi Chicherin said: 'The fate of the young daughters of the czar is at present unknown to me. I have read in the press that they are now in America'.
Ferro pointed to testimony from Gleb Botkin, who identified the tormented Anderson as the grand duchess.
'Being the son of Dr. Botkin, the tsar's physician who was murdered with him at Yekaterinburg, (Gleb) knew the sisters well and was their playmate for several years, right down to their incarceration at Yekaterinburg. He recognised her at once as Anastasia,' said Ferro.
Anderson appeared in Berlin in 1920. Originally she was labelled Fraulein Unbekannt - Miss Unknown - after refusing to give her identity. Later she used the name Tschaikovsky. An investigation by the tsarina's brother concluded she was Franziska Schanzkowska, though she remained a focus of media attention.
She emigrated to the United States in 1968, marrying Virginia history professor Jack Manahan.
The Russian Orthodox Church has long expressed reservations over the authenticity of the bones. DNA tests conducted in several Western countries were said to match the bones to a number of royal relatives, including Philip, the husband of the British Queen, Elizabeth II.
Faberge and Oligarch in Trademark Dispute Topic: Faberge
Alexander Ivanov, owner and director of the Faberge Museum at Baden-Baden, Germany
The following article was originally published in the February 26th, 2014 edition of The Art Newspaper. The author Gareth Harris owns the copyright presented below.
A legal battle has reignited between the Russian oligarch Alexander Ivanov and the Fabergé Ltd company over the trademark rights to the Fabergé name. Ivanov opened his Fabergé museum in 2009 in Baden-Baden, a spa town in southwestern Germany. The museum houses hundreds of Fabergé items including a 1902 Fabergé egg made as an engagement gift for Baron Édouard de Rothschild, a member of the French banking dynasty.
The Fabergé company, meanwhile, is now based in London and is owned by the gemstone miner Gemfields. The rights to the Fabergé name changed hands several times after 1917 following the Russian Revolution; Unilever acquired them with the acquisition of Fabergé Inc in 1989 for $1.6bn.
In 2010, a German appeals court ruled in favour of Ivanov in a legal dispute with Fabergé Ltd over trademark rights, which aimed to block the use of the Fabergé trademark by the museum. However, “Fabergé is looking at other options to prevent the use of the Fabergé trademark by the museum,” says a Fabergé Ltd spokesman.
“In 2010, we conclusively won the legal dispute with Fabergé Ltd when a European court ruled that ‘Fabergé Museum’ is in the public domain free for everyone to use. Fabergé Ltd has no chance whatsoever to appeal this decision,” Ivanov says. Meanwhile, Ivanov says that his lawyers continue to work on “depriving” Fabergé Ltd of the rights to the Fabergé trademark. “We want to place it in the public domain so that everyone anywhere can use it freely.”
A Fabergé Ltd spokesman says: “In 2012, the appeal process held that the mere registration of a company name does not create a right (unless, in some cases, prior use of the trademark can be shown).” The museum could not show such use and hence lost the appeal, the spokesman says. “[We] believe Ivanov’s avenues on this front to be exhausted and consequently Fabergé has defeated the attack by the museum against our Fabergé trademark registrations.”
The Russian mining magnate Viktor Vekselberg, who bought Malcolm Forbes’ Fabergé egg collection in 2004 for a sum estimated to be up to $120m, put 4,000 items drawn from his fine and decorative art collection on show in St Petersburg’s Shuvalov Palace, which is due to fully open to the public this month. His institution is also named the Fabergé Museum.
“We have numerous trademark registrations in Russia, but we don’t have the ‘Fabergé Museum’ trademark in the class of trademarks applicable to museums in Russia. That trademark is indeed held by Mr Vekselberg’s museum and therefore they have the right to use it,” says the Fabergé Ltd spokesman.
The investment company Pallinghurst, founded by Brian Gilbertson, is a controlling investor in Gemfields. In 2012, Vekselberg won a legal battle with Gilbertson when a court in the Cayman Islands ruled that Gilbertson had breached his fiduciary duties (the legal responsibilities of directors) by cutting Vekselberg out of a deal to buy the Fabergé Ltd company. However, the judge refused to award Vekselberg compensation.
