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400th Anniversary
A Russian Moment
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Paul Gilbert
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Tuesday, 23 October 2012
Orangery at Tsarskoye Selo to be Restored
Topic: Tsarskoye Selo


The Large Orangery at Tsarskoye Selo.  

The restoration of the large orangery at Tsarskoye Selo is now underway. The 18th-century greenhouse is considered to be one of the finest examples of Russian architecture in the city.

Originally constructed in 1751, historians still debate over who was  the original architect of the building: Sawa Chevakinsky or Francesco Rastrelli. It was rebuilt in 1820 by Vasily Stasov and lost some of its original Baroque features at the time. 

The orangery was severely damaged during the Second World War, but was later restored. In 2010, the facade was repainted, so the current restoration is the first major work on the building since the 1950s. The building is currently under the administration of the St. Petersburg Agricultural University.

Local preservation groups have concerns about saving the building and that it may in fact be too late as the building is is in a terrible state of disrepair. The roof leaks, and the plaster work done in the 1950s was so poorly done that the walls still have traces of where the building was struck by shells during the last war. There are fears that the ceilings could collapse at any time. 

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 23 October, 2012


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:54 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 23 October 2012 12:00 PM EDT
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Russian Magazine, Palaces and Estates
Topic: Books

Palaces and Estates is a monthly magazine published by De Agostini Ltd. since 2010. To date, there have been 44 issues published, complete with handsome collectors albums to store them in.

Published as a collector's series, each issue is dedicated to a particular palace or estate, its history, architects, its Imperial or noble residents, filled with interesting facts and information. 

Each issue is 32-pages, richly illustrated in full colour with Russian text by A. Zharkova. There is NO English edition of this magazine available.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 23 October, 2012


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:36 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 24 October 2012 9:26 AM EDT
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Monday, 22 October 2012
New Romanov Auction in Geneva, 10-13 December, 2012
Topic: Auctions



Bernard Piguet, director and chief auctioneer of the Hôtel des Ventes Geneva, announces forthcoming sales of exceptional importance. From 10 to 13 December, emperors, kings, queens and princes will be the virtual guests of the Geneva based auction house, revealing a remarkable set of objects that have never before appeared on the market: Prince Romanov, Prince Youssoupov, Queen Victoria Eugenia of Spain, King Boris III of Bulgarie, King Farouk of Egypt, Ferdinand Thormeyer (tutor to the children of Tsar Alexander III), Serge de Diaghilev, Serge Lifar… This is a unique opportunity to plunge into the world of these great names of history thanks to these many objects of prestigious provenance.

The special Russia auction which will be held at the Hôtel des Ventes of Geneva from Monday 10 December will give the general public an opportunity to immerse themselves in the lives of the last Tsars of Russia, in their private lives at court as well as their political and military roles. The collection includes unpublished personal photographs of the Russian imperial family, including a photo album – showing Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovitch trying out the trapeze in a room in the imperial palace and playing croquet with his sister Olga Alexandrovna – and photographs of  Tsarevitch Alexei, who was assassinated at the age of 14. These photographs as well as the unpublished autographed letters of the last Tsar Nicholas II to the head of the army Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaïevich, supreme commander of the land and sea armies at the beginning of the First World War will undoubtedly be the outstanding items on the opening evening of the auction. Other items of Russian military history in the period before the Revolution will also be offered for sale at this exceptional auction: shoulder decorations, officers’ helmets, medals… Books about the treasures of the Emperors of Russia, from Catherine II to Nicholas II, complete this prestigious collection. Most of these unpublished documents, that have never been displayed to the public before, come from the collection of the Romanov family.

The Hôtel des Ventes will also be offering for sale a collection of precious objects, family souvenirs and photographs that have never before appeared on the market from the estate of Her Majesty Queen  Victoria-Eugenia of Spain, who died in Lausanne in 1969. One of the top lots is undoubtedly a Russian decoration in gold and red enamel of the order of Saint Alexander Nevski.

The jewellery sale will include a cigarette box and two gold and diamond pins, offered by His Majesty King Boris III of Bulgaria to his prime minister. They have remained in the same family to this day.

© Hotel des Ventes. 22 October, 2012



Posted by Paul Gilbert at 2:11 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 24 April 2014 12:23 PM EDT
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Sunday, 21 October 2012
Treasures of the Royal Courts: Tudors, Stuarts and the Russian Tsars
Topic: Exhibitions


Photo: Tsar Ivan IV ("the Terrible") demonstrates his treasures to the ambassador of Queen Elizabeth I of England. Artist: Alexander Litovchenko (1835-1890


A new exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, England next year will examine the development of cultural diplomacy and trade between Britain and Russia from its origins in 1555 when the Muscovy Company was founded. Treasures of the Royal Courts: Tudors, Stuarts and the Russian Tsars will reveal the majesty and pageantry of the royal courts of Henry VIII to Charles II and Ivan IV (Ivan the Terrible) to the early Romanovs as they sought to strengthen their power against a backdrop of religious and social upheaval.


The exhibition will begin with Henry VIII’s consolidation of the Tudor dynasty following his accession to the throne in 1509 and the establishment of the English court style. Charting the exchange between consecutive British sovereigns and ambassadors and their corresponding rulers and diplomats in Russia, it will conclude at the end of Charles II’s reign in 1685, after the re-establishment of the British monarchy had resumed contact with Russia.


Comprising more than 150 objects, the exhibition will chronicle the ritual and chivalry of the royal courts with heraldry, processional armour and sumptuous textiles including furnishings and fine clothing. The leading figures of the time including monarchs, diplomats, wealthy merchants and courtiers will be introduced through portraiture, including paintings and miniatures by court artists. Magnificent examples of jewellery and luxury goods will illustrate the valuable gifts presented by ambassadors.


Martin Roth, V&A Director said: “This exhibition tells us about Britain’s longstanding relationship with Russia as well as highlighting similarities of diplomacy and exchange between both countries - then and today. Our partnership with the Kremlin Museums continues this association and we are delighted to bring together such extraordinary treasures from both museums.”


The works will be drawn from the V&A’s collections, with important loans from Russia, including the Kremlin Armouries Museum and the State Historical Museum in Moscow, alongside objects from British collections including the National Portrait Gallery, National Maritime Museum, the Royal Collection and Royal Armouries.


The exhibition marks the 400 year anniversary of the Romanov dynasty and is part of an ongoing programme of exchange between the V&A and the Kremlin Armouries Museum in Moscow. The exhibition will run 9 March to 14 July, 2013 at the V&A in London, England.


© Victoria & Albert Museum. 21 October, 2012



Posted by Paul Gilbert at 2:35 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, 22 October 2012 2:42 PM EDT
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Saturday, 20 October 2012
Wedding Menu of Grand Duke Peter Nicholayevich and Grand Duchess Militza
Topic: Peter Nicholayevich, GD


An elaborate meal was served after the wedding of Grand Duke Peter Nicholayevich (1864-1931)  and Princess Milicia of Montenegro (1866-1951) later Grand Duchess Militza Nicholayevna. This beautiful menu created by the Russian artist Mikhail Osipovich Mikeshin (1835-1896), included turtle, grouse, sturgeon, jellied duck, among other delicacies.

The couple were married at Peterhof on 26th July, 1889. The couple had four children, including Prince Roman Petrovich (1896-1978), father of Nicholas Romanovich (1922-present) who is the current President of the Romanov Family Association.

Militza and her sister Anastasia (wife of Grand Duke Nicholas Nicholayevich (1856-1929) were socially very influential at the Russian Court. Nicknamed The Black Peril, they shared a great interest in the occult. They are discredited with introducing first the charlatan mystic Phillippe, and then Grigorii Rasputin. 

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 20 October, 2012


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 1:36 PM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 20 October 2012 2:25 PM EDT
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Friday, 19 October 2012
First Monument to Admiral Kolchak Appears in Omsk
Topic: Kolchak, Admiral


Monument to Admiral Alexander Kolchak at Omsk in Siberia. Photo Credit: 

A monument to Admiral Alexander Kolchak (1874-1920)  created by the Moscow sculptor Mikhail Nogin is currently sitting unassembled in a storage facility in the Siberian city of Omsk. 

While Omsk communists are fighting against erecting Nogin's sculpture, another monument to Alexander Kolchak has already been erected in Omsk. The first monument to the White Russian Army admiral has recently been erected outside the Restaurant Kolchak. The official unveiling has not taken place yet: the workers are applying the finishing touches. The unveiling ceremony is scheduled for November 4th and will coincide the admiral’s birthday.

Communists have tried different ways of fighting against the monument to Kolchak in Omsk, and are trying to ban it through legislation now; so far their attempts have been in vain. Deputies of the Omsk City Council have refused to debate the communists’ bill that forbids setting up monuments to non-rehabilitated persons.

© SuperOmsk. ru and Paul Gilbert. 19 October, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:42 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 19 October 2012 12:53 PM EDT
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Thursday, 18 October 2012
Cossacks Gather in Moscow to Mark 200th Anniversary of Victory over Napoleon
Topic: Cossacks


The “Cossack village of Moscow” festival is now underway on the territory of the “Luzhniki” Olympic complex. It commemorates 200th anniversary of the Cossacks gathering that set the task of expelling Napoleon forces from Moscow.

“The Cossack corps led by Ataman Matvei Platov completely destroyed my horses, artillery and bags”, Napoleon said remembering his unsuccessful campaign in Russia. In the Great Patriotic war of 1812, Cossacks distinguished themselves by displaying cleverness, decisiveness and bravery. Later, they entered Paris in the vanguard of European forces. Their descendants still honour the traditions, says Cossack Colonel Alexander Gavrin.

