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400th Anniversary
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Oleg Konstantinovich, Prince
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Olga Konstantinovna GD
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Paul Alexandrovich, GD
Paul Gilbert
Paul I, Emperor
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Monday, 1 April 2013
© Royal Russia. 01 April, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:30 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 1 April 2013 4:13 AM EDT
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© Royal Russia. 01 April, 2013

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:15 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 1 April 2013 4:08 AM EDT
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Sunday, 31 March 2013
Beautiful Orthodox Churches of Russia No. 5
Topic: Beautiful Orthodox Churches


A picture postcard view of the golden Baroque spires, domes and bell tower of St. Nicholas' Cathedral

The golden Baroque spires and domes of St. Nicholas' Cathedral (known locally as the Sailors' Cathedral) rises in the western part of central St. Petersburg. It is home to a number of revered 18th-century icons and a fine carved wooden iconostasis. Its beautiful bell tower overlooks Kryukov Canal.

Construction of the new stone church began in 1753, and the main altar in the current cathedral was consecrated in 1760 in the presence of Empress Elizabeth. St. Nicholas Naval Cathedral consists of two separate churches. The lower Saint Nicholas Church is located on the first floor, while the upper Epiphany Church is on the second floor. The altar of the upper church was consecrated in the presence of Catherine the Great. The church officially became a naval cathedral in July 1762 by order of Catherine II. Today, it is one of the best - and last remaining - examples of Baroque architecture.

The walls of the cathedral are decorated with scenes from the history of the Russian Navy. In 1907, two marble plaques were hung on the south wall of the upper church in honor of sailors who died in the Russo-Japanese War in 1904-5. At the same time, in the square next to the cathedral a memorial was erected to all the sailors of the battleship Alexander III who lost their lives in 1905.

St. Nicholas Naval Cathedral is home to a number of revered 18th-century icons and a fine carved wooden iconostasis

The cathedral houses 10 spectacular icons in gold frame that were a gift from Catherine the Great. The icons portray saints who are celebrated at Russian Navy celebrations. One of the most revered places in the cathedral is the image of Nicholas the Miracle-Worker, given to the church by Greek sailors, which was taken from Russia by the French in 1812, and returned to Nicholas I by the Prussians in 1835.

St. Nicholas Cathedral is one of a very few cathedrals in the city that was not closed in Soviet times. In 1941, it became the official residence of Metropolitan of Leningrad and Novgorod Alexey (Simanskiy), who served in the cathedral from 1941 to 1944 during the 900-day siege of the city.

© Royal Russia. 31 March, 2013

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:15 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 3 April 2013 7:02 AM EDT
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Saturday, 30 March 2013
Two Russian Plates Sell for Small Fortune at Auction
Topic: Auctions


Two side Russian Imperial plates sell for £5,600 at a UK auction

Two side plates owned by the Russian Royal Family were sold for more than 100 times their listed price at an auction in Pewsey.

In the catalogue for the auction at Jubilee Auction House last Wednesday, the price set for the plates was between £30-£45 but they sold for a massive £5,600.

The two plates are from the Imperial Palace in Russia and were part of a dinner service made between 1880 and 1902.

On the back of one of the plates there is a cipher for Alexander III and on the other there is the symbol for Nicolas II, who was the last the last tsar of Russia.

Auctioneer David Harrison said: “It’s the sort of thing we don’t usually find in the middle of the countryside. Where they have come from and how they have come out of Russia to Pewsey God only knows, but they are in amazing condition.”

A private vendor brought the plates into the auction believing they were not worth very much.

Mr Harrison said: “It wasn’t until we started doing a bit of research that we worked out what they were and notified quite a lot of people that we had them.”

The asking price for the plates started at £1,000 and after a tense bidding war they were sold to a buyer from New York and are believed to be going to a Russian museum.

© Wilshire Gazette and Herald. 30 March, 2013

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 1:46 PM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 30 March 2013 1:51 PM EDT
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A Russian Moment 9 - Rasputin House-Museum, Pokrovskoye
Topic: A Russian Moment


The Rasputin House-Museum situated about 80 km east of Tyumen in the village of Pokrovskoye, Siberia. Note: this is not the house in which Rasputin lived for the first years of his life. His original house was demolished by the Soviets.

The museum was founded in 1990 by Vladimir and Marina Smirnov. They became interested in the life of Grigorii Rasputin, who was born at Pokrovskoye in 1869. The Smirnov's note that back in 1990 there were still a few "old-timers still alive who remembered Rasputin."

The museum was originally located in the house of a former pilot by the name of Zubov. It was moved to its current location in 2009.

