The Romanovs Remembered at Alexandrovskaya Station, Tsarskoye Selo Topic: Tsarskoye Selo
A memorial at the Alexandrovskaya Station at Tsarskoye Selo. Tsar Nicholas II and his family were sent into exile from here in August 1917.
The Alexandrovskaya Station is a major suburban railway station situated at Tsarskoye Selo (modern day Pushkin). The name of Alexandrovskaya derives from a former village, which appeared, according to some versions, in the late 18th century as the settlement of workers, engaged for the building of Alexandrovsky Park and Alexandrovsky Palace, situated nearby.
Opened on 26 November 1894, this particular railway station has a sad connection with the final days of Tsar Nicholas II. Situated not far from the Alexander Palace, it was from this station that the last tsar and his family were sent into exile from in August 1917.
The station also has another connection to the Russian Imperial family. During the 1867 World Fair in Paris, Polish immigrant Antoni Berezowski attacked the carriage carrying Tsar Alexander II, his two sons and Emperor Napoleon III. The assassin misfired his pistol and only a horse of an escorting cavalryman were hit. During his return to St. Petersburg, the tsar stopped at Alexandrovskaya where he was greeted by an enthusiastic crowd.
In the summer of 1868 a small chapel was constructed near the Alexandrovskaya Railway Station at Tsarskoye Selo to commemorate the tsar’s miraculous survival from a second assassination attempt. On September 14th, Tsesarevich Alexander (the future Emperor Alexander III), laid the first stone for the chapel erected in memory of the salvation of His Imperial Majesty in Paris 25 May 1867 year.
The elegant white stone Chapel of the Ascension was consecrated on 25th May, 1869 in the presence of Alexander II and members of the Imperial family.
After the Revolution, the chapel was to meet the same fate as so many other holy sites connected with the Russian Imperial family. On 28th August, 1923, Trotsky's executive committee ordered that the chapel be closed, it’s property confiscated. The chapel became a storage room at the train station, a decision which saved it from immediate demolition.
Preserved during the Great Patriotic War, the chapel, according to the recollections of old-timers, was demolished during the Komsomol work day on 10th January, 1949.
Today, all that remains of the chapel is a small stone-lined elevation. Many residents are unaware that a chapel once stood on the spot, one with such an important history attached to it.
Several years ago, a memorial cross depicting the image of Tsar Nicholas II was erected on the site of the demolished chapel, bearing the inscription "Emperor Nicholas II. Grateful Russia". It is a fitting reminder of that fateful night when the Imperial family were sent into exile, never to see their beloved Tsarskoye Selo again. Nearby is an icon and commemorative plaque, which now tells passers-by of the chapel in honour of Emperor Alexander II’s salvation at Paris in 1867.
St. Petersburg restorers have completed work on the Marshall Chamber, built more than 100 years ago for the exposition of Russia’s military history.
The Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve will now initiate the preparatory work for the opening of Russia's only museum of the First World War later this year. The historic building was built specifically for the military collection assembled by the philanthropist widow Elena Tretyakova. In 1911 she presented to Emperor Nicholas II, a valuable collection of artefacts illustrating the military history of Russia since ancient times.
The Emperor decided to construct a building at Tsarskoye Selo to house the collection. However, the museum was short-lived, and closed shortly after the Revolution. And now, a century later the Marshall Chamber will be restored to its original function, as a museum dedicated to Russia’s military history, although its new concept will focus specifically on Russia’s role in World War One.
The building itself, established in the Neo-Russian style, is well preserved. The original frescoes and painting have miraculously survived in the interiors. The Marshall Chamber (Ratnaya Palata) is situated in the Alexander Park, just a short walk from the Alexander Palace and the Feodorovsky Cathedral. The official opening of the Museum of the Great War in the Marshall Chamber is scheduled for August 1, 2014 - the day marking the 100th anniversary of the First World War.
