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Thursday, 29 August 2013
Unknown Portrait of Tsesarevich Alexei Discovered
Now Playing: Language: Russian. Duration: 2 minutes, 52 seconds
Topic: Tsesarevich Alexei

Hidden for nearly a century, a previously unknown portrait of the Tsesarevich Alexei Nicholayevich, the son of Emperor Nicholas II was discovered in a house on Wednesday, not far from the Catherine Palace at Pushkin. The portrait was found by workers during the restoration of the facade of the 18th century Kabinetskaya (Cavaliers) House on Sadovoi Ulitsa.

The 86cm x 67cm oil painting of the Tsesarevich Alexei, dressed in a sailors shirt, was found hidden between the wall and the eaves of the house. The canvas was rolled up, wrapped in newspapers dating from 1917 and 1918, and pinned down with bricks. Experts at the Tsarskoye Selo Palace Museum Preserve believe that the owners of the house removed the portrait from its frame and hid it after the revolution of 1917. 

The artist is unknown but believed to be painted from a photograph of the young heir to the throne during the 1913-1914 period. Experts will now attempt to identify the artist and learn more about the original owner of the house. It is known that the house was occupied by Gendarme Corps Colonel Boris Gerardi, who served as Head of the Palace Police from 1905-1917.
Iraida Bott, Deputy Scientific Director at the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve told local media that the oil painting is dilapidated, with numerous creases and a torn-off fragment and in urgent need of restoration. Once this has been done, the portrait will then go on display at the Tsarskoye Selo Palace Museum, presumably in the Alexander Palace where the Tsesarevich spent much of his life. In the meantime, further investigation of the house will result in the discovery of other treasures from the Tsarist period. 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 29 August, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 1:23 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 22 December 2017 4:55 PM EST
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Exhibition: The Emperors of Russia
Topic: 400th Anniversary

A new exhibition, The Emperors of Russia will officially open on Friday, August 30th, at the Yaroslavl Art Museum. The exhibit which marks the 400th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty will feature portraits of the Russian emperors, from the 18th to the beginning of the 20th centuries.

In addition to paintings and drawings, the exhibition will also present cabinet bronze busts of the late 19th century from the collection of the former Governor of the Yaroslavl region, Anatoly Lisitsyn.

Most of the exhibited works were created by relatively unknown artists - Fedor Rokotoff, Semena Shchukin, Jean-Marc Nattier, Georg Groot and Johann Tanauera. It will be on display and several original works of the English portrait painter George Dawe. 

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 29 August, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 1:19 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 29 August 2013 1:23 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 28 August 2013
Baron Pyotr Wrangel Was Born 135 Years Ago
Topic: Wrangel, Pyotr

Baron Pyotr Nikolayevich Wrangel 

Exactly 135 years ago, on August 27, 1878, the Russian military statesmen and one of the leaders of the White Movement, Pyotr Wrangel, was born. He was born in the Kovno Governorate in the Russian Empire (near present-day Zarasai, Lithuania). The Wrangel family was of the local Baltic German nobility.

Since the middle of the 13th century the Wrangel family produced 7 field marshals, more than 30 generals and 7 admirals who served Russia and European states. The polar explorer Ferdinand Wrangel had an island in the Arctic Ocean named after him. The father of Pyotr Wrangel – Nikolai Wrangel – was a well-known art historian and collector.

He was an officer in the Russian Imperial Army, a participant of the Russo-Japanese War and hero of World War I, Pyotr Wrangel was considered one of the most promising military leaders of Russia. His military skills were also seen during the Civil War and the successes of the White Army in 1918-1919 were due in large part to Wrangel’s mounted troops.

Having taken charge of the Volunteers’ Army, Wrangel helped hold off the advance of Red Army forces on the Crimea and organize the evacuation of remaining White supporters. In emigration he established the Russian All-Military Union, an organization established to fight for the preservation and unity of all White forces living abroad. He settled in Brussels from September 1927 and worked as a mining engineer. Wrangel's memoirs were published in the magazine White Cause in Berlin in 1928.

Wrangel died suddenly of Tuberculosis in 1928, and Wrangel's family believed that he had been poisoned by his butler’s brother, who lived in the Wrangel household in Brussels briefly and who was allegedly a Soviet agent. Wrangel's funeral and burial took place in Brussels, but he was reinterred on October 6, 1929 in the Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox church in Belgrade, Serbia according to his final wishes. 
© Russkiy Mir. 28 August, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:29 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 28 August 2013 12:44 PM EDT
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Counterfeits Flood Russian Antiques Market
Topic: Antiques
Buyer beware! After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Western market was flooded with forgeries of the 1896 Coronation Cup (photo) or Khodynka Cup of Sorrows. Highly sought after by collectors, many buyers pay huge sums to own one of these historic cups. It is just one of many items counterfeited by unscrupulous dealers.
At least half of the items in circulation on Russia's antiques market are counterfeits, which cost scammed collectors millions of rubles every year, according to antiques experts and law enforcement agencies.

Dishonest dealers and a lack of quality experts are the core of the problem, and solving it will have to go hand-in-hand with a change in mentality among merchants and buyers, experts said.

It is hard to track whether the number of fakes is growing or increasing every year because people still have a negative attitude toward the police and hesitant to report any incidents, said Lieutenant Colonel Alexei Kistochkin whose beat is the antiques market, which is estimated to be worth about $200 million in annual sales.

One thing is sure, he added: There are a lot of fakes in every antiques segment.

"Though all of Europe is buying and selling them, there were not that many [Ivan] Aivazovsky paintings ever made," Kistochkin said. "Even if the master's students were involved, their hands would have shriveled up if they tried to draw so many paintings."

About 2 million people in Russia collect antiques in some way, according to estimates by the Eastern European Antique House.

While the popularity of collecting has grown, experts said there was still no system for controlling counterfeits or punishing those responsible for making them.

Most antique dealers have a short sighted buy-and-sell mentality that shows no respect for the items or their clients, said Sergei Yunin, a major shareholder in the First Republican Bank and founder of the Eastern European Antique House.

"Dealers have the primitive psychology of Soviet-era profiteers," Yunin said, adding that all of the dealers he has met in his life were in some way dishonest.

Antiques evaluators often facilitate sales of counterfeits. It is hard to find competent — and most importantly, honest — antique experts that give accurate assessments of the item's value, said Vladimir Kazakov, general director of the National Institute of Independent Expertise.

Many of the current experts come from state structures, are aging and find it hard to resist the temptation of bribes, Kistochkin said. The situation is so bad that some of them are virtually on salary from dishonest dealers.

Despite the well-known problems in this market segment, the perpetrators of counterfeits easily escape punishment. The law states the consequences for stealing antiques is up to 15 years in jail,

depending on the item. But there is no separate article concerning those who produce counterfeits, lawyer Vladimir Sidyakin said.  

Even if the culprit is caught, it is hard to prove improper intent. The person could merely say that he painted a reproduction of a famous painting for his friends, Kistochkin said.

The Antique House plans to help control the number of fakes on the market by offering collectors an evaluation of items they are interested in through a panel of three independent experts with access to a top notch technical laboratory. However, since there will be more experts involved, the service will cost 40 to 50 percent more than similar services currently on the market, such at the expertise offered by the Historical Museum's Society of Friends. 
© The Moscow Times. 28 August, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:33 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 1 September 2013 9:29 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 27 August 2013
Monument to Catherine the Great Restored in Irbit
Topic: Catherine II

Melted down by the Bolsheviks 96 years ago, the monument to Catherine the Great has been restored in the Ural town of Irbit
A monument to the Empress Catherine II has been restored in Irbit, a town situated about 203 km from Ekaterinburg in the Sverdlovsk Oblast region of Russia. Founded in 1631 as Irbeyevskaya Sloboda, its name was changed to Irbit in 1662. It was granted official town status by Catherine the Great in 1775 for the town's loyalty to the Empress during the Pugachev Uprising of 1773-74. The following year, she awarded the town its official crest.
The bronze monument was originally installed in Market Square in 1883. It was created by Mikhail Mikeshin,  the outstanding Russian artist and sculptor who also created the Millenium of Russia monument in Veliky Novgorod, as well as the monument to Catherine II which stands in front of the Alexandrinsky Theatre on the Nevsky Prospekt in St. Petersburg.
On May 1st, 1917 a crowd of rioters pulled down the monument. Shortly after, the Bolsheviks erected a statue of Vladimir Lenin. The bronze statue of the Russian empress was hauled off to the local smelter and melted down.
In 2002, a local historical team conducted archival research, where they found the plans, drawings and photographs of the original monument. The new monument is an exact replica of the original.
It is interesting to note, that the statue of Lenin still stands some 30 metres from the newly restored monument to the Russian empress, "For the time being, the statue of Lenin will remain," said Deputy Mayor Sergei Kulikov.
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 27 August, 2013 


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 11:45 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 27 August 2013 12:31 PM EDT
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Monday, 26 August 2013
OTMA's Bookcase Returned to Livadia
Topic: Livadia

The wall panels and bookcase in the grand duchesses classroom were made from the same oak tree. Photo credit: Old Yalta 

The Livadia Palace Museum has acquired a unique new exhibit - the original bookcase from the classroom of the daughters of Tsar Nicholas II. [OTMA was an acronym used by the Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia.]

After the Bolsheviks nationalized the Imperial residences, Livadia Palace was opened as the world's first sanatorium for peasants. Much of the furniture, paintings and objects of everyday life were distributed to other museums in Russia, while others were sold through thrift shops in Yalta. In 2000, I hosted a group tour to the Crimea in which Marina Zemlyanichenko was a featured guide and speaker. Ms Zemlyanichenko was the former curator of the Livadia Palace, and author of numerous books and articles about the Romanovs at Livadia and the Crimea. She told me that a number of pieces of furniture, including rare Persian rugs were moved to the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg where they remain in storage to this day.

During the postwar period it became a guest house for members of the Soviet government. In 1953 the building was handed over to the Council of Trade Unions, and used to treat cardiology patients. In 1974, the palace became the History and Art Exhibition Centre. It was not until 20 years later, in 1993, that the Ministry of Culture of the Autonomous Region of the Crimea decided to open the Livadia Palace Museum. 

During the ensuing years great efforts were made to track down furniture, art and other items that were once housed in the former Imperial residence. Sadly, the fate of most of them is unknown, so each new find is considered a great success. Recently, however, the opportunity to purchase an authentic piece of furniture from the former Livadia Palace came about. In addition to belonging to the Imperial Palace, it is interesting to note that this particular piece of furniture in the "modern style", was not only fashionable at the turn of the century, but also characteristic of the decoration of the Livadia Palace itself. 

The bookcase, like other pieces of furniture in the grand duchesses classroom was made by the Austrian furniture company Jacob & Josef Kohn. In the late 19th-early 20th century Jacob & Josef Kohn had firmly established themselves in Russia. They created about a thousand pieces of furniture for the Russian Imperial family, and aristocratic homes in Tsarist Russia. They were one of the first to adopt the style of Art Nouveau and thus involved in the development of new products and designers. 

Due to the wide popularity of the modern style in Russia, the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna invited the Petersburg Company factory to participate in furnishing the interiors of Livadia Palace. In January 1910, the palace’s architect Nikolai Krasnov, granted a contract to the firm on a number of interior design living spaces, in particular, the grand duchesses bedrooms, their living room and classrooms. The classroom of the grand duchesses, created in the modern style, the furniture (including the bookcase) were all created from the same oak tree. Today, the bookcase has been beautifully restored and returned to its historic location in the former grand duchesses classroom at Livadia Palace. The grand duchesses rooms, which are located on the first floor of the palace are today part of a permanent exhibition dedicated to the Romanovs at Livadia.
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 26 August, 2013 


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 1:16 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 27 August 2013 12:06 PM EDT
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New Monument to Emperor Alexander III at Nizhny Novgorod
Topic: Alexander III
A new monument to the Emperor Alexander III was unveiled on August 23rd at the Annunciation Monastery in the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod. The monument was sanctified by the Metropolitan of Nizhny Novgorod and Arzamas.

"Today we are witnessing a very important event - the unveiling of a monument which honours a significant figure in Russian history. In 1866, Alexander III, while still Tsesarevich, visited our monastery and prayed in this holy place, - he said, - discovering these sites, we restore a historical memory. We are celebrating the 400th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty in Russia. This dynasty has made the Russian Empire a great and prosperous nation. "

"Peace Tsar" is inscribed on one side of the pedestal. During the years of his reign, Russia was not engaged in any military conflict, actively developed industry and agriculture, and reached an unprecedented flowering of Russian culture and art. Alexander III has been hailed as a true Orthodox tsar. During his reign, many new churches and monasteries were built in Russia.

The monument to Emperor Alexander III is the second dedicated to a Russian sovereign, established in Nizhny Novgorod in the nationwide project "Avenue of the Russian Glory", which was intended to revive the patriotic spirit of the Russian people and to perpetuate the memory of our great ancestors and compatriots. The artist of the bronze bust on a marble pedestal is the Russian sculptor Alexander Apollo.

A monument to Emperor Alexander II was erected in the Ascension Caves Monastery. There are plans to erect a new monument to Emperor Nicholas II at the Nizhny Novgorod Women's Cross Monastery in the near future.

In addition, according to Anatoly Migunov, the Minister of Regional and Municipal Policies of the Nizhny Novgorod region, plans are underway for the publication of a new book The Romanovs in Nizhny Novgorod and the Nizhny Novgorod Region, which will feature the collected letters, diaries, memoirs of contemporaries of the Emperor Alexander III, and members of the House of Romanov. "This monument will testify about the historical roots of the glorious spiritual heritage of Russia and will be one of the worthy symbol of the Nizhny Novgorod region", - said Anatoly Migunov.
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 26 August, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 10:55 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 26 August 2013 11:29 AM EDT
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Sunday, 25 August 2013
Beautiful Orthodox Churches of Russia No. 19
Topic: Beautiful Orthodox Churches

Vladimir Mother of God Cathedral, St. Petersburg
Completed in 1783, the beautiful and historic Vladimir Mother of God Cathedral is one of the oldest churches in St. Petersburg and presents a truly fascinating combination of baroque and classical architectural styles. The church is crowned with five onion-shaped cupolas, which rise into the sky above Vladimirskaya Ploschad in one of the most historic areas of the city. An impressive four-tiered bell tower stands adjacent to the church. The church is also home to one of the oldest and most elaborate iconostases in Russia.

The church was built to shelter the historic Vladimir Mother of God icon. The icon traveled to Jerusalem, Constantinople and then Kiev, where Prince Andrey Bogolyubskiy bought it and brought it to the ancient Russian city of Vladimir after which it is named. Subsequently the icon was credited by the Orthodox Church with freeing Moscow from the control of the Mongols.

The founding of the cathedral dates to 1746 in the house of a certain Yakimov where the first iconostasis was assembled. On August 25, 1748 a new wooden church was dedicated in the name of the Vladimir Mother of God. On the following day Empress Elizabeth attended a special church service in honour of the new church's opening.

Because the construction of the current stone church dragged on for more than 20 years and several different architects were involved in its design and construction, the cathedral is not credited to any one architect.

With its unique combination of baroque and classical features, the church is an important addition to St. Petersburg's architectural history. No other church in the city can claim a design quite like the Vladimir Mother of God Church, with its five different-sized onion-shaped cupolas rising into the sky and topped off with glistening Orthodox crosses, and including five sections, two stories and three porticos.

In 1831, a stone portico was added to the main building with two stairways leading to the second floor, designed by A. Melnikov. In 1833, another two-story portico was built on the northern and southern facades of the church including a two-story room for a staircase, designed by A. Golm. In 1848-1849 a fourth tier was added to the bell tower to a plan by architect F. Rusk. In 1850-1851 a fence was installed around the church, and two stone chapels were also added. The Vladimir Mother of God Church, bell tower and chapels were also gilded at this time.

The church was closed in 1932, the building was transferred to the State Public Library. The former church housed the department of anti-religious literature. During the years 1930-1940, it was one of the few places in Leningrad where one could read a copy of the Bible.
Although most of the church's treasures were looted during the Revolution, the incredible Baroque iconostasis  (transferred from the Anichkov Palace chapel in 1808) on the church's upper level survived. It is one of only a very few of its kind in Russia is now an architectural monument and well worth seeing, and was created in the middle of the 18th century by Italian sculptor Bartolomeo Rastrelli.

The Vladimir Mother of God Icon Cathedral is located in one of the favourite areas of the city's intelligentsia, and has had many notable parishioners, including Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

A vigorous restoration of the church began in the 1970s, including restoration of the facade and icons. Nevertheless, the effects of years of neglect have been difficult and slow to correct. In 1990, after the church had been returned to the Russian Orthodox Church, the first services where conducted in what observers described then as a gloomy and cold environment where there were only two icons donated by church parishioners. Moreover, the church did not have a cross for more than a year after it reopened.
In May 2000, the church received the status of cathedral. Today, a magnificent view of its domes and bell tower can be enjoyed from the 7th floor bar of the Hotel Dostoevsky, which is situtated directly across the street.
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 25 August, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:40 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 25 August 2013 10:36 AM EDT
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Saturday, 24 August 2013
New Faberge Museum to Open in St. Petersburg
Topic: Faberge

The Shuvalov Palace is situated at No, 21 Fontanka Embankment, it will house the new Faberge Museum.
A museum will open this September in St. Petersburg, where the billionaire Viktor Vekselberg will display to the public his collection of Faberge Imperial Easter eggs.
There, visitors will be able to see about 4,000 exhibits from the collection of the Link of Times cultural and historical foundation, which is sponsored by the billionaire’s company.
The Shuvalov Palace, situated in the center of St. Petersburg, has been renovated to house a new museum in St. Petersburg.
The building itself is an architectural monument of the 19th century and a typical example of that eclectic architecture era (characterized by a combination of elements from late classical and neo-renaissance periods).
The palace was inhabited until the October Revolution of 1917; afterwards, it housed the Museum of Royal Court Life until 1925. During the Soviet era, the purpose of this building was repeatedly changed.
Until 2006, the building was occupied by government organizations; however, in 2007, the Link of Times Foundation leased it through 2056.
The palace has preserved its original interiors, fireplaces, woodcarvings and classical molding. The full renovation is to be completed by December 2013.
In 2006, Vladimir Voronchenko, president of the Link of Times Foundation, estimated the cost of renovations at $10 million. Yet, by 2009, the foundation already claimed to have spent about $30 million.
The renovation required investments of more than $30 million, a source close to the foundation told Vedomosti.
In 2006, the foundation announced its plans to open a museum to display private collections in the Shuvalov Palace. According to Andrei Shtorkh, an official representative of the nonprofit Link of Times Foundation, 4,000 exhibits from the foundation’s collection will be presented in the museum.
In particular, the collection of Faberge Imperial Easter eggs that Vekselberg purchased from the Forbes family for $100 million in 2004 will be exhibited. 
© Rossiyskaya Gazeta. 24 August, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:06 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 12 November 2013 3:31 AM EST
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Thursday, 22 August 2013
Russia Celebrates National Flag Day
Topic: Imperial Russia

In Russia, August 22 marks National Flag Day, established on the basis of the Russian Presidential Decree of August 20th 1994 “On the National Flag Day of the Russian Federation”, Voice of Russia reports. The Russian tricolour flag came into existence more than 300 years ago, in the late 17th century and the early 18th century, when Russia began to emerge as a powerful state. The white-blue-red flag was for the first time hoisted aboard Russia’s first warship Oryol, or Eagle, during the reign of Peter the Great’s father, Tsar Alexei.

It was Peter the Great who officially adopted the tricolour flag. He signed a decree on January 20th 1705, whereby the white-blue-red flag should be hoisted aboard all kinds of merchant ships. He himself drew the model and determined the sequence of horizontal stripes. The flag was first used by the Russian Navy. It was basically the Navy that flew these colours all the way until the 19th century.

The use of the Russian white-blue-red flag on land stems from geographical discoveries by Russian seafarers.

Until the 19th century, Russian sailors normally erected a memorial cross on the seashore of a newly discovered land to show that it was now a part of Russia. But a new tradition emerged in 1806, when a Russian expedition explored the coastal area of Southern Sakhalin and hoisted two flags at a time, namely St. Andrew’s flag to mark the service of the Navy, and the national white-blue-red flag, to show that the area is Russia’s possession. The white-blue-red flag was not officially adopted as Russia’s National Flag until the eve of Nicholas II’s coronation in 1896.

Each of the three colours of the National Flag has its own specific meaning. Red means the Great Power statehood, blue is the colour of Virgin Mary, who protects Russia, while white is the colour of freedom and independence.

On August 22, 1991, an extraordinary session of the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic resolved that the tricolor flag should be seen as the official national flag of Russia. On December 11, 1993 the Russian President signed the bill on the new state flag into law.
For more information, please refer to FLAGS OF THE RUSSIAN EMPIRE section located on the ROYAL RUSSIA DIRECTORY page;


© Russkiy Mir. 22 August, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 10:50 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 22 August 2013 11:02 AM EDT
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