An exhibition dedicated to the Emperor Nicholas I (1796-1855) opened on 13th February 2019, in St. Michael’s Castle (also known as Mikhailovsky Castle or the Engineers’ Castle), a branch of the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg
The sixth exhibition from the cycle “The Romanovs Family Saga” covers the personality and state affairs of Emperor Nicholas I, his foreign policy, the life of society, the imperial court and the Imperial family, as reflected in the works of painting, graphics, numismatics and decorative and applied arts. The exhibition is intended to designate how the key ideologeme of the epoch, proclaimed by the Minister of Public Education S. S. Uvarov, was realized in a fruitful and contradictory unity in artistic practice — “Orthodoxy, Autocracy, and Nationality,” for a long time considered an absolutely reactionary thesis.
Nicholas’s reign was a multifaceted and controversial era in which total ideological and political control, the establishment of censorship and the strengthening of the police in a seemingly paradoxical way, are combined with the flourishing of arts, architecture, journalism, art criticism, and literature. The emperor himself was keen on drawing — portraits and caricatures drawn by him have survived until the present day.
The exhibition includes a series of ceremonial portraits of Emperor Nicholas I, his associates (A. Menshikov, A. Benkendorf, I. Paskevich, and others) and members of the royal family, made by such artists and sculptors as George Dow, Franz Kruеger, Orest Kiprensky, Fyodor Tolstoy and others). Paintings and drawings, vases, porcelain sets, furniture, bronze, numismatic curiosities included in the exhibition give an idea of the panorama of the artistic life of a prosperous country, of the refined interiors of the royal residences and the peculiarities of the life of the highest court.
The dramatic problems of the historical path of Russia, which were designated at this time, are not ignored. Separate sections of the exhibition are devoted to operations on the fronts of the Russian-Turkish and Crimean Wars, and the journeys of the emperor and his family.
The exhibition features more than 500 works. It has been organized by the Russian Museum, whose rich collections comprise its most part. It also includes works provided by the State Hermitage Museum, the State Tretyakov Gallery, the State Historical Museum, the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Peterhof, Tsarskoye Selo, Pavlovsk, Gatchina Museum Reserves, the Military Historical Museum of Artillery, Engineering and Communications, the State Archives of the Russian Federation, and a number of other state museums and archives of Russia, as well as private collections.
The exhibition Nicholas I runs until 20 May 2019 in St. Michael’s Castle in St. Petersburg
© The State Russian Museum. 29 March 2019