Roses for Catherine the Great Topic: Tsarskoye Selo
Continuing with their Romanov 400th Anniversary Commemoration Project, Tsarskoye Selo celebrated the 284th birth anniversary of Empress Catherine II of Russia (1729–1796).
On May 2nd, 2013, a bouquet of roses graced an elegant table near the Empress's portrait in the Chinese Drawing-Room of Alexander I at the Catherine Palace.
'My dear, my lovely Tsarskoye Selo!', that is how Catherine addressed her favourite place among the imperial summer residences of St. Petersburg. Here she fulfilled her dreams and creative ideas, being both inspiring to Tsarskoye Selo and inspired by it.
Being also very fond of roses since her childhood, she honoured the flower by laying out the Rose Field in the Catherine (then Tsarskoye Selo) Park. The several-hectare rose garden bloomed all summer. It was constantly added with new species brought from Denmark, Holland, Germany and France, some of which were moved to the Greenhouses for winter.
After the death of the Empress, the rose garden was neglected and then gone. But Catherine's favourite flowers, artfully carved on the furniture or painted on the ceilings, are still present in her palace today.
The Romanov 400th Anniversary Commemoration Project continues at Tsarskoye Selo.
On April 29th, 2013, one of the rooms of the Romanov Dynasty display at the Catherine Palace was decorated with palms, blooming hydrangeas and poecilophyllousphilodendrons, put in jardinières (flower stands) made after a mid-19th-century original, marking the 195th birth anniversary of Emperor Alexander II.
The plant composition titled “An Artful Garden” complies with the canons of the epoch when jardinières like these were a must-have element of a room with greenery.
A variety of plants, often exotic ones, would liven up and romaticize an interior – especially in a country that lies snow-covered almost half a year. Lovingly cultivated, the “green guests from overseas” were often organized into beautiful indoor gardens.
Recollecting a travel to cold Russia in his Voyage en Russie (1867), the French writer Théophile Gautier called flowers “the true luxury” that Russians loved to fill their houses with, “It does feel like the North Pole outside, but inside it's like the tropics”.
Unique Glass Restoration at Tsarskoye Selo Topic: Tsarskoye Selo
Mr. Dmitri Rozental and other talented restorers from Yuzhakova’s Studio in St. Petersburg have brought back to life a glass vase that stood in the Alexander Park’s Arsenal and after 1917 in the Alexander Palace.
The piece belonged to a set of large vases with similarly decorated bowls, produced at the Imperial Glass Factory in St. Petersburg during the 1830s-1840s. It came to Tsarskoye Selo from the Winter Palace’s Storerooms in 1855. Disassembled and evacuated in 1941, the vase returned a few years later with some of its details lost and has not been exhibited ever since.
The vase of colourless glass with cobalt overlays has a deep bowl with acanthus decoration and a hexagonal base with six lictor’s fasces connected together with amber glass shields bearing anchors. The unique restoration required a complete recreation of the upper sides of the base and its hexagonal plate with cobalt beaded ornament. The restorers did what seemed impossible just a decade ago by replicating the lost elements with modern polymers that closely imitate 19th-century glass.
The new technologies raise hopes for a revival of the Blue Study or Snuffbox and the Bedchamber, Catherine II’s glass-decorated private rooms in the Zubov Wing of the Catherine Palace.
The festive looking vase will first join the Catherine Palace’s permanent displays and then, after the Alexander Palace restoration, will become a bright accent in one of the palace halls dedicated to Nicholas I and his family’s life at the Tsarskoye Selo residence.
Archive of Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich Moves to Tsarskoye Selo Topic: Tsarskoye Selo
Tsarskoye Selo’s collection of items from the American descendants of Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich is to be increased with over 100 photographs, letters, dozens of books, and paintings and portraits of close relatives to the Tsar’s family.
The generous gift is from Michael Romanoff Ilyinsky who has made another generous donation of items related to his grandfather, Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich Romanov, the grandson of Emperor Alexander II and cousin of Emperor Nicholas II.
The handover ceremony, timed to celebrations of the 400th anniversary of the Romanov Dynasty, has taken place in New York. The Act of Donation was signed by Mr. Romanoff Ilyinsky and Consul General Mr. Igor Golubovsky of the Russian Federation.
The archive and other items, including the portraits of Grand Duke Dmitri (see above left) and Grand Duchess Elizaveta Fiodorovna (above right), will join our exhibition The Romanovs: From Tsarskoye Selo to Cincinnati, which will run at the Zubov Wing of the Catherine Palace from July 17th to September 30th, 2013.
The exhibition will highlight Grand Duke Dmitri. He is known to have had to leave Russia after the assassination of Rasputin in December 1916 and move to Persia; there he was in military service and then learned of the 1917 revolution. Afterwards Dmitri lived in London, Paris and Davos where he died in 1942.At the exhibition, that period of his life will be reflected in numerous photographs taken by the Grand Duke and in his “home videos” of the 1920s–1930s.
