Christies Offers Postcards Signed by OTMA Topic: Auctions
On 29 November, Christie’s in London will offer for sale the largest group of Russian books and manuscripts with noble provenance to come to auction in decades.
Included are a collection of 29 autograph postcards signed by the four daughters of Tsar Nicholas II: Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia (OTMA). The cards are addressed to Daria Petrovna Gesse, mostly with greetings on holidays and feast days, in Russian, most of them sent from Tsarskoye Selo, 1910-1918. The cards each measure c. 87 x 140mm, together in a modern blue half morocco slip-case. They are expected to sell for £15,000 - £20,000 ($23,970 - $31,960).
Head of the Russian Imperial House Meets Patriarch Kirill in Moscow Topic: Maria Vladimirovna GD
A.N. Zakatov, HIH Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna and Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, Kirill
On November 6th, a meeting took place between Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, Kirill and HIH Grand Duchess Maria Vladmirovna, Head of the Russian Imperial House. The meeting took place at the patriarchal residence in the Danilov Monastery in Moscow.
Also in attendance were the Chairman of the Synodal Department for the Cooperation of Church and Society, Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin; Deputy Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations, Abbot Philaret (Bulekov); and Director of HIH Chancellery, A.N. Zakatov.
His Holiness addressed his guests with words of welcome and spoke about National Unity Day. His Holiness said that the establishment of the festival in 2005 dedicated to the liberation of Moscow and all Russia from foreign invaders, is now widely celebrated across Russia. He went on to say that the event acquired a special significance this year noting the events towards the end of the Time of Troubles 400 years ago.
His Holiness further highlighted the role of the Church in Russian society, and the challenges faced by people of faith in the modern world.
In conclusion, HIH Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna presented Patriarch Kirill with the Order of Saint Andrew - the highest order of the Russian Imperial House. Expressing her gratitude to His Holiness, she said that the award "symbolized the close relationship shared between the Imperial family and the Russian Orthodox Church, of our oneness of mind, a joint understanding of the many challenges which face the Fatherland, and the many problems that exist in today's society."
New Exhibition Explores Persecutions of the Russian Church Topic: Exhibitions
Stalin orders the destruction of Christ the Saviour Cathedral, December 5th, 1931
A new exhibition Overcoming: The Russian Church and Soviet Power will be held from November 8 to December 9 in the State Central Museum of Modern History of Russia in Moscow.
The exposition is dedicated to the persecutions that the Church was subject to during the Soviet era.
According to the rector of Orthodox St. Tikhon University Archpriest Vladimir Vorobyov, within 20 years its historians have collected numerous evidences of confession and martyrdom, traced thousands of destinies, analyzed the history of the intra church disputes provoked by persecutors, and bright pages of fight of the atheistic state against the Orthodox Church.
According to the organizers, the main goal of the exhibition is “to display the history of spiritual resistance to godlessness and to learn the lessons taught by our martyrs to us”.
Russians Reflect on Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 Topic: Bolsheviks
Almost one-third of Russians believe the Bolshevik revolution of 1917 jumpstarted the country’s development and opened a new page in its history, according to a poll published on Tuesday, RIA Novosti reports.
However, the share of respondents with a positive view of the revolution has declined over the past decade, from 34 to 27 percent, the All-Russia Center for the Study of Public Opinion on Social and Economic Issues (VTsIOM) poll said.
At the same time the share of the people who see the revolution as “a catastrophe for our country” has increased from 10 percent to 18 percent. About 43 percent of respondents said the root cause of the revolution was the miserable life of the people with 17 percent saying a weak government was a factor and 11 percent blaming the Bolsheviks’ “political unscrupulousness.”
Some 40 percent said the revolution, though a mixed blessing, was inevitable, while 37 percent believed the needless loss of human life and the trouble it caused meant there was no justification for it. Eighteen percent said they would observe Revolution Day on November 7, compared to 16 percent who said they would celebrate National Unity Day on November 4.
Presidential Library Presents New Collection on Time of Troubles Topic: Exhibitions
Tsar Mikhail Feodorovich
The Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library has prepared a new electronic collection covering one of the most significant events in Russian history – the overcoming of the Time of Troubles, ITAR-TASS reports.
At the turn of the 16th-17th centuries in Russia there was a strained domestic- and foreign-policy situation. Dynastic crisis caused by the death of the last representative of Rurik’s kin, famine brought on by a succession of lean years, peasant uprisings, the Polish-Swedish intervention – all this had led to a civil war, questioning the very existence of the Russian state. Only the union of extensive popular forces – urban population, military men, free peasantry – allowed to preserve the independence of the country, to restore the administrative and military system and overcome the Troubles.
