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Friday, 27 March 2015
Alexander, Napoleon & Josephine, a Story of Friendship, War and Art from the Hermitage
Topic: Exhibitions

In 2015, as the Battle of Waterloo is commemorated throughout Europe, the Hermitage Amsterdam will turn the clock back to the decisive years that preceded Waterloo, the days of Napoleon Bonaparte and two exceptional and very different contemporaries: Tsar Alexander I, his friend and enemy, and Joséphine, the love of his life.

More than two hundred magnificent paintings, sculptures, personal possessions, gowns and uniforms, objets d’art and impressive weapons will tell the story of two mighty rulers and a woman with great personality. The central themes are friendship, war and politics, as well as Joséphine’s great art collection, which included Dutch and Italian masters such as Potter, Van der Werff, Luini and Canova. The two men come even physically close, in Napoleon’s death mask and in a medallion with a lock of Alexander’s hair. A significant part of Joséphine’s collection eventually came into the possession of the Hermitage, and many of the highlights will be on display in the Netherlands for the first time.

A story in four scenes

Our story begins in 1807. Napoleon and Joséphine were seeing very little of each other, because of the many wars that Napoleon was waging across the European continent. Joséphine was on her own in their love nest, Château de Malmaison, just outside Paris. That year, Napoleon and the tsar concluded the Treaty of Tilsit, establishing a coalition for peace intended to change the political constellation in Europe and Asia. In the process, they formed a friendship that seemed genuine and enduring. After fifteen days, they said farewell, and in the years that followed they exchanged many diplomatic gifts.

The treaties were intended as an eternal seal on their peace and their friendship. But they proved impossible to enforce, and a new war broke out. The disastrous turning point was Napoleon’s Russian campaign of 1812. Few events in history have made such a strong impression as the French retreat from Moscow in that year. The most catastrophic episode for Napoleon's army, however, was probably the crossing of the ice-cold Berezina River. In just a few days’ time, tens of thousands of soldiers died in battle, froze to death, drowned or starved. Many of them came from the Netherlands, a fact that is still well-known today, thanks to an illustration by Jan Hoynck van Papendrecht used in Dutch schools for many years and included in the exhibition. The drama of the campaign surges to life in works such as four large battle paintings by Peter Hess. The Russian campaign put an end to many years of success for Napoleon and his Grande Armée. The French army was massacred: out of 600,000 soldiers, less than 100,000 survived.

The Tsar also suffered heavy losses, but he held a victory parade in Paris. Napoleon was utterly defeated and sent into exile. In Paris, the Tsar contacted the former empress, Joséphine, who received him at Malmaison. Just as the Tsar and Napoleon had once developed a warm friendship, the Tsar and Joséphine did the same. There are various, often contradictory stories about the motivations of the two. In any case, she gave Alexander one of the greatest gifts a tsar could ask for: the ancient Gonzaga Cameo, from the 3rd century BC. Alexander invited her to come and live in St Petersburg, but she never had the chance to take the invitation into consideration because of her early death. Shortly after a stroll with the Tsar, the former empress died of pneumonia. The rest is history.

The Tsar was not only the victor, along with his allies, but also the buyer of Josephine’s famous art collection. By the time of her death, it comprised more than four hundred works, by masters such as Potter, Metsu, Van der Werff, Rembrandt, Claude Lorrain, Luini, Schidone, David Teniers the Younger, Terborch and Canova. She had purchased many of these works herself, and many others were gifts from Napoleon, war trophies from conquered territories. Alexander bought a large number of paintings and sculptures in 1815 for the then-astronomical sum of 940,000 French francs. Joséphine’s daughter Hortense and son Eugène came under Alexander’s protection, and a generation later Joséphine’s grandson married a Romanov princess, creating a tie of blood between the two families. Partly for this reason, many of the works in her collection ultimately found their way to the Hermitage. Her descendants married into the royal families of Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, Norway and Sweden.
The exhibition Alexander, Napoleon & Joséphine, a Story of Friendship, War and Art runs until 8th November 2015 at the Hermitage Amsterdam. 

© Hermitage Amsterdam. 27 March, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:21 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 27 March 2015 12:27 PM EDT
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Tuesday, 3 February 2015
Exhibition: Map of Russia. Milestones in History
Topic: Exhibitions

The Moscow Kremlin Museums hosts a historical exhibition to reveal the phenomenon of Russia as the largest state in the world, which has been preserving its status since the late 17th century. The exposition incorporates remarkable masterpieces of the 14th—early 20th centuries, which are to present the history of the development of Russia, full of dramatic events, wars, dynastic and political collisions, outstanding achievements in various fields.

The key exhibit at the exposition is a unique masterpiece — the map of the Russian Empire, embroidered by students of the Moscow college of the Order of St. Catherine in 1872 and presented to Emperor Alexander II. The period of Emperor Alexander II is distinguished by the expansion of the Russian Empire through the territories of Central Asia, the Caucasus and Far East. The map reveals the delicate workmanship of embroideresses as well as a monumental grandeur of the Russian state, the borders of which have extended to its maximum by 1867. It was exposed in Moscow only once and has never been on loan to foreign museums.

The famous Crown of Kazan is also on display. This precious ceremonial headpiece, covered with dense niello pattern and gems, is believed to be commissioned by Tsar Ivan the Terrible in 1553 in order to celebrate the annexation of the Kazan Khanate after the capture of Kazan. Later on the image of the crown was included to a complicated composition of the National Emblem where it appeared along with other coats of arms as the arms of the realm of Kazan.

The oldest extant item at the exposition is the stone plate of 1491 inscribed with information on the construction of the Kremlin towers under Grand Prince Ivan III and his title of "sovereign of All Rus", which reflected the growing power of the Moscovite ruler, who claimed absolute authority in his realm. The artifact relates to an important period in the Russian history, characterized by the development of the idea of sovereignty which marked the transition of Russia from a principality to an emerging nation-state. Further expansion of Russia can be traced through geographical names of the lands, stated within titles of the Russian rules, for example, that of the Tsar Mikhail Fyodorovich on the golden chain, presented at the exposition, and the title of Emperor Nicholas II, which involved over fifty names.

Maps, representing the territory of Russia during several centuries, are worthy of particular note. Two of them came from the world's first geographical atlas, created by the Flemish cartographer Abraham Ortelius. The other one, compiled by diplomat and researcher Isaac Massa, presents the Northern part of Russia in the first half of the 17th century, including Obdoriya region in Siberia, which has been included to the list of lands stated within titles of the Russian sovereigns since the 16th century. The growth of interest to cartography in the 17th century is revealed through outstanding artworks bearing various images of cities, maps of newly discovered lands. For example, one of the exposed items — the golden snuff-box — is decorated with a miniature portrait of Empress Catherine the Great holding a map in her hand.

Two Easter eggs, presented at the exposition, were produced by the famous Fabergé firm. The one with a model of Trans-Siberian express inside is engraved with a map of the Russian state showing the Trans-Siberian Railway. The other one, commissioned to a renowned craftsman H. Wigström to commemorate the tercentenary of the Romanov House, contains a rotating globe with silhouettes of Russia of 1613 and 1913, demonstrating the extension of its boundaries throughout several centuries.

The Map of Russia. Milestones in History Exhibition runs until 15 March, 2015, in the Exhibition hall of the Assumption Belfry of the Moscow Kremlin. 
© Moscow Kremlin State Historical Museum. 03 February, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:43 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 3 February 2015 8:13 AM EST
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Saturday, 10 January 2015
Russian Sovereigns Portrayed in Steel Engravings
Topic: Exhibitions

On 18 December, 2014 a unique exhibit featuring steel engravings opened at the Museum of Fine Arts in Ekaterinburg. The famous Zlatoust steel engravings are from the collection of the Zlatoust Museum of Local Lore, the Zlatoust arms factory and private collections in the Urals.

Zlatoust steel engraving – Russian folk art craft that originated at the beginning of the 19th century, in Zlatoust (Chelyabinsk region now). They absorbed rich traditions of Russian and Western European gunsmiths of the 7th-18th centuries, but soon the Ural engravers created their own original style of decorating weapons. Zlatoust weapons gained popularity not only in Russia but far beyond its borders. In the late 1830s, the factory began decorating the household appliances – a variety of caskets, trays, knives for cutting paper, cigarette holders, cigarette cases, hunting knives and hatchets, engraved tableware sets

Original art of Zlatoust steel engraving uses the miraculous properties of the metal, which can be detected by special processing. Used for decoration engraved tableware sets with pure gold, silver, nickel give products unique charm, grace, beauty.

The Ekaterinburg exhibit includes mainly items created between the 1930s to 1960s, plus works by contemporary artists. These include paintings on steel depicting nature scenes of the Urals, a variety of panels, various household items, jewellery boxes, picture frames, and unique engravings of the emperors and empresses of Russia. 

The exhibit runs from 18 December, 2014 to 22 February, 2015 at the Museum of Fine Arts in Ekaterinburg. 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 10 January, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 3:04 PM EST
Updated: Saturday, 10 January 2015 4:30 PM EST
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Wednesday, 19 November 2014
Exhibition: Unrivalled Wedgwood Opens in Moscow
Topic: Exhibitions

The large-scale exhibition of the masterpieces manufactured by Wedgwood, a legendary British company, opens on 15 November in halls of the All-Russia Decorative Art Museum. The exhibition is a part of official program of the UK-Russia Year of Culture 2014. The White Hall of the museum with the floor area of more than six hundred square meters will present artworks from the Lady Lever Collection (Liverpool) which never travelled abroad before, and unique and rare exhibits from collections of the State Hermitage, State Tretyakov Gallery, State Museum of Fine Arts named after A. S. Pushkin, palace museums of Moscow and St. Petersburg suburbs (Tsarskoye Selo, Pavlovsk, Peterhof, Ostankino, Kuskovo, Kolomenskoye estates). The main idea of this display is to show the impressive experience of Josiah Wedgwood, to illustrate the importance of innovative thinking in spheres of art, science and entrepreneurship. Visitors of the exhibition will be able to see original objects of impeccable taste, high quality, elegance and style produced by the Wedgwood Company which will be displayed in Moscow for the first time.

The exhibition will put together more than three hundred objects of highest esthetical value: jewelry, furniture pieces, costumes, works of painting and graphics from the XVIII – XIX cc. Among the unique exhibits of the display the visitors will discover one of the three marble fireplaces with Flaxman blue jasper plaquettes in its original form, porcelain plates with paintings by animalist George Stubbs, two oval medallions with portraits of Catherine II and Peter I (the unique nature of these porcelain plates and medallions is in their size and sophisticated manufacturing technology), pieces from the famous Green Frog service of Catherine II comprising almost a thousand of objects. Besides that, the exhibition will feature one of the most perfect reproductions of the famous Portland vase (the antique Roman original of it made in color glass was owned by Barberini Family, by Dukes of Portland – now it is kept in the British Museum) made in black basalt. A masterpiece of late Thomas Gainsborough, the Portrait of the Duchess of Cumberland, is another unique exhibit from the collection of the Lady Lever Collection, amazing in its virtuous performance, exquisite color scheme and noble model, one of the inimitable beauties of the period. Only one work of this master is represented in Russian collections.

Josiah Wedgwood, the creator of ceramic artworks, was simultaneously an artist, an inventor and a businessman. Wedgwood products came to symbolize British culture and turned into a standard of style. His business abilities and personal character helped him  to launch a flourishing business, and support of influential persons helped to shape a brand which is still inseparably associated with such notions as “superb taste” and “English traditions” today. The exhibits of our display will cover an extensive range of topics associated with culture, science and organization of production: emergence of the company in 1759, manufacturing of products in ancient Greek and Roman styles, experiments with color and form, introduction of innovative technologies, issue of new pottery and creation of fashionable jewelry.

The Unrivalled Wedgwood exhibition in our museum will coincide with the Music of the Earth festival conducted by Boris Berezovsky, a piano player. The festival will become an annual event, and it will be devoted to musical cultures of different countries. The festival will form a sort of a musical accompaniment for the exhibition during the UK-Russia Year of Culture 2014. It will open on November 26 with a gala concert at the House of Music, and then four unforgettable recitals of star performers from Russia, England and Ireland will continue its program during the next four days at our museum.

Visitors of our exhibition will also be able to participate in the UK-Russia Year of Culture 2014 intense program which will accompany the main exhibition: lectures and round-table discussions, watching of films about Wedgwood, its time and fate, recitals of British literature works popular in the XVIII century, master classes, presentations of the Russian and the English tea party traditions, educational quizes. A special souvenir shop offering Wedgwood products will be open during the exhibition.

Unrivalled Wedgwood runs from November 15, 2014 – February 1, 2015 at the All-Russia Decorative Art Museum, Moscow. 
© All-Russia Decorative Art Museum. 19 November, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:27 PM EST
Updated: Thursday, 20 November 2014 7:02 PM EST
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Sunday, 9 November 2014
Opening of the 13th Orthodox Russia National Unity Day Exhibition and Forum
Now Playing: Language: Russian. Duration: 1 minute, 30 seconds
Topic: Exhibitions

The exhibition is devoted to the history of Russia during the reign of the princes of the Rurik dynasty (10th — 16th centuries)
Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin attended the opening of the 13th Orthodox Russia — National Unity Day Church and Society Exhibition and Forum along with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.

Mr Sobyanin and Mr Putin stopped at an interactive exhibition stand on the Orthodox Church construction programme in the capital.

“We are actively working to build churches,” said Mr Sobyanin. “Almost all the land plots, 170 of them, have already been surveyed, 80 churches are under construction and 40 of them are actually already completed. Temporary chapels have been erected at the sites of the future churches, where one can work with parishioners and collect money and donations so that parish life can begin. Everything is going according to plan.”

He added that additional work is also underway to restore old churches.

“I was recently on Preobrazhenkskaya Square,” said Mr Sobyanin. “It is an old church, which was built in its time from the donations of Preobrazhensky Regiment soldiers, and it is almost completed. Great work is being done on the church of St Vladimir.”

The Orthodox Russia — National Unity Day exhibition will be held from 4 to 20 November at the Manezh Central Exhibition Hall. It is dedicated to the two holidays celebrated on 4 November — the state holiday National Unity Day and the church holiday Kazan Icon of the Mother of God. The Russian Orthodox Church organised the festivities with the support of federal authorities and the Moscow Government.

VIDEO (in Russian) - Patriarch Kirill escorts President Vladimir Putin around Rurik exhibition
The exhibition is devoted to the history of Russia during the reign of the princes of the Rurik dynasty (10th — 16th centuries). This includes the founding of early cities, the Baptism of Rus, defeating the Golden Horde, the struggle against foreign invaders and the creation of the Russian state.

The Manezh’s 18 halls, covering a total area of 4,000 square metres, will host exhibits on historical events and the lives great princes and kings of the Rurik dynasty, presented with the aid of modern technologies (3D installations, touch screens and panels).

The centrepiece is a 20-meter-long multimedia cinema dome dedicated to St Sergius of Radonezh, whose 700th birthday is celebrated this year. The revered icon of St Sergius of Radonezhis is on loan at the exhibition.

The exhibition features a Moscow Government stand on the urban development of the city from the 14th to the 21st centuries, the preservation of cultural heritage in the capital of Rurik and the construction of new churches associated with historic sites and shrines.

It is expected that some 300,000 people, including school groups, will visit the exhibition. The Moscow Government and the Moscow branch of the Russian Interior Ministry have developed and approved a security plan for visitors.

Advertisements for the exhibition can be seen in the Moscow Metro and on streets around the city, and in the media.

The exhibition is open on 4 November from 15:00 to 21:30, and from 10:00 to 21:30 thereafter. Admission is free.

After Moscow, the Orthodox Russia exhibition will travel to St Petersburg, Tyumen, and the Republic of Crimea.

Upon its return, it will be merged with the 2013 Romanov dynasty exhibition for the Moscow Centre for the History of the Fatherland, to be set up in Pavilion No. 57 at the National Exhibition of Economic Achievements. 
© Moscow City Government Press Release. 09 November, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 5:34 AM EST
Updated: Sunday, 9 November 2014 5:42 AM EST
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Friday, 31 October 2014
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. 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 21 October, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 3:06 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 31 October 2014 3:21 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 29 October 2014
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. 
© HKSAR and Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 29 October, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 10:20 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 29 October 2014 10:41 AM EDT
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Monday, 13 October 2014
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.

On other days the opening hours are: 10:00–21:30

Admission free. © 13 October, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 2:24 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, 13 October 2014 2:28 PM EDT
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Thursday, 25 September 2014
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 Imperial Porcelain Factory: Three Centuries of Russian Fine China 

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 25 September, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:41 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 26 September 2014 11:40 AM EDT
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Saturday, 6 September 2014
Dining with the Tsars. Fragile Beauty from the Hermitage Opens in Amsterdam
Topic: Exhibitions

© State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg
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 
© Hermitage Amsterdam. 06 September, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 5:30 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 6 September 2014 6:23 AM EDT
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