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Wednesday, 16 December 2015
Contradictions of Emperor Alexander I's Personality
Topic: Alexander I

December 23, 2015 marks the 238th birthday anniversary of the Russian Emperor Alexander I. Celebrating this date, the Presidential Library makes available rare documents and materials that reveal the personality of the emperor.

Young Alexander ascended to the throne March 12, 1801. Dmitry Merezhkovsky regarded the emperor Paul as "Hamlet on the throne." But even before that A. Herzen regarded as Hamlet the son of Paul, who was involved in the tragic death of his father. In his book of 1906 "The Emperor Alexander I and V. N. Karazin" Herzen wrote, “The crown prince, overwhelmed with horror, stood at the foot of the wild throne; powerless to help, and deprived of the opportunity to leave, Alexander, like Hamlet, wandered through these halls, unable to decide anything; others have decided for him."

Someone’s tragedies are rarely understood by others. That is why in the historiography of Alexander one can easily find polar opinions about him. Decembrist I. D. Yakushkin in his "Notes", 1908, available on the website of the Presidential Library, wrote that "the Emperor Alexander, a patron and almost a luminary of liberals in Europe, in Russia was not just a cruel despot, but worse than that – a meaningless one." These words are opposed by the Baroness Germaine de Stael, who sees "a rare insight" and "a noble simplicity" of the Emperor, who regretted not being the commander and supported "public spirit of its people giving them a lead."

Studying the childhood of the sovereign will enable if not resolve the contradictions of his personality but at least shed light on them. Alexander was a subject of controversy and jealousy of his grandmother and his father. From his birth he was brought to the palace of Catherine to be taken care of, and earned the love and admiration of the Empress. But being brought up by his grandmother, Alexander was unable to free himself from parental influence, realizing what a gulf separated the empress's court and the closed circle of his father in Gatchina.

Catherine decided to remove her son from the throne, taking advantage of the 1722law "of succession to the throne” in order for Alexander to ascend the throne by-passing Paul. Having learned from his grandmother about her idea, Alexander replied with affectionate gratitude for the favor; at the same time, in a letter to his father he called him "Your Majesty" in spite the fact that the title did not belong to him yet, and behind their backs he said that he would be able to avoid the transfer of power to him.

In a letter of 10 May 1796 to his friend Count Kochubey, 18-year old Grand Prince touched upon the subject: " position does not satisfy me at all. <...> The court life is not for me. I suffer every time when I should at court. <...> I feel unhappy in a society of people whom I would not want to have around even as footmen. <...> In a word, my dear friend, I am aware that I was not born for the high rank that I have now and even less for the one intended for me in the future, which I have vowed to give up one or the other way," writes Alexander Herzen in his book "The Emperor Alexander I and V. N. Karazin."

After the death of Catherine II and the murder of Paul I, Alexander remained face to face with the aristocratic milieu and gradually dismissed the murderers of his father. In his notes about the emperor Stroganov said that in addition to a "republican" spirit, the ideological education of civic virtue, Frederick La Harpe (tutor of the emperor), instilled in Alexander a great distrust of himself. Against this background, dramatic contradictions in the reign of Alexander I become clear: transfer from the "home" Voltairianism of his grandmother to the home mysticism and further to the Bible society; turn from the rejection of power, from almost political indifference to perceiving himself as an anointed sovereign; longing desire for constitution inspirited by projects of M. Speransky replaced by a grim figure of Arakcheev.

The final change in the views of Alexander takes place during the Napoleonic Wars. Historian S. Platonov in his "Lectures on Russian History," says: "The Emperor was convinced that for the people and for the kings, the glory and salvation were only in God; he regarded himself just as an instrument of Providence, avenging the anger of Napoleon." Having gained a foothold in the new views, Alexander became a man "sure of his infallibility, with whom it was futile and risky to contend. More than once he had lost his usual composure and became really rough. Thus, once he promised Prince Volkonsky, whom he was close to, in presence of all to "send him away to the place which the prince would not find on any of his maps.'"

Later, Alexander became apparently tired of life; he wished to escape from its everyday trifles to a contemplative solitude. He bent for depression and mysterious sorrow. In popular consciousness the image of the "Blessed Tsar" Alexander was associated with Grand Russian Princes of the past, whom took monastic vows at the end of their reign: in the second half of the 19th century in Siberia it was rumored that supposedly Alexander I had not die, but lived there under the name of the elder Fyodor Kuzmich. According to Alexander Herzen ("The Emperor Alexander I and V. N. Karazin"), Alexander I was "the only one of all the Romanovs, who was punished, punished humanly, with an internal strife, punished before he was guilty, but having become guilty later."