Fabergé’s workshops in Moscow and St Petersburg, which employed more than 500 craftsmen at the end of the 19th century, are known for their elaborate decorative Easter eggs made for the Russian Imperial court. Fabergé was appointed as Imperial goldsmith in 1885, earning him the sobriquet “jeweller to the tsars”.
Russian Historian Speculates That Tsar's Daughter Might Have Escaped Execution Topic: Conspiracy Theories
H.I.H. Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna (1901-1918)
Despite the overwhelming evidence that Anna Anderson Manahan was not the Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna, conspiracy theories and urban myths continue to surface. Most people now believe she was Franziska Schanzkowska, a Polish peasant. DNA tests conducted in 1991 on a sample of Anderson's tissue, (part of her intestine removed during her operation in 1979), plus several strands of Anderson's hair proved her to be an impostor. Now, an aclaimed Russian historian presents yet another theory, one which has been making headlines in the Russian media this week. Personally, I do not support the idea that the youngest daughter of Nicholas II escaped Ekaterinburg, I am reprinting the following article translated from ITAR-TASS for information purposes only—Paul Gilbert.
Russian Emperor Nicholas II’s youngest daughter, Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna, might have escaped execution in 1918, lived up to 83 years and died in the US under the surname of Manahan, previously known as Anastasia Tchaikovskaya and Anna Anderson. This is the version offered by a leading Russian historian, academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) Veniamin Alexeyev in his book “Who are you, Ms. Tchaikovskaya?” The study, together with the accompanying letters, references, photos and witnesses’ evidence, has been submitted for print to the Yekaterinburg publishing house Basco. It is expected to come out in March, Alexeyev told ITAR-TASS on Tuesday.
The new book is based on documents of the Russian State Archive and is the first-ever publication of evidence of the imperial family’s confidants, opinions of the Romanov House members and doctors, who treated the woman and came to the conclusion “the patient's identification as the Grand Duchess is quite possible and even probable”.
“I do not assume presumptuously she was executed by the Bolsheviks, nor do I assume she remained alive. This is for the reader to decide,” says the historian. “On the basis of the archive documents discovered, and new Russian and foreign evidence I have seen since 1991 as a scientist, I have reasons to believe the royal family’s fate is not as certain as it has been believed for almost a hundred years.”
According to Alexeyev, Russia’s dominating version of the royal family's death is primarily based on the DNA testing of the remains discovered in the Porosyonkov log locality, near Yekaterinburg in the Urals. Meanwhile, he adds, archive documents that cast considerable doubt over this version are practically ignored.
“The interests of both the Bolsheviks and Kolchak [commander of the Imperial Russian Navy, one of the leaders of the White Guard Movement] under whose auspices the Yekaterinburg tragedy was investigated right in the aftermath in 1918, uniquely coincided in this case. The former needed an image of an uncompromising new government determined to wipe out the old world without a trace, and the latter - a Great Russia without an emperor,” said Alexeyev.
Alexeyev admits he touches upon a very delicate issue of whose remains were buried in the Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg. But the academician hopes the 'i's will be dotted in 2018, when the term of secrecy of international relations between Soviet Russia and Germany expires. According to French scholar Marc Ferro, who worked with archive documents in Vatican, the papers say the wife of Nicholas II and the imperial couple’s daughters were saved.
Veniamin Alexeyev is a famous Soviet and Russia historian, Doctor of Historical Sciences, founder of the Institute of History and Archaeology of the RAS branch in the Urals and its Head in 1988-2013. In 2006 he was decorated with the Demidov Prize for scientists. In 1991-97 Alexeyev represented Russia in the International Committee for the Conservation of the Industrial Heritage (TICCIH).
A Short History of British Tourism in Imperial Russia Topic: Imperial Russia
Guidebooks popular with British visitors to Russia during the 19th to early 20th centuries
included Baedekers (left) and Murrays Handbooks to Russia, Poland and Finland.
The following article was originally published in the February 23rd, 2014 edition of Russia Beyond the Headlines. The author Anthony Cross owns the copyright presented below.