The collection, devoted to the 400th anniversary of this historic milestone, included 250 various documents (sources, researches, evidences, fictions, art materials, etc.), reflecting the status of the Moscow state before and during the Troubles, the struggle of various political forces behind the throne and the popular movement against the invaders. Especially highlighted are political, social and religious figures of the troubled times, the Library said at its website.
The collection begins with sources on the history of the Time of Troubles, including “The acts of the reign of Tsar Vasily Shuisky,” “The acts of interregnum”, “The acts of suburban militias and Zemsky Sobor”, etc. Of great interest are the evidences of foreigners on the events in Russia in the late 16th – early 17th centuries. These historical sources allow us to estimate the perception of the Russian reality by the contemporary foreigners. The collection includes documents about the events in Russia on the eve of the Time of Troubles – reign of Tsar Feodor Ivanovich and murder of Tsarevich Dmitry Ivanovich in Uglich. One of the sections of the collection is devoted to the election of Tsar Mikhail Feodorovich Romanov, the founder of a new dynasty, which ruled Russia for more than 300 years.
In the future the collection will become an integral part of the basic thematic collection “Russian People” which was presented to a wide user audience September 1, 2012, and some documents related to historical persons, will make part of the collection “Russia through personalities”.
Naryshkin Calls on Foreign Historians to Mark 100th Anniversary of WWI Topic: Russian History
Photo: Emperor Nicholas II holds an icon over Russian troops departing for the Eastern Front in 1914
"One of the great tragedies under Bolshevik and Soviet rule from 1917-1991 was the latters refusal to honour the millions of men who fought for Russia during the First World War" - Paul Gilbert, Royal Russia
Russian State Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin, who heads the newly-created Russian historical society, suggests setting up an international committee that will make up a schedule of events devoted to the 100th anniversary of the start of WWI in 2014, ITAR-TASS reports.
Naryshkin told foreign historians whom he met late last week that projects of cooperation could be different. “First and foremost, they can be linked to historical dates in the life of Europe. One such date is centenary anniversary of the outbreak of WWI to be marked in two years from now. That war brought enormous suffering and devastation to the whole of Europe,” Naryshkin emphasized.
He said that World War One is often referred to in Russia as “the forgotten war” partly due to the fact that the October revolution that followed in 1917 overshadowed the events of WWI.
“Nevertheless, we understand the significance of WWI and the consequences it had on the life of Europe and the whole world,” Naryshkin emphasized. “I don’t rule out that possibly we should think of setting up an international direction and an international committee to prepare a plan of commemorations of this crucial cultural and historical event in the life of Russia.”
He added that Russia and Europe would celebrate the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII in 2015 and that offered new areas for cooperation between Russian and foreign historians.
The Last Russian Emperor: The Family and Court of Nicholas II at the Turn of the Century Topic: Exhibitions
On 26 October 2012 at the Hermitage-Vyborg Centre an exhibition was opened entitled The Last Russian Emperor: The Family and Court of Nicholas II at the Turn of the Century, which will present 285 items from the State Hermitage Museum collection, encapsulating the period from the 1870s to the collapse of the Russian Empire in 1917. The exhibition is organised in chronological order and shows the life of Nicholas II and his family using materials, including memorial items from the collections at the Winter Palace, Anichkov Palace, Alexander Palace, the New Michael and the Yusupov palaces, and also items from private collections from the end of the 19th century to the beginning of the 20th century.
A whole range of items will be on a museum display for the first time. These include tapestry portraits of Their Imperial Highnesses Nicholas Alexandrovich and Alexandra Fedorovna, and items from the wardrobes of the tsar’s children. Drawings by A.A. Parland and I.A. Charlemagne with details of the imperial coronation regalia and military scenes from the First World War will be on display for the first time. Considerable interest has been generated by recent acquisitions of the State Hermitage Museum comprising dinner services and exquisite accessories that emphasise the luxury of the Russian court: a silver vanity case with grey-blue enamel, decorated with sapphires set in gold, a cigarette case, and also figures of animals and insects executed by the leading jewellers at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries I.S. Britsyn, J.F. Olsonius and H. Vigstrom.
The exhibition opens with a section dedicated to period of Nicholas Alexandrovich’s life as Grand Prince going through to his accession to the throne. Portraits are displayed of his parents Alexander III and Maria Fedorovna, and also a series of drawings depicting ceremonial receptions of the emperor and empress at the German ambassador’s residence and a palace ball in the Nicholas Hall of the Winter Palace. Maria Fedorovna, who acted as an advisor to Nicholas II all her life following the death of her husband, lived at the Anichkov Palace and, maintaining her own court, took pleasure in attending all the official ceremonies. Cossack guard served as the bodyguard for the widowed empress - and accompanied her on all her journeys. At the exhibition it is possible to see the parade and regular uniforms of the Cossack guards made by À.À. Kudinov and T.K. Yaschik.
