Tsarevich Alexei’s Puppet Theater
Returns to Tsarskoye Selo
The authentic puppet theater from the Playroom of Tsarevich Alexei in the Alexander Palace
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The 2011 Museum Olympus Award ceremony on November 3rd in the Great Hall of the Catherine Palace saw Tsarskoye Selo with no prize, yet not without a trophy, this time an extraordinary one — the authentic puppet theater from the Playroom of Tsarevich Alexei in the Alexander Palace.
Master-crafted in good taste, the puppet theater set of the late 19th-early 20th centuries includes a booth and seven characters of the French Guignol-style show: Harlequin, Caporal, Fiancée, Polichinelle, Madelon, Gendarme and Housemaid. A label on the booth’s front panel reveals that the set originated from a toy store named Au paradis des enfants on Rue de Paris and Rue de Rivoli in downtown Paris.
After the Tsar’s family left the Alexander Palace in 1917, the theater set became part of the museum display in the former Children’s Rooms from 1918 until the exhibition was closed in 1931. The set was transferred to the Toy Museum of Sergiev Posad in 1932 and then to the Puppet Museum of Moscow’s Sergei Obraztsov Puppet Theater in 1937.
The return of the Heir’s puppet theater to the Tsarskoye Selo collection is the first example of museum restitution in Russia on condition that an artful high-quality replica is provided in exchange. That has become possible thanks to the stunning work of T. Melnikova and A. Maksimychev, the artists from the St. Petersburg puppet theater Dollhouse who masterly replicated the Guignol booth and puppets of the authentic set. The replicas will move to the Obraztsov Puppet Theater's Museum in Moscow, while the originals will grace the exhibition In the Children’s Rooms of the Alexander Palace at Tsarskoye Selo which is to re-open since November 23, 2011.
French Guignol-style puppets from the 19th century
19 November, 2011