Tsarskoye Selo Hosts Imperial Porcelain Exhibit Topic: Tsarskoye Selo
A new exhibit Imperial Porcelain. The Binding Thread, will premiere on July 23rd in the Grotto Pavilion located in the Catherine Park at Tsarskoye Selo. The exhibit coincides with the 270th anniversary of the Imperial Porcelain Factory.
Exhibition organizers are heralding the exhibit as a unique opportunity to trace the history of the St. Petersburg school of porcelain art. The event will showcase approximately 200 works, including a number of rare porcelain pieces from the Imperial Porcelain Factory (still in operation) and from the storage rooms of the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum. The collection from the latter presents Russian, Western European and Far Eastern porcelain, the formation of a collection which is inextricably linked with the history of three centuries of the imperial residence.
Tsarskoye Selo was the venue for important state receptions for nearly two centuries, hosting formal dinners, balls and masquerades. The summer residence was also a favourite of the imperial family, where they found peace and solitude. The palace interiors were decorated with splendid vases of various shapes and sizes, with moulded handles, and unique pieces of porcelain depicting the famous paintings by European masters from the Imperial Porcelain Factory (IPE), who worked exclusively for the needs of the Imperial Court.
The exhibition Imperial Porcelain. The Binding Thread, runs until September 30, 2014 at the Grotto Pavilion (above) located in the Catherine Park at Tsarskoye Selo.
The History and Development of Tsarskoye Selo Topic: Tsarskoye Selo
To mark the 304th anniversary of the Tsarskoye Selo, celebrated on July 5, 2014, the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library in St. Petersburg published on its website an extensive collection of materials related to this memorable date. Historical documents, rare photographs, postcards, books, publications, revealing the three-century history of Tsarskoye Selo are now available to a wider audience.
As you know, June 24 (July 5), 1710 Peter I gave to his future wife Catherine Sarskaja Manor, located 25 km from St. Petersburg. That date is considered the foundation day of Tsarskoye Selo. The name "Sarskaya Manor" (a high place) was given to those lands due to a small Swedish manor house, located there in the early 18th century. In 1702, those territories were liberated by Russian troops. After the expulsion of the Swedish, the manor, which had been transferred into the possession of the Governor-General of the liberated territory, Alexander Menshikov, became known as the Sarskoye Selo.
In 1710, Peter I decided to give the lands to his future wife Catherine. The fact was mentioned in a letter of Alexander Menshikov to Koporie commandant, Larion Dumashev, of June 24 (July 5), 1710: "His Majesty is pleased to give Catherine Sarskaya and Slavyanskaya manors in Koporie country along with the associated villages, including the peasants and all the lands. As you receive the letter, give those manors with all the associated villages to her, and remove the manors from the accountant books; and send a report on the amount of yards, and fields, and woods, and hay meadows, and any land in the manors."
In 1717, a building for the summer residence of Empress Catherine I - the future Catherine Palace was laid in Tsarskoye Selo. Peter the Great often visited his wife’s country house. Visits of the emperor and other nobles to Tsarskoye Selo are described by A. I. Uspensky in his "Historical panorama of St. Petersburg and its environs. Tsarskoye Selo," available on the Presidential Library website:"August 7, 1724, according to furir books, His Imperial Majesty and the Empress came with a visit to Tsarskoye Selo; August 8, all the ministers and members of the aristocracy came there; August 9, on Sunday, was the consecration of the church took place in Tsarskoye Selo; after the liturgy 13 guns fired three times; ate all the ministers and Synod members (Archbishops George Dashkov of Yaroslavl, Theophanes Prokopovich of Pskov and Alexei Titov of Vyatka) ate in chambers in the village and stayed until midnight."
In 1728, the estate of the Empress passed to the crown princess Elizabeth, who unfolded there a serious construction. From 1741, Tsarskoye Selo had been the official residence of the Russian monarchs. In the second half of the 18th century, not only the palace with its front yard was constructed, but also the park, hydraulic works and houses. This was described in detail in the "Historical panorama of St. Petersburg and its environs. Tsarskoye Selo": "In 1728, Tsarskoye Selo became a patrimony of Princess Elizabeth Petrovna. Having ascended the throne, Elizabeth did not forget Tsarskoye Selo, and gradually, within a few years, turned the modest Peter Palace into a fantastically luxurious place to rival Versailles."
