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400th Anniversary
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Monday, 26 November 2012
Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna's Faberge Cross Pendant
Topic: Faberge


A diamond and topaz platinum mounted Faberge cross pendent purchased by the Tsar Nicholas II and the Empress Alexander Feodorovna in St Petersburg in 1912 bought for the Tsar's sister Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna is seen during a press preview at Christie's auction house in London. It was expected to fetch some 50-70,000 pounds (US$ 79-111,000 , euro 61-86,000) when sold at auction on Nov. 26.

© Christie's (London). 26 November, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:08 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 27 November 2012 6:14 AM EST
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Sunday, 25 November 2012
1812 War Anniversary Ball Held in Grand Kremlin Palace
Now Playing: Language: Russian. Duration: 3 minutes, 29 seconds
Topic: Kremlin

On Sunday the Grand Kremlin Palace hosted a glamorous ball inspired by Napoleon’s 1812 defeat at the hands of the Russian army and dedicated to the traditions of military valor, in its St. Andrew Hall, St. Alexander Hall and St. George Hall, RIA Novosti reports.

It is the first ball to be held at the palace since 1903. Young couples demonstrated historic dances such as the polonaise, minuet and quadrille. The couples had a chance to dance a waltz to the live music of the Presidential Orchestra. Costumes for the guests as well as their hairstyles were based on the designs from the early 19th century.

The ball is the last in a series of events celebrating the 200th anniversary of Russia’s victory in the 1812 war. The ball organizers hope the event will become a tradition.

© Russkiy Mir. 25 November, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 5:50 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 27 November 2012 5:54 AM EST
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Saturday, 24 November 2012
Great Styles of Tsarskoye Selo
Topic: Tsarskoye Selo


A recent collaboration between the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Preserve and the St. Petersburg designers of Mantrastudio has brought forth a new memory and attention game that entertains and educates all ages with pictures of the Tsarskoye Selo collection highlights.

The game consists of 72 illustrated cards, depicting 36 unique objects in the great historical art styles of Baroque, Rococo, Neoclassicism and Empire. An enclosed game instruction inlay provides information on the title, origin, period and style of each pictured object.

The cards are supposed to be placed face down on the table. The first player turns two cards over. If they match, the player collects the set and takes another turn. If the cards do not match, the player turns them back over in the same spot, and the next player turns two cards over. Play continues until all the cards have been matched. The winner is the player who has collected the most matches – therefore it is important to remember positions and pictures of the previously opened cards.

This versatile game can be played in many different ways, depending on age of players. Possible variations are in collecting and matching the cards in accordance with styles and/or categories of the objects. And who says you cannot make up your own table rules to beef up the game to suit your great style?

The game sells for 500 rubles and is available in the bookshop which is located in the vestibule of the Catherine Palace.

© Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Preserve. 24 November, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:01 AM EST
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Friday, 23 November 2012
Napoleon's "Blow up Kremlin" Letter at Auction
Now Playing: Language: English. Duration: 1 minute, 56 seconds
Topic: Russian History

A CODED letter in which Napoleon Bonaparte vows to blow up the Kremlin will go under the hammer near Paris next month, 200 years after the French invasion of Russia.

"I will blow up the Kremlin on the 22nd at three am," reads the missive written in numbers and signed "Nap", expected to fetch up to 15,000 euros ($18,916) at the sale in Fontainebleau.

Dated October 20, 1812, the day after Napoleon retreated from the centre of Moscow, it is addressed to his external relations minister Hugues-Bernard Maret.

Napoleon's order was carried out by Marshal Mortier, who destroyed several towers and sections of wall at the Kremlin, at the time both an imperial palace and military fortress.

The towers were later rebuilt identically.

"Letters written by Napoleon from Russia are rare," said Alain Nicolas, expert for the auctioneer Ocenat. "Many were lost, probably intercepted by the Russians."

Napoleon's army entered Moscow on September 14, 1812, but much of the population had already fled and the emperor was forced to leave without securing a formal victory over Alexander I, embarking on a disastrous westward retreat.

© The Australian News and NTD Television. 23 November, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 3:38 PM EST
Updated: Friday, 23 November 2012 3:43 PM EST
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Photographs and Letters of Nicholas II to be Auctioned in Geneva


Tsar Nicholas II, Count Vladimir Fredericks, and Grand Duke Nicholas Nicholayevich (1914) 

Letters written by Tsar Nicholas II, the last Russian Emperor, as well as photographs of the Tsar's family will be offered to bidders at the Hôtel des Ventes auction house in Geneva from 10 to 13 December. More than 3,000 lots will be offered for sale. Their total value is estimated at 3 million Swiss francs. The majority of items are property of descendants of the royal families of Europe and Russia.

The session will be inaugurated on December 10 by the Russian lot which consists of previously unknown letters as well as photographs of the Russian imperial family.

As experts say, it is a question of unique letters, written by Nicholas II at the time of the First World War. These were addressed to his uncle, Grand Duke Nicholas Nicholayevich, commander of the imperial army until 1915. This correspondence are considered important military historical documents. If the participation of Russia in the war is at the heart of the literature, it is also the question of how the Tsar himself felt, constantly worried for his army.

Other letters written by Tsar Alexander II  addressed to Princess Catherine Dolgorukova will also be presented. These 46 pages of love letters are estimated between 5000 and 8000 Swiss francs.

In addition, 100 lots of photographs including images of Tsarevich Alexei in his childhood, and the Romanov family circle will no doubt arouse the curiosity of collectors. These include the Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich performing on the trapeze, or playing croquet with his sister, Olga Alexandrovna. Other photographs are show Grand Duchesses Olga and Anastasia Nicholayevna as children. Watercolours painted by Olga will also attract collectors.

The majority of documents are from the collection of Ferdinand Tormeier, tutor to the children of Alexander III. His archives were discovered several years back by his heirs, who sold part of his collection at the time. Other documents from Prince Felix Yusupov and Serge Lifar. In addition, the books of the imperial era will also be sold alongside art rare Fabergé silver and furniture decorated with malachite.

© Hôtel des Ventes and Paul Gilbert. 23 November, 2012


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:45 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 27 November 2012 6:22 AM EST
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Thursday, 22 November 2012
New Life for HM Own Dacha at Peterhof
Topic: Peterhof


His Majesty's Own Dacha as it looked in Tsarist times 

Situated along the Peterhof Road are a series of former Imperial residences that few people ever have the opportunity to visit. Many have been abandoned by time and neglect, often falling to decay and ruin.

One such residence is His Majesty's Own Dacha, which is situated about 3 km west of the Lower Park at Peterhof.

The private dacha and its chapel were built in 1844-50 for the Tsesarevich Alexander Nicholayevich (future Emperor Alexander II) by the Russian architect Andrei Stackenschneider on the site of the former, smaller, dacha of the Empress Elizabeth Petrovna, daughter of Peter the Great.

The private chapel was reached by a footbridge that spanned the tiny green valley that separated it from the dacha.

During its heyday the impressive two-storye Baroque style dacha was one of Stackenschneider's architectural masterpieces. Several watercolours by E. P. Hau and Luigi Premazzi have survived and allow us to appreciate the beautiful interiors  of this Imperial residence.

His Majesty's Own Dacha as it looks today 

During the Soviet years the dacha was declared a "monument of national importance." During the Second World War, it was shelled, but was later restored. In the 1980s, the building was abandoned and has sat empty ever since.

In 2004, minor restoration work was carried out by a local firm. Work progressed at a very slow pace, however, some repairs on the historic building were carried out.

Earlier this month a decision was made to restore and convert the former Imperial dacha into a wedding palace. The decision has been approved by the local governor, and funds have been allocated for the project. Work is expected to begin shortly, with work to be completed by 2015.

I had the opportunity of visiting the Imperial dacha some years back. I was saddened by its advanced stage of neglect, so news that this historic building is to be restored is indeed good news. I had, however, always hoped that it to would have been transferred to the Peterhof State Museum-Preserve and restored to its former grandeur.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 22 November, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:00 AM EST
Updated: Sunday, 25 November 2012 7:03 AM EST
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Remains of Alexei and Maria to be Buried in 2013
Topic: Holy Royal Martyrs




The remains of the Tsesarevich Alexei Nicholayevich and the Grand Duchess Maria Nicholayevna may be buried in the summer of 2013, ITAR-TASS reports.

The announcement was made on November 16th by Sergei Mironenko, Director of the State Archives of the Russian Federation (GARF) in Moscow, where the remains are currently in temporary storage.

According to Mironenko the remains were transferred to GARF at the suggestion of the committee responsible for conducting tests on the authenticity of the remains. He went on to confirm that he believes the remains are authentic based on genetic examination carried out by scientists.

Mironenko pointed out that the decision to bury the royal remains has been resisted by "certain circles.""It is very important that a decision on the authenticity of the remains by the Moscow Patriarchate be made," he said, then noting that the position of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad was "more progressive." 

"When we opened the exhibition on the century long investigation into the murders of the Imperial family in the summer of 2012 at GARF in Moscow, comparing the investigations of Sokolov and Solovyov, Metropolitan Hillarion participated, and I must say that it was quite a challenge to prove to the Metropolitan that we were right after all."

