Mathilde Kschessinska Exhibition Opens in St. Petersburg Topic: Exhibitions
An exhibition dedicated to one of the most well-known dancers of the 19th century - the prominent Russian ballerina Mathilde Kschessinska (1872-1971) – has opened in St. Petersburg.
Specially for opening of the exposition the organizers have prepared a movie, in which an actress playing the ballerina communicate with visitors to the museum. She tells about the house and about Kschessinska's private life. Her mansion recognized as a unique monument of the modernist style period, was often visited by Feodor Chaliapin, Sergei Diaghilev, Carl Faberge and several Romanov grand dukes. The museum display cases are full of documents and photographs, which remained in Kschessinska’s house after her emigration to Paris.
A special place among them belongs to her love correspondence with the Tsesarevich Nicholas Alexandrovich (the future Emperor Nicholas II). However, it is very difficult to read what the ballerina wrote in these letters, because her handwriting was microscopic. Mathilde’s ballet dress and her home interior decorations recreate the atmosphere of that epoch.
The exhibition takes place in the State Museum of Political History of Russia (the former mansion of Mathilde Kschessinska), located at Ulitsa 2-4 Kuibisheva, St. Petersburg. The exhitibion runs until December 31st, 2013.
American Professor Awarded Commemorative Medal by Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna Topic: Russian Imperial House
"The Anniversary of the Ending of the Time of Troubles" medal is awarded to Dr. Russell Martin by the Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, Head of the Russian Imperial House.
Dr. Russell Martin, Westminster College professor of history, spent a week in Moscow during March and was awarded a medal by the Head of the Russian Imperial House, Grand Duchess Maria of Russia.
Martin attended "The Imperial House of Romanov: 400 Years of Service to Russia" conference. It was organized by the Russian Nobility Association and the Russian social organization "For Faith and Fatherland" at the Alexander Solzhenitsyn Foundation. The Grand Duchess attended the opening session of the conference and awarded Martin the new commemorative medal, "The Anniversary of the Ending of the Time of Troubles, 1613-2013."
"I was quite surprised to be given this medal and to have it pinned on me personally by Her Imperial Highness. I am deeply grateful to her," Martin said.
He also received copies of a book he translated titled By the Grace of God: The 400th Anniversary of the Ending of the Time of Troubles, The Reestablishment of the Russian State, and the Ascension of the House of Romanov (1613-2013).
"It was a great honor to work on the book, especially because the Grand Duchess is now presenting it as a gift to important figures in society and government that she meets during her tours of Russia and other places in connection with the 400th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty, which is being celebrated this year," Martin said.
Martin attended the official church celebration of the 400th anniversary of the House of Romanov, a patriarchal service held in the Dormiton Cathedral in the Kremlin, served not only by Patriarch Krill I of Moscow and all of Russia, but also by six other metropolitans and archbishops and more than two dozen priests and deacons.
"It was a majestic service - easily the most amazing church service I've ever attended - and made even more meaningful by the fact that the patriarch read off the names of all the tsars and emperors of the House of Romanov, offering prayers for the repose of their souls," Martin said.
That same afternoon, Martin presented a paper in Russian during the plenary session of the conference "Four Centuries of the House of Romanov, A Global Social-Cultural Perspective: A Historical, Documentary, and Biographical Discussion." The conference was held at the Russian State University of the Humanities (RGGU) in Moscow. Martin's paper examined the customs and practices of commemoration of the dead by the Romanov family before and after they became tsars in 1613.
"The evidence I examined, all from archives in Moscow and St. Petersburg, reveals how the dynasty was able to use remembrance of ancestors as a means for strengthening and solidifying their legitimacy as the new royal dynasty in Russia," Martin said.
After the plenary session concluded, Martin was interviewed for Voice of Russia, and then attended the first-ever presentation by the Grand Duchess of the new Romanov Prize at the Russian National Library. The prize is given to leading figures of Russian art and culture. Martin was also able to speak with the Grand Duchess about on-going projects he is working on for the Russian Imperial House and for its official website. Martin was previously awarded the Imperial Order of St. Anna, second class, by the Grand Duchess for his work on behalf of the House of Romanov.
While in Russia, Martin also spent the week conducting research for his upcoming book at the Russian State Archives of Ancient Acts. The book will examine the laws of succession from 1613 to the present.
Martin, who has been with Westminster since 1996, earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Pittsburgh and a master's degree and Ph.D. from Harvard University.
He appeared on A&E Biography in a broadcast on Ivan the Terrible as an expert on the controversial ruler. He is the co-founder of the Muscovite Biographical Database, a Russian-American computerized register based in Moscow of early modern Russian notables. The Neville Island, Pa., native is not only fluent in Russian, but also reads Old Church Slavonic/Russian, French, German, Latin, and Polish.
Romanov Women: Style and Character Topic: Exhibitions
An exhibition named Russian Empresses: Fashion and Style has opened at the Exhibition Hall of Federal State Archives in Moscow (4 April – 13 June). The exhibition coincides with the 400th anniversary of the House of the Romanovs. Visitors can see the outfits of the women from the Russian Imperial Court and also learn about their hobbies and favourite occupations that reveal those women’s rich inner world.
In the Romanovs’ anniversary year Russian museums have already offered over 20 exhibition projects dedicated to the Imperial family. Interest in this topic is natural but women on the Russian throne seem to raise much more excitement than their crown-bearing husbands. They determined the mood in the court and became fashion leaders in Russia. Looking at the outfits and personal effects of Russian czarinas we understand that what mattered was the nature and interests of each of them, rather than fashion. The display is arranged so as to give visitors an idea of the czarinas’ private lives, curator of the exhibition Sergey Balan said in his interview with The Voice of Russia.
“It is rather difficult to make an exhibition about women who were the wives of the country’s rulers. They had comfortable lives, though they did charity of course. For example, not a single dress remained after the death of Empress Maria. One reason was that she was very economical like all Germans. Secondly, after Russia was efeated in the Crimean War and suffered considerable losses the empress donated all the money allocated for her clothes to the veterans of the Crimean War.”
The war was in the 1870s. Alexander II’s wife Empress Maria was practical and romantic at the same time. The exhibition displays her notebook with charades, poetic improvisations and epigrammes. Next to it visitors can see a pretty wreath of dry flowers from her album. All women from the royal house were interested in botanizing, Sergey Balan says.
“That was the influence of the epoch of sentimentalism and romanticism of the early 19th century. This is the showcase of Empress Elisabeth, the wife of Alexander I, who came to Russia when she was very young. She was an absolutely ethereal beauty, as French painter Vigee Le Brun used to describe her. Everyone called her Psyche. She was exquisite and sentimental. She loved reading ladies’ editions of books by Laurence Stern during her walks in the park. On the other hand, she was a friend of historian Karamzin who gave her a course of lectures in Russian history. A volume of one of his books published during his lifetime is displayed at the exhibition.”
One can see what Russian empresses enjoyed doing, with whom they corresponded and what drawings they made in their letters.
In her letter to Alexander III Empress Maria calls him ‘My dear Sasha”. She begins the letter in Russian and continues in French. Her favourite flowers were violas.
They decorate her letters and her hat. Next to them visitors can see her exquisite dresses. Maria was an empress to the marrow of her bones. She used to reprimand her daughter-in-law for avoiding ceremonies and receptions and disliking corsets.
However, the daughter-in-law adopted Empress Maria’s interest in photography, Sergey Balan says.
“Empress Maria was interested in photography and was a member of the European royal photographic society. She sent her photos to a photography magazine. Her interest in photography affected the last Russian Imperial family. All of them had cameras and put their photographs in albums. They were also interested in bicycles that appeared in the 20th century. It was a new fashion, a new style.”
There were many signs of new times. Empress Alexandra wrote in her diary that she played tennis between 3 and 5 p.m. Empress Alexandra was a beautiful woman, the mother of five children and the last Russian empress.
Romanov Dynasty Museum Theater Opened in Verkhnyaya Sinyachikha Topic: Exhibitions
For the celebration of the 400th anniversary of the Romanovs’ House a unique cultural object dedicated to the imperial dynasty has been opened in the Sverdlovsk Region.
The opening ceremony of the permanent exposition in the Verkhnyaya Sinyachikha Museum of Local Lore took place last Friday. The exhibition is titled The Romanovs Princes – Alapaevsk Prisoners. It is designed like a theatrical stage with scenery in the form of ancient photos. The heroes of action are also photographs, which start moving thanks to mechanisms.
The Romanovs’ (Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, Grand Duke Sergei Mikhailovich, Princes Ioann, Konstantin and Igor Konstantinovich, along with Prince Vladimir Paley) were imprisoned at Alapaevsk in May-July, 1918, shortly before their murders. The Sverdlovsk government developed a plan of events timed to the 400th anniversary since restoration of the Russian statehood and historical heritage of the Romanovs’s House in the Urals.
Peabody Essex Museum to Host Faberge Exhibit Topic: Faberge
More than 230 rare and storied treasures created by the House of Fabergé, between 1855 and 1916, are celebrated in a new exhibition at the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM), Fabergé Revealed. Imperial eggs, ruby-encrusted brooches, gold and diamond cigarette cases, enameled parasol handles and carved stone animals display the diverse and exquisite designs of Peter Carl Fabergé’s craftsmen. Fabergé Revealed is drawn from the Collection of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and will be on view at PEM from June 22 until September 29, 2013.
