Romanov Treasures to Return to Russia Topic: Tsarskoye Selo
Angelica and Paul Ilyinsky, in a 1999 photograph. Source: Palm Beach Daily News
The Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve is to receive a collection of items from the American descendants of Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich.
Michael Romanoff Ilyinsky, the son of Paul Ilyinsky (1928-2004), and grandson of Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich will present the museum with a gift which includes "more than 100 photographs, dozens of books, and portraits of members of the Imperial family."
"The personal items related to my grandfather returning to Russia are only part of the family archive," said Ilyinsky in New York, "the remainder of the collection will eventually find its way home to Russia." - Source: Itar-Tass
Tsarist Perfume Collection Donated to Tsarskoye Selo Museum Topic: Tsarskoye Selo
The Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Preserve has received a precious present in the form of a collection of favorite perfumes owned by Russia’s last tsar, Nicholas II, and the members of his family.
The aromatic donation was made by Zinaida Volodina-Pessoa, president of the Canada-based Svetoch Slavic Culture Association. Volodina-Pessoa acquired the imperial perfumes at auctions and in antique shops in different locations.
“Indeed, the aromatic substances in these bottles have changed but it is possible to establish the base notes of each perfume’s composition,” said Irina Nacharova, a spokeswoman for Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Preserve.
The collection consists of six bottles of perfume that are intimately linked to the family of Nicholas II. One perfume, a bottle of “White Rose,” is associated with empress Alexandra Feodorovna. “White Rose,” by the renowned Atkinson brand that was founded in London in 1799 and is currently based in Italy, was her favorite fragrance.
The daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra preferred floral scents, especially those from the famous French house of Coty. A graceful Rene Lalique bottle from the donation contains a dark aromatic substance — Grand Duchess Anastasia’s most beloved perfume, “La Violette Pourpre.”
A small pyramid-shaped glass bottle contains another Coty creation, “La Rose Jacqueminot,” a favorite of Grand Duchess Olga. Perhaps predictably, Grand Duchess Tatyana was another of the Romanov family members devoted to the creations of Coty. Volodina-Pessoa has found a half-full bottle of Tatyana’s preferred fragrance, “Jasmin de Corse,” and added the item to the collection. Grand Duchess Maria preferred “Lilas Pourpre,” also produced by Coty.
According to Volodina-Pessoa, all of the bottles were produced at the beginning of the 20th century.
The collection of imperial perfumes will become part of a new exhibition that is currently being arranged by the museum. The display will mark the 400th anniversary of the establishment of the House of Romanov and is expected to open to the public by the beginning of the summer.
Additionally, Zinaida Volodina-Pessoa has provided Tsarskoye Selo with valuable information in helping the museum to locate and purchase from a private collector in Canada a perfume bottle that is graced with the monogram of Nicholas II. Experts say it is likely that this bottle is unique and was owned by the tsar. The perfume bottle is made of glass and decorated with silver, gold and diamonds. It contains a fragrance produced by the award-winning soap and perfume manufacturer Rallet & Co., which was established in St. Petersburg in 1843 by Frenchman Alphonse Rallet.
Rallet & Co. catered directly to the Romanov family and the Russian court.
Volodina-Pessoa accompanied the gift of perfumes with a silver photograph frame made in England at the end of the 19th century and original photographs, dating from the 1860s.The images feature the mother, uncle and grandmother of empress Alexandra Fyodorovna — Princess Alice, then-Prince of Wales King Edward VII and Queen Victoria, respectively.
“Volodina-Pessoa also presented the museum with a copy of a score with a Christmas song that lists Nicholas II as the author,” Nacharova said. “Our curators will examine these relics.”
A breathtaking aerial view of the Feodorovsky Gorodok (left) and the Sovereign Feodorovsky Cathedral (right) at Tsarskoye Selo. The Feodorovsky Gorodok is currently under restoration and once completed will serve as the Patriarch's official residence. The Sovereign Feodorovsky Cathedral has undergone exhaustive restorations that span nearly two decades. Both are a short walk from the Alexander Palace.
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).
The Loss of the Palaces: Tsarskoye Selo in 1941-1944 Topic: Tsarskoye Selo
The Loss of the Palaces: Tsarskoye Selo in 1941-1944 is a photo exhibit set out in the Third Antechamber of the Catherine Palace from January 25 to March 3, 2013.
The photographs on display come from the collections of Bair Irincheyev and Denis Zhukov and from a German World War II soldier's album donated to our Museum by Mr. Irincheyev. The amateur shots of 1941-1944 reflect the wreckage of the years when Tsarskoye Selo suffered under the Nazi occupation.
Looking at the rare photos obtained at German online auctions within the last decade, one of the collectors says that many Nazis obviously thought of their invasion as "tourism", an exciting adventure for shot-taking. Almost half of them brought cameras and made up photo albums, which then got into family archives and now are often sold out by the soldiers’ descendants.
The two collectors’ trophies are supplemented with items from our holdings, including the photographs and Leica camera of a German soldier, donated by his daughter, and a 1941-42 journal of a German officer stationed in Pushkin during the occupation (donated by his descendant).
For the first time on museum display in Russia, courtesy of the Berlin-based researcher Dimitri Silbermann, the copies of the photographs made in November-December 1941 by an amateur photographer from the 58th Infantry Division, a unit of the German army (Wehrmacht) under Generalleutnant Friedrich Altrichter then quartered in Slutsk (now Pavlovsk).
Our knowledge of the Nazi occupation of Pushkin town is still fragmentary because the extensive documents of that period are dispersed in hundreds of archives around the world and waiting to be processed, which makes the available wartime photographs of Tsarskoye Selo parks and palaces very interest-worthy.
Tsarskoye Selo Honours Saint Seraphim of Sarov Topic: Tsarskoye Selo
January 15th marked the 180th anniversary of the death of Saint Seraphim of Sarov. In honour of this anniversary, a cross was erected in memory of an unfinished church which stood on the spot in 1916.
The church was to constructed in honour of the miraculous escape of Anna Vyrubova, friend and confidant of the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, who survived a horrific train disaster on January 2 [O.S.], 1915.
At the initiative of Vyruobova, the Saint Seraphim Hospital was opened, designed for Russian soldiers officers wounded during World War One. The hospital could hold up to 50 patients at one time. In the spring of 1916, Empress Alexandra allocated a plot of land for the construction of hospital buildings and the Saint Seraphim of Sarov Church. A cross was erected on the spot where the church would be constructed.
On November 5 [O.S.], 1916, a liturgy was held during the laying of the foundation stone for the new church. The service was attended by Emperor Nicholas II and his family, Anna Vyrubova, and members of the clergy.
Sadly, the outbreak of the February Revolution in 1917 and other subsequent events prevented further construction of the church. The church was nothing more than a simple wooden frame measuring 20 x 20 meters. After the Revolution the church was destroyed. Some sources say it was burnt to the ground, while others maintain that it was dismantled for firewood by locals.
One point of interest is that it was here that Rasputin's body was buried on December 21, 1916, on the north side of the church. His final resting place was disrupted in March 1917 by the Bolsheviks, who dug up his remains and subsequently destroyed them.
Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral - Then and Now Topic: Tsarskoye Selo
The Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral as it looked in 1977
My first visit to the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral at Tsarskoye Selo was in the early 1990s. I recall vividly the sadness that I felt in my heart upon seeing the state of the building for the first time. Decades of neglect at the hands of the local Soviet had left this historic and holy site in near ruin.
During the Soviet years the Cathedral was desecrated and pillaged before it was finally closed in 1933.
After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral was returned to the Russian Orthodox Church. It was consecrated again on February 29th, 1992. Restoration of the Cathedral lasted nearly 20 years, and once again, the Cathedral is the crown jewel of Tsarskoye Selo. Celebrations marking its 100th anniversary were held in September of last year.
Due to its history and association with the last Russian Imperial family, regular services are held in memory of Nicholas II and his family, all of whom were murdered at Ekaterinburg on July 17th, 1918.
It is one of the most beautiful churches in all of Russia and one that I highly recommend to visit and worship in.
The Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral as it looks today
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
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.
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.