In the courtyard are a series of window frames, all that remains of Rasputin's original home. Also found is a monument bearing a quote from Emperor Nicholas II dated April 14th, 1918.

Over the past 23 years the couple have amassed a collection of items connected with the life of Rasputin. They are proud of their collection and act as guides for visitors to the museum. They share their knowledge of the former strannik, dispelling many popular held myths. The Smirnovs are co-authors of several books on Rasputin.

Inside are a number of personal items of Grigorii Rasputin, including dressing-table and chair, a bowl and a spoon bearing the monogram of the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, an icon, among others.

The Smirnovs have a large collection of photographs of Rasputin, his family, and members of the last Imperial family. A large bookcase displays numerous biographies written about Rasputin in Russian, English and other languages. 

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 30 March, 2013

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:21 PM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 30 March 2013 1:00 PM EDT
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Thursday, 28 March 2013
Tsar Nicholas II's Rare Vintages Highlight Auction
Topic: Auctions


A rare 1915 White Muscat, bottled for Czar Nicholas II's summer palace — and among the last to appear in his cellar before his murder in Russia's 1917 October Revolution — joins a broad selection of 20th century vintages in Heritage Auctions' Signature® Wine Auction event. The March 29 auction starts at 6 p.m. in Beverly Hills, with a real-time simulcast to Hong Kong on March 30 at 9 a.m.

Wines from the Massandra Collection, which make up 145 lots of tokays, muscats, sherry and port, were bottled at the winery, which was built in the 1890s. Workers spent three years carving tunnels deep into Crimea's granite mountains, perfecting cellars suitable for aging these unique and treasured fortified wines.

"The wines offer spectacular drinking, but they're also thought and conversation provoking, which is just one reason I enjoy them so much," said Frank Martell, Director of Fine and Rare Wine at Heritage. "Massandra's wines are so historically important that sharing them becomes an entirely different type of memory created with friends."

The 145 lots in this sale were hand-selected by Martell at the winery, where he sampled all but one wine so that relevant tasting notes and ratings accompany each lot, the first time this has been the case in the United States.

Included in this selection are a 1901 Tokay Ai Danil, estimated to bring $1,200+, and a 1905 Rose Muscat Livadia, estimated to bring $1,800+, which are among the last remaining bottles that were actually produced for the Tsar and his family. Also highlighted in this collection is a six-pack of 1923 White Muscat, (estimate: $2,600+ for the lot), and a six-pack of 1954 White Muscat Livadia, which carries a pre-auction estimate of $1,400+. It is important to note that the '23 Muscat and '54 Lividia received nearly flawless ratings of 98 and 99 points, respectively.

"There are 47 Massandra vintages on offer in this auction touching upon almost the entire catalog of what is produced at this legendary estate," Martell said. "I hope that as many people as possible bring home some of this outstanding wine and share it. With so many individual vintages available, it's easy to celebrate milestone birthdays or anniversaries with a wine whose journey began alongside your own. These bottles have spent a lifetime waiting for your occasion."

Among the leading French offerings in the auction, a 1945 Chateau Latour Pauillac is expected to fetch $24,000+, while a collector's choice, 12-bottle assortment of 1993 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti may bring $20,000+.

The auction also features a strong selection of French large format bottles starting with two Jeroboams of 1982 Chateau Lafite Rothschild, expected to bring $15,000+ each and a single Imperial expected to reach $20,000+.

Two imperials of 1982 Chateau Latour are expected to bring $15,000+ each, while three individual imperials of 1982 La Mission Haut Brion are expected to bring better than $6,000 each.

Additional lots include a 12-bottle lot of 1970 Chateau Petrus Pomerol, estimated at $15,000+, a 12-bottle lot of 1989 La Tache Domaine de la Romanee Conti, expected to break $11,000, and a six-bottle Magnum lot of 2003 Chateau Ausone, which carries a pre-auction estimate of $10,000+.

© Heritage Auctions. 28 March, 2013

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 5:52 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 28 March 2013 5:57 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 27 March 2013
Russian Empresses: Fashion and Style. Late 18th - Early 20th Centuries
Topic: Exhibitions

A new exhibition, Russian Empresses: Fashion and Style, Late 18th - Early 20th Centuries will open on April 3, 2013 in the Moscow Exhibition Hall of the Federal State Archives, situated at Ulitsa Bolshoya Pirogovskaya, 17. 

