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400th Anniversary
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Monday, 31 December 2012
400 Years Since Coronation of First Romanov
Topic: 400th Anniversary


The coronation of Tsar Mikhail Feodorovich in 1613 

In 2013, 400 years will turn since the first representative of the Romanov dynasty of Russian emperors, Mikhail, ascended the Russian throne on June 11, 1613.

The election of Mikhail Romanov as Russia’s tsar (he was elected from several other candidates by a group of Russian noblemen) put an end to a period of political instability in Russia. Within the following 3 centuries, the Romanov dynasty did much to make Russia the world’s largest country, strong, united and influential in the world politics.

In 1598, the Rurik dynasty, that had ruled Russia for more than 700 years, interrupted. The next 15 years came into history as a period of political instability. Within this rather short period, many rulers have changed on the Russian throne. Finally, in 1613, Mikhail Romanov ascended it.

In fact, few people had expected Mikhail to become the tsar. The main pretenders for the Russian throne were representatives of two noble families, the Godunovs and the Shuyskys. Neither of them looked upon Mikhail Romanov, a 16-year-old son of the head of the Russian Church Patriarch Philaret, as upon a serious rival. However, at a council of noblemen, the majority voted for him.

Russian historian Evgeny Pchyolov says:

“It is, to a large extent, representatives of the Romanov dynasty that made the Russian Empire one of the word’s largest and strongest countries – Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, Alexander I, Nicholas I and others. The time when the Romanov dynasty ruled Russia was the golden age for the Russian civilization.”

Many representatives of the Romanov dynasty were married to members of other European royal families, which also strengthened the position of Russia in the world.

Historian Faina Grimberg narrates:

“Initially, representatives of the Romanov dynasty tried to conclude marriages with members of Scandinavian royal families. Since the time of Emperor Peter the Great, a grandson of Mikhail Romanov and an energetic pro-western reformer, who ruled Russia from 1682 to 1725, marriages between Romanovs and members of European royal families became a common thing. Mainly, these were marriages with representatives of noble families of German origin – in particular, with dukes and duchesses of the German region of Hessen-Darmstadt. In the late 19th century, the last Russian Emperor Nickolas II married a granddaughter of the British Queen Victoria, and Nicholas’s uncle, Grand Duke Sergey Alexandrovich, married Victoria’s other granddaughter. This strengthened ties between Russia and Great Britain.”

But probably the most close kinship ties the Romanovs had with the German Holstein-Gottorp dynasty. A daughter of Peter the Great, Anna, was married to Duke Charles Frederick of Holstein-Gottorp. Their son, Peter III, ruled Russia for less than a year in 1762. He was the husband of Russian Empress Catherine the Great (ruled 1762-1796) and the father of Emperor Paul I (ruled 1796-1801). In Europe, the Romanov dynasty was even often referred to as the Romanov- Holstein-Gottorp dynasty.

Other members of the Russian royal family were married to representatives of ducal families of the German territories of Wurttemberg and Baden. Russian Emperor Nicholas I (ruled 1825-1855) was married to Princess Charlotte Hohenzollern of Prussia. The Romanovs were also related to the Nassau ducal family of the Netherlands, the Hanover royal family of Britain, and the Danish and Greek royal families.

Of course, it was not only ties of kinship, but also the farsighted foreign policy of the Romanov emperors, that made Russia be respected by the entire Europe. Historian Evgeny Pchyolov says:

“After the 1917 revolution, the Communist regime tried to distance Russia from the “bourgeois” Western Europe. In the Soviet time, Russia maintained more ties with Eastern Europe, Asia and other regions than with Western Europe. Now, Russia’s authorities are realizing that their country should be a full-fledged member of the European family of countries. Here, the experience of Russian emperors, who always tried to maintain close ties with European countries, may be very helpful for us.”

Meanwhile, for many Westerners, the Romanov dynasty is associated with the well-known jeweler Karl Faberge, who lived in Russia and is reknown for the magnificent Easter eggs he crafted for for the last two Russian Emperors: Alexander III and Nicholas II.