In 1808, by decree of the Emperor Alexander I, a single town called Tsarskoye Selo was formed. Its reconstruction plan was developed by architect V. I. Geste. By the second half of the nineteenth century, the population of Tsarskoye Selo reached 14, 000 inhabitants. Even then, it was a comfortable town with good rail links, water supply, sewerage, telegraph, telephone and radio station.
The website of the first national electronic library of the country provides access to historical documents relating to the history of Tsarskoye Selo. Among them: "The plans of parts of Tsarskoye Selo of the St. Petersburg Province: 1838-1839" provided by the Russian State Historical Archives. In addition to the plans and schemes of Tsarskoye Selo, there is also the "project of square and the road near the house occupied by a branch of the Sofia military hospital."
Tsarskoye Selo is also famous for its educational institutions. For example, in 1811, there was opened the Imperial Tsarskoye Selo Lyceum – a higher educational institution for children of nobles in the Russian Empire, which functioned until 1843. The Lyceum became widely known in the Russian history primarily as a school, which educated Alexander Pushkin.
The Presidential Library disposes of a unique document - "Resolution on the Lyceum" of 1810, written personally by Emperor Alexander I to «Mr. Minister of Education." It describes in detail the organization of the future educational institution, the requirements for teachers and students, the lists of disciplines needed to be studied, etc. It says that the Lyceum was intended for nobles aged 10-12, "having doubtless certificates of their great morality and being totally healthy." The time for studying was set from August 1 to July 1 of the following year.
Another educational institution opened in 1902. Two years earlier, Nicholas II issued a decree, «On the opening in Tsarskoye Selo of a real school board and the construction of the house for it." The decree is held by the Presidential Library and it explains the reason for choosing the place for the educational institution: "Climatically, Tsarskoye Selo has a healthy, clean air, dry mountainous terrain and beautiful water for the younger generation. Being very close to St. Petersburg, Tsarskoye Selo has all the amenities of intellectual life of the capital (libraries, museums, scientific and educational societies, theaters, etc.), but at the same time allows, thanks to its small size, have the best behavioral surveillance and way of life of students, even outside the walls of the educational institution."
By the early 20th century, Tsarskoye Selo was one of the most developed towns of the Russian Empire. After the revolution, the palaces and mansions of Tsarskoye Selo housed child care institutions, and the town became known as Detskoye Selo. In 1937, the town was renamed to Pushkin to commemorate the centenary of the death of the great Russian poet.
The Presidential Library website also makes available rare photos of Tsarskoye Selo. Among them: "Dacha of Alexander III», «A lane to the zoo," "Big whim", "Chinese Village", "Aleksander gate of Catherine park in Tsarskoye Selo."
The Presidential Library’s collections are constantly enriched with new interesting materials about the history of Tsarskoye Selo - Pushkin. Anyone can access them either on the website of the Presidential library or in electronic reading rooms. The first national electronic library of the country is designed to preserve and make available the most important documents on the history, theory and practice of the Russian state using modern technology. To date, the Presidential Library holdings include more than 320,000 electronic materials, over 110, 000 of them are freely available on the website.
Tsarskoye Selo Hosts Fan Exhibit Now Playing: Language: Russian. Duration: 3 minutes, 2 seconds Topic: Tsarskoye Selo
The unique exhibition ‘Hand Fan Returns’, set out at the Zubov Wing of the Catherine Palace, showcases a number of the restored items for the first time. Its highlights are some very valuable 18th-century fans, as well as fans from the 19th and early 20th centuries.
The Tsarskoye Selo collection of over 100 hand fans includes Western European, Oriental and Russian items of the 1700s (our historical collection) and of the 1800s–1940s, purchased from antique stores and private collectors and donated to the museum over the past years.
Forty nine fans in our collection were restored during 2010–2013 by a team of high-class professionals from the State Museum and Exhibition Center ROSIZO and the company Phenomen (Moscow), as part of the governmental program “Russian Culture (2006-2011)”.
All works were supervised by the highest-category artist and restorer N.P. Sinitsyna, head of textile and leather restoration. The masters literally gave a new life to these delicate works of art and made their display possible.
Conceptually, the exhibition draws on cultural phenomena of different ages and lands – Europe, Russia and the Far East, meeting like the sticks of an imaginary fan spread out in time. Little concentrated on the history and production centers of fans, it uses modern scenography tools to accentuate artistic and semantic properties of these exquisite objects, their lightness and captivating beauty, and to recreate the atmosphere of a ball and a holiday – so natural for this fragile and elegant attribute of aristocratic lifestyle.
The fans emerge from the darkness like bright fluttering butterflies. They shimmer in silver and gold. Their colours play in the rays of light and cast lacy shadows. Reflected in the mirrors, they bring a nostalgia for the refined beauty of bygone eras, which is lacking so much in our pragmatic time.
EU Prize Arrives at Tsarskoye Selo Topic: Tsarskoye Selo
Tsarskoye Selo is the recipient of the EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Award for their Conservation of the Agate Rooms project
One of the most important cultural events in today’s Europe, this year’s European Heritage Congress was held in Vienna, Austria, during May 2–6. Its culmination was the European Heritage Awards Ceremony, which took place at the renowned Burgtheater on May 5.
The Tsarskoye Selo Museum was represented by Director Olga V. Taratynova and by Director Boris Igdalov of the restoration company Tsarskoye Selo Amber Workshop. The EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Award for our project Conservation of the Agate Rooms was handed out by Maestro Plácido Domingo, the world’s renowned tenor and the President of Europa Nostra, and by Mrs. Androulla Vassiliou, the European Commissioner responsible for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth.
The ceremony was attended by H.E. Dr. Heinz Fisher, the Federal President of the Republic of Austria. The renowned Viennese ensemble The Philharmonics accompanied to each of the twenty seven 2014 Award Winners, who had presented their selected projects at the Excellence Fair held at the Vienna University of Technology earlier that day.
Now a certificate, commemorating the granting of the Award, and a bronze wall plaque, which is to be placed on the awarded site, arrived at Tsarskoye Selo. Director Olga Taratynova says, ‘The memorial plaque is a weighty award in all meanings. It is rather a heavy bronze bas-relief, a symbol of recognition of the incredible efforts made by our restorers, and of the methods that became the basis for our project. Following the main principle of the Venice Charter for the Conservation and Restoration of Monuments and Sites – ‘restoration ends where speculation begins’ – we were able to preserve the patina of time. Today, our visitors can see the interiors of the Agate Rooms practically the same as they were during the era of Catherine the Great.
Agate Rooms at Tsarskoye Selo
The Agate Rooms (1780-1787) are situated on the upper floor of the Cold Bath pavilion at the Tsarskoe Selo State Museum-Preserve in St Petersburg. The suite of six rooms were part of Catherine the Great’s extensive building programme in the city, and specifically the designs of the little-known (outside Russia) Scottish architect Charles Cameron (1745-1812). Their form of decoration is remarkable, especially in terms of colour, with red jasper columns with gilt bronze capitals set against the walls lined with multicoloured jasper plates. The architectural historian Howard Colvin described them as ‘some of the most exquisitely elegant interiors in 18th century Europe’.
The rooms survived the devastations of the 20th century, including WWII, but had received no proper restoration treatment, so that the current project was able to perform conservation of the original 18th century finishes, largely undistorted by unwise renovations of later periods. This was an advantage, and removed from the debate some of the contentious issues arising from the replacement of lost elements. But the project required careful handling because jasper is a notoriously difficult stone to work. Earlier experience in recreating the Amber Room in the Catherine Palace was helpful, but here it was necessary to deal with the original forms. The outcome reinforces the validity of Colvin’s exceptional commendation.
“The Jury particularly noted the quality of the science in this important project. Geological materials like jasper present special problems to the restorer: it is an unusual stone, where an unscientific approach could cause permanent damage. The results speak for themselves.”
For more information on the restoration of the Agate Rooms at Tsarskoye Selo, please refer to the following articles:
Tsarskoye Selo to Restore Imperial Farm Topic: Tsarskoye Selo
The central pavilion of the Imperial Farm at Tsarskoye Selo by the Russian architect Adam Menelaws
This year, Tsarskoye Selo will begin a large-scale reconstruction of the former Imperial Farm complex. Last month, the state museum preserve announced the tender for the reconstruction of the former dairy pavilion of the Imperial Farm. The development of research, surveying and project documentation for the execution of works on the reconstruction of the building will cost 10 million Rubles ($285,000 USD). The Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve note that applications will be accepted until May 7, 2014. The proposed plan would return the historical interiors of the building, which were altered in the 1920s, when the building was adapted for housing workers in the nearby agricultural institute (now the Agricultural University).
The Imperial Farm complex was built in the northern section of the Alexander Park between 1818-1822, by the Russian architect, Adam Menelaws. The farm complex was constructed in the Anglo-Gothic style and consists of a central two-story pavilion, a dairy, two one-story wings of the cross-shaped stone cowshed (lodgings for the CD inspector, the veterinary surgeon, and cow-keepers), hay sheds, ice houses, among other buildings.
The red brick central pavilion is of particular interest. The middle section of the central façade is decorated with small octagonal gothic towers. The triangular shipets topping off the façade, as well as the towers, are fitted with a castellated parapet. The building’s façade boats a high, arrow-shaped window, and the shipets, a small, round gothic window called an archer’s hatch.
Aerial view of the former Imperial Farm complex (background), and the Sovereign's Martial Chamber (foreground) at Tsarskoye Selo
Behind the main pavilion, in the courtyard, stands a cowshed (that housed up to 84 cows) whose corners are accented with small, sharply pitched towers.
According to an old visitors guide, "the central pavilion contains rooms for members of the tsar’s family who would come to view the farm. All the furniture of the two drawing rooms, the dining-room, the kitchen, and the four lounges in the upper story was made from the drawings of Menelas, of white maple with Gothic carving. On the walls hang engravings, dating from 1820 and representing views of Switzerland. Portraits of His Majesty Alexander I and his wife are hung in the dining room".
The area adjacent to the Imperial Farm was called the Farm Park. Its meadows were used as pasture for the grazing animals which included cattle of various breeds. Poultry farming began in 1909. The dairy-produce and eggs were used for the needs of the Imperial Court; the increase and the surplus was sold to outsiders with the permission of the Chief of the Palace Administration.
With the exception of some wooden buildings, the Imperial Farm complex has survived almost completely intact. Restoration work was carried out during the years 1990-2003, however, due to lack of funding further reconstruction of the complex was suspended.
In 2012 the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve decided to proceed with the restoration of the complex. The newly restored Imperial Farm will accommodate a horse museum, which will include carriages, sleighs, harnesses, and a barn to hold 30 horses.
The farm complex will also feature a café and mini-zoo, which will consist of poultry (chickens, geese, turkeys, pheasants) and a nursery for sheep, goats and rabbits.
“The reconstruction and restoration of the Imperial Farm complex is estimated at nearly 600 million Rubles,” said Natalia Kudryavtseva, chief architect of the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum—"Completion of the work depends on the financial capacity of the museum”.
April 24, 2014, saw the return of eight restored sculptures to their historical places in the niches on the façade of the Cold Bath pavilion, which houses the unique eighteenth-century Agate Rooms in the upper floor.
The sculptures were made from Pudost stone by Jacques-Dominique Rachette in 1785–87. Their restoration was carried out by the Tsarskoye Selo Amber Workshop.
The sculpted figures represent allegorical deities. Two figures on the Catherine Palace’s side personify Neva and Volkhov, the two main rivers of the St. Petersburg region. The north-east façade on the Catherine Park’s side has four figures: Girl with a water vessel, Young Man with a water vessel, Naiad (allegory of Neva), and Aeolid (allegory of a river god). The south-east wall facing the Maids-of-Honour Garden holds the allegories of Abundance and Prosperity.
