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Thursday, 26 June 2014
Two centuries Since Russia's Alexander I Was Feted in England in 1814
Topic: Alexander I


Photo: The Allied Sovereigns at Petworth, 24 June 1814. George, 1751–1837, 3rd Earl of Egremont, with His Children Looking on, is presented by George, Prince Regent, to Tsar Alexander I of Russia accompanied by his sister, the Duchess of Oldenburg in the Marble Hall at Petworth with the King of Prussia, Frederick. Painted in 1817 by the British artist Thomas Phillips (1770-1845)
 
Sir John Soane's Museum in Lincoln's Inn Fields, London, is staging an exhibition to commemorate the summer of 1814 when England's Prince Regent invited his allies - Emperor Alexander I of Russia, William of Orange and Frederick Wilhelm of Prussia - to London. VoR's Tim Ecott asked Dr. Jerzy Kierkuc-Bielinski, the curator of the exhibition, why Alexander I was so popular with British people.

The exhibition, 'Peace Breaks Out! London and Paris in the summer of 1814', at the Sir John Soane's Museum in London focusses on the summer of 1814, when Europe celebrated peace after the Treaty of Paris following the fall of Napoleon.

Displaying over 100 rare pieces from the museum and private collections, the exhibition will explore this pivotal moment in the history of Europe, through the eyes of its contemporaries.

It was a period when Europe was at peace and Napoleon had been exiled albeit briefly to the Island of Elba. England's Prince Regent invited his allies - William of Orange, Frederick Wilhelm of Prussia and Emperor Alexander I of Russia.

Tsar Alexander was also accompanied by his sister, the Duchess of Oldenburg (Grand Duchess Catherine Pavlovna, 1788-1819). The royal visitors were feted and wined and dined and there was great public interest especially in the Russian Emperor.

Dr Jerzy Kierkuc-Bielinski told VoR: 

"He was unusual, for a ruler of his time, to have been taught English. He spoke it very beautifully, so I think immediately, there is a fluency of communication between the emperor and Londoners. Also his own political outlook: he was noted for his failed – failed – attempts at reforming. For example the situation among the Russian serfs, there were certain elements of constitutional monarchy that the emperor seemed to sympathise with and made attempts to introduce to Russia.

“He attempted to reform the Russian education system. His sister also is quite a presence. There is a wonderful caricature in the exhibition which shows the Duchess of Oldenburg with her entourage in Oxford. The Tsar, the Prince Regent and the King of Russia were all invited to Oxford to receive honorary degrees, but it was the Duchess of Oldenburg’s rather extraordinary bonnet with a very long beak-like brim, which completely obscures her face, which seemed to form the point of fascination.”

The exhibition also contains a knitted purse which was presented by the emperor to 'Gentleman' John Jackson.

 Dr Kierkuc-Bielinski said: “He was one of the greatest boxers of Regency Britain. A boxing match was held and Jackson fought for Alexander, but we also know that the Prussian Field Marshal Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher was also at this match. There’s an account of the time. 

Blücher was particularly struck by Jackson’s physique, but also the elegance of his pose. Jackson was known for that – he was also called the emperor of boxing. Jackson wins the match on behalf of the emperor and is presented, by the emperor, with this rather ornate knitted purse."
 
The exhibition Peace Breaks Out! runs until September 13 at the Sir John Soane's Museum. 
 
© Voice of Russia & Royal Russia. 26 June, 2014
 

 

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:26 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 26 June 2014 8:36 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 4 March 2014
Restored Portrait of Emperor Alexander I Returned to Novgorod
Now Playing: Language: Russian. Duration: 2 minutes, 7 seconds
Topic: Alexander I

On March 4th, a press conference was held in the conference hall of the Museum of Fine Arts in Novgorod, where a portrait of the Emperor Alexander I by the British artist George Dawe (1781-1829) was unveiled after a restoration process that took five years to complete.

In 2009, the painting was sent to the All-Russian Scientific and Artistic Restoration Center in Moscow, where it was restored by a team of experts led by the Russian academician, Igor Grabar. The work went according to plan, but was interrupted by a fire in July 2010, during which the painting was badly damaged. Restorers had to start from scratch. But experts coped with the task, thanks to the efforts of the restorers of the oil painting under the guidance of Nadia Koshkina.

An inscription on the reverse of this portrait of Tsar Alexander I, records that it was given by Alexander's brother, Tsar Nicholas I to Charles Moberley of St.Petersburg in 1826. Charles was one of the seven sons of Edward Moberley, a merchant of St.Petersburg by his wife Sarah, daughter of John Cayley, British consul-general in Russia.
 
In 1948, Dawe’s portrait of Alexander I was transferred from the Artillery Museum to the collection of the Novgorod Museum. It is one of a number of official portraits of the Tsar which were commissioned for presentation. The prototype is probably a copy of the original in the Royal Collection. Other versions include a large full-length also in the Royal Collection, and another which was formerly at Londonderry House. 

In the coming months, Dawe’s famous portrait of Alexander I will once again become part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Fine Arts in Novgorod.
 

 
Video (in Russian) - Presentation of George Dawe's portrait of Emperor Alexander I at the press conference held in Novgorod on March 4th, 2014
 
It is believed that Alexander I first met Dawe during a visit to London in June 1814. Dawe enjoyed the patronage of the Duke and Duchess of Kent and also that of Princess Charlotte and Prince Leopold. In 1819, while travelling with the Duke of Kent through Europe he once again caught the attention of the tsar who commissioned Dawe to paint the portraits of senior Russian military staff who had successfully fought against Napoleon and his army.
 
Dawe established a studio in St. Petersburg later that year, and with the help of royal patronage quickly established himself. He is reported to have built up a fortune of some £100,000 during this period. He remained in the Russian capital for the next nine years, painting over 300 portraits for the military collection. He also executed a 20 ft. high equestrian portrait of Tsar Alexander. This group of portraits was installed in a purpose-built gallery in the Winter Palace. 

He became a celebrity throughout Europe and mixed with the Russian intellectual elite. Among others he met and knew were Pushkin who wrote a poem about him entitled "To Dawe Esq." In 1826 Nicholas I invited him to his coronation ceremony and in 1828 he was officially appointed First Portrait Painter of the Imperial Court.

He returned to England in 1828 and stayed for several months. During this time he exhibited many of his recent works and George IV was among those to whom they were privately shown.

He returned to St Petersburg in 1829 but soon became increasingly unwell with breathing difficulties following a serious cold. He had had pulmonary weakness throughout life following childhood illness. He returned to London in August 1829 and died on 15 October at the home of his brother-in-law, Thomas Wright, a celebrated engraver. He was buried in the crypt of St Paul's Cathedral and his funeral was attended by many artists and officials from the Russian embassy.

The significant body of work he created in Russia is currently housed in the War of 1812 Gallery in the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg. Many of his paintings are also included in the British Royal Collection. Despite the international celebrity he enjoyed in his own lifetime his popularity has not endured in his home country of England, although in Russia he is still well-known and held in high regard. 
 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 04 March, 2014
 

 

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:27 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 6 March 2014 8:44 AM EST
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Tuesday, 4 February 2014
Monument to Alexander I Erected in Lipetsk Region
Topic: Alexander I


A new monument to the Emperor Alexander I has been unveiled in the village of Panikovets Zadonskiy in the Lipetsk region, situated approximately 438 km southeast of Moscow. The bust was created by the Russian sculptor, Alexander Apollonov and set in the village centre near the Church of the Epiphany, it was financed by donations raised by local residents. The ceremony was dedicated to the 150th anniversary of the Siberian Tomsk Elder Fyodor Kuzmich. An urban myth still exists to this day that the Emperor faked his own death in 1825, taking on the person of Kuzmich. 
 
The solemn ceremony took place yesterday, February 3rd, 2014. The consecration of the monument was made by Metropolitan Nikon of Lipetsk and Zadonskiy. The opening of the monument was attended by  public figures who arrived from Moscow, including representatives of the Synod of the Moscow Patriarchate, as well as local writers and historians.

Among the guests from Moscow was one of the main initiators of the project - Alexander Shurinov, who serves as the chairman of the society of descendants of heroes of the Patriotic War of 1812. Shurinov’s great-grandfather fought during the war against Napoleon and invading French troops. According to Shurinov, many heroes of the war came from the villages of this district. He went on to say that there are plans to establish other historical monuments in the Lipetsk region, including another monument to Emperor Alexander I near the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Christ in Lipetsk. During his reign, Alexander I visited Lipetsk in 1805 where he gave his approval of a now famous balneological resort in the region. 
 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 04 February, 2014
 

 

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:00 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 4 February 2014 7:17 AM EST
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Tuesday, 17 September 2013
Bust of Alexander I Unveiled in Czech Republic
Topic: Alexander I


On September 1st, a bust of the Russian tsar-liberator Alexander I, was inaugurated in at Teplice, a town situated in Ústí nad Labem Region of the Czech Republic. The event was dedicated to the 200th anniversary of the victory of the Russian-Prussian-Austrian alliance over Napoleon's army at Teplice. The brilliant victory of the Allied forces under the command of Alexander I, changed the subsequent course of European history. The bust of Alexander I was created by the Russian sculptor, Vladimir Surovtsev. 
 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 17 September, 2013
 

 

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 2:05 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 17 September 2013 2:12 PM EDT
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Tuesday, 28 August 2012
Monument to Emperor Alexander I Unveiled in Finland
Topic: Alexander I

 

In the Finnish city of Turku a monument has been unveiled in honor of the historic meeting between Russian Emperor Alexander I and Crown Prince of Sweden Carl Johan (Charles XIV John), Fontanka.fi reports.

The unveiling ceremony, which was attended by the President of Finland Sauli Niinistö, was the culminating event of the celebratory program of the 200th anniversary of the meeting between the two monarchs. During their meetings in what was then Finland’s largest city, the royal rulers rewrote and reaffirmed the Treaty of St. Petersburg in a way that was significant for Finland. Sweden finally gave up any claim to Finland and agreed to cooperate with Russia to defeat the French Emperor Napoleon. In return, Russia provided support for Sweden’s plans to invade Norway.

The author of the sculpture, Russian artist Andrei Kovalchuk, said that when engaged in work on the sculpture he studied a large volume of archive materials to help achieve authenticity. “Preparing the sculpture I used numerous portraits of the monarchs and also etchings depicting the meeting published in 1812 in a British newspaper,” he noted.

At the General Consulate of the Russian Federation in Turku an exhibition has opened titled ‘Russians in 1812” based on works from the Russian National Library and archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In honor of the 200th anniversary of the meeting an international academic seminar has been organized, attracting historians from Russia and Finland (which from 1809 to 1917 was part of the Russian Empire).

© Fontanka. 28 August, 2012



Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:53 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 29 August 2012 1:21 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 23 May 2012
Taganrog Museum Presents Exhibition on Alexander I
Topic: Alexander I

 

The Alferaki Palace at Taganrog and Emperor Alexander I 

The Alferaki Palace at Taganrog is the venue for the new exhibition, Emperor Alexander I, The Reign That Ended in Taganrog.

Its opening is timed to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 in which Russia, led by Alexander I defeated Napoleon's armies.

On display will be a collection of weapons and medals from the War of 1812, documents bearing the Russian Emperor's signature, and a unique collection of furniture, and objects of decorative art from Alexander I's palace at Taganrog. Also on display is a unique vase with the portrait of Alexander I, donated by his brother and successor, Emperor Nicholas I.

The Alferaki Palace is a beautiful example of the Russian Empire style. It was built in 1848 by the famous Russian architect Andrei Stakenschneider, for the merchant N.D. Alferaki.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 23 May, 2012


 


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:57 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 23 May 2012 8:34 AM EDT
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