Monument to Alexander III to be established in Gatchina

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Sculpture of Alexander III by Vladimir Brodarsky 

The Russian Historical Society (RIO) has announced the results of a competition to establish a monument to Emperor Alexander III, to be installed in the courtyard of Gatchina Palace, situated about 48 km south of St. Petersburg.

The winner of the competition is the Russian sculptor Vladimir Brodarsky, a graduate of the St. Petersburg State Academic Institute of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture named after I. Ye. Repin. One of the works of the young artist was recently presented at the Venice Biennale of Contemporary Art – he embodied Rembrandt’s The Prodigal Son in sculpture for installation in the Russian pavilion.

Project competition

RIO Chairman Sergei Naryshkin, noted that it was the Gatchina Museum-Reserve who initiated the idea to install a monument to Alexander III in the courtyard of the restored Arsenal Square. The Russian Historical Society and the Russian Military Historical Society announced a competition in May of last year. Call for applications was opened on 1st June 2018, in which four applications were submitted to the competition.

According to the rules of the competition, entries were required to create a monument based on the surviving first sketches of the monument to Emperor Alexander III by sculptor Paolo Trubetskoy (1866-1938), depicting the monarch sitting in a chair. Trubetskoy is well known for his equestrian statue of the emperor, which is now located in the main courtyard of the Marble Palace in St. Petersburg.

Georgy Vilinbakhov, Deputy Director General of the State Hermitage Museum for Scientific Work, noted that the Brodarsky project is closer to Trubetskoy’s plan compared to other projects participating in the competition.

Alexander III in Gatchina 

“Alexander III spent a significant part of his life here, within the walls of Gatchina Palace: here he was engaged in public affairs, spent time with his family and was involved in the activities of the Russian Historical Society, of which he was honorary chairman”, said Naryshkin.

Vasily Pankratov, director of the Gatchina State Museum-Reserve, expressed the hope that the monument’s installation will be implemented by March 2020, when the 175th anniversary of the birth of Alexander III will be celebrated.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 15 May 2019

Faberge VISA Cards

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Lilies of the Valley Egg (1898)

In 2015, the Russian METKOMBANK PJSC and the Faberge Museum in St. Petersburg, launched a unique co-branding project, offering clients with a Visa credit card, bearing one of five Faberge Imperial Easter Eggs.

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Imperial Coronation Egg (1897)

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Renaissance Egg detail (1894)

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Renaissance Egg (1894)

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Kelch Chanticleer Egg (1904)

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 13 May 2019

VIDEO: Alexander III Monument in Livadia

Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, a number of monuments to Emperor Alexander III (1845-1894), who ruled Russia for little more than 13 years, have been established across Russia.

The most impressive monument to the “Tsar Peacemaker” has to be the gargantuan monument established on the grounds of Livadia Palace in Crimea in November 2017.

The four-meter-high bronze monument by Russian sculptor Andrey Kovalchuk, depicts Alexander III sitting on a stump, his stretched arms resting on a sabre. An inscription repeats his famous words: “У России только два союзника — ее армия и флот” (“Russia has only two allies: the Army and the Navy”).

The monument to the emperor was installed on the site where the Maly (Small) Livadia Palace was built in the 19th century. The palace was a summer retreat for Alexander III and his family, and it was here that he died at the age of 49. During World War II the palace was destroyed by Nazi invaders.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin attended the gala unveiling ceremony on 18th November 2017 (see above photo), who referred to Alexander III as “an outstanding statesman, a man of strong character, courage and inflexible will.”

Putin added that while Alexander III was often called the “peacemaker” because he waged no large-scale wars while leading the empire from 1881-1894, he “gave Russia 13 years of peace not by yielding but by a fair and unwavering firmness”.

He added that the emperor had modernized the military and begun construction of the Trans-Siberian railway.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 9 May 2019

Portrait of Alexander II’s daughter donated to Peterhof

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PHOTO © Государственный музей-заповедник Петергоф

On 23rd April, the Farm Palace (situated in the Alexandria Park at Peterhof) hosted a ceremonial transfer of a portrait of Countess Olga Alexandrovna von Merenberg, born Yuryevskaya (1873-1925). The portrait was presented to the collection of the Peterhof State Museum by the Countess’s granddaughter, Baroness Clotilde von Rintelen. This is the third gift that the great-granddaughter of Emperor Alexander II (1818-1891) and his morganatic wife Princess Ekaterina Dolgorukova (1847-1922) have presented to the palace-museum.