As Mr. Romanoff Ilyinsky said in New York, “The items I am handing over to the Museum are the personal belongings and materials related to the life of my grandfather, Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich. These are only part of the family archive. The remainder will gradually return to Russia. It’s a common decision of Dmitri’s descendants.”
Romanov Treasures to Return to Russia Topic: Tsarskoye Selo
Angelica and Paul Ilyinsky, in a 1999 photograph. Source: Palm Beach Daily News
The Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve is to receive a collection of items from the American descendants of Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich.
Michael Romanoff Ilyinsky, the son of Paul Ilyinsky (1928-2004), and grandson of Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich will present the museum with a gift which includes "more than 100 photographs, dozens of books, and portraits of members of the Imperial family."
"The personal items related to my grandfather returning to Russia are only part of the family archive," said Ilyinsky in New York, "the remainder of the collection will eventually find its way home to Russia." - Source: Itar-Tass
Tsarist Perfume Collection Donated to Tsarskoye Selo Museum Topic: Tsarskoye Selo
The Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Preserve has received a precious present in the form of a collection of favorite perfumes owned by Russia’s last tsar, Nicholas II, and the members of his family.
The aromatic donation was made by Zinaida Volodina-Pessoa, president of the Canada-based Svetoch Slavic Culture Association. Volodina-Pessoa acquired the imperial perfumes at auctions and in antique shops in different locations.
“Indeed, the aromatic substances in these bottles have changed but it is possible to establish the base notes of each perfume’s composition,” said Irina Nacharova, a spokeswoman for Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Preserve.
The collection consists of six bottles of perfume that are intimately linked to the family of Nicholas II. One perfume, a bottle of “White Rose,” is associated with empress Alexandra Feodorovna. “White Rose,” by the renowned Atkinson brand that was founded in London in 1799 and is currently based in Italy, was her favorite fragrance.
The daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra preferred floral scents, especially those from the famous French house of Coty. A graceful Rene Lalique bottle from the donation contains a dark aromatic substance — Grand Duchess Anastasia’s most beloved perfume, “La Violette Pourpre.”
A small pyramid-shaped glass bottle contains another Coty creation, “La Rose Jacqueminot,” a favorite of Grand Duchess Olga. Perhaps predictably, Grand Duchess Tatyana was another of the Romanov family members devoted to the creations of Coty. Volodina-Pessoa has found a half-full bottle of Tatyana’s preferred fragrance, “Jasmin de Corse,” and added the item to the collection. Grand Duchess Maria preferred “Lilas Pourpre,” also produced by Coty.
According to Volodina-Pessoa, all of the bottles were produced at the beginning of the 20th century.
The collection of imperial perfumes will become part of a new exhibition that is currently being arranged by the museum. The display will mark the 400th anniversary of the establishment of the House of Romanov and is expected to open to the public by the beginning of the summer.
Additionally, Zinaida Volodina-Pessoa has provided Tsarskoye Selo with valuable information in helping the museum to locate and purchase from a private collector in Canada a perfume bottle that is graced with the monogram of Nicholas II. Experts say it is likely that this bottle is unique and was owned by the tsar. The perfume bottle is made of glass and decorated with silver, gold and diamonds. It contains a fragrance produced by the award-winning soap and perfume manufacturer Rallet & Co., which was established in St. Petersburg in 1843 by Frenchman Alphonse Rallet.
Rallet & Co. catered directly to the Romanov family and the Russian court.
Volodina-Pessoa accompanied the gift of perfumes with a silver photograph frame made in England at the end of the 19th century and original photographs, dating from the 1860s.The images feature the mother, uncle and grandmother of empress Alexandra Fyodorovna — Princess Alice, then-Prince of Wales King Edward VII and Queen Victoria, respectively.
“Volodina-Pessoa also presented the museum with a copy of a score with a Christmas song that lists Nicholas II as the author,” Nacharova said. “Our curators will examine these relics.”
A breathtaking aerial view of the Feodorovsky Gorodok (left) and the Sovereign Feodorovsky Cathedral (right) at Tsarskoye Selo. The Feodorovsky Gorodok is currently under restoration and once completed will serve as the Patriarch's official residence. The Sovereign Feodorovsky Cathedral has undergone exhaustive restorations that span nearly two decades. Both are a short walk from the Alexander Palace.
Catherine Palace: Lyons Hall Displays its 19th-Century Furnishings Topic: Tsarskoye Selo
The Lyons Hall, Catherine Palace. Watercolour by Luigi Premazzi (1859)
The Lyons Hall of the Catherine Palace is one of the interiors waiting to be restored. At the present time, the Lyons Hall welcomes our visitors with the surviving items from its pre-war furnishings and a copy of Luigi Premazzi’s watercolour of 1878 titled The Lyons Hall (Yellow Drawing-Room) in the Great Palace of Tsarskoye Selo, which demonstrates its mid-nineteenth century splendour.
