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Thursday, 12 March 2015
Imperial Photographic Treasures from the State Hermitage Museum
Topic: Romanov

A single photograph may capture a moment; a collection can provide a window to the past.

Last year, photograph conservators from the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia visited Harvard and shared some photographic treasures held by the Hermitage, many never before seen in the West. 

These include recently rediscovered personal photographs of Russia’s doomed royal family and nobility—hidden following the Revolution or “lost” to storage and transfers over the decades. Called the Imperial Collection, the photos and other materials provide invaluable information about Russian life in the 19th and 20th centuries, and the Hermitage embarked on an intense effort to preserve and catalogue the 500,000+ items.

“We know that the importance of photographic collections will only improve with time,” said Natalia Avetyan, a curator of photographs from the State Hermitage Museum. 
 

© Harvard University / State Hermitage Museum. 12 March, 2015
 

 

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:00 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 12 March 2015 6:40 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 24 February 2015
Educating Russia's Future Rulers: The Tutors Who Taught the Tsars
Topic: Romanov


Konstantin Pobedonostsev – a censor and one of the most influential people in the Russian Empire for decades
– was tutor to Alexander II’s eldest son, Alexander III and his brother Vladimir, and Nicholas II.
 
Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the February 24th, 2015 edition of Russia Beyond the Headlines. The author, Olga Dudnikova, owns the copyright of the work presented below.

One of the lesser-known legacies of Catherine the Great’s reign as Empress of the Russian Empire was her introduction of ‘professionalized’ education for the monarchy. Based on domestic tuition by highly-qualified tutors who were specialists in their fields, Catherine’s system was to provide Russia’s tsars with tailor-made teaching in key areas such as finance, law and military affairs throughout the 19th century.

The Napoleonic Wars, the Decembrist Uprising, the Crimean War, the abolition of serfdom, and maintaining control over the Far East were just a few of the challenges and major events that the Russian Empire was compelled to navigate in the 19th century. Each event required a competent and professional reaction by the tsar – a reaction that to a large degree depended on the ruler’s education.

Even Catherine the Great, who reigned for almost the entire second half of the 18th century, surmised the importance of ‘professionalizing’ the monarchy. She laid the foundations of domestic education for her heirs and the great princes of the 19th century. 

From the era of Catherine the Great onward, training for Russia’s monarchs resembled school and university education, but it entailed fewer basic disciplines and more special courses, particularly in finance, government, and law, as well as military affairs – precisely what Catherine’s ‘professionalization’ required.

No expense was spared on teachers and tutors, but they were not bound by rigid conditions and could conduct their work as they saw fit. When she hired Swiss general Frederique Lagarde – a person who sympathized with the ideas behind the French Revolution and instilled the views of Jean-Jacques Rousseau in the future Tsar Alexander I – Catherine the Great said: “Be a Jacobin or a republican, whatever you want. I see that you are an honest person, and that is enough for me. Stay with my grandchildren, enjoy my full confidence, and continue to care for them with the diligence that is characteristic of you.”

Who taught the tsars?

In the 19th century, the body of educators, which consisted of senior officers and officials as well as the best teachers of the time, was divided into military and civilian roughly equally.

Alexander II’s physics and chemistry teacher was chairman of St. Petersburg’s Pharmaceutical Society Alexander Kemmerer, a pharmacist who in 1825 took the reins at the Glavnaya Gornaya Pharmacy, which he created.

Nikolai Beketov, one of the founders of physical chemistry and chemical dynamics, taught chemistry to Nicholas II, while Login Kraft, a member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences, taught math to Nicholas II’s son and daughters.

One of the first Russian fencing coaches, Ivan Siverbrik, who organized a fencing school in Russia, taught Alexander II and Nicholas I the art of swordsmanship. Siverbrik and his son wrote a book on fencing with swords and broadswords.

Some tutors taught multiple generations of tsars at once. Konstantin Pobedonostsev – a censor and one of the most influential people in the Russian Empire for decades – was tutor to Alexander II’s eldest son, Alexander III and his brother Vladimir, and Nicholas II.

Military affairs

Military affairs was a subject of particular importance for all tsars, and it was taught in a unique and particular way to each future tsar.

For example, Nicholas I’s military affairs course was limited exclusively to special classes on engineering and cartography. Engineer-general Karl Opperman used one of the most productive modern forms of education in his work with Nicholas I: He gave the future tsar topics for independent elaboration on a project basis, and then the two sat down together and analyzed the results.

