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400th Anniversary
A Russian Moment
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Alexander Mikhailovich, GD
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Amber Room
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Anna Ioannovna, Empress
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Beautiful Orthodox Churches
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Eagar, Margaretta
Ekaterinburg Remains
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Nicholas Nicholayevich, GD
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Oleg Konstantinovich, Prince
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Olga Konstantinovna GD
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Paley, Princess Natalia
Paul Alexandrovich, GD
Paul Gilbert
Paul I, Emperor
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Romanov Family Album
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Tauride Palace
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Vera Konstantinovna, Princess
Vladimir Alexandrovich, GD
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Wednesday, 30 January 2013
Russia's Largest Collection of Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich Memorabilia
Topic: Dmitri Pavlovich, GD

Tsarskoye Selo now holds Russia’s largest collection of belongings of Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich donated to the Museum by Michael Romanoff Ilyinsky, Dmitri’s grandson.

Michael Romanoff Ilyinsky is a great-grandson of Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich (who was born at Tsarskoye Selo). His grandfather Dmitri Pavlovich (1891–1942) was a grandson to Alexander II and a cousin to Nicholas II. Michael lives in the U.S.A. and keeps a large family archive which includes the library, photographs and personal belongings of his grandfather. He became one of the first members of the Tsarskoye Selo Friends Society when it was founded in 2006. For the past years, Michael has donated to our museum a Fabergé photograph frame, opera glasses, silver shot cups, a cigarette case and other objects that belonged to Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich.

His latest generous donations include books from Dmitri’s library, such as a 1893 edition of Alexander Pushkin's novel in verse Eugene Onegin (Gautier Publishers, Moscow), boasting a great number of engraved illustrations and Dmitri’s bookplate, which is very rare in Russia; the No.2 on it shows how precious the book was to its holder. Another valuable addition is Tsarskoye Selo during the Reign of Empress Elizabeth Petrovna, the famous book of 1910 by Alexandre N. Benois. This edition has a typographically printed No.10 on the title page, which proves it was one of the first 10 copies published for the Imperial family members.

Besides those unique books, our collection has received A Book of Notes for 1878 with engravings by the F.A. Brockhaus firm; a ten-volumed Armorial of the Russian Empire (gold-edged); the Paris-published memoirs of Olga Paley and the reminiscences of Dmitri’s sister, Maria; a watercolour portrait of the mounted young Dmitri; an album of Dmitri’s photographs from 1941 and lots of other pictures reflecting various moments of his life in emigration.

According to Dr. Iraida K. Bott, Tsarskoye Selo’s Deputy Director for Science and Education, ‘The photos show Dmitri was still fond of sports and active pastime in his latter years. He liked yachts and golf, as well as hunting and dogs. Some shots have him together with celebrities like Feodor Chaliapin, or surrounded by elegant and interesting people in Paris,London, Monte Carlo and Davos, having la dolce vita, a full-fledged life of a private individual – the life he had dreamt of, as he wrote once in his journal. Of the materials we have got, particularly noteworthy is an album of newspaper clips Dmitri gathered for years, picking the information interesting to him, including that on the Soviet Russia. It’s what we have yet to study and analyze, which will probably help us know and understand Dmitri better, for there’s nothing we know of his life in the 1920s–1940s’.

© Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Preserve. 30 January, 2013

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:56 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 30 January 2013 8:01 AM EST
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Tuesday, 29 January 2013
Peterhof 1944
Now Playing: Language: NA. Duration: 1 minute, 15 seconds
Topic: Peterhof

On January 27th 1944 the Siege of Leningrad was finally lifted. The siege which lasted 872 days is considered one of the longest and most destructive sieges in history and overwhelmingly the most costly in terms of casualties.

It was also during this period that the former Imperial palaces located in the suburban areas of the city suffered near annihilation at the hands of the Nazis.

The Peterhof State Museum-Preserve have compiled this virtual album to mark the 69th anniversary of the lifting of the blockade. Vintage photographs from the palace-museum archives show the devastation inflicted upon "Russia's Versailles" and the heroic efforts of the museum workers and local townspeople who did their utmost to save what treasures they could.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 29 January, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 1:15 PM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 30 January 2013 7:18 AM EST
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Memorial Chapel in Memory of the Crowned Martyrs at Harbin, China
Topic: Holy Royal Martyrs


The Memorial Chapel in Memory of the Crowned Martyrs was erected in 1936 at Harbin, China. It was designed by the architect M. Oskolkova on the initiative of Archbishop Nestor (1885-1962) in honour of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and King Alexander I of Yugoslavia.