“The festival is staged at the time when members of the Council for Cossack Affairs under the President of the Russian Federation meet in Moscow. From time immemorial, Moscow has been the centre that unites all Cossack regiments. Before the Revolution in 1917, there were 12 Cossack regiments, while at present, 11 regiments have been registered by the government. Representatives of all Cossack villages, from the Russian Far East, Ussurisk and Amur to Tver gather in the Russian capital. Cossacks have long lived in multinational Russia and have never betrayed the country. They have always served their motherland with good faith and fidelity, Alexander Gavrin said.

The main event of the festival in Luzhniki is the construction of an Orthodox church. The whole church is built in a single day. Here is an opinion from organizer of the festival Olga Ivanova.

“The festival opens with a performance by the army chorus of the Moscow District’s Central Cossack force. Sholokhov Moscow Cossack cadet’s corps march and a performance by Kuban Cossack force’s honorary guard will close the festival. Muscovites and the visitors of the Russian capital will get an opportunity to watch master-classes in historical fencing. The festival includes a huge children’s programme, competitions, round dances and other entertainment,” Olga Ivanova said.

The festival also features a large fair of traditional handicrafts. The hosts of Cossack villages offer visitors “kvass”, honey and other treats and snacks.

© The Voice of Russia. 18 October, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:50 AM EDT
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Wednesday, 17 October 2012
Nicholas II Among Top Five Richest People of the Past Millennium
Topic: Nicholas II


The portal Celebrity Net Worth has compiled a list of the top 25 richest individuals of the past 1000 years. Russian Emperor Nicholas II came in fifth, according to the experts calculations. His net worth was estimated at 300 billion US dollars taking into account inflation.

Although the list spans 1000 years, some aspects of wealth appear consistent throughout history; there are no women on the list, only three members are alive today, and 14 of the top 25 are American.

The list uses the annual 2199.6 per cent rate of inflation to adjust historic fortunes into 2012 dollars – a formula that means $100 million in 1913 would be equal to $2.299.63 billion today.

© Celebrity NetWorth. 17 October, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:58 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 17 October 2012 8:10 PM EDT
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Tuesday, 16 October 2012
Cruiser Aurora Officially Decommissioned
Topic: Bolsheviks


Photo: The cruiser 'Aurora' seen here in 1903, was built during the reign of Emperor Nicholas II. 

A legendary naval cruiser that played a symbolic role in the Bolshevik coup of 1917 was officially retired from military service Tuesday.

The cruiser Aurora, built during the reign of Russia's last tsar, Nicholas II, had become a symbol of the Bolshevik Revolution after it issued a blank shot signaling the start of the storming of the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, the seat of the Provisional Government, in October 1917.

The Aurora was decommissioned from the Navy on Tuesday and turned over to the Central Naval Museum, the Rosbalt news agency reported Tuesday, citing unidentified military officials.

Naval officers who were serving on the ship, which had been functioning as a de facto museum, have left the cruiser, leaving only a civilian crew on board, the news agency said.

The changing of personnel on the ship was the culmination of a long-standing conflict between the Navy and local legislators, who protested the decision by Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov to take the ship out of service and transfer it to the museum.

In September, local Communist Party lawmakers wrote a letter to President Vladimir Putin asking him to intervene in the situation to prevent the cruiser from being decommissioned. Putin forwarded the letter to Serdyukov, according to media reports.

Some former Aurora servicemen said the historical ship, which took part in battles against Japan in Russia's war with that country in 1905, won't survive without regular maintenance by a military crew. "Without a trained military personnel, the Aurora might fall into a state of disrepair in less than a year," said Denis Sherba, a former sailor on the ship, RIA-Novosti reported in August.

Putin has not spoken publicly about the case, but he is known to have a negative attitude toward the Bolshevik Revolution, having once called the Bolshevik peace with imperial Germany in 1917 a "betrayal" of national interests.

In June 2009, the Aurora hosted a party thrown by the magazine Russky Pioneer, owned by billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov that was attended by prominent businessmen and government officials. The party touched off a scandal among State Duma deputies, who accused Prokhorov of tarnishing the symbolic ship.

© Moscow Times and RIA Novosti. 16 October, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 1:42 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 16 October 2012 1:50 PM EDT
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Creator of the Hermitage's Military Gallery, Remembered in London
Topic: Winter Palace


Photo: The Military Gallery of the Winter Palace (State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg), created by George Dawe. 

On October 15, a wreath-laying ceremony at St. Paul’s Cathedral crypt took place at the grave of the British artist George Dawe (1781-1829), who died on this day. The artist became world famous after accomplishing, on the request of the Russian Emperor Alexander I, the Military Gallery of the Winter Palace. The Gallery consists of over 300 portraits of the Russian commanders active during Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812. The Bicentenary of Russia’s victory over Napoleon is celebrated this year.

Among the participants of the ceremony were the representatives of the Russian Embassy in London, Russian and British painters as well as the author of a new book on George Dawe being published in Russia, Ms. Galina Andreeva. Memorial prayers for the artist and those fallen in the wars were said by the Cathedral’s clergy.

© Russkiy Mir. 16 October, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 1:20 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 17 October 2012 7:05 AM EDT
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