The following video (in Russian) shows the beautifully restored interiors of the Marshall Chamber (Ratnaya Palata), located in the Alexander Park at Tsarskoye Selo:
The Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve received four porcelain vases, a beautifully decorated table from the 1850s-1890s and the Night In Istanbul (lower right photo) landscape by Ivan Aivazovsky.
These objects originally from the Imperial state rooms were kept in St. Petersburg’s Gorky Palace of Culture since the 1930s. Now they are at Tsarskoye Selo, thanks to an initiative from the St. Petersburg Monuments Preservation Committee (KGIOP).
The vases with replicated old masters’ works were manufactured at the Imperial Porcelain Manufactory of St. Petersburg, where porcelain pieces were first embellished with painting copies during the time of Alexander I. The high point of this technique was the reign of Nicholas I, when the highest quality vases were produced.
Replicated by artist Kornilov, the astoundingly detailed multi-figure genre scenes with a wide rich colour gamut on the two most impressive vases show a resting place and a winter town originating from works by Nicolaes Pieterszoon Berchem and Jan Miense Molenaer, renowned Dutch masters from the seventeenth century. These pieces are spruced up with relief décor and intricately shaped handles with acanthus swirls and pine cones.
The vases arrived disassembled, with no handles and numerous lost fragments, which had to be restored by the experts from the Tsarsksoye Selo Amber Workshop. These unique historical objects are now on display at the Alexander Palace.
The 1878 landscape by Aivazovsky, one of Alexander III’s favourite painters, is expected to grace the halls of the Alexander Palace. It originates from the picture collection of merchant Kokorev, a native of Tsarskoye Selo and the tsar’s competitor in collecting. Alexander III later bought almost all of Aivazovsky’s canvases from Kokorev’s collection, hanging them at the Anichkov Palace in St. Petersburg and the Alexander Palace in Tsarskoye Selo.
After the 1917 revolution, many of those paintings went to the State Russian Museum and to some museums in Moscow, while the Alexander Palace was left with only two. The Night In Istanbul will be a worthy decoration for the WWII stricken former residence of the last monarch of Russia.
Babolovsky Park to be Transferred to Tsarskoye Selo Administration Topic: Tsarskoye Selo
Hidden in the depths of the park, the castle-like palace is depicted in an early 20th century postcard
The Ministry of Culture has announced that the Babolovsky Park will be transferred over to the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve. State Duma Deputy, Oksana Dmitrieva made the announcement on January 13, acknowledging that the park is recognized as an important part of the region’s cultural heritage.
The Ministry of Culture announced that 40 million rubles have been allocated from its 2014 budget for the maintenance and protection of Babolovsky Park.
The future of the Babolovsky Park has been one of considerable debate over the past few years. Developers were keen to turn the park into a golf course and build up to 71 residential cottages. Local residents and activists were quick to act, demanding that the sale of the park land be halted, and transferred to the administration of the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve.
Babolovsky Park, is situated in the south-western part of Pushkin town, bordering on both the Catherine and Alexander Parks at Tsarskoye Selo. Empress Catherine II presented the land to her then-favourite, Prince Grigory Potemkin. It was developed in the late 18th century and consists of 268,8 hectares. A temporary wooden palace was built to house the lovers' trysts. It was rebuilt in stone to a Gothic Revival design by Ilya Neyelov between 1782 and 1785. The Babolovsky Palace was essentially a summerhouse with seven rooms giving on to a park, a quaint octagonal tower and no second floor.
Emperor Alexander I of Russia used the palace for his furtive rendezvous with Sophia Velho, a court banker's daughter. He commissioned Vasily Stasov to redesign the palace in 1824-25. The tower was replaced with an enormous bath hewn from a red granite monolith. Weighing 48 tons and 196 cm high, it was cut by the masonry team of S. Sukhanov. The engineer Augustín de Betancourt had it placed within the room before the walls were constructed.
The park was later a favourite place for walking by the Emperors Alexander II and Nicholas II and his wife Empress Alexandra Feodorovna.
