At the Empress’s Fireside. The Fireplace Screen of the Grand Peterhof Palace


On 1st April 2019 the exhibition At the Empress’s FireplaceFireplace Screen of the Grand Peterhof Palace, opened in the Ball Room of the Grand Peterhof Palace.

The screen’s completion is the first stage of work on the reconstruction of the lost porcelain fireplace ensemble in the Empress’s Cabinet. The project was carried out by Pallada LLC, and is part of the revival program of the Grand Palace’s historical collection.

Emperor Nicholas I (1796-1855), who was particularly fond of Peterhof, invested a lot of time and resources in maintaining the grandeur of this Imperial residence. In the 1840s, under the Emperor’s direct supervision, the famous Russian architect Andrei Shtakenshneider (1802-1865) carried out large-scale repair and restoration work in the Grand Palace, during which the old marble fireplace was replaced with a new Rococo Style porcelain mirror fireplace in the Empress’s Cabinet. Executed at the Imperial Porcelain Factory in St. Petersburg, by the personal order of Nicholas I, it immediately became the central motive in the decoration of the interior. 


A distinctive feature of the fireplace was the amazing design and execution of the screen, made of bronze in the form of a fan with porcelain inlays, painted with flowers.

Unique in its beauty and artistic creation, this work of art of Russian porcelain masters decorated the interior of the Great Peterhof Palace until 1941. During World War II, the fireplace with screen was destroyed during a devastating fire. Only a few fragments, extracted after the war from the ruins of the palace were left. But, it was enough for artists and restorers to recreate his exquisite work of art beginning in 2016. 

The exhibition At the Empress’s Fireplace.  Fireplace Screen of the Grand Peterhof Palace runs from 1st April to 31st December 2019

© Paul Gilbert. 12 April 2019


Russian Museum presents more than 500 works in Nicholas I exhibition


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.

Nicholas I exhibition in St. Petersburg

The exhibition Nicholas I runs until 20 May 2019 in St. Michael’s Castle in St. Petersburg

© The State Russian Museum. 29 March 2019

Restoration of Montferrand’s Equestrian Monument to Nicholas I


Restoration has begun on the equestrian monument to Emperor Nicholas I, situated on St. Isaac’s Square in St. Petersburg. Experts say it will take at least two years to complete the project.

A large metal hexagon structure has been constructed around the monument, for which, a 40-ton crane was used. The structure is 19 meters high, while the diameter is 20 meters around. In order not to spoil the view of one of the city’s most picturesque squares, a series of banners with drawings, photographs and historical references have been added to the structure.

the bronze equestrian statue of Emperor Nicholas I (1796-1855), was designed by the French-born architect Auguste de Montferrand (1786-1858). Unveiled on July 7th  [O.S. June 25th] 1859, the six-meter statue was a technical wonder of its time. It was the first equestrian statue in Europe with only two support points (the rear hooves of the horse). Around the base are allegorical statues modelled on Nicholas I’s daughters and personifying virtues.

Click HERE to read more articles about Nicholas I, from the Royal Russia Archives.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 17 December 2018

Monument to Nicholas I Established in Volgograd


A monument to Emperor Nicholas I (1796-1855) has been established on the territory of a railway junction in Volgograd (formerly Tsaritsyn, 1589-1925; and Stalingrad, 1925-1961), the press service of the Southern Military District (South-East Military District) said on Thursday. 

A symbolic ribbon was cut by the head of the railway troops department for the Southern Military District, Colonel Yuri Hort and the hero of socialist labor, Colonel Alexander Shantsev.

The Railway Troops of the Russian Armed Forces were established by order of Nicholas I in August 1851. As a unit in the engineering corps of the Imperial Russian Army, it’s primary task was to ensure the defense of Russia. The Railway Troops Russian Armed Forces were designed to perform the tasks of rail services (preparation, construction, reconstruction and protection of the objects of railways). It remains the oldest such force in the world, and to this day, the professional holiday of the Troops is celebrated on 6th August.

In accordance with the document “Regulations on the Management of St. Petersburg – Moscow railway” was formed by 14 separate military-workers, 2 and 1 conductor’s telegraphic company. The total number reached 4340 people. 

The third son of Emperor Paul I and Maria Feodorovna, brother of Emperor Alexander I, father of Emperor Alexander II, Nicholas I served as emperor of the Russian Empire from 26 December (O.S. 14 December) 1825 to 2 March (O.S. 18 February) 1855.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 6 December 2018