Baroness von Rintelen donates personal items of Alexander II to Peterhof

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This article was researched from Russian media sources and written by Paul Gilbert, Founder of Royal Russia © 2018

On 14th April, a ceremonial transfer of memorial items from the collection of Baroness Clotilde von Rintelen, the great-great-granddaughter of the famous Russian poet Alexander Pushkin, to the collection of the Peterhof State Museum-Preserve took place in the Farm Palace of the Alexandria Park. 

The Baroness brought a unique album Chasses dans la forte de Białowieźa (Hunting in Białowieźa Forest), which highlights one of the important events that took place during the reign of Emperor Alexander II – the royal hunt in Białowieźa Forest in October 1860.

Hunting in Białowieźa Forest, organized in October 1860 on the initiative of the Russian monarch, became an unofficial meeting of the heads of European states and was the beginning of the gradual withdrawal of the Russian Empire from the isolation in which it found itself after the Crimean War of 1853-1856. The Hungarian-Russian artist Mikhail Alexandrovich (Mihai) Zichy (in 1859, Zichy was appointed court painter and held this post until his death in 1906) was commissioned to create watercolours of Białowieźa Forest. Alexander II approved the watercolours, and ordered that an album be published. Only 50 copies of the album were published in Russian, and was intended exclusively as gifts for the participants of the hunt. But even more rare was the publication of a French album, issued specifically for diplomatic gifts.

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In addition to the album Chasses dans la forte de Białowieźa, a framed picture of Alexander II and a brass snuff-box were presented to the museum-preserve. According to the Baroness, the photograph of the emperor-liberator up to the last days adorned the bedside table of her grandmother, the daughter of A.S. Pushkin – Natalia Alexandrovna, later Countess von Merenberg (1836-1913). The brass snuff-box with a medallion image of the Austrian Empress Maria Theresa (1717-1780).

According to the baroness, the memorial items “have finally returned home to Russia, where they will be studied, preserved and displayed.” Deputy Director General of the Peterhof State Museum Tamara Nikolaevna Nosovich, welcomed Clotilde von Rintelen and thanked her on behalf of all employees of the museum, noting that this is not her first gift to Peterhof. In 2005, to the 60th anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War, the Baroness gifted the museum with 60 specimens of ancient varieties of roses for the garden on Tsaritsyn Island, while another 15 rose bushes gifted for the garden of the Farm Palace in 2010. 

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 19 April 2018