Nine years ago,  60 rose bushes of old varieties, were donated by the Baroness, to decorate the flower gardens of the Farm Palace and Tsaritsyn Island in Peterhof. Last year, Clotilde von Rintelen donated to the museum a unique album “Chassesdanslaforêt de Białowieźa” (Hunting in Belovezhskaya Pushcha), marking the Imperial hunt in Belovezhskaya Pushcha in October 1860.

This year, the Baroness, arrived in St. Petersburg as part of a delegation of the press club of the German city of Wiesbaden, where she presented the palace-museum with the portrait of Olga Alexandrovna, the daughter of Emperor Alexander II and Princess Ekaterina Dolgorukova, which had been kept in her family.

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PHOTO © Государственный музей-заповедник Петергоф

The oval-shaped portrait is painted in gouache and signed by the artist: “Countess Olga Hasselman Kurt, 1917. Wiesbaden”. The portrait was always kept in the family of her heirs. According to the Baroness, this family heirloom survived numerous family relocations, fires, and even a bomb that hit her grandfather’s house during the Second World War. “Now the portrait has returned home,” said Clotilde von Rintelen.

After the ceremonial transfer, the portrait of Olga Alexandrovna, accompanied by the museum staff and the donor, went to the St. Petersburg “House of Journalists”, where it  was presented to the media.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 8 May 2019

NICHOLAS II. EMPEROR. TSAR. SAINT

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Back in January 2019, I launched a new web site, NICHOLAS II. EMPEROR. TSAR. SAINT. This site features first English translations of news from Russian media sources. 

If you have an interest in the life and reign of Nicholas II, you can sign up for FREE updates of new articles posted on this new site. 

These include full-length articles, news stories translated into English from Russian media sources, videos, photos, new books and more!

You will receive a professional looking email each time a new post is published.

How do you sign up? It’s simple!

– Click on the LINK located at the BOTTOM of this post, which will redirect you to my web site

– Click on the FOLLOW button, located In the lower right-hand corner of the page

– Enter your e-mail address

– Click the SIGN ME UP button and you’re all set!

Click HERE to review my new web site, NICHOLAS II. EMPEROR. TSAR. SAINT. 

You can unsubscribe at any time.

Thank you for your support of this important historic project

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 20 April 2019

World Monument Fund Reports on the Alexander Palace

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The Alexander Palace

Designed by the Italian architect Giacomo Quarenghi and completed in 1796, Alexander Palace housed three generations of Russian monarchs before it was abandoned by the Imperial family in the months preceding the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. Built on the order of Catherine the Great as a gift to her grandson Alexander I, the palace is in Tsarskoye Selo, a 1,500-acre imperial estate near St. Petersburg. The building was later used as a summer residence by Alexander’s brother, Nicolas I, and then by his nephew, Tsar Nicolas II. In 1917, the Imperial family was expelled from the palace by order of Alexander Kerensky, head of the provisional government. Nicholas II and his family were murdered by the Bolshevik regime one year later. From then until World War II the palace remained uninhabited; it functioned as a museum until occupying German forces converted the building into their military headquarters. Alexander Palace later served as a naval command base and research station, until the mid-1990s when we assisted with efforts to convert the palace into a museum.

Parts of Alexander Palace had fallen into serious disrepair by 1994 when it garnered local interest as a potential museum. We provided funds toward assessments and planning for public access to a suite of rooms to be used as museum space. Shortly after its inclusion on the 1996 World Monuments Watch, the palace was added to the list of institutions operated by the Museum-Preserve of Tsarskoe Selo, which agreed to manage the upkeep of the property and its tourist facilities. In September 1996, we helped with emergency renovations to the roof over the Nicholas II wing of the palace, comprising approximately one-third of the building’s total roof structure. Alexander Palace is now an exhibition space dedicated to the final years of Tsarist Russia, and houses a collection of Nicholas II’s personal effects and historical documents.

An important national heritage site (1995)

One of the few Tsarist residences left relatively intact following World War II, Alexander Palace provides a window into Imperial life during pre-communist Russia. For its historical value as the setting of Nicholas II’s final years, and for its artistic merits as a much-celebrated work of sumptuously decorated neoclassical architecture, the palace is an important national heritage site.

NOTE: the following three reports, published in 1995, 1996 and 1997 respectively, although now dated, still provide readers with some interesting facts on the history of the Alexander Palace, and the challenges presented with it’s restoration – PG

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CLICK ON THE IMAGE ABOVE TO DOWNLOAD REPORT

Alexander Palace: Restoration and Adaptive Re-Use as a Museum (1995 – 112 pages)

Describes an investigation into the prospect of adapting the 18th century Alexander Palace in Tsarskoye Selo near St. Petersburg for use as a house museum interpreting the history and life of the last Romanovs, the last imperial dynasty to rule over Russia. The neoclassical palace was designed by Giacomo Quarenghi and built between 1792 and 1796, a gift from Catherine the Great to her eldest grandson Alexander before he acceded to the throne. Following the Bolshevik Revolution and the execution of Nicholas II and his family the palace was used as a museum, until World War II, when it was damaged during the German occupation. In 1995-1996, World Monuments Fund conducted three missions to the palace. The first mission, described in this report, had an exploratory and fact-finding character and took place over five days in February 1995. During this mission the potential for repairing the structure, restoring its interiors, and returning to it original furnishings from the collections of Russian museums was studied. Two subsequent missions are described in separate reports.

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CLICK ON THE IMAGE ABOVE TO DOWNLOAD REPORT

Alexander Palace: Groundwork for Restoration and Museum Adaptation (1996 – 47 pages)

This report provides a bilingual summary of the research later compiled into the report entitled “The Alexander Palace: Preliminary Assessment Report for Restoration and Adaptive Re-Use,” published by World Monuments Fund in 1997.Designed by Giacomo Quarenghi and built between 1792 and 1796, this neoclassical palace near St. Petersburg was a gift from Catherine the Great to her eldest grandson Alexander before he ascended to the throne. Alexander I, Nicholas I and Nicholas II all spent their summers living in the palace.

Following the Bolshevik Revolution and the execution of Nicholas II along with his family, the palace was converted into a museum, which it remained until World War II, when it was damaged during the German occupation. From the end of the war until 1995, the building served as administrative offices for the Russian Navy. Over the first half of 1995, a team from the World Monuments Fund conducted three missions to the palace, evaluating the potential for repairing the structure, restoring its interiors, and returning its original furnishings then in the collections of three different Russian museums. During the course of these missions, the World Monuments Fund established the scope of work necessary to convert the palace into a historic house museum focused on the life of Nicholas II and his family and secured funding for the site through American Express as part of the inaugural World Monuments Fund Watch List. This grant provided for emergency repairs to the roof over the southeast wing of the palace.

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CLICK ON THE IMAGE ABOVE TO DOWNLOAD REPORT

Alexander Palace: Preliminary Assessment Report for Restoration and Adaptive Re-Use (1997 – 85 pages) 

Designed by Giacomo Quarenghi and built between 1792 and 1796, this neoclassical palace near St. Petersburg was a gift from Catherine the Great to her eldest grandson Alexander before he ascended to the throne. Alexander I, Nicholas I and Nicholas II all spent their summers living in the palace. Following the Bolshevik Revolution and the execution of Nicholas II along with his family, the palace was converted into a museum, which it remained until World War II, when it was damaged during the German occupation. From the end of the war until 1995, the building served as administrative offices for the Russian Navy. Over the first half of 1995, a team from the World Monuments Fund conducted three missions to the palace, evaluating the potential for repairing the structure, restoring its interiors, and returning its original furnishings then in the collections of three different Russian museums. During the course of these missions, World Monuments Fund established the scope of work necessary to convert the palace into a historic house museum focused on the life of Nicholas II and his family and secured funding for the site through American Express as part of the inaugural World Monuments Fund Watch List. This grant provided for emergency repairs to the roof over the southeast wing of the palace.

Click HERE for more current and up-to-date reports on the restoration of the Alexander Palace

© World Monuments Fund / Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 20 April 2019

 

The Golden Gates to the Catherine Palace Return in Full Splendour

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© The Tsarskoe Selo State Museum

The 18th-century Golden Gates to the Catherine Palace have been unveiled after eight-month restoration.

The central gates of the palace courtyard were designed by Savva Ivanovich Chevakinsky (1713-1780) and Bartolomeo Francesco Rastrelli (1700-1771) and constructed between 1748-56. Severely damaged in World War Two and rebuilt in the 1960s, the gates have undergone their first major restoration in more than 50 years.

The restoration was organized by the Russian Ministry of Culture’s North West Administration for Construction, Reconstruction and Restoration under the federal target program Culture of Russia (2012–2018) and completed by the Slaviansky Project Group.

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© The Tsarskoe Selo State Museum

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© The Tsarskoe Selo State Museum

The restorers had to deal with 3,500 decorative elements and over 12,000 rivets on the wrought-iron openwork with gilded embellishments. The attachable details had to be removed, numbered and cleaned. After removing old gilt with a special tool, some of the 18th-century elements were found preserved. As well as later ones from the 1960s, those elements were straightened and their missing parts remade. Elements that did not survive were recreated by art blacksmiths.   

The most difficult was the process of coating the embellishments with the thinnest (0.1 micron) sheets of gold leaf using 19th-century technology and a special varnish Mordan. The overall gilding required more than 300 sixty-sheet gold leaf books containing 4 grams of gold each. The double-headed eagle on the gates was the largest element which required 6 gold leaf books.

Also restored were the gates’ brickwork, fence basements, stucco work decorations and natural stone details.

© Tsarskoye Selo State Museum. 17 April 2019

Will the Alexander Palace Open in 2019?

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The left (eastern) wing of the Alexander Palace

There are rising doubts that the Alexander Palace in Tsarskoye Selo will open in 2019, as was previously planned. According to the Director of the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Olga Taratynova: “It all depends on the timing of the allocation of funds from the federal budget. The palace-museum is waiting for the 300 million rubles required for the completion of the first stage of restoration work.”

The Alexander Palace has been closed to visitors since 2015. It was originally planned to complete the first part of the work in the beloved residence of the last Russian emperor by July 2018 – timed to the 100th anniversary of the murder of the Imperial Family. The opening date of a partial reopening of the palace to visitors was then postponed to the end of 2019. 

Now, according to Olga Taratynova, these plans are in doubt. “If the money arrives within the next month, then by the end of the year we will open the first eight rooms of the left (eastern) wing of the palace to visitors,” she said. “If the funds are delayed, the opening of the restored and reconstructed apartments will take place in the first quarter of 2020. And in the same year we hope to open 7 additional rooms. Thus, the restoration of the entire left wing of the palace will be complete.” 

Of particular interest to visitors will be the Tsar’s Moorish-style Bathroom. The main feature is a giant heated swimming tub with a capacity of 1000 buckets of water – where the Tsar, and Tsesarevich Alexei liked to swim. “This was all lost, but now the restorers, have completely recreated the interior, based on pieces of ceramics from the walls, and photos from the palace-museum archives,” added Olga Taratynova. On the second floor of the palace, where the children’s rooms were located, the museum plans to hold temporary exhibition facilities. 

“We really want to make everyone happy for the new year. But in any case, the recovery process is underway and has already progressed significantly. So if not at the end of December, then in the first quarter of 2020, the Alexander Palace will open its doors,” says the Director of the Tsarskoye Selo Palace Museum.

Click HERE to read 5 additional articles on the restoration of the Alexander Palace

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 17 April 2019

NEW BOOK: ‘The Last Romanovs – Archival and Museum Discoveries in Great Britain and Russia’

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The Grand Duchess Elizabeth Romanov Society (UK) have published a high quality book The Last Romanovs – Archival and Museum Discoveries in Great Britain and Russia.

This English language publication is an illustrated collection of contributions to the British-Russian Symposium, held in Windsor in June 2017 and organised by the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Romanov Society. The articles cover various aspects of the lives of the last members of the Imperial House of Romanov and also present new information about documents and exhibits from various collections in Russia and the United Kingdom.

The book (edited by Dr Maria Harwood) was released by the prestigious British publishing house PINDAR PRESS. The Foreword has been written by the President of the Romanov Family Association Princess Olga Andreevna, and Introduction by the Chairman of the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Romanov Society (UK) Dr. Maria Harwood. 

Below, is a list of the articles and their respective authors: 

PART I – CORONATIONS

The Decoration of the Kremlin as a Sacred Space for the Last Coronation in 1896: Tradition and Innovation
by Dr. Inessa Slyunkova

Rare Photographs of the Romanovs’ Russia During the Time of the Coronation, 1856
by Stephen Patterson

PART II – THE ROMANOVS AND THE BRITISH ROYAL FAMILY

The Romanovs at Osbourne
by Michael Hunter

The Rescue of the Dowager Empress Marie Feodorovna from the Crimea
by Coryne Hall

The Letters of Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia, Duchess of Edinburgh and of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, in the National Archives of Romania in Bucharest
by Charlotte Zeepvat

PART III – BIOGRAPHICAL RESEARCH

The Art Collection of Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich and Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna: New Discoveries
by Dmitry Grishin

New Documents for the Biography of Grand Duchess Elizabeth: Police Reports 1909-1917
by Olga Kopylova

The Question of Giving the Title of Deaconess to the Sisters of Saints Martha and Mary Convent: Discoveries in St. Petersburg’s Archives
by Priest Andrei Posternak and Elena Kozlovseva

Journey to the East of Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich and Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna (Letters to Princess S.N. Golitsyna, 1888)
by Olga Trofimova

The Collection of the ‘Tsar Nicholas II Museum’ in Belgrade Within the State Historical Museum, Moscow
by Nikolai Misko and Marina Falaleeva

Father Nicholas Gibbes: Teacher to the Royal Children and Orthodox Monk. The Romanov Collection and the Issue of Creating a Romanov Museum in Oxford
by Archpriest Stephen Platt

During the past three years, the work of the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Romanov Society has included pilgrimages to Russia by Orthodox Christians, holding historical exhibitions and educational events in the UK – including the Nicholas II Conference held in Colchester, England on 27th October 2018 – as well as the unveiling of the memorial Cross to the Holy Royal Passion-bearers and Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, on the Isle of Wight near the Palace of Queen Victoria.

This English language title is a large soft-cover (9½” x 12″), with 120 pages, richly illustrated with more than 140 colour and black & white photographs and illustrations. Price: £25 + postage. 

For information on how to order your copy, please contact Mr David Gilchrist at the following email djgilx@btinternet.com

Click HERE for more information about the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Romanov Society (UK)

© The Grand Duchess Elizabeth Romanov Society (UK). 13 April 2019 

Russian President Visits Restored Catherine Palace Chapel

On 11th April, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the Catherine Palace’s Church of the Resurrection and praised the quality of its restoration work, which became possible thanks to financial support from Gazprom.

The president was accompanied by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller, and the permanent members of Russia’s Security Council.

The VIP guests of the Museum had a tour of the Chapel led by Director Olga Taratynova, who showed them the revived masterpiece of eighteenth century architecture designed by Bartolomeo Francesco Rastrelli.

The Church of the Resurrection of Christ in Tsarskoye Selo was founded in August 1746. The palace chapel was designed by the Italian architect Francesco Rastrelli, (1700-1771)construction lasted 10 years. It was consecrated in the presence of Empress Elizabeth Petrovna and impressed her contemporaries by it’s unique beauty and splendour.

Specialists of the Amber Workshop of Tsarskoye Selo, who spent four years restoring the Palace Chapel, followed the Museum’s requirements of maximal conservation of extant details and minimal re-creation of lost ones.

The Chapel of the Catherine Palace will open to visitors on 13 April 2019.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 12 April 2019