© The Voice of Russia. 31 December, 2013

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 4:39 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 2 January 2013 9:49 AM EST
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Sunday, 30 December 2012
Tsarskoe Selo Palaces: The View from 1917
Now Playing: Language: Russian. Duration: 3 minutes, 9 seconds
Topic: Tsarskoye Selo

The photographic archive of the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Preserve now boasts 48 autochrome plates with early 20th-century views of the Catherine and Alexander palaces. The plates were recently auctioned in Paris and happily acquired by our Museum with assistance from Mr. Michael Pyles, an American member of the Tsarskoye Selo Friends Society.

The autochromes, 140 in total, were made in 1917 by the military photographer Andrei Zeest, who was invited by the art historian George Loukomski, Head of Tsarskoye Selo Inventory Commission. The views of the Catherine Palace were taken in June-July of 1917, including the palace chapel's altar piece the latest pre-war picture of which at our archive dated from the 1860s.

The Alexander Palace interiors were photographed in August-September, soon after the Tsar's family left for exhile. Now that a comprehensive restoration of the palace approaches, the detail-rich autochromes become one of the most important resources for the museum workers, restorers and historians. Particularly noteworthy are the views of the Playroom of Tsarevich Alexei, previously unavailable, and Alexandra Fiodorovna's greenery-decorated Maple Study or Drawing-Room and the Palisander Reception Room with a vase holding a hortensia put there by the Tsarina herself.

The larger number of the autochrome plates were gone together with Loukomski when he emigrated from Russia in 1918. About 40 autochromes with the palaces were handed over to Tsarskoye Selo by Andrei Zeest's widow in the 1960s.

The said auction in Paris offered many other objects, some of which our Museum acquired with support from Mr. Mikhail Karisalov, an art collector and a longtime Friend of Tsarskoye Selo:

•Empress Maria Fiodorovna's autographed photo of 1916 (above)

•Illuminated engraved view of the Neva River and the Peter and Paul Fortress from the 1750s

•Bronze figure of Nicholas I's favourite pet poodle, Hussar

•Children's books illustated by Ivan Bilibin

•Set of eleven envelopes of different sizes with Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna's monogram

•Late 19th-century lacquered box with a miniature painting of a scene from Russian peasant life

© Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Preserve. 30 December, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 11:36 AM EST
Updated: Monday, 31 December 2012 4:22 AM EST
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Saturday, 29 December 2012
Russia Marks 180th Anniversary of the Birth of Pavel Tretyakov
Topic: Russian Art


Photo: A portrait of Pavel Tretyakov. Artist: Ilya Repin (1883) 

Pavel Tretyakov, the renowned art collector and founder of the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, was born 180 years ago. Together with his brother Sergei Mikhailovich, he collected paintings by Russian artists for over a quarter century, creating the most extensive private art gallery in Russia, which he then offered as a gift, along with the building housing it, to the city of Moscow.

Pavel Tretyakov was the son of a merchant and he received a good education at home. Having inherited his father’s business the young Pavel and his brother Sergei constructed a cotton mill that employed about 5,000 workers.
Pavel Tretyakov began to collect Russian art in the 1850s with the intention of donating it to the city. It is believed that he acquired his first Russian paintings in 1856: Nikolai Shilder’s “The Temptation” (1853) and Vasily Khudyakov’s “Skirmish with Finnish Smugglers” (1853). Later he added paintings by Savrasov, Trutovsky, Bruni, and other masters to the collection.

Tretyakov supported talented artists all over Russia and was a personal friend of many of them. He especially admired a number of young realist painters known as “Peredvizhniki” (the Itinerants or Wanderers). The Peredvizhniki artists tried to show the “true Russia” and acquaint common people with art. They protested against academic restrictions and resisted the belief that all art was centered in St. Petersburg.

Photo: The Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow is the foremost depository of Russian fine art in the world.

Although the Russian painting tradition had not been formed yet and resembled the great art tradition of Europe, Tretyakov truly believed in Russian art. Medieval Russian art was nearly forgotten and works of the Russian painters of that time were scattered across private collections abroad. Tretyakov’s goal was to represent the Russian painting school in its entirety.

In 1893 the collections of both brothers opened as “The Pavel and Sergey Tretyakov Municipal Gallery.” Shortly afterwards, Pavel Tretyakov presented both collections to the city of Moscow. “For me, as one who truly and fervently loves painting, there can be no greater desire than to lay the foundation of a publically accessible repository of fine arts that would bring benefit and pleasure to many,” he wrote. At that time, the Tretyakov brothers’ gift numbered 1287 Russian paintings, 518 drawings, 9 sculptures, 75 paintings and 9 drawings by foreign artists, valued at 1.43 million rubles.