The interior is the creation of two architects: Charles Cameron and later Ippolito Monighetti. Decorated with lapis lazuli and a luxury silk wall lining from Lyons (hence the name), the hall was finished by Cameron in the eighteenth century Classical style in 1781-83. It was reworked in 1848-61 by Monighetti who treated Cameron’s work with great delicacy, intensifying the visual impact of the room by adding new furnishings: mirrors above the fireplaces, flanked by white marble cupids, and lapis-lazuli sconces on the walls. The room was filled with tables, jardinières, cachepots, screens, pedestals and desks.
Monighetti designed the gorgeous chandelier (see below left) for 84 candles made of lapis lazuli and gilded bronze, which beautifully completed the now-lost exquisite ceiling décor.
The architect’s highlight for the Lyons Hall is the gilt-bronze and lapis-lazuli furniture set (see below) with such a unique feature as the monogram of Empress Maria Alexandrovna, spouse of Alexander II. The initials are an indication of the owner for whom these pieces were specially commissioned in 1856 from the Peterhof Lapidary Works to spruce up the empress’s favourite interior of the palace. Its Afghan lapis lazuli of rich deep colour with golden speckles is superbly set off by the gilded bronze surroundings.
Besides the marvellous furniture set, also saved by the evacuation in 1941–44 and featured on the current display are the two paintings: Raphael’s Death by Felice Schiavoni (see below right) and The Sibyl of Libya by Giovanni Francesco Barbieri (Guercino) (below left).
The Loss of the Palaces: Tsarskoye Selo in 1941-1944 Topic: Tsarskoye Selo
The Loss of the Palaces: Tsarskoye Selo in 1941-1944 is a photo exhibit set out in the Third Antechamber of the Catherine Palace from January 25 to March 3, 2013.
The photographs on display come from the collections of Bair Irincheyev and Denis Zhukov and from a German World War II soldier's album donated to our Museum by Mr. Irincheyev. The amateur shots of 1941-1944 reflect the wreckage of the years when Tsarskoye Selo suffered under the Nazi occupation.
Looking at the rare photos obtained at German online auctions within the last decade, one of the collectors says that many Nazis obviously thought of their invasion as "tourism", an exciting adventure for shot-taking. Almost half of them brought cameras and made up photo albums, which then got into family archives and now are often sold out by the soldiers’ descendants.
The two collectors’ trophies are supplemented with items from our holdings, including the photographs and Leica camera of a German soldier, donated by his daughter, and a 1941-42 journal of a German officer stationed in Pushkin during the occupation (donated by his descendant).
For the first time on museum display in Russia, courtesy of the Berlin-based researcher Dimitri Silbermann, the copies of the photographs made in November-December 1941 by an amateur photographer from the 58th Infantry Division, a unit of the German army (Wehrmacht) under Generalleutnant Friedrich Altrichter then quartered in Slutsk (now Pavlovsk).
Our knowledge of the Nazi occupation of Pushkin town is still fragmentary because the extensive documents of that period are dispersed in hundreds of archives around the world and waiting to be processed, which makes the available wartime photographs of Tsarskoye Selo parks and palaces very interest-worthy.
Tsarskoye Selo Honours Saint Seraphim of Sarov Topic: Tsarskoye Selo
January 15th marked the 180th anniversary of the death of Saint Seraphim of Sarov. In honour of this anniversary, a cross was erected in memory of an unfinished church which stood on the spot in 1916.
The church was to constructed in honour of the miraculous escape of Anna Vyrubova, friend and confidant of the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, who survived a horrific train disaster on January 2 [O.S.], 1915.
At the initiative of Vyruobova, the Saint Seraphim Hospital was opened, designed for Russian soldiers officers wounded during World War One. The hospital could hold up to 50 patients at one time. In the spring of 1916, Empress Alexandra allocated a plot of land for the construction of hospital buildings and the Saint Seraphim of Sarov Church. A cross was erected on the spot where the church would be constructed.
On November 5 [O.S.], 1916, a liturgy was held during the laying of the foundation stone for the new church. The service was attended by Emperor Nicholas II and his family, Anna Vyrubova, and members of the clergy.
Sadly, the outbreak of the February Revolution in 1917 and other subsequent events prevented further construction of the church. The church was nothing more than a simple wooden frame measuring 20 x 20 meters. After the Revolution the church was destroyed. Some sources say it was burnt to the ground, while others maintain that it was dismantled for firewood by locals.
One point of interest is that it was here that Rasputin's body was buried on December 21, 1916, on the north side of the church. His final resting place was disrupted in March 1917 by the Bolsheviks, who dug up his remains and subsequently destroyed them.