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:
New Catalogue of Tsarskoye Selo Photograph Collection Topic: Tsarskoye Selo
The first volume of a scientific catalogue of photographs from the Tsarkoye Selo collection has been released.
It opens a series of scientific catalogues of the Museum’s collections and includes 561 black and white and colour images. The earliest ones date from the 1850s, the most recent ones (colour autochromes) are from 1917. Most of the images have never been published before.
This 400-page edition has a limited circulation of only 75 copies, which almost immediately makes it a rarity. In the future, this and all subsequent catalogues of the series will appear in electronic form.
Deputy Director for Research and Education Iraida K. Bott of Tsarskoye Selo says, ‘Several years ago, our researchers and curators began work on a comprehensive catalogue of all the Tsarskoye Selo collections. No need to explain it’s a lot of work, designed for many years. This publication – the first in this series – was prepared by Victoria Plaude, our senior researcher and curator of the photograph collection. We are very glad that we have managed to include the coloured autochromes with views of the Catherine and Alexander Palaces, which the Museum acquired last year at an auction in Paris.’
The catalogue is divided into five thematic chapters (Portraits, Events, Tsarskoye Selo, Albums, Palace Interior in 1917) and equipped with extensive reference material, such as a glossary, an index of photographers, photo studios, specialty shops and firms, and indices of persons, palaces, interiors, parks and city buildings in the photos. The book gives a detailed description of the images, most of which were neither exhibited nor published earlier.
Included among the rarest photos in the catalogue are 27 pictures from the photo book Views of Tsarskoye Selo (Scherer, Nabholz & Co. photo studio, Moscow, 1870), pictures of Prince Baryatinsky’s Tsarskoye Selo mansion’s interiors destroyed during WWII (Ivan Bianchi, 1870), and St. Isaac’s Cathedral (Karl Bulla, 1900s).
This publication is designed for professionals, collectors, antique dealers, and anyone interested in the history of Tsarskoye Selo. You can purchase the catalogue in the museum bookshop at the Catherine Palace, the price 4800 Rubles ($135.00 USD).
Note: this book is NOT for sale from Royal Russia.
Tsarskoye Selo to Restore Chinese Theatre Topic: Tsarskoye Selo
More good news from Tsarskoye Selo this week! The palace museum preserve have announced plans to restore the Chinese Theatre.
The development of research, surveying and project documentation for the execution of works on the reconstruction of the Chinese Theatre will cost 13.6 million Rubles ($385,000 USD). The Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve note that applications will be accepted until April 9, the procedure and evaluation of bids is scheduled for April 14, 2014.
The Chinese Theatre is currently in a terrible state of ruin and disrepair. The roof is completely lost, however, many unique historically elements have been partially preserved, including wall coverings, ceramic floors, and stairs with wrought iron railings.
Fragments of architraves, cornices and capitals (topmost member of a column) have also survived. The once beautiful auditorium and stage are completely lost. The theatre’s facade still retain remnants of metal awnings with wrought iron fragments and cast metal columns.
The scope of work includes research, compiling historical information and album iconography, measurements, technical examination of the building, the development of the concept of restoration.
Adaptation of buildings for modern use involves the creation of an open storage facility (to house furniture, porcelain, bronze items) with a multifunctional exhibition hall for performances, concerts, workshops and festivals.
The Chinese Theatre (or Masonry Opera, as it was known in Catherine II’s time) is situated to the left of the entrance to the Alexander Park, in one of the squares of the New Garden. Originally it was proposed to build an open-air theatre on this site with turf benches for seating.
The plan for the theatre, which was begun in 1778, was drawn up by the architect Antonio Rinaldi, but construction was supervised by Ilya Neyelov, who made some alterations to the original concept. The building was entirely European in appearance. The theatre’s architectural forms and external decoration were relatively simple: white walls embellished with pilasters, a broad cornice and narrow door and window architraves. The cornice, probably destroyed during a nineteenth-century refurbishment, was multicoloured and had an elaborate design. Only the tall roof with corners upturned in a “Chinese” manner betrayed the architect’s efforts to create an exotic edifice.
The interior decoration of the Chinese Theatre was by contrast opulent. The central box, the proscenium arch and the ceiling painting were all adorned by figures of Chinese people, dragons, shields bearing signs of the zodiac and other elements of oriental décor. The interior was enlivened by little bells, beads and pendants turned from wood and brightly painted, silvered and gilded. The decorations for the boxes were made of painted cardboard mounted with shiny foil. The central imperial box and the two side ones intended for grand dukes and duchesses contained genuine works of Chinese art: decorative lacquer panels, porcelain and furniture. In 1779 the eminent decorative artist Joseph Christ painted the orange silk curtain with scenes and landscapes “in the Chinese taste”.
The first performance was given in the Chinese Theatre on 13 June 1779. The composer Giovanni Paisiello presented his opera Demetrios for Catherine II.
In 1908–09, under the direction of the court architect Silvio Dagnini, the building was completely refurbished. The eighteenth-century stage was re-equipped with the latest technology to facilitate large opera and ballet productions. An improved heating system made it possible to use the summer theatre throughout the year. In 1914, with the outbreak of the First World War, the Chinese Theatre ceased working for a long time. Performances were resumed only in the summer of 1930.
On 15 September 1941, when the town of Pushkin was being shelled, this unique edifice was almost completely burnt out. - Source: Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve
Tsarskoye Selo Unveils Unknown Ex-Libris Mystery Topic: Tsarskoye Selo
The research staff of Tsarskoye Selo completed their study for a previously unknown super bookplate on a book donated by Mr. Robert Atchison, an American art collector and benefactor.
Their conclusion, stating that it is the only surviving bookplate of Grand Duchess Alexandra Georgievna (1870-1891), is decisively based on the book’s authorship and “Olympic” content.
Translated from Greek to French and bound in dark morocco, De Nicopolis à Olympie. Lettres à un ami (From Nicopolis to Olympia: letters to a friend) was published in France in 1885.
It was written by Demetrius Vikelas (1835–1908), a Greek businessman, writer and the first president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). He travelled Greece a lot and put his impressions down on paper as letters, with much attention to the country’s history and mentality. The ancient Olympics were part of his writings too.
Apparently, the book got into the private library of Alexandra Georgievna because the former Princess Alexandra of Greece could not but be interested in the history of her homeland. Her bookplate on it, a gold-embossed monogram “AG” placed under the Russian imperial crown, has been previously unknown to specialists and had no reference.
Vikelas became the head of the IOC in 1894, nine years after he wrote the book. His personal connections and influence helped to solve numerous problems faced by the organizers of the first modern Olympic Games in Athens in 1896. The grand duchess died five years prior to the event – in 1891, after an accident in the seventh month of pregnancy. Doctors were able to save her premature baby, Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich. Although Alexandra Georgievna lived in Russia for only two years, there’s an extant photograph of her taken at the photo studio of Wilhelm Lapré in Tsarskoye Selo. The picture shows the grand duchess with her elder daughter Maria and her mother, Grand Duchess Olga Constantinovna of Russia and Queen Olga of the Hellenes.
Grand Duke Dmitri (1891–1942), the son of Alexandra Georgievna and Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich of Russia, was fond of sports all his life. Equestrian sports and especially polo were his favourites. He took part in the equestrian competitions at the Olympics in Sweden in 1912. As his sister Maria wrote in her memoirs, “In spring Stockholm hosted the Olympic Games. Dmitry, who took part in the equestrian competitions, came with his horses and grooms ... The Russian team, except its Finnish participants, did not prove themselves in any of the sports there. The officers, although great horsemen all of them, did not won any awards.” Indeed, the Russians were fifth in team competitions and the grand duke was only ninth. The Swedish press noted that the Russians had good horses but their training methods were outdated.
There are several surviving photos in the grand duke’s archives that show his love for horses and polo. While in exile, he kept adoring this aristocratic sport and participated in pre-WWII competitions at Polo de Beyris, a polo field near Biarritz in France. He won trophies too, as we see in a photograph captioned “Polo de Beyris, Carlton Cup, 5 August 1928” (above left).
Restoration of Agate Rooms at Tsarskoye Selo Acclaimed by EU Now Playing: Language: English. Duration: 37 seconds Topic: Tsarskoye Selo
On March 20th the European Commission and Europa Nostra announced the laureates of the EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards 2014.
Tsarskoye Selo is among the laureates with the project “Conservation of the Agate Rooms”, nominated in the most extensive category “Conservation”.
A sort of European Oscars for cultural heritage conservation, the Awards for outstanding heritage achievements in Europe are awarded to laureates, chosen out of several dozen nominees by European international juries of independent experts, in the following four categories: Conservation, Research, Dedicated Service, and Education, Training and Awareness-Raising.
The European Heritage Awards Ceremony will take place on May 5, 2014, at the renowned Burgtheater in Vienna (Austria) as part of the European Heritage Congress 2014. On this occasion, Maestro Plácido Domingo, the world’s renowned tenor and the President of Europe Nostra, together with Mrs Androulla Vassiliou, the European Commissioner responsible for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, will hand out the EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards to this year’s 27 selected laureates, in the presence of many European and national dignities. Tsarskoye Selo will receive a certificate commemorating the granting of the Award and a bronze wall plaque to be placed on the awarded site. A favourite project voted among the laureates will be announced on the same day.