They all had required restoration since the 1950s. Covered by layers of dirty lime paint, the figures showed multiple chips of variable sizes, as well as scratches and cracks.
Work began in the fall of 2013. After the first stage (dismantling and clearing), the restoration council approved the principles and methods of work, which included minimal intervention to the original, conservation of the stone texture, and recreation of only those fragments that affect the integrity of the composition.
Experts used the available old images of the figures to replace lost elements. Chips, dents and small lacunae were fixed with stone replacer. The natural stone’s surfaces were conserved, where possible, and treated with water repellents protecting against aggressive environments.
The Agate Rooms were opened in 2013 after extensive restoration and then closed for winter. They are expected to re-open for visiting in June 2014.
The Martial Chamber in the Alexander Park celebrates the end of extensive restoration work, and is ready to house Russia’s first museum of the First World War, which is to open there in August 2014.
The Martial Chamber is a complex of buildings. It includes the main building with an auditorium and a library, the towers and galleries for storage and display of museum exhibits, and the residential buildings with apartments for a caretaker, a porter and a janitor. The complex has retained its overall original design, only the interiors having been reworked.
This ‘object of cultural heritage of federal importance’ was passed to Tsarskoye Selo in 2010. The research institute SpetsProektRestavratsiya developed a plan of reconstruction and restoration of the Martial Chamber to have it revamped for museum use in 2010–11. Work began in 2011 to restore the historical monument, the company Resstroy being the main contractor. Funding came from the federal budget and amounted to 292 million rubles.
In accordance with the plan, the building underwent reconstruction to house a museum display, a vestibule area with ticket desks and a wardrobe, and modern systems of communication, utilities and equipment.
The old structures were reinforced, the decorative paintings conserved. The oak window frames and doors and the relief images of double-headed eagles on the facades were recreated after surviving samples, the eagle surmounting the Grand Tower after historical photographs. The eagle will be installed at its historic place as soon as its gilding is completed.
The biggest intervention to the monument was the laying of utilities and communications. However, the use of special channels allowed avoiding a distortion of historical facades and interiors.
Experts debated the issue of the recreation of the polychromatic paintings, which, according to historical sources, were executed by Nikolai Pashkov on the vaulted ceilings of the Grand Hall, the galleries, and the towers in 1915-1917. The ceilings were overpainted in the 1920s when the builidng was occupied by the Petrograd Institute of Agronomy. That, perhaps, partially saved the painting, which had been performed in a rare technique: the concrete vaults were covered with a thin layer of plaster ground and then painted with silicate paints. Based upon consultations with the contractor and the St. Petersburg Committee on Monuments Preservation, as well as with invited experts, a decision was made to conserve the painting.
The Martial Chamber will open for visiting in August 2014 as the Russia in the Great War museum, the first Russian permanent exhibition dedicated to the First World War.
Tsarskoye Selo Receives 18th Century Dog Portrait Now Playing: Language: Russian. Duration: 3 minutes, 25 seconds Topic: Tsarskoye Selo
A King Charles Spaniel in a landscape, a 45 x 58.5 cm oil on canvas of 1788 by Jacob Philipp Hackert, is the fourth picture by this artist in the collection of Tsarkskoye Selo.
The Museum won this wonderful piece of animalistic art at a recent auction. The picture came there from a private collection, but its provenance is yet to be studied by specialists. It is expected to be put on display at the Catherine Palace and exhibitions related to the history of the formation of secular space in the interiors of the Tsarskoye Selo residence.
Animal portraits have a particular place in the history of our picture collection, which is now graced by this highly artistic work.
According to Head Curator Mrs. Larisa V. Bardovskaya of Tsarskoye Selo, the portrait emits incredible warmth and has a certain aura. It was written with love and a detailed, thought-out composition. The painter finely and accurately conveyed the features of this breed and their empathy – some special quality for which these doggies had been literally carried on hands over several centuries. They were madly loved by the elderly and the seriously ill. A dog like this devotedly witnessed the last minutes in the life of Empress Alexandra, the spouse of Nicholas II. In those times, perhaps, no fashionable artist would avoid painting this breed. Hackert was very fond of dogs. They always accompanied him in travels.
Researchers of Hackert believe the dog in the portrait could belong to the king of Naples. King Charles Spaniels were favourites among other classic pet dogs which, along with porcelains, bronzes, paintings, tapestries and furniture, confirmed the high status of their owners.
Many watercolours in our collection, such as those by Luigi Premazzi and Eduard Hau, show this breed on carpets and sofas, under armchairs and in the hands of children. Hau’s watercolour (c. 1850) has an interesting scene with the imperial couple of Alexander II of Russia and his spouse Maria next to their two King Charles Spaniels.
Following European court etiquette, monarchs presented puppies of this breed to each other. The Russian imperial court adopted this fashion in the era of Nicholas I. A desire to be painted next to a favourite animal was natural and served as an additional, 'warming’ touch to the character of the imperial family.
Tsarskoye Selo Receives 100-Year-Old Russian Imperial Haute Couture Topic: Tsarskoye Selo
On April 8th, 2014, Tsarskoye Selo received an extraordinary gift of two early twentieth century pieces of attire worn at the Russian imperial court.
The gift came courtesy of Mr. Vincent George Poklewski-Koziell, a Polish-Austrian noble family descendant who is visiting Tsarkskoye Selo together with his wife Victoria Ann. His great-grandfather, Baron Edouard de Stoeckl, served as the Russian minister to the United States and was responsible for selling Alaska in 1867. His grandfather Vincent Poklewski-Koziell and uncles were fortunate Polish Russian entrepreneurs known as ‘The Siberian Rockefellers’.
Mr. Poklewski gave the Museum a ceremonial court dress with a kokoshnik headpiece which his mother Zoia de Stoeckl, a maid-of-honour to the last Empress Alexandra Feodorovna of Russia, wore together with 300 other maids-of-honour at a Romanov 300th Anniversary celebration in the Winter Palace in 1913.
The dress of crimson velvet with a wide round neckline, hanging sleeves, a train and a cream coloured satin skirt, is decorated with a floral embroidery design of metal threads, sequins and gimp. Its corsage belt bears the mark of the English fashion designer Charles Frederick Worth, the ‘father of haute couture’ who made dresses for the consorts of the Russian emperors Alexander II, Alexander III and Nicholas II.
The other gift, a chamberlain’s court uniform of black broadcloth with gold embroidery, belonged to Mr. Poklewski’s grandfather, Baron Sasha de Stoeckl. Although following an established pattern, each of those uniforms was custom-made for a particular holder of the rank.
The dress and the uniform left Russia after the 1917 revolution and moved to the house of Mr. Poklewski’s grandmother in London. Later they spent years at Luton Hoo, on loan to the Russian Rooms exhibit, run by Countess Anastasia de Torby, a great-granddaughter to Emperor Nicholas I of Russia on her father’s side and a great-granddaughter to the poet Alexander Pushkin on her mother’s side. The objects went back to Mr. Poklewski after the exhibit was closed down in the 1990s. They have come full circle and returned to Russia where the Tsarskoye Selo Museum, according to Mr. Poklewski, is ‘the best place where they belong’.
The dress and the uniform will be first put on display at the Alexander Palace for the Night of Museums event on May 17th, 2014.
Sovereign's Martial Chamber at Tsarskoye Selo, a People's Museum Topic: Tsarskoye Selo
The Russia in the Great War Museum, which is to open at the Sovereign's Martial Chamber at Tsarskoye Selo in August 2014 commemorating the 100th year since the beginning of the First World War, has gathered nearly 2,000 objects from across Russia and Western Europe.
The project is mainly financed by Russia’s Ministry of Culture. The exhibits are also purchased with non-budget funds of the Museum and with significant help from Russian and foreign contributors, organizations and individuals.
Restoration of the Sovereign’s Martial Chamber is now nearing completion. The future museum already has a developed concept and exhibition plan. Work continues on the acquisition of weapons, uniforms, awards, photos and documents of the time.
Our museum will be the first of its kind in modern Russia, dedicated to this particular period in history.
For more information on the Sovereign's Marshall Chamber at Tsarskoye Selo, please refer to the following articles: