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Friday, 21 August 2015
Egyptian Breakfast Service of Empress Maria Feodorovna Returned to Pavlovsk
Topic: Pavlovsk

The Egyptian Breakfast Service of the Empress Maria Feodorovna at Pavlovsk
The service for breakfast, which belonged to the Empress Maria Feodorovna, has been purchased at auction and returned to the collection of the Pavlovsk State Museum.

During the 1920s and 1930s, the notorious sale of museum collections took place in order to provide much needed hard foreign currency to the struggling Soviet economy. Pavlovsk, like many other palaces in and around St. Petersburg were looted by their new Soviet caretakers, robbed of many of their treasures. American, British and European buyers were quick to snap up these treasures which once belonged to members of the Russian Imperial family at government sponsored auctions in the Soviet Union.

The Egyptian Porcelain service was made in 1814 and presented by King Frederick I of Württemberg to his sister, the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna, the widow of Emperor Paul I. The gift was preserved in the Pavlovsk Palace until 1930, when it was sold by Antiquariat to a buyer in London.

The service was recently sold by Bonhams auction house to the President and Chairman of VTB Bank Andrey Kostin, who has presented it to the Pavlovsk State Museum. The private collector who sold the service has retained the tray, and is currently living in Australia. While grateful for the return of the breakfast service, the museum expressed the hope that it will be possible to purchase the tray, and return it to Pavlovsk to complete the set.

The breakfast service includes a coffee pot, milk jug, sugar bowl with lid, a cup with a lid for hot chocolate, two cups and saucers, and sugar tongs. The form and decoration of the pieces are made in the Egyptian Revival style, fashionable in the arts of the early 19th century. Each piece is applied with gold grade - FR under the crown. One of the items had retained a sticker with the inventory number 1009, dated in the 1908 inventory at Pavlovsk. Each piece is decorated with a portrait of a member of the Royal House of Württemberg, including King Frederick I on the coffee pot. 

The Egyptian Breakfast Service was produced at the Ludwigsburg porcelain manufactory, which was founded in 1758 by Duke Carl Eugene Württemberg, an uncle of Empress Maria. 

The 11-piece Egyptian Breakfast Service will be returned to Russia and put on display later this year, in the bedchamber of the Empress in Pavlovsk Palace. 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 21 August, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:52 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 22 August 2015 7:59 AM EDT
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Monday, 17 August 2015
Presidential Library Presents Collection of Views of Pavlovsk
Topic: Pavlovsk

The Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library in St. Petersburg, have acquired a new collection of postcards with views of pre-revolutionary, Soviet and contemporary Pavlovsk.

The image of one of the most majestic and beautiful palaces and park complexes in the St. Petersburg suburbs is presented through old postcards, photographs and an album-photo essay devoted to the 15th Imperial Bouquet Festival of floral and landscape art.

A total of 24 cards scanned by the Presidential Library thanks to the cooperation with the Children's Museum of Postcards, reveal the beauty of the Pavlovsk palace and park ensemble, a cultural monument reflecting the heyday of Russian classicism of the late 18th - early 19th centuries. The palace and the adjacent park was constructed over half a century by several generations of architects and designers, including Charles Cameron, Vincenzo Brenna, Giacomo Quarenghi, Andrei Voronikhin, and Carlo Rossi.

Black-and-white photographs from the 1920s depict the palace and park complex. Interior pictures include the magnificent Bedchamber of the Empress Maria Feodorovna (photo taken between 1904-1917), and the photos of the post-revolution period, which include the Art Gallery and Rossi Library, taken by an unknown photographer in 1925-1929.

The set of the Pavlovsk Museum-Reserve. Revived Beauty feature the photographs from the collection of the Pavlovsk State Museum-Reserve, which depict the reconstruction of the palace and park ensemble in the postwar period. Pavlovsk Palace was the first suburban palace restored after the Great Patriotic War. It was here that the domestic scientific method of restoring historical and architectural monuments was first developed. Several photographs tell about the present status of the palace complex as a museum. In addition, the collection includes the historical calendar issued by the Presidential Library as a tribute to the beauty of Pavlovsk resurrected from the ruins.

The photo album Imperial Bouquet features 37 photographs which showcase unique, elegant floral arrangements which decorated the main entrance to the park, during the annual festival held at Pavlovsk on 18-19 July.

© Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library / Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 17 August, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:44 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 18 August 2015 7:47 AM EDT
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Wednesday, 8 April 2015
Exhibition: Church Vestments and Utensils from the Pavlovsk State Museum Collections
Topic: Pavlovsk

A unique exhibition of religious objects from the palace church of Saints Peter and Paul opened at Pavlovsk Palace over the recent Easter holiday weekend.

The exposition of rare church vestments and utensils from the Pavlovsk State Museum collections are on display for the first time since the Second World War. These are the relics that were evacuated along with other museum objects in the summer of 1941. Among them, are unique items made of silver - a candlestick, censer, and the ark of the Shrine - which were produced in 1798 by order of the Imperial Court specifically for the church designed by prominent architect MF Kazakov in the workshop of the court jeweller J. Buch .

Also on display are examples of skilled Russian embroiderers, including surplice, a veil on the lectern and vestments to the throne. Vestments made of velvet, dark red, symbolizing the blood of the Savior, were used at a service on Holy Thursday. Among the memorial exhibits presented in the exhibition, is a copy of the Sacred History of the Old and New Testament, published in 1763. This children's Bible was the first textbook of the Law of God presented to Grand Duke Paul Petrovich, son of the Empress Catherine II.

The palace Church of Saints Peter and Paul was built by the architect Vincenzo Brenna in 1799 and consecrated in the same year. In this project, the architect moved away from the traditional form of the Russian church and brought elements of Western European religious architecture. On 30 April, 1799 in the presence of the court, was announced one of the first communiqués from AV Suvorov on the occasion of the capture of Mantua and Peskery in Italy. From April to August 1799 thanksgiving services were held in the church marking the victories of Suvorov. The Palace Church was the home church of the Imperial family, it was here that services took place, including the sacrament, confession for members of the imperial family, and prayers on the occasion of births and deaths, engagements and weddings, name day and other events within the imperial and grand-ducal family. On July 11, 1886 a christening ceremony was held for the firstborn son of Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich and Grand Duchess Elizabeth Mavrikievny, Prince Ioann Konstantinovich, who was tragically killed in the First World War. The christening was held in the presence of Emperor Nicholas II. 

In 1918, the palace church was closed. Many of the church vestments and utensils (especially articles containing precious metals and stones), were seized and transferred to the National People's Commissariat storage. Most of the priestly vestments, banners, veil, veils, many of which had been embroidered by the Empress Maria Feodorovna, were lost during the Nazi occupation. In 1944, during the liberation of Pavlovsk, the church was destroyed by a fire which destroyed many liturgical objects, which could not be saved in time. The interior of the Church of Saints Peter and Paul was rebuilt in 1976 - 1977. 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 08 April, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 4:21 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 8 April 2015 5:35 AM EDT
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Friday, 30 January 2015
New Film Tells the Story of Pavlovsk Palace and its Blockade Director, Anna Zelenova
Topic: Pavlovsk

Anna Ivanovna Zelonova (1913-1980)
On January 26th, the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library in St. Petersburg offered the premiere and organized a discussion of the documentary directed by Igor Smirnov, "Anna Zelenova. The Fate of the Museum Curator." The film is timed to the centenary of the legendary director of the Pavlovsk State Museum, Anna Zelenova. The film is part of “Restored Beauty,” a publishing and exhibition project carried out by the Presidential Library and Pavlovsk State Museum, which marks the year of the 70th anniversary of Victory. Screening of the film is also timed to the Day of complete lifting of the blockade of Leningrad. The premiere was attended by veterans of Pavlovsk.