Towards the end of his life, Tretyakov was given the title of commerce adviser, became a member of the Moscow branch of the Council of Trade and Manufactures, and also (from 1893) became a full member of the Petersburg Academy of Arts. He died in Moscow on December 4, 1898. The Tretyakov Gallery became the first publically accessible museum in Russia in which Russian painting was presented not as disparate works of art, but as a unified whole. Through his nearly half century of art collecting and support of the most talented and brilliant artists, Tretyakov had a tremendous influence on the formation and flourishing of Russian artistic culture in the second half of the nineteenth century.

© Russkiy Mir Foundation. 29 December, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:53 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 29 December 2012 7:02 AM EST
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Friday, 28 December 2012
Stolypin Monument Unveiled in Moscow
Now Playing: Language: Russian. Duration: 2 minutes, 38 seconds
Topic: Stolypin, Pyotr


On December 27 a monument to Prime Minister of the Russian Empire Pyotr Stolypin was unveiled in Moscow. President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev attended, laying wreaths at the monument, which is situated near the Russian White House where the Russian Cabinet is situated.

The decision to install the monument was made in March 2011. Money to support the project was collected throughout the world. In July 2011 Vladimir Putin even suggested that members of the cabinet should consider donating a portion of their salaries to fund the monument.

Pavel Pozhigailo, President of the Foundation for Studying Pyotr Stolypin’s Heritage, noted that money was collected throughout Russia, even in the distant villages of the Altai Mountains, Chukotka and Magadan regions. “We even collected more than was needed and used the excess funds to thank those who helped. We sent them books about Stolypin and cards,” Pozhigailo explained.

The sculpture weighs more than three tons and is 4.5 meters tall. Including the pedestal, the monument rises approximately 9 meters from its base. Stolypin is credited for helping boost the Russian economy in a relative short period of time. The inspired reformer who once said “Give me 20 years of peace at home and abroad and you will not recognize Russia,” was fatally wounded by an assassin in Kiev in 1911 without completing the reforms some believe would have saved Russia from revolution. He was laid to rest in the Kiev-Pechorsk Lavra. This year, 2012, marks the 150th anniversary of his birth.

Note: The video includes historic film footage of Stolypin's funeral in 1911.

© Russkiy Mir Foundation. 28 December, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:41 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 29 December 2012 6:50 AM EST
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Thursday, 27 December 2012
Romanov 400th Anniversary Commemoration Project
Topic: 400th Anniversary


Tsarskoye Selo commemorates the forthcoming 400th anniversary of the House of Romanov, which is to be celebrated next year, with a new project observing the birth dates of the former crowned masters and mistresses of the imperial residence.

The project starts out as the 303rd anniversary of Empress Elizabeth Petrovna is approaching on December 29th (18th Old Style). The event is marked with an eighteenth-century styled floral composition set out in the Third Antechamber of the Catherine Palace.

The composition consists of plants that grew in the Tsarskoye Selo greenhouses in the mid-eighteenth century: tuberose, pelargonium, narcissus, lily, rose, carnation, wild orange, lemon, plum, moluccella and laurel. In accordance with eighteenth-century taste, the bouquet is also decorated with fruits.

Next to it stands an easel holding the portrait of Empress Elizabeth by the Italian painter Pietro Antonio Rotari, depicting the daughter of Peter the Great as the first beauty of her time. Her reign is called the Golden Age of Tsarskoye Selo.

© Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Preserve. 27 December, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 4:23 AM EST
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Wednesday, 26 December 2012
Crosses Return to Historic Tsarskoye Selo Church
Topic: Tsarskoye Selo


Pre-revolutionary photos of the Church of Saint Julian of Tarsus, and its magnificent stained-glass iconostasis 

All of the nine crosses of the Church of Saint Julian of Tarsus at Tsarskoye Selo were restored to their original places on December 25th. Before the Revolution, the building served as regiment church of the His Imperial Majesty’s Life Guard Cuirassier’s.

A prayer service for the installation of the crosses began at 11:30 am, continuing throughout the day with winter weather conditions causing numerous delays.