Only three Russian entrants have been honoured with the Awards since the ceremony first took place in 2002.
Re-opened after restoration in September 2013, the Agate Rooms were built in 1780-1787 on the upper floor of the Cold Bath pavilion. The suite of six private rooms of Catherine the Great were part of her 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 European architectural historian Howard Colvin described them as “some of the most exquisitely elegant interiors in 18th century Europe”.
Despite the losses inflicted by the Second World War, the unique décor of the Agate Rooms has survived almost intact because it had received no proper restoration treatment. The current project was able to perform conservation of the original eighteenth 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. The virtuosity of the restorers from the Tsarskoye Selo Amber Workshop, whose earlier experience in recreating the Amber Room in the Catherine Palace was helpful, made it possible for us to see Cameron’s masterpiece almost the same as it was to Catherine the Great. The necessity to deal with the original forms here doubled the difficulty, but the outcome reinforces the validity of Colvin’s exceptional commendation.
Particularly praising the quality of the science in this important project, the Jury noting that “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.”
The project was acclaimed as “a breakthrough of restoration in Russia” by the council of restorers observing the work completion, and as “a tutorial on gentle, delicate and thoughtful restoration” by Director Mikhail Piotrovsky of the State Hermitage Museum.
The Agate Rooms are saved thanks to a state and private financial partnership between the Russian Railways, the TransSoyuz Charitable Foundation, and the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Preserve.
New Plans for Restoration of the Feodorovsky Gorodok Announced Topic: Tsarskoye Selo
An aerial view of the Feodorovsky Gorodok shows the town as it looks today. New roofs can be seen on some of the buildings.
The online newspaper «Staraya Karpovka» announced yesterday that the long awaited full-scale restoration of the buildings which make up the Feodorovsky Gorodok at Tsarskoye Selo is about to begin. Back in October 2010, I wrote an article (including my own photographs) for Royal Russia News (see link below), announcing that the historic community would become the official residence of Patriarch Kirill at Tsarskoe Selo.
The Feodorovsky Gorodok — a group of buildings erected for the clergy and servants of the nearby Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral, was constructed between 1913-1917 in the Neo-Russian style on the initiative of Emperor Nicholas II. After the Revolution, the complex was handed over to the Agronomical Institute. During the Second World War, it was ravaged and partially destroyed in the years of German occupation (1941-1944). In 1995 the entire complex was recognized as a monument of federal importance, a committee was established to oversee the restoration of the complex.
The full-scale restoration of the buildings of the Feodorovsky Gorodok will be initiated under the Plenipotentiary of President of the Russian Federation in the North-West Federal District. Plans confirm that the first floor of the refectory will house a museum, while the state rooms located on the second floor will be used for official meetings. The White House will become a hotel for bishops, the Yellow House will become a hotel for the clergy. The Pink House will become the residence of the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church during his stay at Tsarskoye Selo.
The icon workshop at Tsarskoye Selo has been commissioned to carry out the restoration of murals and frescoes in the refectory. Sadly, the iconography has not been preserved, so icon experts George and Nicholas Pashkov travelled to Nizhny Novgorod to study well preserved icons by their historic masters which managed to survive the ravages of revolution and war.
The study of the Feodorovsky Gorodok has long engaged enthusiasts. Followers of the historic and artistic revival of Russia, which was created with the participation of the town of Pushkin, allowed students to carry out archival research, and copy preserved frescoes. The materials collected allowed them to organize a small museum, and organize traveling exhibitions.
During my visit to Tsarskoye Selo in June of 2013, I walked around the Feodorovsky Gorodok and can confirm that aside from new roofs on many of the buildings, little work has been done. This weeks announced is indeed welcome news! In the last 20 years, we have seen a restoration of the Alexander Palace and the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral at Tsarskoye Selo. Now, the restoration of the Feodorovsky Gorodok will complete a complex of historic buildings that reflect the legacy of Tsar Nicholas II.
Photo: Another view of the Feodorovsky Gorodok shows the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral (left) and the former Imperial Railway Pavilion (upper left hand corner). Many of the buildings and walls of the Feodorovsky Gorodok are in a terrible state of neglect and disrepair.
Photo: The Feodorovsky Gorodok and the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral (right) are just a short walk from the Alexander Palace (upper left). The Catherine Palace can be seen directly behind it (upper left hand corner). The White Tower (center) offers commanding views of the surrounding area.
For more information on the restoration of the Feodorovsky Gorodok, please refer to the following articles;
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.