Anna Ivanovna Zelenova was born in St. Petersburg on 28 February, 1913. She arrived at Pavlovsk to work as a tour guide when she was very young and instantly knew that she had found her place in life. In August 1941, she was appointed acting director of the palace complex. Thus, she had to shoulder all the problems associated with the rescue and evacuation of the exhibits on the eve of the invasion of German troops in Pavlovsk. Anna organized transportation of some of the exhibits to St. Isaac's Cathedral in Leningrad; the other part was shipped by rail to Siberia. During the siege Zelenova, like many other members of the suburban museums, spent a lot of time in the basement of St. Isaac's Cathedral, preserving and saving valuable exhibits.

Anna Zelenova had been a permanent director of the museum from 1941 to 1979. During the 900 Day Siege, she worked in Leningrad under harsh conditions. After the expulsion of the invading troops from the suburbs of Leningrad, she oversaw the restoration of the Pavlovsk palace and park facilities. 

On 20 January, 1979 she was forced to quit as director of the museum, due to disagreements with the Leningrad "party leadership" (in particular with the YF Soloviev , First Secretary of the Leningrad Party Committee). She died of a heart attack on 16 January, 1980, she was buried at the cemetery in Pavlovsk. During the remaining years of the Soviet Union, her name was forgotten, however, in 2005, Anna Ivanovna Zelenova was posthumously awarded the title of honorary citizen of the city of Pavlovsk, one of the streets of the city was also renamed in her honour.

The film tells the story of revival of the Pavlovsk Palace and park through the prism of the tragic fate of Anna Zelenova. The core of the film is represented by video interviews with people who knew her. The film also reveals the monumental problems associated with the implementation of the post-war restoration works.

The film has been awarded diplomas of the winners of the XVI International Festival of Films and Television Programs "Radonezh», VII International Candlemas Orthodox Film Festival "Vstrecha», VI Festival of Christian Cinema 2012 "Nevsky church bells», XI Kiev International Documentary Film Festival "Film Chronicle." 
© Yeltsin Presidential Library and Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 30 January, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:41 PM EST
Updated: Friday, 30 January 2015 1:17 PM EST
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Sunday, 2 November 2014
18th Century Peel Tower Has Been Restored at Pavlovsk
Topic: Pavlovsk

Situated in Pavlovsk Park, the historic Peel (Pil) Tower has been restored to its original, the first restoration of the historic structure to be carried out in more than 40 years. The restoration took about ten months to complete.

"Restoration of the tower was extremely important," - said Vera Dementieva, Director of the Pavlovsk State Museum, noting that since the last restoration in 1971, the condition of the pavilion had fallen into disrepair and called for urgent action.

Built in the late 18th century by the architect Vincenzo Brenna, the Peel Tower is located in on the banks of the River Slav which runs through the park surrounding the Pavlovsk Palace.

The name "Peel" may be derived from the Russian verb pilit' (to saw), though it seems more likely that it traces its descent from the English word pillar. A series of documents confirms the existence here of "a water mill" at the end of the eighteenth century. 

The tower was painted sometime around 1798 by Pietro Gonzaga, who created the impression of a ruined medieval tower hastily patched up with boards and planks and adapted for living in. The thatched cone-shaped roof was crowned with a small steeple. A stairway attached to the outside wound its way around the pavilion to the upper floor.

While the Peel Tower was constructed to resemble a classic ruin, the hidden luxurious interiors of the two-storey pavilion came as a surprise to visitors. The sumptuous drawing-room was decorated with gold-embroidered muslin, mouldings, paintings, a marble fireplace and noble furniture. It served the Empress Maria Feodorovna, wife of Emperor Paul I, who not only enjoyed the seclusion the pavilion provided in the park, but as a spot where she could relax, read and take tea.

During the 20th century, the Peel Tower underwent repeated repairs. An extensive restoration took place in 1939, but the pavilion was severely damaged during the Second World War. The complete restoration of the tower was carried out in 1970, but this effect did not last long. Numerous acts of vandalism took its toll on the historic pavilion, including the extensive graffiti on the walls, while grilles and doors were breached and ripped off.

As a result of the recent restoration, architects and artists were successful in recreating the thatched roof. As noted by Dementieva, "this is the first recreation of a thatched roof in the territory of St. Petersburg." The interior of the Peel Tower has also been restored, including the painting of the ceiling, and wall decorations.

The Peel Tower will open to visitors next year, noted Dementieva. Throughout the winter the museum experts will monitor the state of the pavilion, to analyze how the building reacts to the elements, such as moisture and frost. The results will allow the museum experts to take any additional steps to preserve the historic building. Video surveillance and security checkpoint will be implemented to prevent any further vandalism.

Among the other restoration plans at Pavlovsk are the restoration of the Aviary pavilion, and the restoration of some 38 sculptures in the park. 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 02 November, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:20 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 2 November 2014 9:49 AM EDT
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Friday, 10 January 2014
Pavlovsk Announces Plans to Restore Two Pavilions
Topic: Pavlovsk

The Pavlovsk State Museum have announced plans to restore two more pavilions: the Peel Tower and the Aviary. The cost of the restorations is estimated at 30 million Rubles and 46 million Rubles respectively. The palace museum is now accepting applications for tender until January 30, restoration is expected to take 10 months from the date of acceptance of the contract.

The winners of the auction will have to perform the restoration and reconstruction of the foundations, exterior stucco finishes, masonry, architectural stucco decoration, and roofs. The contractor responsible for the Peel tower will also need to restore the parquet flooring, stairs, French balcony and fresco painting.

The Peel Tower was built in 1797 by the architect Vincenzo Brenna. The two-storey tower is made in the shape of a cylinder on a stone base. The original walls were created imitating dilapidated masonry, painted by the decorative artist Pietro di Gottardo Gonzaga. A wooden staircase led to the second floor with intricately intertwined railings resembling tree trunks. The last time the tower was restored was in 1969-1971.

The Aviary was built in 1782 in the classical style by the architect Charles Cameron. It was home to galleries of exotic birds, but in 1818, Empress Maria Feodorovna released them back into the wild, and the pavilion became a flower greenhouse. In 1940 the pavilion was restored, however, it suffered damage during the Second World War. Between 1967-1968, the Aviary underwent extensive restoration by the architect Sophia Popova-Gunich. 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 10 January, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 11:56 AM EST
Updated: Friday, 10 January 2014 11:59 AM EST
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Tuesday, 19 November 2013
German Nobles Return Nazi Looted Books to Pavlovsk
Topic: Pavlovsk

Stephan von Schulenburg and Aleksey Guzanov, Pavlovsk State Museum Preserve Deputy Director for Research and Storage
A ceremony marking the return to Russia of 125 valuable books from the library of the Empress Maria Feodorovna (wife of Emperor Paul I) looted by German soldiers in the Second World War takes place in Leipzig, in Germany’s Saxony, on Monday. Masterpieces going back to the Russian State Museum of Pavlovsk include works of German classics, memoirs of French states people and history books, ITAR-TASS reports.

They are now in the hands of the German noble family von der Schulenburg and were presented to Werner von Schulenburg, Germany’s ambassador to the USSR, in 1934-1941, after he had returned to Germany. The diplomat had sympathised with the Nazi regime and was a member of the Nazi party. But he later changed his views and tried to persuade the Third Reich authorities not to attack the Soviet Union. He later joined the resistance movement and took part in the failed July 1944 plot against Adolf Hitler.

The books have been stored in the library of the Schulenburgs’ Falkenberg fortress in Bavaria. The family had not known the book collection’s provenance until this year and the ex-diplomat’s grandson has decided to give the books back to Pavlovsk. These were a war trophy to which they had no right of ownership, the family said.

Handover will take place at the Leipzig branch of the German National Library and will be open for the general public to witness, an official of one of the organisers and intermediaries, the Federal Cultural Foundation (FCF), told Itar-Tass. About 40 Russian guests will attend the ceremony, among them the Museum of Pavlovsk’s deputy director for research and storage, Aleksey Guzanov.

The event will be part of the 4th German-Russian library dialogue, established in 2009 and aimed to preserve, classify and digitise books moved during WWII and provide open access to them. The Schulenburgs will bring the books to Leipzig and the Russian embassy to Germany will transport them to Russia, FCF’s Britta Kaiser-Schuster explained.

“The family will hand over the total of 125 books, among them the collected works of Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, published in 1717 in Berlin,” FCF’s Johannes Fehlmann said. “But the collection is mainly made up of French-language books, namely the memoirs of Queen Marie Antoinette and the general Gilbert Lafayette and several history books, including books about the discovery of America or about the Russian Empire.” 
© ITAR-TASS, Russkiy Mir and Royal Russia. 19 November, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:05 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 19 November 2013 8:17 AM EST
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Wednesday, 13 February 2013
Naryshkin Treasures on View at Pavlovsk
Topic: Pavlovsk


An exhibit which showcases many of the Naryshkin treasures found in a St. Petersburg mansion last year will go on display today at Pavlovsk Palace.

In March 2012, workers found an enormous cache during the restoration of the former Naryshkin mansion on Tchaikovsky Street in the city center. Nearly 2,000 items dating from the 19th-early 20th centuries had been hidden under the floors by the owners of the mansion prior to their escape from Russia during the Revolution.

Silverware, porcelain, medals and awards, jewellery, among other items were found wrapped in old newspapers, dated June-September 1917.

After their discovery, the cache was carefully packed into 40 boxes and coffers and sent to the Konstantin Palace at Stelna for examination and cataloguing.

In January, about 400 items were transferred to Pavlovsk Palace to be put on display. The Konstantin Palace at Strelna hosted an exhibit last year displaying a portion of its share of treasures. Organizers from both museums note that only half of the Naryshkin treasure has been put on display.

Over the decades similar caches of Imperial treasures have been found hidden in other palaces, including the Yusupov and Shuvalov in St. Petersburg.

The Naryshkin exhibit at Pavlovsk will run until June 1st, 2013. The ultimate fate of the collection has yet to be decided by the Ministry of Culture.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 13 February, 2013

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 5:29 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 13 February 2013 10:00 AM EST
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Friday, 20 July 2012
Pavlovsk Hosts 12th Imperial Bouquet Festival
Topic: Pavlovsk


The 12th annual Imperial Bouquest Festival opened at Pavlovsk Palace on July 14th. The theme of this year's festival was dedicated to the 200th anniversary of Russia's victory over Napoleon's armies in 1812.

The festival is now held every year in honour of the palace's original owner, the Empress Maria Feodorovna (1759-1828). During her years at Pavlovsk, the wife of Emperor Paul I had a great love for flowers and oversaw the development and maintenance of some of the most beautiful gardens in Russia. Having an avid interest in flower arranging, she filled the rooms of the palace with arrangements and bouquets that she created herself using fresh, fragrant blooms from her gardens and greenhouses year round.

This years' festival involved over 100 florists, and guests were entertained with a fashion show and music in the Rose Pavilion (pictured lower right). The festival lasted two days, July 14-15, 2012.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 20 July, 2012


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 1:07 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 22 July 2012 2:24 PM EDT
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Saturday, 25 February 2012
Pavlovsk Remembers Anna Ivanova Zelenova
Topic: Pavlovsk


A concert in memory of Anna Ivanova Zelenovna will be held on February 29th at Pavlovsk. Zelenovna served as Director of Pavlovsk from 1941 to 1979.

She is credited with the evacuation of art treasures from Pavlovsk during the Second World War, after having them moved to the basement of St. Isaac’s Cathedral in St. Petersburg.  

After the war, she played a significant role in initiating the restoration of a number of palaces, including the Catherine Palace, Peterhof, Pavlovsk and Gatchina.

Her life and work is explored in detail in Pavlovsk, The Life of a Russian Palace by Suzanne Massie (1990) and Saving the Tsars’ Palaces by Christopher Morgan and Irina Orlova (2005).

Anna Zelenovna died on the job on January 16, 1980, at the age of sixty-seven. Since her death, every year on her birthday her friends and co-workers gather at Pavlovsk to listen to chamber music concerts and honour her memory.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 25 February, 2012


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:56 PM EST
Updated: Saturday, 25 February 2012 1:03 PM EST
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