The post-Soviet boom in Russian tourism to Britain is a well-known phenomenon. But what about travel in the other direction? Britons have a centuries-long history of visiting Russia, writes Anthony Cross.
British tourism in Russia was certainly not invented by Intourist during the Cold War. An otherwise tragic expedition to discover a northern sea route first brought the English to Muscovy in the middle of the 16th century and it was essentially trade and profit that inspired further embassies and led to the establishment of a Russia Company to exploit that trade. However the concept of travelling for pleasure or what was often termed “out of curiosity” was much undertaken in the ancient world. What was new was travelling to barbaric, wild Russia, land of snow and bears and wolves, and of peoples with the strangest habits and, as an Englishman would have it, ‘to vices vile inclin’d”.
Head of the Russian Imperial House Expresses Concern Over Tragic Events in Ukraine Topic: Russian Imperial House
Her Imperial Highness Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna
From the Head of the Russian Imperial House
H.I.H. Grand Duchess Maria of Russia
On the Recent Events in Ukraine
The recent tragic events in Ukraine have filled my heart with enormous grief and sorrow.
It was not long ago, while visiting the ancient city of Kiev—the cradle of Slavic statehood—and the glorious and heroic Crimea, that I was filled with joy at seeing how Ukrainians of such different ethnic backgrounds, religious convictions, and social and political views all nonetheless maintain peaceful and harmonious relations with one another.
Now, Ukraine is experiencing upheavals that can only be compared to the calamitous events of the revolution. And history shows that no revolution has brought happiness to any of the sides that take part in it.
I pray for the repose of the souls of all those who have lost their lives in these events, for the quick recovery of the injured, and for a cessation of violence.
I call upon all citizens of Ukraine, regardless of their political views, not to forget that they are all the sons and daughters of a common homeland and not to allow that common homeland to slip into a fratricidal civil war.
For the sake of the integrity of the Ukrainian State and the unity of its people, no one should in any way or under any circumstances yield to the temptation for revenge or retaliation. May all of us remember the words of the Holy Royal Passion-Bearer, Emperor Nicholas II: “evil cannot vanquish evil, only love can.”
Carriage for Children of Emperor Alexander II on Display in Moscow Topic: Alexander II
A beautiful miniature carriage built for the children of Emperor Alexander II has been restored and put on display at the State Historical Museum in Moscow. Restoration work took place between 2010 - 2014 years, and included a full restoration of the metal, wood, leather and textile elements of the historic children’s carriage.
The carriage is a miniature copy of the Russian Court ceremonial coupe carriages of the mid 19th century. Similar to the parade carriages, however, it was designed for children. It includes five windows with lifting facetted glass, and window blinds which could be closed for privacy. Inside, the interior is richly decorated with silk and velvet. The seats are upholstered in patterned fabrics with folding footrests, the ceiling is decorated with moire embroidery.
The exquisite golden-silver-blue draperies successfully combine with the blue body of the coach - decorated with the symbol of the Order of St. Andrew, the main award of the Russian Empire, which was awarded to the royal children at birth. In addition, the coach has four glazed candle lanterns and springs for maximum comfort.
As members of the Imperial family the carriage was decorated with the heraldic symbols of the dynasty - imperial crowns and overlaid gilded coats of arms of the Russian Empire and the Kingdom of Poland, but also the personal monogram of its August owners, which are located on the doors and side panels of the carriage.
Museum experts believe that the carriage was made in 1847, a gift marking the fifth birthday of *Grand Duchess Alexandra Alexandrovna (1842-1849) - the eldest of the children of Alexander II, by the Moscow carriage master, Timothy Orlovskim. The carriage was designed solely for entertainment purposes, Alexandra and her brothers, Nicholas and Alexander (the future Emperor Alexander III), used it for riding through the palace park. It was pulled by tiny horses, sheep or goats, and the children were always accompanied by servants.
*Grand Duchess Alexandra Alexandrovna died from infant meningitis just weeks short of her seventh birthday on 16th June, 1849. She was buried at the Saint Peter and Paul Cathedral on 19th June, 1849.