Alexander I only studied fortification, artillery, and military strategy. His teacher was Antoine-Henri Jomini, a general for two opposing states: Napoleon’s France and Alexander I’s Russia. He was chief of staff for Marshal Ney, who participated in Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812; founder of the Russian Academy of the General Staff; a French and Russian writer, and even the military governor of Smolensk in 1812.

Home schooling for future tsars throughout the entire 19th century was, almost without exception, set apart by the high professional level of the tutors, as well as its diverse and often innovative university forms (including special courses and project-based work), which not only outpaced traditional higher state education, but also paved the way forward.

Olga Dudnikova, PhD is an associate professor at Smolensk State University who specializes in the history of education.

© Olga Dudnikova / Russia Beyond the Headlines. 24 February, 2015
 

 

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 1:00 PM EST
Updated: Thursday, 26 February 2015 1:04 PM EST
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Monday, 11 August 2014
From Russia with Royals - Royal Marine Helped Tsar's Family Escape During First World War
Topic: Romanov


The Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna, and Grand Duke Nicholas Nicholaievich, Jr., departing Yalta on board the HMS Marlborough. 8 April, 1919
 
Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the August 7th, 2014 edition of the The Bedford Times and Citizen. Corrections to the text have been made by Paul Gilbert. The author Richard Johnson, owns the copyright of the work presented below.

A Royal Marine, who lived in Felmersham and Clapham after the First World War, was among the crew who helped the Russian Royal family make their escape to England. Richard Johnson, from Bedford, reveals the story of his great-grandfather’s part of the dramatic journey

George Gravestock, who was a publican in Felmersham and Sharnbrook, rarely spoke about his brush with Russian royalty after the First World War, recalls his daughter Christine Morrissey (née Gravestock).

Eager to leave home and serve his country, George told the enlistment officer that he was over 18 years old when he joined the Royal Marines in April 1915.

In reality, George was only 27 days past his 16th birthday. Still a boy, George’s medical records show that he grew 4 inches taller over the course of the war.

Serving in Belgium, the Mediterranean, and the Black Sea, his most exciting episode was his time on the HMS Marlborough in April 1919. Less than a year after the execution of his cousin Tsar Nicholas II, King George V agreed to grant refuge to the surviving Russian royal family. The ship was tasked with the evacuation of 17 Russian royals – including the late Tsar’s mother, sister, uncles, aunts, cousins, and grandchildren – from Yalta in Crimea to the British naval base in Malta.

During the rescue operation, George patrolled the grounds of the Dulber royal palace at Koreiz on the Black Sea.
 


George Gravestock, photographed in 1919
 
Thinking of his girlfriend Ethel at home, he cut a rose from the royal gardens, which he would later send to her.

On the journey to Malta, the crew of the Marlborough did their best to lift the spirits of the Russian royals, including the Dowager Empress Marie, who was the sister of the Queen Mother, Alexandra. At Easter, the Marines painted Easter eggs for the Romanov children and played with the royal dogs.

After arriving in Malta, George had a handsome photograph taken of himself at the Grand Studio in Valletta.

And several months later, he sent it to England, inscribed ‘To my Dearest Ethel, with fondest love from George, August 5 1919’.

After the war, George returned to England and married Ethel. After some years working in the police force, George ran the Sun Inn in Felmersham and later moved to the Half Moon in Sharnbrook, where he was the publican from 1939 until 1959.

He finally settled in Clapham, where his daughter Christine and grandson Peter still live.

Although rarely discussing the war, George never forgot those left behind. Christine said: “Every year on Remembrance Sunday he would remember his friends and comrades who lost their lives. He would always do that - right up to the time he died.”

* The story is recorded in Frances Welch’s book The Russian Court at Sea. Richard Johnson is currently studying for a PhD at Oxford. 
 
© Richard Johnson / The Bedford Times and Citizen
 

 

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:41 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 11 August 2014 6:58 AM EDT
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Monday, 9 December 2013
14 Romanov Statues Planned for St. Petersburg Park
Topic: Romanov

Zurab Tsereteli is preparing a special gift for Russia’s northern capital. Fourteen bronze sculptures by the famed Russian sculptor depicting the sovereigns of the Romanov dynasty, will be erected in the 300th Anniversary Park in St. Petersburg. 

Russian Minister of Culture, Vladimir Medina presented drafts of the monuments at the International Cultural Forum, which was recently held in St. Petersburg. Tsereteli’s idea is to create a Walk of Fame, or “Romanov Alley” began some 35 years ago. 

The 14 monuments will begin with Tsar Mikhail Feodorovich (ruled 1613-1645), and end with Tsar Nicholas II (ruled 1894-1917). Each monument will be cast in bronze, and stand from three to six meters in height. 

The 300th Anniversary Park is located in north-western St. Petersburg. It was founded in 1995, and by 2003 it offered a beautiful landscaped green space, which included fountains and hundreds of trees.

Zurab Tsereteli has created numerous statues dedicated to the Romanov dynasty. One of the most controversial is a monument to Peter the Great in Moscow. His museum in Moscow is home to other Romanov monuments, including the thought provoking Night at the Ipatiev House. 

For more information on Zurab Tsereteli, please refer to the following article Night at the Ipatiev House 

Below, are the artists's drawings for Tsereteli's 14 Romanov monuments to be erected in the 300th Anniversary Park in St. Petersburg;

 

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 09 December, 2013


 


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 11:46 AM EST
Updated: Monday, 9 December 2013 12:31 PM EST
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Monday, 1 April 2013
Russian Farmer Ivan Susanin Gave his Life to Save the First Russian Tsar
Topic: Romanov

 

Many Russian poems, paintings and musical pieces are devoted to Susanin’s feat

400 years ago, in 1613, Russian farmer Ivan Susanin gave his life to save the life of the first Russian tsar of the Romanov dynasty, Mikhail.

 Various sources name various details of this event. It is sometimes very difficult to separate historic truth from myths and legends. Besides, the significance of what Susanin did is estimated variously by various historians.

 What can be said with more or less certainty is that Ivan Susanin lived in the village of Domnino, which was an estate of Mikhail Romanov. The village was in 80 km from the city of Kostroma.

 As a rule, monarchs are not elected – they inherit the throne from their parents. However, after Russians overthrew the regime of the Polish invaders in 1612, they had to appoint or elect someone as the country’s new ruler. Thus, something like a council was convoked to elect a tsar.

 Mikhail Romanov, a son of a high-ranking clergyman, who was very young at that time, was not present at this council. He was in the city of Kostroma when he heard the news that he was elected the tsar of Russia.

 The Poles, wanting to take revenge for their defeat, decided to capture or even kill the newly elected tsar before he had managed to ascend the throne. They came to the village of Domnino and ordered a local farmer, Ivan Susanin, to tell them where the young tsar was.

 A widely spread version of Susanin’s story has it that allegedly, he said that he would take the Poles to the place where Mikhail Romanov was hiding. But instead, he led them into an impassable forest. When the enemies realized that Susanin had deceived him, they killed him. But they never managed to get out of the forest because they drowned in a bog.

 However, historians say this version is probably a legend that appeared later. The version that sounds more real to them is that Susanin did not lead the Poles to any forest. He categorically refused to say where Mikhail Romanov was. The Poles severely tortured Susanin, but he did not betray the tsar. Finally, the enemies killed the brave farmer.

 The only documented mention of Susanin which dates back to his time and has preserved till our days is a decree of Mikhail Romanov, by which he presented one half of the Domnino estate to Ivan Susanin’s descendants.

 The Director of the Chancellery of the Romanov Royal House Alexander Zakatov believes that the significance of Ivan Susanin’s feat can hardly be overestimated:

 “The Gospel says: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13.) Ivan Susanin sacrificed his life for the Romanov dynasty. The history of the Romanov dynasty did not start from a large-scale battle or from a historic deed of a certain noble person. It started from a selfless feat of a modest farmer who, most likely, never expected that people would glorify him in songs within many centuries and build monuments to him.”

 “In fact, Ivan Susanin gave his life not only for the young Mikhail Romanov,” Alexander Zakatov says. “It would not be an exaggeration to say that he saved the entire Russia. If the Polish invaders’ regime resumed in Russia, this would have been a real catastrophe for our country.”

 Unexpected as it may sound, although Susanin saved a tsar, the Soviet authorities also proclaimed him a hero. Soviet propaganda, however, didn’t stress that he saved a tsar. It said that he saved Russia from enemies.

 Russian historian Alexey Shishov says:

 “Artifacts or documents may be destroyed or lost. But if a hero lives in people’s memory, his feat can never be erased from this memory. In the case of Susanin, it is very hard, if possible at all, to separate the truth from legends. However, legends do not appear at an empty place. Some minor details of legends about Susanin may be not true, but these legends are obviously based on real events.”

 Many Russian poems, paintings and musical pieces are devoted to Susanin’s feat. Probably the best known of them is the opera “Ivan Susanin, or a Life for the Tsar” by 19th-century composer Mikhail Glinka.

 It is believed that a certain Western military commander allegedly said: “As long as Russia has people like Ivan Susanin, it would be madness for anyone to start a war against Russia.”

© The Voice of Russia. 01 April, 2013



Posted by Paul Gilbert at 5:02 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 1 April 2013 5:08 AM EDT
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Thursday, 7 March 2013
The Romanov's 300th Anniversary in Film
Now Playing: Language: Russian (with English subtitles). Duration: 2 minutes, 47 seconds
Topic: Romanov

The 300th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty occurred March 6, 1913. The major state jubilee was a public celebration which commemorated the reign of the House of Romanov in the Russian Empire.

A film by Aleksandr Drankov was released to commemorate the tercentenary of Romanov rule in Russia. This film was said to have the blessing of Tsar Nicholas II himself.

The House of Romanov was the second and last imperial dynasty to rule over Russia, reigning from 1613 until the 1917.

© Rossiyskaya Gazeta. 07 March, 2013



Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:10 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 6 March 2013 6:37 PM EST
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Tuesday, 13 December 2011
Romanov Family Photos Fetch $1,73 Million USD
Topic: Romanov

  |||CLICK HERE TO VIEW CATALOGUE & VIDEOS|||

More than 300 rare photographs of the Romanov family went under the hammer in Geneva on Monday, fetching 1.6 million Swiss Francs or 1.73 millions USD.

Experts attribute the auction's success to the fact that the photos had never been published before, and that many had been signed by members of the Russian Imperial family.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 13 December, 2011


 


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:30 AM EST
Updated: Friday, 16 December 2011 9:21 AM EST
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Monday, 12 December 2011
The Romanovs as Charitable Philanthropists
Topic: Romanov

 

A unique photographic exhibition, Charity Under the Auspices of the Romanov Dynasty opened last week in Moscow.

The exhibit includes more than 100 photographs that show members of the Russian Imperial family involved and working with various charities for the benefit of the people.

Among the most actively involved were the Empresses Maria Alexandrovna, Maria Feodorovna and Alexandra Feodorovna, as well as Grand Duchesses Olga Alexandrovna and Elizabeth Feodorovna.

Many members of the Russian Imperial family built and founded charities, orphanages, almshouses, at their own expense and became active patrons of these institutions. As the ruling dynasty, many felt a moral obligation to reach out to those less fortunate.

The photographs depict the Romanovs at charity functions, including bazaars and concerts; working at clinics, hospitals, hospital trains, hospitals and orphanages. Many portraits are also featured, including members of the Russian Imperial family, doctors, medical staff, honourary trustees, hospital and hospice employees, teachers, etc.

The exhibition runs until 22 December, 2011 at the Moscow School No. 1573.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 12 December, 2011


  

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 13 December 2011 1:32 PM EST
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Friday, 14 October 2011
Unknown Romanovs: 400 Years of Service to Russia
Now Playing: Language: Russian. Duration: 2 minutes, 31 seconds
Topic: Romanov

An exhibition of photographs of the Russian Imperial family has opened in the Russian city of Vladimir.

More than 100 photographs show the last Russian tsar, Nicholas II and his family during happier times.

"It is always interesting to life the veil and see the royal family in more private settings," says Alexander Panin. "This exhibition offers a unique opportunity to see the emperor as a loving husband and father".

The exhibition runs until the end of November.

© Royal Russia. 14 October, 2011



Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:44 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 14 October 2011 10:41 AM EDT
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Wednesday, 3 August 2011
Russian Imperial House 1902
Now Playing: Language: Muscial background. Duration: 3 minutes and 3 seconds
Topic: Romanov

A compilation of photographs of the 39 members of the Russian Imperial House in 1902, including the grand dukes and grand duchesses.

© Royal Russia. 3 August, 2011



Posted by Paul Gilbert at 3:51 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 3 August 2011 3:52 PM EDT
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