Hidden in the depths of the park, the castle-like palace fell into disrepair after the Russian Revolution and currently stands in ruins. The granite bath mentioned in one of Pushkin's first poems, however, has survived. Other structures in the Babolovsky Park (which covers some 300 ha) have disappeared, apart from an aqueduct from the 1770s and Adam Menelaws' gate separating the two parks.
Tsarskoye Selo Receives 2 Awards Topic: Tsarskoye Selo
Photo: Directors of the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve hold the awards and trophies received at the 2013 Museum Olympus Awards ceremony. Included are Deputy Director for Science and Education, Dr. Iraida Bott (second from left) and Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve Director, Olga Taratynova (third from left) Photo Credit: Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve
The 2013 Museum Olympus Awards ceremony was held on December 2nd and saw Tsarskoye Selo win two Mnemosyne statuettes in the categories: Exhibition Project of the Year and Museum Book of the Year.
Our first winning nominee is Serving Magnificence, a large joint exhibition dedicated to suppliers to the Imperial Court of Russia and to the Romanov 400th Anniversary. Called a breakthough of the year for showing the backstage of court life like never before, this project drew over eight thousand visitors during its three-month run in the summer.
The other winner is the e-book about Russia’s role in the First World War, a special project developed by Tsarksoye Selo and designers from Mantrastudio. This is the first e-book ever nominated for the Museum Olympus Awards. It should become available at App Store in the early 2014, paving a way for our museum Russia in the Great War which is to open at the Martial Chamber next year.
Tsarskoye Selo was nominated in three categories this year.
The awards of the St. Petersburg museum community have been handed out by the St. Petersburg Culture Committee since 2008. Our first Mnemosyne came in 2010 for Museum of the Year. Now, Tsarskoye Selo has two more.
For more information on the exhibition, Serving Magnificence, please refer to the following link;
Tsarskoye Selo is another step closer to a revival of the Children’s Rooms' collections at the Alexander Palace, thanks to recent donations from the International Association of Doll Artists (IADA).
Svetlana Pchelnikova, President of IADA and our Friends Society’s Art Patron, handed the donations over to the Museum at the 9th International Doll Salon in Moscow.
The most valuable gifts are two antique dolls (see above). One of the 1900s by the Société Française de Fabrication de Bébés et Jouets (S.F.B.J.). The other is a German Kestner doll of the 1860s-90s in a long white dress with a black lace apron and a lush black wig. Dolls made by these firms were created for the daughters of Tsar Nicholas II, who played with them in the Children’s Rooms of the Alexander Palace.
The other gifts include a modern replica of an old black toy carriage with a Prussian crown (above left), a toy tricycle (above right), and three replicas of some late 1800s – early 1900s dolls (below left), made by the Mexican artist Patricia Ramos Molina in 2010–12.
A German benefactor Nadezhda Othmer donated antique children’s fishnet gloves to the Museum. Lyudmila Titova of Sergiev Posad added to our collection some publications from the late 1800s – early 1900s: La mode illustrée #8 of 25 February 1872, a coloured gravure inset to La mode illustrée #1 of 1870, a children’s book Our Menagerie of 1906, and clothes for children and dolls. (below right)
The IADA members are very enthusiastic about the recreation of the imperial children’s doll collection. This project started in 2010 and now brings together over 50 specialists from different countries of the world.
More Rare WWII Photographs of Tsarskoye Selo Topic: Tsarskoye Selo
Señor Antonio Caballero has granted permission to the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve the rights to use for museum purposes thirty digital copies of the photographs of Tsarskoye Selo taken during the winter of 1941-42 by his grandfather, a member of the Spanish Blue Division accompanying the German Army on the Eastern Front during World War II.
Señor Caballero cherishes his grandfather’s album of nearly forty 18x14 photographs showing Leningrad’s suburbs of Pushkin, Peterhof, Gatchina and Ropsha. He personally digitized over thirty of them and kindly sent the copies to Tsarskoye Selo.
Especially marveled by specialists at Tsarskoye Selo is the photograph of the painted ceiling in the Palace Chapel, which so far could have been only imagined from its description in a pre-war inventory.
These photographs are precious witnesses of the history of Tsarskoye Selo and indispensable for its ultimate restoration.
The Tsarskoye Selo Museum-Preserve has received a gift of items that once belonged to Alexandra Tegleva (1884-1955), the head-nurse maid to the children of Nicholas II. She later married Pierre Gilliard in 1922. The items were recently donated to the museum by her 83-year-old niece, Marie-Claude Gilliard Knecht, who lives in France.
One piece of jewellery - a brooch, which was presented to Tegleva on the occasion of the 300th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty in 1913 shows the personal coat of arms of the Romanovs, the golden griffin. The brooch is decorated with four rubies and one diamond. The second item is a pocket watch made by Pavel Buhre (Supplier of His Majesty's Court). According to the inscription, the gift was presented to Tegleva by Empress Alexandra Feodorovna on Christmas Day, 1904.
From 1901, Alexandra Tegleva (known as “Shura” to the Imperial family) served as a nurse for the imperial children. She had a room on the second floor of the Alexander Palace, next to the rooms of grand duchesses. She voluntarily followed the Imperial family into exile to Tobolsk. When the children were moved to the Ipatiev House at Ekaterinburg, Tegleva was not allowed to join them and sent back to Tobolsk. In 1920, she escaped Russia via Vladivostok with Pierre Gilliard. They lived for a brief period in Paris with the family of the Nikolai Sokolov, investigator of the murders of the family of Nicholas II. In 1922, she married Pierre Gilliard and they later settled in Lausanne, Gilliard's hometown.
All documents related to Pierre Gilliard and Alexandra Tegleva, are now kept in the Pierre Gilliard Foundation at the Cantonal University Library (BCU) in Lausanne, Switzerland. Marie-Claude Gilliard Knecht and her family allowed the staff of the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve to copy a number of documents, including Pierre Gilliard’s personal collection of 200 photos, and granted the right to use them for exhibition and research purposes. Among them - letters to Gilliard's parents and brother during his first years at the Alexander Palace, his memories of life in Siberia and his stay with Kolchak, letters from Tsesarevich Alexei, postcards, and sheet music set to a prayer written by Grand Duchess Olga Nikolayevna.
In addition, Ms. Gilliard Knecht transferred to the museum photographs of a Gilliard as a young man and in old age, taken not long before his death in 1962, two photos of Alexandra Tegleva taken in the 1940s and 50s, and a satin towel embroidered by Tegleva depicting the Spasskaya Tower of the Moscow Kremlin.
Marie-Claude Gilliard Knecht lived with Alexandra Tyeglev and Pierre Gilliard for eight years. They regaled their niece with tales of their happy years with the last tsar and his family at Tsarskoye Selo, and the terrible months of exile in Siberia. After the Revolution, Tegleva maintained a memorial room in which there were pictures of the Imperial children, her pupils.
Royal Scots Dragoons Present Another Gift to Tsarskoye Selo Topic: Tsarskoye Selo
The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards have honoured their former Colonel-in-Chief, Emperor Nicholas II of Russia, by donating their late 1920s uniform boots to Tsarskoye Selo in September 2013.
The Scots DGs earlier added their modern Colonel’s field camouflage uniform to our collection which still suffers the lacunae inflicted by the 1917 revolution, sales of art objects in the 1920s-1930s and the German occupation of Tsarskoye Selo in 1941-44. Although the core of our military costume holdings was saved during World War II, a lot of items like shoulder and waist belts, shoulder boards, epaulettes, accoutrements and footwear, were lost.
Our Museum keeps a 2nd Dragoons (Royal Scots Greys) Colonel’s uniform set that belonged to Tsar Nicholas II. The set includes dress, everyday and patrol uniforms, several headwear items, breeches, trousers, accoutrements, but unfortunately no footgear – until now!
We much appreciate the historical ties between Tsarkoye Selo and the Royal Scots Greys, which remain as good as a century ago thanks to the efforts of the regiment’s officers and personally Major RWB Robert Maclean, Curator of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Museum in the Edinburgh Castle, UK.
For more information on Tsar Nicholas II and the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, please refer to the following links;
In 2009, the Committee for State Control, Use and Protection of Monuments of History and Culture (KGIOP) in St. Petersburg held an auction, which resulted in the former Tsar’s Pavilion of the abandoned Imperial train station at Tsarskoye Selo being transferred in a long-term (49 years) lease to the Russian firm, LLC Samsara. Under the terms of KGIOP, the tenant agreed to conduct a technical examination of the building and begin restoration within 3 years. The restoration was to be completed by 2010 to coincide with the 300th anniversary of Tsarskoye Selo.
Four years later, the Samsara company has failed to comply with the terms of the lease. In a attempt to force the tenant to begin the restoration of the building, KGIOP filed a claim in court earlier this year. Samsara was charged with failure to fulfill contractual obligations, and fined 100 thousand Rubles. The court also ordered the company to carry out the restoration work which it had originally agreed to in the lease.
However, Samsara not only avoided paying the fine, because at the timing of litigation, but also failed to pay rent on the property. As a result KGIOP was forced to file charges for the second time in court last month with the same requirements.
This has now prompted local historians and preservation groups to act. Activists with the Russian web site Demokrator.ru have now began collecting signatures on a petition to the Governor of St. Petersburg urging the restoration of the Tsar’s Pavilion at Tsarskoye Selo. In addition, the groups want the historic building handed over to the state and adapted as a museum.
The group has proposed that the pavilion be used as a branch of the Railway Museum, or a museum dedicated to the last tsar and his family. They also note that many museums in the city complain about the lack of space for their exhibits, therefore noting the pavilion as a wonderful option for them.
The history of the Tsar’s Pavilion at Tsarskoye Selo began in 1895, when a wooden building was constructed for use as the Imperial Train Station. The station was part of a private line of the Tsarskoye Selo Railway which carried the Imperial train between Tsarskoye Selo and St. Petersburg. The train was considered a much faster means of transport to and from the capital while the tsar was in residence at the Alexander Palace.
In 1912, the wooden building was destroyed by fire, and in its place by the architect Vladimir Pokrovsky, with the participation of Mikhail Kurilko built a new pavilion in the Neo-Russian style. After the Revolution, the imperial rail line was demolished, the Soviets renamed the pavilion but the station began to gradually deteriorate.
During the Second World War, the building was badly damaged in the line of the German defences, the Imperial Hall suffering extensive damage. Attempts to restore the historic monument since the war have created meagre results. The Tsar’s Pavilion is an historical monument of federal importance and part of the nearby historic Fedorovsky Gorodok which is currently under restoration.
I have personally made several visits to the Tsar’s Pavilion over the years, and as recently as June of this year. Each visit brings greater despair and fading hope of its survival. The pavilion is surrounded by a poorly manufactured fence, one that has been broken into time and time again. Decades of neglect and the harsh elements have taken their toll on the facades and interiors. During one visit I actually entered the pavilion and was shocked at what I found: mould on the ceilings and walls, graffiti and garbage every where, even dirty old mattresses thrown in a corner, all clear evidence of this former grand pavilion now used by local drug addicts and the homeless. Many of the unique paintings by Mikhail Kurilko in the old Russian style have already been lost, the magnificent stone carvings on the facades have been eroded and broken off.
Some of Mikhail Kurilko's paintings have miraculously survived
We must not lose this unique architectural and artistic monument, one which is an integral part of the artistic ensemble of Tsarskoye Selo. Restoration must be done by professional craftsmen in order to restore and preserve the building’s historic appearance. The building must remain accessible to the public as a museum. Let us hope that the current legal action by KGIOP combined with the action taken by local activists will be loud enough that the Governor of St. Petersburg will step in to save this historic building.