Exhibition: Undefeated Beauty Topic: Tsarskoye Selo
This photo exhibition for the 70th Anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War 1941-5 will tell our visitors what marvels of Tsarskoye Selo were lost to WWII and how the palaces and parks were reborn from the ashes later on.
The exhibition is included in the Catherine Palace tour. It is set out in the Corridor on the first floor and will run until December 30, 2015.
The palaces and parks of Tsarskoye Selo are outstanding monuments of architecture and landscape art formed over three hundred years from the 18th to the early 20th centuries. This magnificent ensemble attracts huge numbers of visitors from around the world.
Architects from different countries were commissioned by Russian emperors and empresses to create this original ‘encyclopedia of art styles’ from baroque to art nouveau, which today draws people of all ages and occupations.
The parks of Tsarskoye Selo contain palaces of amazing opulence which stand side by side with small pavilions of different styles. These provide a special atmosphere for romantic walks among structures of Gothic, Turkish and Chinese inspiration, monuments glorifying Russian arms and marvelous examples of baroque and palladian architecture.
The former suburban imperial residence’s transformation into one of the iconic landmarks of St Petersburg is linked intrinsically with the name of Ivan P. Sautov (1947–2008), who was unanimously elected Director by the museum employees and headed Tsarksoye Selo for twenty years. Ivan P. Sautov worked his way up from an assistant district architect to head of the Inspectorate of Monuments Preservation and then took the helm at the museum during the turbulent 1990s to write a new page in the history of Tsarskoye Selo. His major achievements include the large-scale restoration and recreation of the Catherine Palace’s suite of state rooms, the rebirth of the legendary Amber Room (considered the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’), the restoration of park pavilions and the revival of musical evenings and dances in the palace halls. His sudden death deprived the museum of accomplishing many of his other exciting plans for Tsarskoye Selo ahead of its glorious tercentenary.
Olga V. Taratynova, who became Director in 2008, took up the challenge to have the museum ready for the Tsarskoye Selo Tercentenary Celebrations in 2010. The museum marked the jubilee with a grandeur appropriate to the traditions of its imperial past and received a powerful creative stimulus for new projects. It has restored and reopened park pavilions, expanded its collections, created Russia’s first museum of World War One in the recently restored Martial Chamber, and designed interactive children’s programs and other events of social importance. Annual events include the Stars of the White Nights Festival Performance by the Mariinsky Theatre, the Musical Olympus Foundation Charity Ball and the Ludvig Nobel Prize Award Ceremony.
Reborn from the ashes of World War II, the palaces and parks of Tsarskoye Selo today, like centuries before, stimulate an interest in Russian history and attract visitors ranging from heads of state and world-famous public figures to tourists from all over the globe.
Tsarskoye Selo Hosts Unique Exhibit of Treasures Looted During WWII Topic: Tsarskoye Selo
A free-admission exhibition, commemorating the 70th Anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941–5, runs at the Upper Bathhouse pavilion in the Catherine Park from May 9 to September 30, 2015.
The artefacts on display include those looted during the Nazi occupation of Pushkin town (Tsarskoye Selo) in 1941–4 and later returned at various times to the Museum.
The jewels of the exhibition are one of the 1760s Russian twin chests of drawers and the Florentine mosaic ‘Touch and Smell’ of 1753, both gracing the pre-war Amber Room in the Catherine Palace. Another centerpiece is the original bronze Milkmaid of the Girl-With-a-Pitcher fountain by sculptor Pavel Sokolov, which was preserved hidden underground in the park in 1941, later replaced with a replica of 1990 and is now stored in the reserve collection.
Other exhibits include the palace furniture, paintings, porcelains and some books from the imperial library.
The title of the exhibition refers to a 1909 book by Friedrich Huch, a German writer favoured by the parents of Jens and Franziska Harmsen who donated to the Museum four artefacts taken by their fathers from Tsarskoye Selo during World War II.
Mr and Ms Harmsen also presented to the Museum the letters and photographs of Jens’s father, Hans Harmsen. He wrote from the frontline and later from a war prisoners’ camp. As his sons hoped for their father to return home, they gathered a compilation of his over 80 letters and named it ‘And the door will open one day…’ Likewise, the Museum keeps hoping for all the lost artefacts to come back.
Over 100 objects from the Tsarskoye Selo historic collection and several thousand books have been returned to the Museum to date, thanks to the efforts of the museum and the Tsarskoye Selo Friends Society.
Flower Season Opens at Tsarskoye Selo Topic: Tsarskoye Selo
The Catherine Palace provides a stunning backdrop for the beautifully maintained gardens at Tsarskoye Selo
The Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Preserve declared the opening of its flower season for 2015 earlier this week, with over 150,000 flower seedlings made ready to be planted by the experts of the historic Upper Greenhouses in the Alexander Park.
According to our Parks Curator Ms Olga Filippova, the flower season makes Tsarskoye Selo blooming and fragrant, as an imperial residence should be, and has three stages: spring, summer and autumn. Our flowerbeds are usually formed in compliance with specific historical periods. The Catherine Park’s Maids of Honour and Hanging Gardens have matthiola, verbascum, verbena and aromatic plants such as thyme, typical of the eighteenth century. The Private Garden boasts the nineteenth-century related cycas, trachelium and hydrangea. The Turkish Bath is smothered in roses emphasizing its East Asian architecture.
Visitors can already enjoy the elegant flowerbeds near the Church Gate of the Catherine Palace and in the Private Garden. The White Tower complex in the Alexander Park is coloured with rare primroses – ephemeroids (a group of perennial herbaceous plants for which fall-winter-spring vegetation is common).
The Old Garden of the Catherine Park will be decorated with yellow and mallow pink ‘stam’ roses, which are always admired by visitors. Next year’s flower season will see currant bushes shaped into 'trees' with a thin stem and spherical crown.
In June our Greenhouses will provide the park with roses of different species such as Pierre de Ronsard, William Shakespeare, Thomas Graham, and splendidly aromatic Crocus. The palaces will be adorned with Flamingo, Red Cardinal, Olivia and Vivaldi roses.
The traditional laurels in the Main Courtyard of the Catherine Palace are already over twenty years old. These beautiful trees spend winters in the Greenhouses and can live in tubs up to 100–150 years. Each May our masters of topiary art shape them into balls and cones for another flower season, which will close in August–September with a variety of asters and chrysanthemums.
On 17 April 2015 the Duty Stables of Tsarskoye Selo saw the return of an 18th-century carriage of Empress Catherine the Great after 1.5 years in the hands of the experts of the Phenomenon Restoration and Research Association in Moscow. The carriage has now been added to the Exhibition of Court Carriages at Tsarskoye Selo.
The 5.15 x 2.10 m four-seater Berline carriage took part in many sumptuous ceremonies at the Russian imperial court. Produced in London from materials such as wood, metal, gilded bronze, leather, velvet and taffeta, the light and elegant vehicle was probably used during coronations, as well as christenings, betrothals and weddings of Russian grand dukes and duchesses.
After a century of frequent relocations and storage under far from ideal conditions, the glitter and some embellishments were lost, yet the dust layers could not belittle the high quality of this harmoniously crafted artifact, so it was rightfully picked first for restoration.
This Berline came into the Tsarksoye Selo collection after the Court Stables Museum closed down in 1928, where it had been registered as a French carriage bought in 1809 for Emperor Alexander I of Russia. However, its design and decoration are likely to date back to 1760s-80s.
According to Ms Irina Bredikhina, Tsarskoye Selo Carriage Curator, there is no reference to a maker’s name or the provenance, except for a ‘London’ mark on the rear springs. British workshops didn’t mark their carriages in the eighteenth century. The records of the Carriage Makers’ Guild were lost during the aerial bombardments of London in WWII.
The shape and details of the carriage are similar to those of the 1763 Paris-made Berline which was one of Catherine’s classicism-styled favourites, currently on display at the Armoury of the Moscow Kremlin.
Tsarskoye Selo Extends Exhibition of Exquisite Hand Fans Topic: Tsarskoye Selo
The Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve have extended their exhibition dedicated to hand fans until September 28th, 2015. The Hand Fan Returns is currently open in the Zubov Wing of the Catherine Palace.
A hand fan is a small and lightweight, usually folding, hand-held implement, used to create an airflow and associated with a bird’s wing and a flight.
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.
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.
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.
The Wing of the Fan, Spread Out in Time. Fans of the 1700s–Early 1900s in the Collection of the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Preserve. Compilation and texts by Elena O. Kalugina, Everyday Objects Collection Curator
This richly illustrated booklet accompanies the exhibition Hand Fan Returns, which runs on the first floor of the Zubov Wing of the Catherine Palace September 28, 2015.
The booklet brings together information about the history of fan-making and about the Tsarskoye Selo collection of more than 100 hand fans, including Western European, Oriental and Russian items of the 1700s (historical collection), and of the 1800s–1940s, gathered over the past fifty years.
Click on the link below to read another article about this exhibition:
Copyright Notice: The following collection of photographs was originally published in the January 24th, 2015 edition of Russia Beyond the Headlines. The photographer Ivan Dementievskiy, owns the copyright of the photographs presented below.
Tsarskoye Selo [Tsar’s Village] is situated 25 km from St. Petersburg. More than a hundred monuments are scattered across an area of 300 hectares: palaces and pavilions, bridges and marble monuments, as well as exotic edifices in the Gothic, Turkish and Chinese style. The territory features two main palaces - the Alexander Palace (Neoclassical) and the Catherine Palace (Rococo). The Great hall of the Catherine palace is over 800 square metres was intended as the venue for official receptions and celebrations, banquets, balls and masquerades.
Russia Beyond the Headlines has published a collection of a dozen colour photographs of Tsarskoye Selo in winter, by Russian photographer Ivan Dementievskiy.
Click on the link below to review the short article and the beautiful colour photos by Dementievskiy:
The Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve were presented with a collection of 19th and early 20th century photo cards of the Russian Imperial and European royal families earlier this week. The donors, Sybil and Berndt Kreft from Dresden, Germany donated the collection to the museum, previously owned by their grandmother Mrs. Helen Emily Kramer Kreft, nee Wirth.
The collection of 141 photo greeting cards, include images of the family of Emperor Nicholas II, representatives of the Prussian and Danish royal families, and politicians of Europe. Many of them are unique and never before seen in Russia.
The collection of cards depicting members of the Russian Imperial family include Nicholas II and his wife Alexandra, Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Anastasia, the Tsarevich Alexei, Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna.
Helen Emily Kramer was born in 1893 in Moscow, where at that time she lived and worked with her parents. The family returned to Germany in 1906 or 1907. Young Helen began to collect the photo cards during her years in Moscow and continued the hobby after returning to Germany.
Of course, for the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve, the most valuable images are those of members of the Romanov dynasty and their crowned European relatives, and add to the museum's growing collection. Until recently, the museum collection consisted of about two hundred photo cards that were part of several series, which represented the family of Nicholas II, the Prussian Imperial House, Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna after her marriage, and others. "Now our collection of these photo greeting cards has grown. We hope that some day we will be able to complete the collection in their entirety,” - says custodian of the museum photograph archives, Victoria Plaude. The photo cards donated by Sybil and Berndt Kreft are considered valuable material for research, and exhibition use by the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve.
Silver Tea Service Returns to Tsarskoye Selo - A Gift from Grand Duchess Anastasia Now Playing: Language: Russian. Duration: 2 minutes, 58 seconds Topic: Tsarskoye Selo
A descendant of Pierre Gilliard has donated items to the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve. The items originally belonged to Pierre Gilliard (1879-1962) - French language tutor to the five children of Emperor Nicholas II of Russia from 1905 to 1918. A beautiful silver tea service and a set of silver cutlery - 32 pieces in total - was donated to the museum by Gilliard’s niece - Françoise Gaudet, who lives in Geneva, Switzerland. The objects were originally presented to Gilliard in 1909 by the tutor’s August pupil, Grand Duchess Anastasia Nicholayevna - the youngest daughter of Emperor Nicholas II. The items were made by masters of the famous I. E. Morozova firm, supplier to the Russian Imperial Court.
Both sets are preserved in their original oak cases, on the cover of each is a metal plate with an Gilliard’s engraved monogram and labeled in French - "1-er Janvier 1909 de la part de S.A.I. Madame la Grande Duchesse Anastasie Nicolaevna». The tiny keys have also been preserved, thus allowing the beautifully preserved cases to be opened and locked.
Gilliard’s monogram is also engraved in Cyrillic on each piece of silver. The tea service includes teapot, sugar bowl, milk jug, fork, serving spoon, tongs and a strainer. The silver cutlery service includes forks, spoons, knives, and ladle.
“The silver cutlery service consists of only eight (rather than twelve), spoons, forks and knives. Madame Gaudet shared a family story, explaining that it was only a partial service. Grand Duchess Anastasia, starting from 1909, presented her teacher with one cutlery set per year, by 1916 she had presented a total of eight settings, each consisting of a spoon, knife and fork. Sadly, Pierre Gilliard did not have time during his stay in Russia to use them, however, he managed to bring them back to Switzerland after the Revolution, where he settled in Lausanne, keeping the gifts as a remembrance of the imperial family, and his pupil” - says Iraida Bott, Deputy Director for Research and Education at the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve.
Tsarskoye Selo Draws Record Number of Visitors Topic: Tsarskoye Selo
Entrance to the Catherine Palace at Tsarskoye Selo
Despite the situation in Ukraine, Western sanctions and a 20% drop in the number of visitors from North America and EU countries to Russia this year, Tsarskoye Selo reported a record number of visitors during its summer season. From May to September, more than 2.5 million people visited the palace-museum complex, an increase of 100 thousand over last year.
In order to facilitate the maximum number of tourists during the summer months the museum again extended its visiting hours to the Catherine and Alexander Palaces, from 8.00 to 20.00, and on Mondays to 21.00.
The most popular museums were the Catherine Palace and Park, as well as the Alexander Palace, the Hermitage, Turkish Bath, and White Tower. The Agate Pavilion, which opened after a complete restoration last fall also welcomed a large number of visitors.
Two unique exhibits in the Zubov Wing of the Catherine Palace attracted a great deal of interest as well: The Return of the Fan and Serving Magnificence: Suppliers to the Russian Imperial Court.
The main attraction for 2014, however, was the opening of the new museum dedicated to the First World War. The opening of the museum in the Sovereign's Martial Chamber coincided with the 100th anniversary of the First World War.
The Catherine Palace and Park was also voted No. 3 of Russia’s Top 10 Attractions among the winners of TripAdvisor's Travellers' Choice 2014.
The Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Preserve was awarded the TripAdvisor's Certificate of Excellence 2014, based on the number of excellent reviews left by visitors to the palace-museum complex.
Artefacts Stolen by Nazis Returned to Tsarskoye Selo Now Playing: Language: Russian. Duration: 3 minutes, 58 seconds Topic: Tsarskoye Selo
Note: I would like to draw your attention to the video included with this news post. The audio is in Russian, however, do not allow that to deter you from watching it. First, you will see the four artefacts that were stolen by the Nazis, and now returned to Tsarskoye Selo. Second, you will see some archival film footage of the destroyed Catherine and Alexander Palaces which was filmed shortly after the liberation of Pushkin by the Red Army. The scenes of destruction are truly shocking. The footage also shows the Nazi cemetery dominated by an SS monument, in the square in front of the Alexander Palace - PG
A German family has returned museum treasures stolen from Tsarskoye Selo during WWII. Jens and Franziska Harmzen hope that the act might help strengthen ties between the Russian and German people and set an example to other owners of war trophies.
The artefacts arrived from Munich on Monday and presented to the Tsarskoye State Museum Preserve near St. Petersburg. Palace-museum staff compared the original inventory markings on the items, matching them with those on their expansive archival inventories, confirming that they had originated at the Catherine and Alexander Palaces.
A rare book from the personal library of Emperor Alexander I, two vases and an icon which belonged to one of the maids of honour of Russian Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, are among the returned treasures.
The book is bound in red morocco leather, with gold trim. It was published at Paris in 1810, the 10th volume of the collected works of Francois Fenelon, the emperor's favourite writer. The volume is from the personal library of Alexander I, a small room which has not survived.
The icon has an interesting provenance. According to the inscription on the back of the icon of the Kazan Mother of God can be seen an inscription noting that it belonged to Countess Anastasia Hendrikova, the maid of honour of the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna .
She survived all that befell the family of Nicholas II by following the Romanovs into exile, first in Tobolsk, then to Ekaterinburg, where she was placed under house arrest in the Ipatiev House with the Imperial family and other faithful retainers. They were all shot by a Bolshevik firing squad in 1918 - there were no survivors.
During WWII Nazi soldiers, who occupied the town of Pushkin where the Catherine and Alexander Palaces are located, it was common for them to send their stolen trophies back home to Germany. Thus, one of the German families came into possession of the icon and the rare book, and the other one acquired the luxurious vases. The descendants of the two families got married, and their fathers handed down the treasures to the couple.
"My father wrote to his mother every day. Here, for example, a letter of 5 October 1941. Father writes:" Last night, I and Arnold were in Tsarskoye Selo, in the famous palace of the Russian tsar. During this time we often came under heavy fire. During the last rays of daylight, the palace sparkled with gold. But at the same time it became clear that outside the palace was severely damaged, "- says Jens Harmzen.
"Before his death, my father talked a lot about the war. And once I reminded him of the stored items at home from Tsarskoye Selo. We decided to return these things to their rightful place. Hopefully, this will help strengthen the ties between our peoples, as well as encourage other holders of stolen property from the war time to return them back to Russia. " - Said Franziska Harmzen.
The artefacts will be returned to their rightful place in the Alexander Palace. The black vase with painted irises will be placed on one of the shelves in the Pallisander Room, the olive green vase and icon - in the Maple Room. The volume of Fenelon will be placed in the Imperial Library.
During the Second World War, the Alexander Palace housed the German army staff and the Gestapo. The cellars became a prison and the square in front of the palace a cemetery for members of the SS (see film footage in video). Prior to the Germans advance on Tsarskoye Selo, the museum staff managed to evacuate some of the exhibits, the rest were lost to history. Hitler's armies organized special units who were engaged solely in the theft of works of art. Artefacts and treasures that could not be evacuated were destroyed. Museum staff estimate that more than half of the exhibits in the Catherine Palace were irretrievably lost. The Alexander Palace was almost completely looted.
The search for the treasures stolen from the Catherine and Alexander Palaces at Tsarskoye Selo was launched shortly after the town was liberated in 1944. The search for the missing museum treasures continues to the present day. In recent years 15 rare museum pieces have been returned either by persons who took them away in war time or their families.
The occupation of the town of Pushkin lasted 28 months, during which the former imperial residences at Tsarskoye Selo were looted and destroyed. One Soviet veteran who arrived at Pushkin together with the advance units of the Red Army in January 1944, described what he saw: "The ingenious creation of Rastrelli - the Catherine Palace - a burned out shell! Some parts of the building that stretched up to 300 meters in length had been exploded. The few rooms that had survived had been turned into latrines by the German soldiers. Precious furniture, mirrors, paintings, the silk and satin which covered the walls, was all taken away to Germany."
By 1942, the palace libraries had been raided. The Nazis helped themselves to some 6-7 thousand books in French and more than 5,000 books and manuscripts in Russian, many of which were extremely rare.
As the Nazis launched their siege on Leningrad, they had circulated a special list prepared by a German art historian at the direct order of Hitler. The list contained information on 55 objects and their precise locations. The order instructed the Nazis to specifically target 17 museums, 17 archives, 6 churches and a library in Leningrad and the surrounding region. Among the museums listed was Tsarskoye Selo.
In 1951, a special commission of the Central Depository Museum Collections of the USSR during the Great Patriotic War was established. According to their report, more than 30 thousand artefacts had been lost or stolen from the Catherine Palace, and more than 22 thousand from the Alexander Palace.