The exhibition has been organized by the Federal Archival Agency, the State Archive of the Russian Federation, the State Hermitage Museum with the participation of the State Historical Museum, the Gatchina State Museum, Russian State Archive of Ancient Acts, the Russian State Historical Archive, the Russian State Archive of Socio-Political History, and will include items from a private collection in Denmark.

The exhibition coincides with the 400th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty, and reveals two fascinating topics: fashion and style of the Russian empresses.

The exhibition focuses on the fashion and style of seven Russian empresses dating from the late 18th - early 19th centuries.

The Russian Empresses were known throughout Europe for their tastes in style and fashion, quite often becoming trend setters themselves. Their outfits, accessories, jewelry, striking in elegance and luxury was part of the image of the Russian state.

The seven empresses represented in the exhibition were all very different in style, fashion, and personality: Catherine the Great (1729-1796), Maria Feodorovna (1759-1828), Elizabeth Alexeievna (1779-1826), Alexandra Feodorovna (1798-1860), Maria Alexandrovna (1824-1880), Maria Feodorovna (1847-1928), and the last empress - Alexandra Feodorovna (1872-1918) .

The exhibition presents a decree of Emperor Peter I on February 28, 1702 "On the wearing of ceremonial dress on festive and ceremonial days."  

The State Archive of the Russian Federation will present drawings, several albums, notebooks, ornate appliques and watercolor paintings, wreaths of dried plants, and a storage box for notebooks. 

Of particular note is a sketch of "The Portrait of Alexandra Feodorovna," by G.G.  Chernetsova painted from life in 1835 is exhibited for the first time. 

With the support of the Royal Danish Embassy in Moscow, Russian visitors will see personal items that belonged to Empress Maria Feoodorovna and her husband Emperor Alexander III, which are now stored in a private collection in Denmark. Included are two unique documents: the list of personal items of the Empress Maria Feodorovna from Gatchina Palace and the inventory of her jewelry and other items belonging to Empress Maria Feodorovna in 1917. Included on the inventory are four pendants in the shape of eggs of jasper, amethyst, jade and rhodonite with ornaments of gold and silver, silver stack of Emperor Alexander III, photos, and also unopened envelope containing the last letter of Maria Feodorovna's son, George at Abbas-Tuman. The letter after his death, and was "returned to sender."

The dresses and gowns on display will be from the collections of the State Hermitage Museum and the Gatchina State Museum, and include  paintings, prints, porcelain and jewelry, diaries, letters, drawings, photographs and books.

The opening of the exhibition will be marked with the publication of a beautifully illustrated catalog in Russian.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 27 March, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 10:53 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 27 March 2013 4:53 PM EDT
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The Romanovs in the Service of the Fatherland
Topic: Exhibitions

The Romanovs in the Service of the Fatherland has opened in the exhibition hall of the St. Petersburg branch of Federal State Archives, located on Zanevsky Prospect.

The exhibition is organized by the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, the Federal Archival Agency, and the Russian State Historical Archive with the participation of the State Archive of the Russian Federation, the Russian State Archive of the Navy, the Russian State Film and Photo Archive, the State Museum "Pavlovsk" Military Historical Museum of Artillery, Engineers and Signal Corps, the Central State Archive of Film and Photo Saint Petersburg.

The exhibition is one of the first in a series of events dedicated to the 400th anniversary of the founding of the Romanov dynasty.

For the first time visitors will have a unique opportunity to get acquainted with the complex archives of the state, military and charitable activities of the Romanov family, beginning with the Emperor Paul I.

Male members of the Russian Imperial family traditionally dedicated themselves to a military career.

Among the members of the Imperial family during the 19th - early 20th century were 2 Field Marshals, 3 Admiral-Generals, 2 General-Feldzeugmeisters, 33 generals and admirals, and 10 grand dukes were members of the State Council. During World War II, many members of the Imperial family served at the front or worked in hospitals, believing it as their personal duty to serve the Fatherland.

The grandchildren of Emperor Nicholas I are noteworthy of their service to the Fatherland.  Among them was Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich (1858-1915).  He made history by the pen name KR (Konstantin Romanov).  His poems and plays were widely known in the late 19th-20th centuries. As chief of the main educational institutions, he helped improve the training of subordinate institutions. Konstantin was the President of the Imperial Academy of Sciences and he personaly patronized the first Russian Polar expedition.

Another grandson, Grand Duke Nikolai Mikhailovich (1859-1919), graduated from the Nicholas General Staff Academy. He retired from service in 1903, and dedicated his time to writing a number of historical studies.

His brother, Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich (1866-1933), served in the Russian Imperial Navy and became the founder and leader of the aviation industry in Russia.

The exhibition presents many unique historical items, including the April 5, 1797  Act of Succession in the Russian Empire Manifesto; a full coat of arms of the Russian Empire dating from 1800; the parish registers of members of the Russian imperial family; the Imperial manifesto of his accession to the throne of Tsar Nicholas I on December 13, 1825; reports by the St. Petersburg Board of Trustees of the Empress Maria Feodorovna; plus diaries, personal letters, correspondence the grand duchesses, including their social and charitable activities; the design of a monument to Empress Maria Feodorovna; as well as numerous photographs and personal belongings of the Romanovs .

A small exhibition booklet is available in Russian only. The exhibition runs from March 15 to April 17, 2013.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 27 March, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 10:18 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 27 March 2013 1:00 PM EDT
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Romanov Conference: Purveyors of the Imperial Court
Topic: Events

This years topic at the 19th Tsarskoye Selo Conference will be Purveyors of the Imperial Court. The conference will be held at the Catherine Palace from November 25-27, 2013. 

Some of the suppliers to the Court of Nicholas II are well known, one of the most famous being Carl Faberge.

It is interesting to note that between 1912-1915 more than 20% of the Court suppliers were foreign.

For example, in 1912 almost 12% of all foreign suppliers were in Darmstadt (home of the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna), the same amount for Copenhagen (home of the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna, the mother of Emperor Nicholas II), but only 8% - Berlin, 7% - of Frankfurt-am-Main, and less than 2% - in Munich.

More than 50% of the suppliers of the Imperial Court were manufacturers of food and beverages, clothing and footwear, jewelry and luxury items, furniture, dishes, perfume.

The rest were made up of coaches and car suppliers, stationery, books, and various tools and devices, pharmaceutical goods, flowers and exotic plants.

Among the suppliers were also hairdressers, photographers, painters, sculptors.

The Tsarskoye Selo Palace Museum Preserve is currently accepting applications and papers from participants. The conference will be held in Russian only.

© Paul Gilbert A Royal Russia. 27 March, 2013

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:52 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 27 March 2013 10:16 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 26 March 2013
The Gatherer Tsar: Great Prince and Sovereign of All Russia Ivan III
Topic: Exhibitions

Ivan III became Grand Prince of Moscow in the mid-15th century. When he died in 1505, the territory he ruled had tripled in size and he was called the “gatherer of all Russians.”

A new exhibit at the Kremlin Museum looks at “the person who practically created the Russian state,” according to curator Tatyana Samoilova.

Ivan III ruled not long after the fall of Constantinople, when Moscow was first called the “Third Rome.” He took the first steps to unite the country, battling and subduing the principalities that prospered outside Moscow. He also invited Italian architects to work in the Kremlin, where they built the Annunciation and the Dormition cathedrals.

Much of the exhibit is focused on religious relics from the period, including vivid icons, crosses, reliquaries and church objects. “None of his personal effects survived to show his personal life, but I think the important thing is to show what he did,” said Samoilova.

One exception is a wooden sculpture of St. George, which looks as if it had been carved and painted just last week. St. George became the patron saint of Russia during Ivan’s reign.

One of the most beautiful pieces on show is a cross that was brought to Moscow by Sophia Paleologue, the niece of the last emperor of Constantinople, who became Ivan III’s second wife. The cross was an attempt to bring Catholicism to the court, said Samoilova, but it was taken away from the papal legate who accompanied Sophia before it reached the Kremlin. Thereafter, it was kept in the Uspensky Cathedral.

Behind a magnifying glass, a gold coin bears the words “Grand Prince Ivan Vasiliyevich,” cast when Ivan was at the zenith of his power. It also has a two-headed eagle, the first appearance of the symbol of the Russian state.

A non-Russian speaker will find the exhibit less than informative, as only the names of individual exhibits are translated into English. But even if you speak Russian, the exhibit will only give you a partial picture of the reign and the man behind the throne.

Ivan III’s time was one of intrigue and battle comparable to that of the Tudors and the Borgias, Kommersant newspaper wrote in a review of the exhibit. And indeed, the times were bloody. As Ivan conquered the other principalities, he battled his own brothers, powerful princes in their own right. He also claimed his grandson from his first wife as his heir, then changed his mind to plump for Vasily, the son of Paleologue, who would become Vasily III, the next tsar. The former heir was thrown in jail, where he died.

“None of this is in the exhibit, and viewers instead are offered up abstract ideologies and a softspoken, serene image of Ivan III,” wrote critic Sergei Khodnev.

© The Moscow News. 26 March, 2013

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:42 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 26 March 2013 6:47 AM EDT
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