Items associated with the marriage ceremony and coronation of Nicholas II and Alexandra Fedorovna are of particular interest. The coronation celebrations lasted from 6 (18) to 26 May (6 June) 1896, and included balls, military parades, feasts and general festivities. Accordingly various souvenirs were produced: glasses, shot glasses, mugs, which were provided to all participants of the festivities. Among the gifts were handkerchiefs with images of Their Imperial Highnesses and state symbols made at the Prokhovskaya Trekhgornaya and the Danilovskaya textile factories.
The second section of the exhibition is dedicated to the private life of Nicholas II. The tsar spent much of his time with his family. Items from the wardrobes of the tsar’s children, their toys, including teddy bears and dolls, illustrate the modest lifestyle of the imperial family.
Religion played a significant role in the life of Nicholas II, Alexandra, their four daughters and son. This is demonstrated at the exhibition by a display of icons which includes the icon Saint Seraphim of Sarov. Seraphim was one of the most revered saints in the royal family, and the icon with his image hung in the emperor’s office. Nicholas II and his wife participated in the canonisation of St. Seraphim of Sarov in 1903.
The third section of the exhibition talks about diplomatic, military, court, religious and other ceremonies that were held. In 1903, the Winter Palace hosted a fancy dress ball, whose guests were to come in pre-Petrine era costumes. The emperor’s and empress’ costumes of Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich and Maria Ilinichna were universally admired. The masquerade of 1903 was the most famous court festivity under Nicholas II and one of the few social events, attended by Empress Alexandra. In 1904, at her request the Costume Ball at the Winter Palace Album was published for charity, using photoengraving (a technique for deep printing) and phototype (a flat printing method). The exhibition shows the phototype printing and also the Romanov family in costume, as well as the striking beauty of the costumes of Duke Georgy Georgievich Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Countess Natalya Fyodorovna Karlova and others.
The final section of the exhibition is devoted the last years of the reign of Nicholas II, including two wars, three revolutions and the complete destruction of the imperial family. The events of the Russian-Japanese war and World War I are shown in the works of famous artists, N.A. Bogatov, G.I. Narbut and others. Wanting to raise the morale of the soldiers and officers, Nicholas II assumed the duties of Supreme Commander of the Russian army, and together with the heir, Tsarevich Alexei Nikolaevich went to the front. On display are banners, as well as military uniforms belonging to the emperor and his son. The exhibition concludes with photographs of the interiors of the imperial family’s private chambers, made after the storming of the Winter Palace in 1917.
For the Last Russian Emperor: The Family and Court of Nicholas II at the Turn of the Century exhibition an illustrated catalogue (Russian language only) has been prepared (St. Petersburg: Slaviya, 2012). The curator for the exhibition is Irina Mikhailovna Zakharova, a senior researcher for the Department of the History of Russian Culture at the State Hermitage Museum.
Estonia Honours the Romanov Dynasty Topic: Exhibitions
An exhibition of prints and formal portraits of members of the Russian Imperial family has opened in the Estonian capital of Tallinn. The event coincides with the 400th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty in 2013.
The facade of an old stone building in the center of Tallinn is adorned with a huge billboard with a name that has become entrenched with the city's history: The Romanovs. According to museum officials, the exhibition halls are packed to capacity.
Formerly known as Reval during the Tsarist period, Tallinn's importance as a center of monarchical heritage in Russia is surpassed only by that of St. Petersburg and Moscow.
According to local historian Ilya Nikiforov: "Few cities in the Baltic region of the former Russian Empire were visited more than Tallinn."
"Peter the Great came to Reval in 1711, where he stayed at Maardu. His wife, Empress Catherine I often returned to Maardu where she maintained an estate. During his last visit to Estonia on July 25th, 1723, Peter the Great took rest at a farmstead, then it was from his wife's estate at Maardu that he departed for St. Petersburg onboard the Ingria.
"During the first years of her reign (1746), Empress Elizabeth Petrovna travelled through the Baltic region stopping at Reval. She was accompanied by her nephew and heir to the throne, Peter and his young wife Catherine (the future Catherine the Great).
The Emperors Alexander II and Alexander III often visited the area, and liked to rest on the waters in Reval (Tallinn) and de Hapsal (Haapsalu). Emperor Alexander II last visited Reval in 1859.
"Emperor Nicholas II visited Reval often as a child and heir to the throne. During his reign he established regular steamer service between Reval and St. Petersburg, and in 1905 ordered the construction of a new Imperial pavilion at the railway station.
"It was at Reval that the Emperor conducted important negotiations with the leaders of Great Britain, France and Germany. In 1908, Nicholas II came to Reval to meet with King Edward VII of Great Britain, followed by a meeting with the French President Faliero the same year. In 1912, the Emperor met with Kaiser Wilhelm II."
Tallinn City Council Deputy, Max Kaur has extended an invitation to HIH Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, Head of the Russian Imperial House to visit the city and the exhibition devoted to her ancestors.
Photo: View of the Anitchkov Bridge in St. Petersburg. Artist: Alexander Begrov (1841-1914)
In the autumn of 1917 the Bolsheviks seized power in Russia. The centuries old Russian Empire was no longer. The Soviet government opened a new page in the country's development but did its best to either distort or hush up its previous history. Pre-revolutionary Russia was portrayed as a backward, poorly managed, semi-cultural and semi-literate state. But how was it in reality?
Statistics show that in the first decade of the 20th century Russia experienced an industrial and economic boom that pushed it to the 4th place after the United States, Britain and Germany. A sharp boost in the extraction of raw materials was matched by rapid progress in machine-building, chemistry, electrical engineering and aircraft construction. Domestic agriculture was making steady headway. As a result, the share of farming produce in national exports increased considerably. Russia produced 28% more grain than the United States, Britain and Argentina taken together. European markets were flooded with Russian butter and eggs. The ruble was a stable currency traded at 2 Deutche marks or 50 US cents. Under the last Emperor Nicholas II taxes were the lowest in Europe, life was relatively cheap and there was no unemployment. The law on social insurance for workers passed by the tsarist government aroused envy in the West. The then President of the United States William Taft once remarked that no democratic state boasted such a perfect labor legislation as the one created by the Russian Emperor.
The years that preceded the revolution were marked by tangible progress in the social and cultural sphere. The introduction of free compulsory primary education for all was bound to stamp out illiteracy by 1922. Both huge and smaller cities had secondary schools of highest grade which prepared boys and girls for universities. Russia boasted a better system of education for girls than Western Europe: in 1914 there were 965 women's high-schools plus higher courses for women in all major cities. Tuition fee was quite low: law faculties charged 20 times less than in the United States and Britain. Poor students got grants. There was a scholarships system of for gifted students.
The high level of education was confirmed by scientific advances. The names of chemist Dmitry Mendeleyev famous for his periodic system of elements, physiologist Ivan Pavlov, biologist and selectionist Kliment Timiryazev, and the inventor of radio Alexander Popov are known to almost everyone. Russian scientists who emigrated after the 1917 revolution were highly appreciated abroad. Aircraft designer Igor Sikorsky, who settled in the United States, designed the world's first helicopter, and his fellow countryman Vladimir Zvorykin invented television.
French poet Paul Valery called the Russian culture of that time one of the wonders of the world, apparently because despite its secularism it reflected a more Christian outlook than Western-European culture. Suffice it to say world-famous writers Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Anton Chekhov, Ivan Bunin, together with composers Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Sergei Rachmaninoff and many others, let alone the unrivalled Russian ballet. How could all that emerge under what bolshevik ideologists labeled as a police and bureaucratic regime?
As far as bureaucracy is concerned, the number of state officials in Russia was surprisingly low compared to Europe. The national police force was 7 times smaller than in Britain and 5 times smaller than in France, which is an indication of low crime rates. Russia's jury-based system of legal proceedings commanded the admiration of foreigners for its unbiased and humanistic approach. Economic and cultural growth was accompanied by higher birth rates. By 1913 Russia had a population of 175 million with the annual increase of about 3.3 million. A prominent French economist Edmond Thiery wrote that if the trend persisted, by the middle of the century Russia would dominate Europe politically, economically and financially. The then Russian Prime Minister Pyotr Stolypin once said: "Give us 20 peaceful years and you won't recognize Russia". Stolypin, whose reformist ideas encountered a mixed response in Russian society, was viciously murdered by his revolutionary opponents.
Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna Voted Person of the Year Topic: Maria Vladimirovna GD
HIH Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, Head of the Russian Imperial House has been voted "Person of the Year" by the Russian Biographical Institute in Moscow.
The advisory board announced the decision on November 1st, awarding the Head of the Russian Imperial House in the "Great Russia" category, for her "selfless work in the field of culture, education, philanthropy, and in connection with the 400th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty in 2013."
The national "Person of the Year" award was founded in 1993 by the Russian Biographical Institute, whose main task has been the study of Russian society through the prism of its most prominent representatives. The prize is awarded to worthy citizens of the Russian Federation, and in some cases from other countries. The prize is awarded for outstanding achievement, and contribution to the development in Russia in the areas of religion, politics, economics, education, science, culture, medicine, sports, etc.
The prize will be awarded on November 7th, at the Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow.