Peterhof, located on the coast of the Gulf of Finland, from the time of Peter the Great was the epitome of naval glory and Russian naval victories. The emperors often made boat trips from Peterhof to watch the sea manoeuvres being held off the coast. For almost three centuries, the central sculpture of the Grand Cascade - fountain "Samson tearing open the lion's mouth" - represents the assertion Russia on the Baltic Sea.
The Museum of the Ocean World in Kaliningrad, Russia is currently hosting the exhibition Peterhof - the Sea Capital of Emperors. More than 100 items from the Peterhof State Museum Preserve provide a chronicle of the country’s maritime history in four parts, including the naval victories of the Russian Empire, the role of the sea and the Russian Imperial Navy in various spheres of life of the Peterhof imperial residence - from the official ideology to the private life and upbringing of the August children.
Visitors can explore items of the Petrine era, including a silver model of the boat of Peter I, Peter the Great naval uniform, models and sculptures, marine equipment (telescope, compass) from Mon Plaisir at Peterhof. Artwork includes the picturesque "Marina" painted at the end of the 17th century, thus embodying the first Russian art collection - a collection of Peter the Great. The era of Empress Catherine II is also represented, including her naval dress uniform, displayed against a background panorama of the Chesmensky Hall of the Grand Peterhof Palace. Also on display are a formal portrait of the Empress, the clock with a bust of Catherine II as Minerva, and marine accessories of her time.
In addition, the exhibition features a recreation of the Emperor's study of the late 19th century. Books, writing set, nautical instruments and paintings by Ivan Aivazovsky (the favourite artist of Emperor Nicholas I), help in recreating the working environment of the Imperial Cabinet.
Unique items related to the history of the Russian imperial yachts from the Imperial Yacht Museum at Peterhof are also exhibited. Peterhof served as an integral part of arrival for foreign heads of state and diplomat who arrived by sea during the second half of the 19th-early 20th centuries. Key items include models of the imperial yachts Polar Star and Alexandria, as well as select pieces of porcelain services made for the imperial yachts Derzhava and Alexandria. Emperor Nicholas II regularly sailed from Peterhof aboard his beloved yacht Standart.
A naval dress worn by Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, a child’s sailor uniform worn by one of the grand dukes, marine themed toys, books and other items help to create a complete picture of the lifestyle in the northern seaside imperial residence at Peterhof.
The exhibition is accompanied by multimedia programs designed to give visitors a broader view on the existence and importance of Peterhof as maritime and imperial residence. In particular, is the multimedia information and entertainment system Grand Peterhof Palace marking the 300-year history of the Grand Peterhof Palace.
The exhibition Peterhof - the Sea Capital of Emperors runs until 3 July, 2015 at the Museum of the Ocean World in Kaliningrad, Russia.
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 14 April, 2015