The name Fabergé is as inextricably linked to luxury as it is to intrigue, due to the loss of iconic works when the Romanov regime was toppled during the Russian Revolution. This year marks the 400th anniversary of the founding of the Romanov dynasty, whose fall scattered a priceless cache of Fabergé eggs, jewelry and precious objects into the hands of the world’s most powerful families. From Queen Victoria, who used a red-and-white Fabergé notebook, to the royal family of Monaco who possess one of the oldest imperial eggs and America’s Forbes family who sold the largest collection of imperial eggs to a Russian oil tycoon. Fabergé’s creations have become larger than life in the popular imagination, symbolizing imperial decadence as much as the fate of millions of Russians struggling to feed themselves in the early 20th century.
“The legacy of Fabergé is one that has continually captivated the public imagination,” says Dean Lahikainen, PEM’s Carolyn and Peter Lynch Curator of American Decorative Art. “Equally compelling are the concurrent histories of these exquisite objects and the people who possessed them.”
Designed for Russian tsars to bestow as Easter gifts on their loved ones, Fabergé’s iconic imperial eggs –– of which there are only 42 still known to exist –– are sublimely intricate creations laced with precious metals and jewels. The Imperial Tsesarevich Easter Egg of 1912, on view at PEM, was a gift to Empress Alexandra from her husband, Emperor Nicholas II. The egg commemorates their son Alexei who nearly died the previous year of hemophilia. For the shell, craftsmen joined six wedges of highly-prized lapis lazuli and hid the seams with an elaborate gold filigree encasement. Inside the egg, a diamond encrusted Romanov family crest frames a two-sided portrait of the young child.
To understand why these objects were associated with refinement and luxury, one has only to examine the relentless pursuit of perfection and the savvy business strategies of the House of Fabergé. Beyond the elegant showrooms in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, hundreds of the country’s finest goldsmiths, enamellers, stone carvers, gem cutters and jewelers were at work creating innovative and complex designs that could not be readily imitated. In the hands of Fabergé craftsmen, even the most familiar objects were given the highest level of aesthetic consideration and no expense, material or man hour was spared. When commemorating a royal occasion, nothing but a Fabergé trinket, bonbonnière or enameled cigarette case would do, thereby making the wealthy and powerful ambassadors of the Fabergé label.
The presence of the Romanov family –– Emperor Nicholas II, Empress Alexandra and their five children –– is most intimately felt in the exhibition through the display of more than 40 family photographs held in enameled Fabergé frames. These family photographs and jewels were some of the only possessions the Romanovs took with them when they were forced out of St. Petersburg during the Revolution. In an effort to preserve their wealth, the Romanov daughters are said to have sewn Fabergé jewels into their undergarments. In the end, their diamond-lined corsets managed to prolong their execution and sealed the fate for the inevitable fall of the dynasty.
Unknown Treasures of the Romanovs Topic: Exhibitions
The M.A. Vrubel Museum of Fine Arts in Omsk, Siberia is hosting a new exhibition, Unknown Treasures of the Romanovs.
More than 300 items fill five halls of the museum and include many personal items of members of the Russian Imperial family dating from the 17th to the early 20th century.
Much of the museum's Romanov collection dates back to the 1920s, when the Bolsheviks began the distribution of personal items of the Imperial family to museums across the country.
The core of the museums unique Romanov collection are from Empress Alexandra Feodorovna (wife of Nicholas I), Empress Alexandra Feodorovna (wife of Nicholas II), Grand Dukes Konstantin Konstantinovich, Mikhail Nikolaevich, Nikolai Mikhailovich, and George Mikhailovich.
Works of art and sculpture, furniture and porcelain that once graced the rooms and halls of the Winter Palace, the Novo-Mikhailovsky Palace and Marble Palace at St. Petersburg, as well as the country palaces at Ropsha and Strelna have been hidden away in the storage rooms of the Omsk Regional Arts Museum for nearly a century.
Some of the more unique items include Faberge items and a throne chair, a gift from the Kalmyks to the last Russian Empress; paintings from the collection of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna (wife of Nicholas I); a toilet set from Ropsha, part of the dowry of Grand Duchess Maria Nikolayevna (daughter of Nicholas I).
The exhibition is complimented with an exquisite full-colour catalogue (pictured left).
Romanov Dynasty Exhibit Opens in Moscow Now Playing: Language: English. Duration: 2 minutes, 11 seconds Topic: Exhibitions
An exhibition dedicated to the 400th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty has opened in the State Historical Museum in Moscow.
More than 250 relics from museums all over the world tell stories about the history of Russia from the so-called Time of Troubles. That's from when the Rurik dynasty ended at the end of the 16th century, to what's called the Peter Period, which is when Peter the Great came to power.
Olga Teslenko, Curator: "We have tried to highlight the most iconic artifacts that present the first Romanovs as people and as statesmen."
The evidence of the Time of Troubles was imported from abroad. At that time the Russians were not the only ones fighting for the throne. Poland and Sweden also tried to seize Russia by force.
The Polish king Sigismund III supported another claimant to the throne and even started a war against Russia, but was ultimately defeated. One of king Sigismund's banners was lent out to the exhibition by the Army Museum in Stockholm. On the famous 45-foot rollout, the king is riding to see his bride.
And Russian relics, such as icons from Kostroma, are no less unique. All the items here - the tools, furniture, weapons - everything a story. This is the helmet of Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich - the cap is forged of Damascus steel and it's called Jericho.
Alexey Levykin, Director of the State Historical Museum: "If you talk about the significance of the helmet, it's the object that defined the Russian tsar as a warrior, as the leader of the Russian army. In the system of the sovereign's treasury, it had an honorable fourth place. In fact, it was the fourth battle crown of the Russian tsar."
The helmets of king Alexis and king Michael were also part of the exhibition, borrowed from the Kremlin Armory.
Peter the Great's ascendence to the throne is widely credited by historians are having brought Russia out of the Middle Ages and ushered in the Renaissance.
Russian Farmer Ivan Susanin Gave his Life to Save the First Russian Tsar Topic: Romanov
Many Russian poems, paintings and musical pieces are devoted to Susanin’s feat
400 years ago, in 1613, Russian farmer Ivan Susanin gave his life to save the life of the first Russian tsar of the Romanov dynasty, Mikhail.
Various sources name various details of this event. It is sometimes very difficult to separate historic truth from myths and legends. Besides, the significance of what Susanin did is estimated variously by various historians.
What can be said with more or less certainty is that Ivan Susanin lived in the village of Domnino, which was an estate of Mikhail Romanov. The village was in 80 km from the city of Kostroma.
As a rule, monarchs are not elected – they inherit the throne from their parents. However, after Russians overthrew the regime of the Polish invaders in 1612, they had to appoint or elect someone as the country’s new ruler. Thus, something like a council was convoked to elect a tsar.
Mikhail Romanov, a son of a high-ranking clergyman, who was very young at that time, was not present at this council. He was in the city of Kostroma when he heard the news that he was elected the tsar of Russia.
The Poles, wanting to take revenge for their defeat, decided to capture or even kill the newly elected tsar before he had managed to ascend the throne. They came to the village of Domnino and ordered a local farmer, Ivan Susanin, to tell them where the young tsar was.
A widely spread version of Susanin’s story has it that allegedly, he said that he would take the Poles to the place where Mikhail Romanov was hiding. But instead, he led them into an impassable forest. When the enemies realized that Susanin had deceived him, they killed him. But they never managed to get out of the forest because they drowned in a bog.
However, historians say this version is probably a legend that appeared later. The version that sounds more real to them is that Susanin did not lead the Poles to any forest. He categorically refused to say where Mikhail Romanov was. The Poles severely tortured Susanin, but he did not betray the tsar. Finally, the enemies killed the brave farmer.
The only documented mention of Susanin which dates back to his time and has preserved till our days is a decree of Mikhail Romanov, by which he presented one half of the Domnino estate to Ivan Susanin’s descendants.
The Director of the Chancellery of the Romanov Royal House Alexander Zakatov believes that the significance of Ivan Susanin’s feat can hardly be overestimated:
“The Gospel says: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13.) Ivan Susanin sacrificed his life for the Romanov dynasty. The history of the Romanov dynasty did not start from a large-scale battle or from a historic deed of a certain noble person. It started from a selfless feat of a modest farmer who, most likely, never expected that people would glorify him in songs within many centuries and build monuments to him.”
“In fact, Ivan Susanin gave his life not only for the young Mikhail Romanov,” Alexander Zakatov says. “It would not be an exaggeration to say that he saved the entire Russia. If the Polish invaders’ regime resumed in Russia, this would have been a real catastrophe for our country.”
Unexpected as it may sound, although Susanin saved a tsar, the Soviet authorities also proclaimed him a hero. Soviet propaganda, however, didn’t stress that he saved a tsar. It said that he saved Russia from enemies.
Russian historian Alexey Shishov says:
“Artifacts or documents may be destroyed or lost. But if a hero lives in people’s memory, his feat can never be erased from this memory. In the case of Susanin, it is very hard, if possible at all, to separate the truth from legends. However, legends do not appear at an empty place. Some minor details of legends about Susanin may be not true, but these legends are obviously based on real events.”
Many Russian poems, paintings and musical pieces are devoted to Susanin’s feat. Probably the best known of them is the opera “Ivan Susanin, or a Life for the Tsar” by 19th-century composer Mikhail Glinka.
It is believed that a certain Western military commander allegedly said: “As long as Russia has people like Ivan Susanin, it would be madness for anyone to start a war against Russia.”