Tsar Nicholas II was murdered at Ekaterinburg on July 17th, 1918, and King Alexander I was murdered on October 9th, 1934 at Marseilles, France.

Alexander is remembered for offering a safe refuge for tens of thousands of White Russians who fled their homeland after the Bolshevik Revolution. The town of Sremski Karlovci became the seat of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, and served as the spiritual center for Russian emigrants for many years.

Each year up until 1945, Archbishop Nestor would hold a secret liturgy in the chapel in memory of the members of the Imperial family who were murdered at Ekaterinburg, Alapayevsk and Perm.

With the establishment of the Communist Regime in China, many Russians left the country. The chapel was desecrated by local Communists and fell into disrepair. During the 1950s "cultural revolution" it was destroyed and replaced with an apartment block.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 29 January, 2013

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:50 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 29 January 2013 11:33 AM EST
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Monday, 28 January 2013
200 Orthodox Churches to be Built in Moscow
Topic: Russian Church

The implementation of a program for the construction of 200 Orthodox churches in Moscow may take 10 to 20 years, Vladimir Resin, an advisor to the Moscow mayor and a State Duma deputy, told journalists.

"I think the whole program may take 10 to 20 years. It is important not only to build them, but also make them habitable," Resin said.

The program will take such a long time as the construction is being financed only by donations, he said.

"Our goal in implementing the program is to commission at least 10 [churches] a year," Resin said.

Seventeen sites for the construction of Orthodox churches will be allotted on the territories of industrial zones being liquidated in Moscow, Resin said.

The constructions of new churches in Moscow does not include historic churches closed by the Soviets and later returned to the Moscow Patriarchate, and are currently under restoration.

In Tsarist times travelers described Moscow as a "magic city glittering with thousands of golden domes." In the 17th century Moscow had around 900 churches. More than 1,000 churches existed at the outbreak of the Russian Revolution in 1917.

During the Soviet years many churches were closed and/or demolished, while many others were desecrated and used for other purposes such as warehouses and even swimming poorls.

In 1990 there were only 155 working Orthodox churches in Moscow. Today, there are about 320 Russian Orthodox churches in the Russian capital.  

© Interfax and Royal Russia. 28 January, 2013

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 3:18 PM EST
Updated: Monday, 28 January 2013 3:33 PM EST
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Imperial Residences: A Four-Part Documentary
Topic: Palaces


The palaces and residences at Tsarskoye Selo (the Catherine and Alexander Palaces); and Yalta (Livadia Palace), were among the most important residences of a succession of Russia's sovereigns and their August families.

This series of four documentaries explores the residences most favoured by four of the last five emperors: Alexander I, Nicholas I, Alexander II, and Alexander III. They were produced in 2008 by T.L. Tour and directed by Andrei Semak. 

Each film explores the history of each palace, the further developments made to the Imperial residences that each of the reigning Russian monarch made to it.

Each film runs about 26 minutes with narration in Russian only.

No.1 - Alexander I at Tsarskoye Selo

No. 2 - Alexander II at Livadia

No. 3 - Alexander III in the Crimea

No. 4 - Nicholas I in the Crimea

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 28 January, 2013

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:25 AM EST
Updated: Monday, 28 January 2013 9:05 AM EST
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Catherine Palace: Lyons Hall Displays its 19th-Century Furnishings
Topic: Tsarskoye Selo


The Lyons Hall, Catherine Palace. Watercolour by Luigi Premazzi (1859)  

The Lyons Hall of the Catherine Palace is one of the interiors waiting to be restored. At the present time, the Lyons Hall welcomes our visitors with the surviving items from its pre-war furnishings and a copy of Luigi Premazzi’s watercolour of 1878 titled The Lyons Hall (Yellow Drawing-Room) in the Great Palace of Tsarskoye Selo, which demonstrates its mid-nineteenth century splendour.

The interior is the creation of two architects: Charles Cameron and later Ippolito Monighetti. Decorated with lapis lazuli and a luxury silk wall lining from Lyons (hence the name), the hall was finished by Cameron in the eighteenth century Classical style in 1781-83. It was reworked in 1848-61 by Monighetti who treated Cameron’s work with great delicacy, intensifying the visual impact of the room by adding new furnishings: mirrors above the fireplaces, flanked by white marble cupids, and lapis-lazuli sconces on the walls. The room was filled with tables, jardinières, cachepots, screens, pedestals and desks.

Monighetti designed the gorgeous chandelier (see below left) for 84 candles made of lapis lazuli and gilded bronze, which beautifully completed the now-lost exquisite ceiling décor.

The architect’s highlight for the Lyons Hall is the gilt-bronze and lapis-lazuli furniture set (see below) with such a unique feature as the monogram of Empress Maria Alexandrovna, spouse of Alexander II. The initials are an indication of the owner for whom these pieces were specially commissioned in 1856 from the Peterhof Lapidary Works to spruce up the empress’s favourite interior of the palace. Its Afghan lapis lazuli of rich deep colour with golden speckles is superbly set off by the gilded bronze surroundings.

Besides the marvellous furniture set, also saved by the evacuation in 1941–44 and featured on the current display are the two paintings: Raphael’s Death by Felice Schiavoni (see below right) and The Sibyl of Libya by Giovanni Francesco Barbieri (Guercino) (below left).

Photographs © Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Preserve. 

© Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Preserve. 28 January, 2013

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:12 AM EST
Updated: Monday, 28 January 2013 7:17 AM EST
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Sunday, 27 January 2013
Revival of the Ballroom Tradition
Now Playing: Language: English. Duration: 26 minutes, 15 seconds
Topic: Imperial Russia

Balls were very popular events in 19th-century Russia. The latest Joe Wright's Anna Karenina film with Keira Knightley is a sufficient proof of how beautiful these balls were. Only the very wealthy were allowed to attend these fetes, which required some serious preparation. Those who attended had to wear a fashionable dress or a perfect suit, know the etiquette and be a confident dancer. Follow Russia Today correspondent James Brown for an in-depth look at Russian ballroom culture, and visit the major ball of the year.

© Russia Today. 27 January, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 11:45 PM EST
Updated: Sunday, 27 January 2013 7:07 AM EST
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State Hermitage Museum - No Celebrations Planned to Mark 250th Anniversary
Topic: Winter Palace

The staff of the State Hermitage Museum will celebrate the 250th anniversary of the museum in a modest way, the director of the Hermitage Mikhail Piotrovsky said at the meeting with the residents of St. Petersburg.

The Hermitage will celebrate its 250th anniversary in 2014. As it had been previously reported by Piotrovsky, by its anniversary the museum plans to significantly expand its exhibition space and to open the new storages to the public. The activities related to the anniversary of the Hermitage, including the depository construction and the renovation of buildings, the publication of catalogs and updates of the website, will cost 13.03 billion rubles, of which 12.96 billion will come from the federal budget. "We are not planning any big celebrations: we will not have any special formal meetings, there will be no exhibitions gathered from around the world", - Piotrovsky reported.

© 27 January, 2013

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 11:30 PM EST
Updated: Sunday, 27 January 2013 7:04 AM EST
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Saturday, 26 January 2013
Russian Imperial Porcelain Urn Sells for $152,500
Topic: Auctions


A 19th century urn from the Russian Imperial Porcelain Factory proved to be the most valued lot at Bonhams' Fine American and European Furniture, Silver and Decorative Arts auction, which was held January 24 in New York.

The spectacular urn took the title of top lot, selling for $152,500. It was consigned from the property of the Jerome Dalseme Family Trust.

The urn was manufactured during the second quarter of the 19th century at the Imperial Porcelain Factory, which was established on the order of Empress Elizabeth in 1744. Producing handpainted ceramics, the factory made items exclusively for Russia's ruling Romanov family.

The factory is still functioning today, having survived the revolution and the Soviet era.

The urn depicts a young girl seated beside her bed, with the reverse painted with a wide border of neo-gothic style patterns. Unfortunately, it has recently been drilled and mounted as a lamp, hampering its final sale price.

© Bonhams. 26 January, 2013

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 10:15 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 26 January 2013 10:56 AM EST
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A Russian Moment No. 5 - Catherine Palace, Tsarskoye Selo
Topic: A Russian Moment


This breathtaking aerial view of the Catherine Palace at Tsarskoye Selo allows one to appreciate the sheer size of this magnificent Imperial residence.

When the German forces retreated after the Siege of Leningrad, they had the residence intentionally destroyed, leaving only the hollow shell of the palace behind. Prior to World War II, the Russian archivists managed to document a fair amount of the interior, which proved of great importance in reconstructing the palace. Although the largest part of the reconstruction was completed in time for the Tercentenary of St. Petersburg in 2003, much work is still required to restore the palace to its former glory.

It is interesting to note that the Catherine Palace offers accommodations for visitors to Tsarskoye Selo. The Hotel Ekaterina is located in the southern part of the semicircular wings of the Catherine Palace, offering comfortable accommodation (luxury and standard rooms). The view from the rooms across to the palace is extraordinary, both day and night (when the palace is illuminated). Staying at the hotel is a treat to say the very least, and you can go home and tell your friends that you stayed at the Catherine Palace! 

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 26 January, 2013

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:31 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 30 March 2013 1:00 PM EDT
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