The nine crosses were manufactured by Remfasad, a Russian firm based in St. Petersburg that specializes in the restoration of historical and cultural monuments.

The regiment church was built to the design of the architect V.N. Kuritsin at the corner of Kadetsky Boulevard and Kirasirskaya (Cuirassier) Street in 1896-1899. The interior decoration was created by the architect S.A. Danini.

Funding for the construction was provided by the commerce councillor, I.K. Savinkov in the style of Old Russian churches in the honour of the wedding of Their Emperor Majesties Nicholas II and Alexandra Feodorovna.

The consecration of the upper temple of St Julian of Tarsus took place on 19 December 1899. The temple was sanctified by the arch-presbyter of the military clergy Fr. A. Zhelobovsky jointly with the arch-presbyter Fr. John (Sergiev) of Kronstadt and representatives of the Tsarskoye Selo clergy and in the presence of Their Emperor Majesties and other members of the Imperial family.

In the upper side-chapel there was an interesting stained-glass iconostasis made of multicoloured solder glass with mosaic icons surrounded by ornamental pattern. Icons was created in Munich on the base of cardboards of the professor N. Koshelev, who also painted two huge picture “The Wedding in Kanna of Galilee” and “The Miracle of St. Julian of Tarsus” on walls of the middle part of the temple. In the lower temple there was a stylish marble iconostasis and marble gravestones of Savinkov and his wife. Icons and fresco were painted by the artist Volkov.

In 1930, the crosses and Imperial eagles were removed and the church was used for storage.

The church has been undergoing a lengthy restoration since the building was returned to the Russian Orthodox Church in 1992. The building had been left in a deplorable state. Tons of garbage left by its previous caretaker had to be removed first. Restorers then set to work repairing dilapidated walls, crumbling stone floors and stairs. In 2010, the church dome had been restored.

Despite ongoing restoration work, services are being held every Sunday. Prayers are said for the Martyr Saint Julian of Tarsus and the fallen soldiers of H.I.M. Life Guard Cuirassier Regiment. There are plans to open a museum in the lower church which will be dedicated to the regiment’s history.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 26 December, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:01 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 28 December 2017 10:45 AM EST
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Painting from Collection of Nicholas I Returns to Tsarskoye Selo
Topic: Tsarskoye Selo


The Crimean Tatar Squadron officers of Life Guards Cossack Regiment (left) by Carl Friedrich Schulz (1796-1866), donated to the Museum by the Moscow collectors Sergei and Tatiana Podstanitsky on 25th December 2012, is one of the over forty battle pieces which Emperor Nicholas I commissioned from the German artist for Tsarskoye Selo.

The oil on canvas painting of 1850 is Schulz’s eighteenth (of the 40) work in the Museum by now. It first hung in Nicholas I’s study at the Alexander Palace and then moved to the Dressing Room of Grand Duke Alelxander Nikolayevich (later Emperor Alexander II) at the Catherine Palace, where it can be seen depicted in a 19th-century watercolour by Eduard Hau.

Registered in the palace inventory of 1938–40, the painting was soon looted by the Nazis together with other non-evacuated artworks. In 2006 it was included into Russia’s Summary Catalogue of the Cultural Valuables Stolen and Lost During World War II, published by the Ministry of Culture’s project Cultural Values - Victims of War.

The collectors purchased the painting at a German auction in 2008 from the owners who knew nothing of its real provenance. It is the third piece Sergei and Tatiana Podstanitsky bring back to the Tsarskoye Selo collection. Thanks to them, Ludwig Elsholtz's Prussian Hussars (1840) and Wilhelm Alexander Meyerheim’s Prussian Cuirassiers (1830s-1840s) returned to the Museum in 2011. The paintings, which are to be reinstalled in the Catherine Palace after the restoration of Alexander I’s rooms, will be on display at Moscow’s State Central Museum of Contemporary History of Russia in 2013.

© Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Preserve. 26 December, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:41 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 26 December 2012 6:50 AM EST
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Monday, 24 December 2012
A Russian Moment No. 2 - Livadia Palace
Topic: A Russian Moment


A rare snowfall blankets the Livadia Palace in the Crimea. The Russian Imperial family along with members of Russia's aristocratic and noble families favoured the region for its Mediterranean climate and stunning natural beauty. It was here that they built beautiful palaces and elegant mansions overlooking the Black Sea. When the Revolution swept across Russia, it was the isolation of the region that allowed many of them to escape the advancing Red Terror into exile.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 24 December, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 10:18 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 30 March 2013 1:01 PM EDT
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Sunday, 23 December 2012
Grand Duke Georgii of Russia Attends Reburial of King Zog I of Albania
Topic: Russian Imperial House


H.I.H. Grand Duke Georgii pays his respects at the coffin of King Zog I of Albania at Tirana on November 17th, 2012 

H.I.H. the Heir, Tsesarevich, and Grand Duke Georgii of Russia, at the behest of his most august mother, the Head of the Russian Imperial House, H.I.H. Grand Duchess Maria of Russia, who was at that time on an official visit to Russia, attended the reburial of the remains of King Zog I of Albania in the capital city of Tirana. The King had been previously been buried in Paris. His Imperial Highness was accompanied by Cyrille Boulay, an advisor on international relations to the Head of Russian Imperial House.

The coffin bearing King Zog I’s body was placed in the Presidential Palace, where official, ambassadors, foreign guests, and ordinary citizens of Albania were afforded the opportunity to pay their last respects. Around noon, a procession on foot accompanying the King’s coffin set out from the Presidential Palace to the Royal Mausoleum, led by the grandson of the late King—the present Head of the Royal House of Albania, Prince Leka II, his fiancée Elia Zaharia, and several other members of the Albanian Royal Family. Among those in the procession were the Head of the Montenegrin Royal House, H.R.H. Prince Nicholas; H.I.H., the Heir, Tsesarevich, and Grand Duke Georgii of Russia; the son-in-law of the King Michael of Romania, H.R.H. Prince Radu; and numerous foreign diplomats. The President of Albania, Bujar Nishani, and the President of Kosovo, Atifete Jahjaga, both spoke at the royal burial site. Afterward there was a memorial meal; and that evening, there was a formal reception in the Presidential Palace in memory of King Zog I.

King Zog I (1895-1961) ruled Albania from 1928. He had numerous accomplishments in the domestic and foreign policy of the young nation, but in 1939 was forced to flee his country because of the invasion of the Italian fascists. After the Second World War, a totalitarian, atheistic communist regime was established in Albania under Enver Hoxha, and in 1967 Albania was declared the “first fully atheistic country” in the world.

King Zog I died in Paris and was buried there. He was succeeded as King (in exile) by Leka I (1939-2011), his son from his marriage with Queen Geraldine (born the Hungarian Countess Géraldine Apponyi de Nagyappony). In 1976, King Leka I attended the marriage in Madrid of the parents of H.I.H. the Heir, Tsesarevich, and Grand Duke Georgii of Russia—H.I.H. Grand Duchess Maria of Russia and H.I.H. Grand Duke Mikhail Pavlovich (Prince Franz Wilhelm of Prussia). The present Head of the Royal House of Albania is the son of King Leka I and his wife, Queen Susan, H.R.H. Prince Leka II (born in 1982).

© Russian Imperial House. 23 December, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 11:45 PM EST
Updated: Sunday, 23 December 2012 1:16 PM EST
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Saturday, 22 December 2012
The Last Ball - A Documentary
Now Playing: Language: Russian. Duration: 40 minutes, 58 seconds

A new documentary by Russian film maker Boris Liznov recalls the costume ball held in the Winter Palace in February 1903. The film is based on old photographs of members of the Imperial family and the Russian Court who attended the event in which guests dressed in luxurious costumes dating from the 17th-century court of Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich. It was to be the last grand ball before the fall of the monarchy in Russia in 1917.

Liznov has assembled more than 250 vintage images from various museums, and expertly assembled old photos of interiors of the Winter Palace as a backdrop. Narration of the ball is described in detail from the memoirs and letters of those who attended the historic ball.

Liznov further explores the reign of Nicholas II and the end of the dynasty that ruled Russia for more than 300 years. The film has already received 7 awards including Best Director and Best Cinematography. 

||| 1903 Costume Ball in the Winter Palace - Click Here for More Information |||

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 22 December, 2012


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 11:45 PM EST
Updated: Friday, 1 January 2016 4:53 AM EST
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