In 1861 the children’s carriage was moved to the **Court Stables Museum in St. Petersburg, a building constructed to house the collection of the finest sleds, coaches and carriages of the Russian Imperial family. Due to the events of 1917, the carriage was one of many carriages evacuated to Moscow, and transferred to the Manage of the Neskuchnii garden, which then housed the Museum of Furniture. In 1927, the carriage was transferred to the collections of the Historical Museum, where it has remained to the present day. The miniature carriage of the children of Emperor Alexander II is now on display in room number 33 of the Main Building of the State Historical Museum, located on Red Square in Moscow.
**For more information on the Court Stables Museum, please refer to my article (10 pages with black and white illustrations), The Museum of Imperial Court Carriages: A History of the Collection, published in Royal Russia Annual No. 4 (2013) - click on the link below to order a copy of this issue
Documents on the 1891 Assassination Attempt on Tsesarevich Nicholas Alexandrovich Published in Japan Topic: Nicholas II
The Museum of History in the Japanese city of Otsu have for the first time, published the materials covering the investigation and trial in the 1891 assassination attempt on the heir to the Russian throne, Tsesarevich Nicholas Alexandrovich - the future Emperor Nicholas II, during his visit to Japan as part of his eastern journey.
The materials include 984 pages covering the trial of Tsuda Sanzo, as well as other artefacts related to the incident, including photographs and written testimonies.
The assassination attempt occurred on 11 May [O.S. 29 April] 1891, while Nicholas was returning to Kyoto after a day trip to Lake Biwa in Otsu. Tsuda Sanzo, one of his escort policemen swung at the Tsesarevich's face with a saber. The quick action of Nicholas's cousin, Prince George of Greece and Denmark, who parried the second blow with his cane, saved his life. Tsuda then attempted to flee, but two rickshaw drivers in Nicholas's entourage chased him down and pulled him to the ground. Nicholas was left with a 9 centimetre long scar on the right side of his forehead, but his wound was not life-threatening.
The assailant was arrested and imprisoned. The incident sparked a wave of remorse across Japan. Emperor Meiji publicly expressed sorrow at Japan's lack of hospitality towards a state guest, which led to an outpouring of public support and messages of condolences for the Tsesarevich. The Japanese emperor even traveled by train to Kyoto where he met with the Tsesarevich. The Tsesarevich received gifts, and more than 20 thousand telegrams of condolences and apologies from Japanese citizens.
The documents show that Tsuda remained silent throughout the trial. On the question of the motive behind the attack, he indicated only that the distinguished guest had showed a lack of respect to a monument erected in honour of the heroes of one of the samurai rebellion. Tsuda was sentenced to life imprisonment near Kushiro, Hokkaido , and died of an illness in September of the same year.
St. Petersburg restorers have completed work on the Marshall Chamber, built more than 100 years ago for the exposition of Russia’s military history.
The Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve will now initiate the preparatory work for the opening of Russia's only museum of the First World War later this year. The historic building was built specifically for the military collection assembled by the philanthropist widow Elena Tretyakova. In 1911 she presented to Emperor Nicholas II, a valuable collection of artefacts illustrating the military history of Russia since ancient times.
The Emperor decided to construct a building at Tsarskoye Selo to house the collection. However, the museum was short-lived, and closed shortly after the Revolution. And now, a century later the Marshall Chamber will be restored to its original function, as a museum dedicated to Russia’s military history, although its new concept will focus specifically on Russia’s role in World War One.
The building itself, established in the Neo-Russian style, is well preserved. The original frescoes and painting have miraculously survived in the interiors. The Marshall Chamber (Ratnaya Palata) is situated in the Alexander Park, just a short walk from the Alexander Palace and the Feodorovsky Cathedral. The official opening of the Museum of the Great War in the Marshall Chamber is scheduled for August 1, 2014 - the day marking the 100th anniversary of the First World War.
The following video (in Russian) shows the beautifully restored interiors of the Marshall Chamber (Ratnaya Palata), located in the Alexander Park at Tsarskoye Selo: