Some people may be unaware that the the Danish born wife of Emperor Alexander III was both a gifted artist and a collector of fine art. Both are the subject of the exhibition Empress Maria Feodorovna: Artist and Collector which opened on 1st June 2018 in the Museum of Fine Arts of the Republic of Karelia. The museum is housed in an 18th century building, situated in the historic center of Petrozavodsk.
Princess Dagmar, later the Russian Empress Maria Feodorovna, received her first lessons as a child from her mother Queen Louise of Denmark. In Russia, Maria Feodorovna took lessons from the famous Russian landscape artist Alexey Petrovich Bogolyubov (1824-1896).
Maria Feodorovna’s painting skills helped develop her artistic taste, which eventually led to the idea of creating a national museum of Russian art in St. Petersburg, based on the personal collections of the Imperial family. These collections were later added to the collection of the Russian Museum of His Imperial Majesty Alexander III (now – the State Russian Museum), established in St. Petersburg on April 13, 1895, upon enthronement of Emperor Nicholas II to commemorate his father, who had died 1 November [O.S.20 October] 1894).
The exhibition features three works by Empress Maria Feodorovna and items from her collection of paintings dating from the second half of the 19th century. The exhibition is complemented by a unique collection of Western European ceramics, from the Imperial collection of the Anitchkov Palace in St. Petersburg. Of particular interest are faience and majolica of the 16th-17th centuries. These exhibits are a historical rarity.
The paintings presented at the exhibition were sent to the Museum of Fine Arts of Karelia in 1960 from the Karelian Museum of Local History, where they were sent from the State Museum Fund disbanded in 1928, which united earlier nationalized collections of Russian and Western European paintings and objet d’art.
The exhibition Empress Maria Feodorovna: Artist and Collector runs until 9th September 2018 in the Museum of Fine Arts of the Republic of Karelia, Petrozavodsk
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 17 August 2018