In the clash of internal contradictions of the sovereign, a new Russian culture was born. It was at that time when Alexander Pushkin cut his teeth in the Tsar's Lyceum; the emperor allocated funds for publishing of the "History of the Russian State" by Karamzin; translations of the Greek classics were published; Pedagogical Institute in St. Petersburg was founded; Imperial Public Library opened. These and similar steps had given a strong impetus to the science and art in Russia. But at the same serfdom still was not abolished; rumors of the impending Decembrist revolt reached Alexander even in 1821; Arakcheyev regime was in full force.

Those events, both positive and negative, set a vector of Russia's development for decades to come. On the one hand, the reign of Alexander gave rise to the Russian culture in general and literature in particular; social and political journalism experienced an unprecedented rise; on the other - the question of serfdom, "resolved" in 1861, then resulted in the October Revolution and the Decembrist revolt sowed the fear of treason and rebellion in Nicholas I, which could not but affect the nature of his government.   

© Presidential Library. 16 December, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:52 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 17 December 2015 7:55 AM EST
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Saturday, 25 July 2015
New Evidence Links Emperor Alexander I with the Holy Man Feodor Kuzmich
Topic: Alexander I

New handwriting analysis suggests Emperor Alexander I faked his own death, so he could repent his sins as the holy man Feodor Kuzmich
Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the July 24th, 2015 edition of The Siberian Times. The author of this interview Anna Liesowska  owns the copyright of the work presented below. 

New handwriting analysis by Svetlana Semyonova, president of Russian Graphological Society, suggests the Russian tsar faked his own death so he could repent his sins as the holy man Feodor Kuzmich.

Rumours have long suggested that emperor Alexander I staged his death in 1825 and became holy man Feodor Kuzmich, also known as Feodor Tomsky.

A theory was that he wanted  forgiveness for any role he may have played in the assassination of his father Pavel I in 1801, or in benefiting from the work of others in slaying the tsar.  

Now analysis by Svetlana Semyonova, president of Russian Graphological Society, suggests strong similarities between the handwritings of Alexander I and the mysterious monk. 'I was given a handwritten by Alexander I at the age of 45, and also another handwritten sample by Feodor Kuzmich,' she said. 'As a graphologist, I have noted an unusual style of both handwritings.'

Handwriting samples of the monk Feodor Kuzmich and Tsar Alexander I 
Tiny characteristics of the handwriting and the psychological portraits of both authors suggest with the high level of certainty that 'it was one and the same man. 

'The only difference is that in the handwriting of an 82 year old man we can see that he was deep in his spiritual world, arches and circles appeared in his writing.

'But key features remained the same in all works.'

The tsar died 1 December 1825 at the age of 47. He contracted a cold which developed into typhus, from which he died in the southern city of Taganrog. His wife and empress Elizabeth died the following year, but again amid rumours that the death was faked, and that she became a nun, known as Silent Vera. 

Newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta reported that her handwriting of the tsarina and nun were also similar. 

The monk appeared in the Siberian city of Tomsk in 1837 and lived there until his death in 1864.

Since 1995, the remains of 'saint monk' Feodor are treated like a relic in Tomsk.

Professor Andrey Rachinsky, of the Paris Institute of Eastern Languages and Civilisations, said at a forum on Alexander I in Tomsk that various other facts point to a link between the royal and the monk. For example, a portrait of the monk was on the wall of Tsar Alexander III office next to those of his royal predecessors.

A merchant from Tomsk, Semyon Khromov, in whose house Feodor lived, passed his belongings after his death to the head of Holy Synod Konstantin Pobedonostsev, a man seen as close to the tsar. The professor also noted that the empress Elizabeth (Elizaveta) did not act as might have been expected after her husband's death in Taganrog. 

This year is 190th anniversary of Alexander I's death and the 20th anniversary of the discovery of the remains of monk 'Feodor Tomsky'.

Tomsk branch of the Orthodox church is not against the idea of holding a DNA test of the remains of monk Feodor. 

Writer Leo Tolstoy wrote: 'Even when monk Feodor Kuzmich was alive - he came to Siberia in 1936 and lived for 27 years in various places there - there were strange rumours about him that he was hiding his real name and position and that it was Emperor Alexander I. After the monk's death these rumours only spread and became stronger. Not only common people believed them but many from the elite, including the royal family of Tsar Alexander III.

'The reasons for these rumours were the following: Alexander died unexpectedly, he did not suffer from any disease before, he died far away from home in a remote place of Taganrog, and when he was put in the coffin many who saw him, said that he changed a lot, this is why the coffin was quickly sealed. 

'It was known that Alexander said and wrote that he wanted so much to leave his post and to stay away from this world. And one more fact which is less known is that in the official statement where Alexander's dead body was described there was a line that his back and bottom were of dark red colour and it was hardly possible to be a true description of the body of the emperor'.

The monk Feodor Kuzmich on his deathbed
'Back to Kuzmich and why he was thought to be Alexander. First of all the monk's height and appearance was so much like the emperor's, that people (especially servants who confirmed Kuzmich was Alexander) who saw Alexander or his portraits have found them really identical. 

'The age was the same, the same kind of round shoulders.

'Secondly, this Kuzmich who used to say that he was a homeless man who does not remember his family, knew foreign languages and was in a noble way gentle with others which clearly meant that he was the person with a high position in the society. 

'Thirdly, the monk never told his name and position to anyone but sometimes he clearly behaved in a way he was higher than other people. 

'Fourthly, before his death he destroyed some papers but one sheet remained, it was a coded message signed with initials A. and P. (which supporters of the theory see as standing for Alexander Pavlovich, his name and patronymic). 

'Fifthly, despite of all his faith, he never fasted. When an archpriest tried to persuade him to follow his duty of a believer, he said: 'If I had not confessed the truth about myself, the heavens would have been surprised, if I had confessed it, the earth would have been surprised'.' 

© Anna Liesowska / The Siberian Times. 25 July, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:40 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 25 July 2015 8:33 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 20 January 2015
Bust of Alexander I Installed at Tsarskoye Selo Lyceum
Topic: Alexander I

An historic bust of Alexander I, created during the life of the emperor, has been installed in the Lyceum at Tsarskoye Selo. 

The location of the bust was unknown for a long time, but in recent years was discovered in a private collection. The historic bust was purchased at the expense of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation. An inscription has been added to the pedestal quoting a line from a poem by the famed Russian poet, Alexander Pushkin.  The bust has been installed in the lobby of the Lyceum. Director of the Russian Museum of AS Pushkin Sergey Nekrasov said that this monument is dedicated to the emperor was known as the founder of the school.

The Imperial Lyceum was unique for its time, an educational institution of university stature. It combined the best features of the French and English schools with the achievements of Russian universities. Alexander I did a lot for the creation and development of the Lyceum. On August 12, 1810 His Majesty the Emperor adopted the "Resolution on the Lyceum," which included the new institution under the Sovereign’s "special protection". He provided a new wing of the Catherine Palace at Tsarskoye Selo to house the institution. 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 20 January, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:38 PM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 21 January 2015 12:42 PM EST
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Tuesday, 23 December 2014
Life and Work of Emperor Alexander I Presented at Presidential Library in St. Petersburg
Topic: Alexander I

Portrait of Emperor Alexander I. Artist: Mikhail Kopyov 1947 -
To mark the 237th birthday anniversary of Alexander I, celebrated on December 23, 2014, the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library presented on its website rare materials about the life and work of the emperor. Documents are in open access.

December 12 (23), 1777 in St. Petersburg in the family of Grand Duke Paul Petrovich was born a son, Alexander, the future Emperor of Russia. The childhood and adolescence of the boy are described in detail in Nicholas Duchinsky’s “The blessed tsar. Emperor Alexander I.” There you can find the following lines: "One of the closest collaborators of the future emperor, Rostopchin, says bluntly: "You could safely say that there was no one in the world like the Grand Duke Alexander.

His soul was even better than the appearance. Never before were the moral and physical sides so well represented in one person." Alexander’s grandmother, Empress Catherine II saw him the successor of her activities, so the future emperor was given a reasonable and thorough education. She compiled herself "The Grandma alphabet" and a "Manual" for his teachers, wrote a fairy tale to be read to the child. Valuable documents describing the childhood of the future emperor have remained, such as a letter of Empress Catherine II to her friends, who lived mostly abroad. The Presidential Library website contains letters of Catherine the Great to Baron Grimm in French.

Alexander I was in a difficult situation due to the strained relationship between his father and grandmother. It is described in the book by G. N. Alekseyev "Alexander I”: «Grandmother’s grandson, he was at the same time the son of his father and found himself in a very awkward position between the father and grandmother. Those were the two courtyards, two special worlds, the moral distance between them was much wider that geographical. Alexander had to live in two minds, hold two ceremonial faces..." With the death of Catherine the ambiguous life came to an end. But Alexander I by that time held his father in distrust. At the same time, the stress in the country increased, people were outraged by the reign of Paul. March 11, 1801 as a result of a conspiracy Emperor Paul was killed. "Was Alexander Pavlovich aware of the conspiracy against his father? Undoubtedly was. The conspirators, primarily Count Panin, could not decide to eliminate the emperor without the agreement of the Grand Duke to ascend the throne... Alexander came to the conclusion that it was his duty to save the country and relatives from the growing madness of his father."

The morning of March 12 (24), 1801 was extremely delightful for the population of St. Petersburg, and then to the whole Russia. This was a day when a manifesto on the accession of Emperor Alexander I appeared. The enthusiasm of the people could not be described. According to the contemporary, ”People on the streets were crying with joy, hugging each other, as on the day of the Resurrection," says the book of Nicholas Duchinsky "Emperor Alexander I: his life and reign."

The time when Alexander Pavlovich was called to rule Russia, was an extremely important and serious. Russia occupied a prominent leadership position in international politics. The internal structure of the country was stable under the monarchy. The reign of Emperor Alexander I was marked by many great transformations. Alexander I intended to carry out a radical reform of the political system in Russia by creating a constitution which guaranteed all the subjects personal freedom and civil rights.

He sought to settle in his native country law, order and justice, to destroy tyranny and extortion. A reform of the higher and central machinery of government was carried out: ministries and Cabinet were established, the State Council was formed. At its opening in 1810 the emperor delivered his landmark speech: "All that there is solid and unshakable in the thoughts and desires of mankind, all that will be used by me to establish order and protect the empire with good laws," we read in the book of Nicholas Duchinsky. The "Manifesto of Emperor Alexander I on the formation of the State Council: January 1, 1810" with the handwritten signature of the sovereign is available on the website of the Presidential Library.

Alexander I actively took measures to expand education in Russia. "He established a special ministry of education and began to establish schools throughout Russia: in parishes, in district and provincial towns, universities in big cities. New universities appeared in St. Petersburg, Kharkov and Kazan," says the book of Nicholas Duchinsky "Emperor Alexander I: his life and reign." The emperor also sought to implement the agrarian reform, to abolish the serfdom. But the philanthropic monarch was not destined to fulfill this dream of his life, as most of his confidants believed that farmers were not prepared for the reform.

During the first fifteen years of the reign of Alexander Pavlovich there were hostilities almost without interruption. Confrontation with Napoleon involved Russia in the wars with Sweden, Turkey and Persia. As the result of the wars the corresponding peace treaties were signed. But the conflict with France was not exhausted, so in June 1812 the Patriotic War began. The Emperor of Russia took an active part in it. According to the book of Sofia Makarova "Alexander I Blessed” written in 1873: "The Emperor himself was at our army, and saw that the soldiers would not exhaust themselves during the maneuvers, that there was enough food and that everybody had his full serving of food." The same book describes the bravery of the monarch, manifested during fierce fighting: "The Emperor Alexander was under enemy fire, exposed to great danger. Grenades around him struck both horses and humans, but Alexander did not leave the battlefield."

Descriptions of the military exploits of Alexander I can also be found in the 1827 rare edition, "Selected features of memorable sayings and anecdotes of the august Emperor Alexander I, the peacemaker of Europe": "All plans for military actions in 1813 and 1814 belong to the Emperor Alexander I, though his modesty was hiding it; but he was not only a skilled and experienced commander; his fearlessness on the battlefield was witnessed by his soldiers whom he encouraged with his own example, filling them up with new courage."

The war with Napoleon was completed in 1815 with the capture of Paris. After the expulsion of the French from Russia, the Emperor Alexander I decided to continue the war in order to free the whole Europe from the yoke of Napoleon. According to the book of Nicholas Duchinsky, "The blessed tsar. Emperor Alexander I»:« He dearly loved his people. But he could not remain indifferent to see misery, suffering, injustice, which fell to the share of other nations either." Europe was liberated. Russia and Europe praised their deliverer. And since then Alexander I was called the Blessed. In September 1815, Alexander I initiated the establishment of the Holy Alliance - a prototype of international organizations, which was a kind of guarantor that the resolutions of the Congress of Vienna were observed.

At the same time Alexander I had an uneasy relationship with Alexander Pushkin. Welcoming the reign of the emperor, the poet wrote: "Great start of Alexander’s days..." But after a while other lines appeared, sarcastic and satirical, “A weak and wicked lord, bald dandy, the enemy of labor..." The emperor was also secretly depicted by Pushkin in "The Queen of Spades" in the guise of a lieutenant, Duke Paul Alexandrovich of Tomsk. For such a frank voluntary statements Alexander Pushkin was repeatedly sent into exile by the emperor.

The Emperor died in 1825 in Taganrog during a trip around Russia and was buried in the family vault of the Romanov dynasty - the Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg. 
© Yeltsin Presidential Library. 23 December, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 3:48 PM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 23 December 2014 3:55 PM EST
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Friday, 12 December 2014
Emperor Alexander I's Briefcase Presented to State Hermitage Museum
Topic: Alexander I

Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Center of the National Glory of Russia and St. Andrew's Foundation, Head of Russian Railways and Member of the Board of Trustees of the Russkiy Mir Foundation Vladimir Yakunin congratulated the State Hermitage on its 250th anniversary and gave as a gift to the museum the brief case of Emperor Alexander I, Regnum reports.

Congratulating the Hermitage on this great occasion, Mr. Yakunin emphasized the significance of this treasure chest of cultural and historical riches for St. Petersburg and Russia: “The Hermitage for us is the heart of the city, its soul. Its traditions have been preserved from the moment of the creation of the first collection, and it was preserved during the blockade as well. Such traditions can be described with one word – faithfulness. Faithfulness to culture, faithfulness to history, faithfulness to our Motherland.”

Vladimir Yakunin presented to the Hermitage as a gift a unique historical item – the personal briefcase of Emperor Alexander I. This artefact accompanied the Russian tsar on his trip to the Congress of Vienna in 1814-1815.

The briefcase is made of Moroccan leather, bronze and gold plating with silver and gold threads and is of considerable artistic and historical value. Acquired from a private collector, the portfolio returned to its historic homeland thanks to the charity Transsoyuz, whose chairman is Vladimir Yakunin.

Now millions of visitors of the Hermitage from all corners of the world will have the opportunity to see this unique exponent from the time of the Congress of Vienna, which established for a long time the balance of power in Europe and underscored Russia’s leading role in international affairs. 
© Russkiy Mir. 12 December, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 2:03 PM EST
Updated: Friday, 12 December 2014 2:05 PM EST
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Thursday, 20 November 2014
Putin Unveils Alexander I Statue Near Moscow Kremlin
Topic: Alexander I

Putin pointed out that Alexander I played a considerable role in uniting Russians and in defending steadfastly the country’s independence

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia attended a ceremony inaugurating a monument to Emperor Alexander I at the Alexander Garden near the Moscow Kremlin walls on Thursday.

The ceremony was also attended by Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin, Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky, representatives from the Russian Orthodox Church and public figures, according to a statement posted on the Kremlin website.

Unveiling the monument, Putin praised the emperor's role in forming the system of European and international security at the time.

This event is timed to coincide with the 200th anniversary since the end of the war against Napoleon, in which the victory became Russia's global triumph and Alexander the First played a huge role in uniting the nation and defending our country's independence, the president said.

"Alexander I has gone down in history as the man who beat Napoleon, as a strategist and diplomat with a vision, a statesman aware of responsibility for safe European and global development. It was the Russian emperor who founded the then European, international security system, which was quite adequate for those times," Putin said.

The monument is a statue of Alexander I on a pedestal. The emperor is holding a sword, with the enemy's weapons under his feet. Opposite the monument are bas-reliefs depicting two major battles, including the battle of Borodino, the emperor himself, Saint Seraphim of Sarov, and two churches - the Christ the Savior Cathedral built on Alexander I's proposal, and the Kazan Cathedral.
© Interfax. 20 November, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 5:28 PM EST
Updated: Friday, 21 November 2014 5:41 AM EST
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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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