Story of the Legendary St. Petersburg Balls Presented at Peter and Paul Fortress Exhibition Now Playing: Language: Russian. Duration: 1 minute, 11 seconds Topic: Exhibitions
Posters for the themed balls of the late 19th - early 20th century on display at the exhibition
A unique exhibition dedicated to the legendary St. Petersburg balls opened on October 30th, in the Engineers House at the Peter and Paul Fortress. The exhibition brings together more than 300 exhibits from the collections of the State Museum of History of St. Petersburg and the Russian National Library.
The legendary St. Petersburg balls are a reflection of the glitter and glamour of the Russian imperial capital before the 1917 Revolution. Without this popular entertainment the social life of St. Petersburg society during the 18th - early 20th centuries is simply unimaginable. Every year, between 200-300 balls were held in St. Petersburg, from the fashionable, strictly regulated for courtiers to the private and masquerade balls of the merchants and middle class. Lithographs, photographs, posters and invitations, displayed at the exhibition demonstrate the diversity of the St. Petersburg ballroom celebrations over two centuries. Particularly interesting are the posters for the themed balls of the late 19th - early 20th century, showing the inexhaustible imagination of the organizers: "In the Snow", "Spring Ball," "Monster's Ball," "Underwater Kingdom Ball", among others. Also on display are photographs of balls held in the Russian capital during the early 20th century, in particular the famous portraits taken for the famous costume ball held in February 1903 in the Winter Palace in which members of the Russian Imperial family participated.
Each ball celebration required extensive training of both organizers and participants. The exhibition tells the story about the St. Petersburg balls from the moment of preparation: where and how one could obtain an invitation or purchase a ticket to the ball, how to select and order a ball gown or costume, and learn the latest trends of ballroom fashion. The exhibition continues with specially designed interactive programs, which will help visitors to learn the basics of "ball culture and etiquette": learning to dance the waltz and polonaise, to use the language of fans and flowers, how to make yourself a mask made from artificial flowers, and the most popular perfumes worn by the ladies. The exhibit even explains how to solve the problem of the "parking" the coach at the entrance to the palace.
A short video (in Russian) offers a glimpse of the exhibits
The centerpiece of the exhibition is the selection of ballroom costumes from various periods, which afford visitors an idea of how gentlemen and ladies should dress for the official court balls. Ladies gowns reflect the elegance and fine artistic tastes of the early 20th century, including dresses made from flowing silk fabrics, and richly decorated with beads, and sequins. Costume ball accessories include silk fans, lace handkerchiefs, ostrich feathers; shoes, handbags, gloves, boas, and ballroom guest books for recording the names of those in attendance. Other costumes include ceremonial uniforms worn by the chamberlain and Senator dating from the second half of the 19th-century.Also presented are a selection of masquerade costumes and masks.
Traditionally, the program included not only the ball, music and dancing, but guests participated in lotteries, contests for the best costume, performances, concerts, live painting, costume parades, and, of course, treats and gifts.
The exhibition presents a reconstruction of the design elements of the thematic ball "Underwater Kingdom" organized by the Society of St. Petersburg in 1907. The ball included a traditional buffet, kiosks and stalls selling champagne, open to all visitors. Visitors can also see examples of menus: including the dinner menu at the St. Petersburg Nobility Ball, held on November 21, 1866 on the occasion of the marriage of the heir Tsarevich and Grand Duke Alexander Alexandrovich and Grand Duchess Maria Feodorovna (nee Princess Dagmar of Denmark), the dinner menu from the ball given by Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich held on May 20, 1896 on the occasion of the coronation of Emperor Nicholas II, the buffet menu from the ball hosted by Imperial Philanthropic Society in the halls of St. Petersburg Nobility Assembly, held on December 13, 1890, among others.
After 1917, the courtiers and high society balls disappeared, but the charity balls and fancy-dress balls in Petrograd continued until 1920. From the late 1930s, popular Christmas balls were held. During the later Soviet years, the word "ball", was primarily associated with student proms. Posters of balls held in Petrograd-Leningrad during the Soviet era, can be seen in the exhibition.
The exhibition in the Engineers House at the Peter and Paul Fortress runs from 30 October 2014 to 13 September 2015.
Hong Kong Hosts Treasures from Tsarskoye Selo Exhibition Topic: Exhibitions
A large-scale exhibition entitled Treasures from Tsarskoye Selo, Residence of the Russian Monarchs opens today at the Hong Kong Museum of History. The exhibition will run until March 16, 2015, showcasing more than 200 artefacts from Russia's Romanov dynasty, on loan from the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve.
Speaking at the opening ceremony yesterday, the Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Tsang Tak-sing, said that this exhibition represents a major collaboration between government museums in Russia and Hong Kong. The Hong Kong and Russian governments signed a memorandum of understanding on cultural co-operation in September 2011. Museum of History director Susanna Siu noted that it cost HK$17 million to organize the exhibition.
He pointed out that the Russian artefacts exhibition is the largest of its kind ever staged in Hong Kong. Hundreds of exhibits selected from the collections of the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Preserve of Russia are on display.
These include paintings, costumes, porcelain, works of art and a spectacular carriage. They will give a clearer picture of the history and culture of Russia and, in particular, evidence of the long-lasting exchanges between Russia and China.
The exhibition is jointly presented by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Preserve of Russia, with the Hong Kong Museum of History and the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Preserve of Russia as the co-organisers. Solely sponsored by the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, it is one of the exhibitions in the 2014 Hong Kong Jockey Club Series.
Tsarskoye Selo, a summer residence of the Russian monarchs, witnessed not only the birth of the Russian Empire in the 18th century, but also the end of its monarchy in 1917.
One of the exhibit highlights, a richly decorated carriage with harnesses used for the coronation of Emperor Alexander II in Moscow in 1856, has been loaned out by the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Preserve of Russia for the first time.
Since the celebration of the 300th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty in 1913, the full set of carriage and harnesses has not been used again or put together for public viewing.
The Hong Kong Museum of History has taken this opportunity to showcase the full set of the artefacts with a view to introducing the splendour of the coronation of the Russian monarchs as well as the high standards of craftsmanship maintained by the imperial manufactories in Russia. Other highlights include decorative items from Tsarskoye Selo produced by imperial manufactories in Russia and diplomatic gifts presented to Russia from foreign royal houses.
In addition, visitors will be able to see Chinese artefacts, including an 18th century Guangdong lacquer vase presented to the last Russian emperor, Nicholas II, in the name of the last emperor of China, Puyi, as well as Chinese-style works of art produced by imperial manufactories in Russia.
Beyond the attractive exhibits, multimedia programmes will also be available during the exhibition period. For instance, the Catherine Palace, one of the palaces in Tsarskoye Selo, will be presented in a 360-degree virtual reality zone, where visitors will be shown eight of its rooms in life size, including the Amber Room, which has been acclaimed as the "Eighth Wonder of the World".
To tie in with the exhibition, the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra will host three sessions of Russian music performances at the 1/F Lobby of the Museum of History for visitors to learn more about the history and culture of Russia.
The performances will be held on November 16, December 28; and February 8, 2015. The exhibition is also being supplemented by two publications: a fully illustrated catalogue and a specially designed pop-up children's booklet. This is the first time that the Museum of History has produced a children's booklet with rich graphics, easy-to-read text and interactive elements, including pop-ups, through which readers will be able to familiarise themselves with the history of Tsarskoye Selo and the broader context of Russian history.
Moscow to Host the Exhibition, "My History. The Rurikovichi" Next Month Topic: Exhibitions
From November 4th - 20th, 2014, with the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia the exhibition, My History. The Rurikovichi (the descendants of Rurik) will take place at the Manege Moscow central exhibition hall. The 700-year-long history of the Ancient Rus’ will be represented in 18 multimedia halls with a total area of 4,000 square meters (c. 43,100 square feet).
The age of the Rurik dynasty was rich in the events that exerted a decisive influence on the formation not only of Russian statehood, but of all the sides of Russian life: the foundation of ancient cities and towns, the Baptism of Rus’, the 200-year-long Mongol-Tatar Yoke and how it was overthrown, the struggle with foreign invaders, the transformation of Moscow to one of the centers of European socio-political life, and the establishment of a strong state with its distinctive character. These significant events and periods of history will be represented at the exhibition through several hundred multimedia stands and exhibits.
The events of the distant past, created by historians, artists and specialists in the field of advanced computer technology, such as those in The Tale of Bygone Years (a chronicle of history of Kievan Rus’ from 850 to c. 1100, which is considered to be a fundamental source for the early history of the Eastern Slavs), the history of ancient trade routes and legendary battles, the mysteries of fortified strongholds and great victories and little known facts of the period of division among principalities and of the Mongol invasion, will literally come to life before the audience. Great deeds of heroes and diplomats, examples of holiness, sacrificial maternal love, bitter lessons of apostasy and betrayal and many other stories will be displayed before the exhibition’s visitors. Widely known and forgotten pages of history will become an unexpected key to understanding of the present for attentive guests.
A revered Icon of Venerable Sergius of Radonezh will be brought to the exhibition from the Holy Trinity – St. Sergius Lavra.
The project was developed with the support of the Administration of the Russian Federation’s President, the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, the Government of Moscow, the Rosneft Public Corporation, the Fund of Saint Basil the Great.
Opening of the exhibition will take place on November 4, 2014, at the Manege central exhibition hall; the address: Moscow, the Manege (Manezhnaya) Square, 1. Admission to the opening day is by invitation only. On that day the exhibition will work from 15:00 till 21:30.
Exhibition: Imperial Porcelain Factory. Dialogue of the Ages Opens at Tsaritsyno Topic: Exhibitions
More than 1,000 pieces of Russian porcelain dating from the 18th to 20th centuries will be presented at the exhibition, which opens on September 25th at the Tsaritsyno Museum-Reserve in Moscow. The exhibition is timed to mark two anniversaries - the 270th anniversary of the Imperial Porcelain Factory and the 250th anniversary of the State Hermitage.
For the first time, 10 halls of the Greater Tsaritsyno Palace will be used to display such a large-scale exhibition. On display are the finest works of the masters of the Imperial Porcelain Factory from the collections of the State Hermitage, Tsaritsyno Museum-Reserve, the Imperial Porcelain Factory in St. Petersburg, and private collectors.
Established in 1744 as Neva Porcelain Manufacturer, Russia's oldest porcelain factory changed it’s name several times over the last 270 years: Imperial State, Leningrad, Lomonosov, and Imperial again in 2005. In 1844, the 100th anniversary of the company was marked by the creation of a museum, which is now a department of the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg.
Imperial Porcelain Factory: Dialogue of the Ages showcases 184 masterpieces - including a porcelain portrait of Empress Catherine II, from the historical collections of the State Hermitage Museum collection, 80 pieces from the Tsaritsyno Museum-Reserve collection, and nearly 700 works of porcelain from the Imperial Porcelain Factory collections, and numerous pieces from private collections within Russia.
Porcelain service from the Imperial yacht Derzhava
One unusual feature of this exhibit is the rejection of displays in chronological order. Instead, each of the 10 halls is devoted to themes, such as theatre, music, landscape, animals, and even fashion, etc. As a result, rarities from the 18th to early 20th centuries and unique products of the Soviet era can be seen next to the best works of contemporary artists.
Exhibition organizers note that porcelain, from the time it first appeared in the history of mankind, that it has always been a mystery, and the secrets of its production were carefully guarded. "When in the first half of the 18th century, our ingenious countryman Dmitry Vinogradov invented our domestic Russian porcelain - it was a very important step in the development of the culture and art of our country," - said Svetlana Adaksina, chief curator of the State Hermitage Museum.
She also noted that porcelain is often called the “white gold of the kings, it has always been and still continues to be a symbol of prestige and wealth."
The exhibition will run at the Grand Palace of the Tsaritsyno Museum-Reserve in Moscow from September 25, 2014 to January 11, 2015.
For more information on the Imperial Porcelain Factory, please refer to the following article:
The Hermitage Amsterdam’s fifth anniversary exhibition Dining with the Tsars. Fragile beauty from the Hermitage opens today. Eight magnificent porcelain and cream ware services from the collection of the Hermitage in St Petersburg will be exhibited in a setting that conveys what the balls and banquets of the Tsar’s court were like. Visitors will imagine they are guests, in possession of a coveted imperial invitation, climbing the steps of the Winter Palace, reviewing the rules of etiquette and preparing for a festive occasion. Finally they enter the main hall where the fine porcelain dinnerware is set out in a festive display.
The exquisite porcelain services, comprising no less than 1,034 pieces, exhibited on authentically laid tables with decorative centrepieces, reveal the enchanting grandeur of the Tsars’ banquets. The exhibition tells the story of the lavish ball and banqueting culture that reached its zenith under the reign (1762-1796) of Catherine the Great, Queen of Feasts, when hundreds of dishes would be served at a single banquet and thousands of guests attended the balls. The last tsar, Nicholas II (ruled 1894–1917) and his wife Alexandra, who organised the largest balls but were only present for as briefly as possible. With their abdication, the ball and banqueting customs that had once captured the imagination of all the courts of Europe came to an end.
The finest pieces are from the dinnerware collections of Catherine the Great, such as the Green Frog Service (Wedgwood, England), the Cameo Service (Sèvres, Paris, exhibited for the first time with silver gilt flatware), which at one time comprised nearly a thousand pieces, and the Berlin Dessert Service (Königliche Porzellan-Manufaktur Berlin). The services of later Tsars were no less impressive and significant for their connection to European history. The services are exhibited in accordance with the rules of etiquette, augmented with ornate centrepieces, gold-rimmed crystal glassware, candelabras, vases, detailed silverwork and wall decorations. The exhibition features a wide range of pieces, from ice buckets for liqueur bottles and ice-cream coupes to salt and pepper sets and table figurines.
The exhibition also offers a culinary view of imperial dining customs, in a culture where banquets of 300 dishes were no exception. Dessert was the highpoint of the meal and the ideal course for showing off the host’s wealth and refined taste. Richly decorated delicacies were served with exceptional inventiveness. There is attention for iconography and the diplomatic function of giving services as gifts and hosting state dinners in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. And the balls and performances, gossip and scandal also feature in the exhibition. Evidence of the excesses of the imperial court abounds. Particularly revealing are the quotes drawn from the memoirs of Marie Cornélie van Wassenaer Obdam. She visited the Winter Palace in 1824 as a member of the retinue of Anna Paulowna and the later King Willem II.
The surprising final exhibit is the service given to Stalin by the Hungarian people in 1949, which has never been used or exhibited before. It illustrates the diplomatic role that dinnerware also played in the twentieth century.
Never before have so many porcelain dinnerware pieces from the Hermitage been exhibited in the Netherlands. The rich collection of European porcelain from the Hermitage in St Petersburg comprises over 15,000 items, purchased by or given as gifts to the Tsars of Russia between 1745 and the years prior to the First World War. The services, which include many unique pieces, were produced by leading porcelain manufacturers such as Meissen, Sèvres, Gardner and Wedgwood and decorated to the highest artistic standard.
Dining with the Tsars. Fragile Beauty from the Hermitage runs 6 September 2014 – 1 March 2015 at the Hermitage Amsterdam
Exhibition: 'Orthodox Russia. The Romanovs. My Story' Opens at Livadia Palace Now Playing: Language: Russian. Duration: 3 minutes, 31 seconds Topic: Exhibitions
Orthodox Russia. The Romanovs. My Story, the exhibition marking the 400th anniversary of the Russian dynasty monarchs, opened at the Livadia Palace on August 15th.
The exhibit has attracted large crowds who have come to the former summer residence of Nicholas II, to learn about the Romanov dynasty that ruled Russia for more than 300 years. The crowds have been so large that organizers are only allowing groups of 20 people in every 5 minutes to avoid overcrowding in the palace.
The exhibit is spread throughout the palace. It features 10 full interactive game programs, 7 large-scale video installations and 350 interactive displays and video panels. Individual audio guides are also available. Vintage films offer rare footage of Nicholas II and his family during their visits to the Crimea and their stay at Livadia. Visitors can learn about the history and legacy of all 17 Romanov sovereigns from Tsar Mikhail Feodorovich to Emperor Nicholas II.
For more than half a century, Livadia was a favourite summer residence of three Russian sovereigns: Alexander II, Alexander III and Nicholas II. In 1909, the design and construction of a new palace was entrusted to the Yalta City architect Nikolai Krasnov. Under his leadership, a magnificent palace of white marble in the Italian Renaissance style was constructed in 17 months. Other construction on the estate included a kitchen, technical and farm buildings, roads, as well as the expansion of vineyards and orchards. The last time the family of Nicholas II visited Livadia was in the spring of 1914. After his abdication in 1917, the tsar had asked the interim government to allow him to settle permanently in Livadia. This request was denied.
The exhibition which is currently touring Russia has already been held in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Tyumen, attracting more than 500,000 visitors. Admission is free!
The State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg is currently hosting one of the most magnificent Romanov-themed exhibits to date. Servants of the Imperial Court showcases the Livery costume of the late 19th – Early-20th centuries from the Hermitage Collection until September 21st, 2014. The exhibition is spread throughout two halls and rooms of the former Winter Palace: Arab Hall, Rotunda.
I had the opportunity to tour the exhibition during my recent visit to St. Petersburg in early June. If you plan on being in Russia during the next month I strongly recommend including this unique exhibit to your itinerary. For those of you who cannot be there in person, I have prepared the following post which includes a synopsis of the exhibit, a video (in Russian) and 12 colour photographs:
The State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg is currently hosting one of the most magnificent Romanov-themed exhibits to date. At the Russian Imperial Court showcases the costumes of the 18th – early-20th centuries from the Hermitage Collection until September 21st, 2014. The exhibition is spread throughout five halls and rooms of the former Winter Palace: Nicolas Hall, Antechamber, Eastern Gallery of the Winter Palace, Armorial Hall and Concert Hall.
I had the opportunity to tour the exhibition during my recent visit to St. Petersburg in early June. If you plan on being in Russia during the next month I strongly recommend including this unique exhibit to your itinerary. For those of you who cannot be there in person, I have prepared the following post which includes a synopsis of the exhibit, a video (in Russian) and 20 colour photographs:
The Family Album. Danish-Russian Dynastic Ties - Views from an Exhibition Topic: Exhibitions
The Pavlovsk State Museum Preserve is currently hosting the exhibition: Family Album. Danish-Russian Dynastic Ties
Close family relations between the Russian Imperial and the Danish royal families began in 1866 when the Danish Princess Dagmar became the wife of the heir to the Russian throne, Grand Duke Alexander Alexandrovich, the future Emperor Alexander III.
Pavlovsk Palace is currently hosting an exhibition The Family Album. Danish-Russian Dynastic Ties. The exhibition is organized by the Danish National History Museum at Frederiksborg Castle and the Pavlovsk State Museum-Preserve. “The idea for the exhibition came in 2009, after the two museums agreed to cooperate in the areas of research and exhibitions,” said Vera A. Dementieva, Director of the Pavlovsk State Museum. “Specialists at Pavlovsk were pleased to learn that the archives of the Danish museum held a large repository of family photographs of members of the Russian Imperial House. Part of this collection forms the current exhibition at Pavlovsk.
Although members of the Imperial family were avid photographers, taking thousands of photos, many photographic collections in Russian museums were lost or destroyed after the Revolution. Further losses resulted from the plundering and destruction of the Imperial palaces by the Nazis between 1941-45. The once enormous archive of photograph albums that existed in the Gatchina Palace, were completely lost during the Second World War.
Photographs in the collection of Pavlovsk Palace survived for the most part, because the albums were used as packing material when transporting items from the palaces which were evacuated. After the war, the crates containing the palace treasures were returned, however, a decision was made to “write off the photos and destroy them,” believing that they were of "no interest or historic value"! The museum staff, however, did not destroy the pictures, thus maintaining an archive consisting of 1000 photographs.
The current exhibition involved Mette Skougord, the director of the National History Museum in Frederiksborg Castle, who expressed admiration for the courage of the museum staff who saved the collection from destruction. "Russia and Denmark are neighbours in the Baltic Sea, and we want to develop our cultural cooperation between the two nations. There were several attempts in history to seal dynastic connections, and through the Empress Maria Feodorovna, the Russian Imperial house intermarried with the royal houses of Great Britain and Greece. As a result, Russian-Danish dynastic ties expanded their influence in the whole of Europe from the end of the 19th to early 20th centuries", said Skougord.
Members of both the Russian Imperial and Danish royal families visited Copenhagen, and St. Petersburg annually. The visits of the Russian Imperial family to Denmark were recorded on film, by Danish cinema pioneer Peter Elfelt. His work in Russia is completely unknown until now. The National History Museum secured the rights to premiere four documentaries by Peter Elfelt at the Pavlovsk exhibition:
- Monarchs are Filmed (1899);
- The Visit of the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna to Helsingor" (1900);
- The Visit of Nicholas II to Helsingor" (1901);
- The Visit of the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna to Bellevue" (1902)
These newsreels became a revelation to St. Petersburg. Fleeting everyday scenes of the private world of the Russian Imperial family, they offer both a visual image of a bygone era and an important historical record.
"It is a pity that the exhibition will only run for a few months and will once again vanish into the archives of the museums of the two countries, leaving behind only a catalogue", concluded Dementieva.
The exhibition The Family Album. Danish-Russian Dynastic Ties runs until September 14th, 2014 at Pavlovsk State Museum Preserve.
For more information on this exhibition, please refer to the following link:
Exhibition: Imperial Family in 20th Century Postcards Topic: Exhibitions
The Imperial Family in Postcards of the 20th Century - July 31 - August 31, 2014
The exhibition Imperial Family in Postcards of the 20th Century opened at the Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg on July 31st.
The exhibition presents about 60 postcards and photographs from the collections of the State Museum of History of St. Petersburg, on the life of the last of the Russian tsar and his family.
The exhibition falls into three parts demonstrating various spheres of the imperial family’s life. The first part presenting the official chronicle of Nicholas II's family, showcases postcards by both Russian and foreign publishers. The foreign publishers produced postcards which highlighted official visits by the Emperor. The Russian publishers produced images of the Imperial family at state and public events, and formal portraits at Court.
Next part of the exhibition is devoted to the private world of the Romanovs. Members of the family of Nicholas II were passionate amateur photographers themselves, producing an enormous number of pictures and printed photographs, many of which have survived to this day in albums held in the storage facilities of various archives in St. Petersburg, Moscow and other Russian cities. The family’s passion for photography, presented at the exhibition conveys the everyday life of the Romanov’s in the Alexander Palace in Tsarskoye Selo and Peterhof, as well as a summer vacation in the Crimea.
The third and final section of the exhibition is a collection of postcards dating from the First World War. Obviously produced for propaganda purposes, they depict the family of Nicholas II representing the imperial family’s personal contribution to the war effort. These postcards were sold to the public, proceeds from the sale of which were donated to the various charities. Charitable activity, which historically has always been the responsibility of the Russian empresses, took on a large scale during the First World War. Empress Alexandra Feodorovna personally funded several hospital trains, and opened hospitals for the wounded. Alexandra and her elder daughters were trained nurses, and assisted daily in hospitals doing dressings and assisting in operations.
Rounding out the exhibition are four postcards from the Soviet era (1927 - 1932). These include photographs of the Ipatiev House, where in the summer of 1918 the last Russian tsar, his family and servants were put to death by their captors.
The exhibition will run till August 31 in the Engineers House of the Peter and Paul Fortress, St. Petersburg.