In the meantime, the Moscow Patriarchate has never made an official final judgement on the issue regarding the authenticity of the remains. In early November, the Russian Orthodox Church stated that the identity of the remains found near Ekaterinburg in 1991 and 2007 remains an open question pending further historical and genetic research.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 22 November, 2012


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:02 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 30 April 2014 7:53 AM EDT
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Wednesday, 21 November 2012
Ropsha Palace to be Transferred to Peterhof
Topic: Ropsha




Ropsha Palace as it looks today 

Over the past few years I have reported on the dire condition of Ropsha Palace. Situated in the suburbs of St. Petersburg, the former Romanov palace which is now in a deplorable state may yet be saved.

The Russian Ministry of Culture announced this morning that the administration of Ropsha Palace will be transferred over to the Peterhof State Museum-Preserve.

Ropsha Palace and the surrounding park is part of the UNESCO World Heritage and thus protected by the State. Plans for the palaces restoration have yet to be announced.

The Peterhof State Museum-Preserve includes more than 100 historic buildings, including Peterhof, Oranienbaum and Strelna. Peterhof is currently Russia's No. 1 museum with over 4 million visitors each year.

© Paul Gilbert. 21 November, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 11:45 PM EST
Updated: Monday, 12 January 2015 6:56 AM EST
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Tuesday, 20 November 2012
All Monuments of Lenin to be Removed from Russian Cities
Topic: Bolsheviks


Statue of Lenin in central Ekaterinburg. Photo © Paul Gilbert (2012) 

Russian lawmakers believe it is time to remove monuments to the leader of the Bolshevik Revolution, Vladimir Lenin, from town and city squares across the country.

Memorials to such “a controversial figure” should be re-located in museums or alleys with statues of other historic persons, suggested the author of the initiative, Liberal-Democratic party (LDPR) Deputy Aleksandr Kurdyumov.

The idea of “De-Leninization” was welcomed by the ruling United Russia party, writes Izvestia daily.

According to Kurdyumov, the main argument in favor of the removal of monuments is the high cost of maintenance. He says they would be better looked after and safe from vandalism in museums.

Soviet-legacy statues of Vladimir Ulyanov (Lenin) can still be seen in central squares of almost all Russian towns. There is hardly a single settlement in the country without a street named after the Bolshevik leader.

The time has come to get rid of Lenin’s “stranglehold” and leave only monuments that are considered true masterpieces of art and only in those places where local population want to see them, the LDPR lawmaker insists.

It often happens that there no other memorials but to Lenin in Russian towns and that is “unfair” to other outstanding personalities – such as Peter the Great, General Aleksandr Suvorov, Tsar Ivan the Terrible and others.

Under the proposal, municipal authorities should hold referendums to find out where people want the Lenin statues to be placed. If they do not want to see the leader of the 1917 Revolution at all, such monuments should be dismantled, sent to museums or sold to collectors, Kurdyumov suggests. The money received from the sales could be used, for instance, to create new parks.

United Russia’s lawmaker, Valery Trapeznikov agrees that the idea should first be discussed with the people. In the USSR, monuments were erected at the government’s bidding. If now they are dismantled by order of the authorities, “it can lead to a wave of protests,” he told Izvestia.

Meanwhile, the Communist party (KPRF) is strongly opposed to the idea of removing monuments to their key ideologist.

“Lenin is the founding father of the Russian Federation…Same as George Washington in America,” a senior member of the party, Sergey Obukhov stressed. He noted that some laws signed by the Bolshevik leader are still valid in Russia.

Besides that, the destruction of “architectural pieces” of historic value is illegal, the KPRF deputy pointed out.

© Russia Today. 20 November, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 1:33 PM EST
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New Annex Could Make Hermitage an "Epoch-Defining Museum"
Topic: Museums


The State Hermitage (former Winter Palace)  is fully engaged in fitting out 800 rooms of the General Staff Building to welcome be the new home for art from the turn of the 19th century onwards, with a full opening scheduled for 2014. Mark Hudson of The Telegraph reported from St. Petersburg on this major new development for the museum/

“As an extension to the Hermitage Museum, the General Staff Building is far more than a mere annex. Viewed across the majestic sweep of Palace Square, the curving Neo-classical facade of this vast early-19th-century office complex already feels like a challenge to the Baroque opulence of the parent institution opposite,” Hudson writes. “And that’s before you’re aware that its 800 rooms are about to be filled with art, much of which has been deemed revolutionary.”

“Devoted to art from 1800 onwards, the new wing will bring the story told in the old Hermitage — which houses the largest collection of paintings in the world — bracingly up to date. On paper at least it has the capacity to be a truly epoch-defining museum, the way the Musée d’Orsay was in the Eighties and Tate Modern in the 2000s,” Hudson says. “And it will, it is hoped, make Russia appear central to the story of modern art in a way it never quite has before — despite the importance of much that has taken place here.”

© Russkiy Mir. 20 November, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:50 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 20 November 2012 6:53 AM EST
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