On This Day: the Russian Museum of His Imperial Majesty Alexander III Opens in St. Petersburg


Artist: Karl Osipovich Broz

On This Day: 19th [O.S. 7th] March 1898, the Russian Museum of His Imperial Majesty Alexander III officially opened in St. Petersburg.

The museum was established in the Mikhailovsky Palace, a splendid Neoclassical residence of Grand Duke Michael Pavlovich (1798-1849).

The museum was established on 13th April 1895, upon enthronement of Nicholas II to commemorate his father, Alexander III. Its original collection was composed of artworks taken from the Hermitage Museum, Alexander Palace, and the Imperial Academy of Arts.

After the Russian Revolution of 1917, the museum and its collection were nationalized and renamed the State Russian Museum. Today, the museum is the world’s largest depository of Russian art with more than 400,000 items.


Bust of Alexander III on the main staircase of the State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg

The portrait (above) depicts Emperor Nicholas II and his mother the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna, standing before the bust of Alexander III, located on the main staircase of the museum. Several years ago, the bust was returned to its original place on the staircase of the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg.

© Paul Gilbert. 18 March 2019


Former Service Building of the Marble Palace in St. Petersburg to be Auctioned


The Russian Auction House (Росси́йский аукцио́нный до́м РАД) have announced plans to auction the former service building of the Marble Palace in St. Petersburg.

The former service building or service wing, is situated on the opposite side of the courtyard of the Marble Palace, where Paolo Troubetzkoy’s famous equestrian monument of Emperor Alexander III (1909) is located. The Marble Palace complex is situated on Ulitsa Millionnaya, backing the Neva River.

The service wing was built in the early classicism style by the Russian architect Pyotr Egorovich Egorov in 1780-1787. simultaneously with the Marble Palace (1768–1785). The original appearance of the building is best represented in the paintings of the time, including “View of the Palace Embankment” by F. Ya. Alekseyev in 1794 (photo below) or in the painting by B. Patersen in 1806.

At first the building was two-story, painted yellow. The second floor of the building housed the apartments of courtiers, kitchens, workshops, and various ancillary services. There were also apartments for guests, and rooms for hosting luncheons and tea parties. The first floor housed horse stables and carriages, as well as a saddle shop (for repairing the harness), and a blacksmith workshop.


View of the Palace Embankment. 1794. Artist: Fyodor Yakovlevich Alekseyev (1753-1824)

The redevelopment of the service wing was conceived for the marriage of the new owner of the Marble Palace – Grand Duke Konstantin Nikolayevich (1827-1892), the second son of Emperor Nicholas I (1796-1855). The Russian architect Alexander Pavlovich Bryullov (1798-1877) added a third floor, and a frieze, which consisted of battle scenes on historical subjects involving horses. The model was the frieze of the Greek Parthenon, and depicted 39 human figures dressed in the uniforms of ancient Greece and 33 figures of horses.

The last owner of the Marble Palace complex was Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich (1858-1915). 

In 1917 the Marble Palace and the Service building became state property. After 1917 the building was converted into a hostel for scientists. From 1919 to 1926, the famous Russian poet Anna Akhmatova (1889-1966) with her second husband, Assyriologist Vladimir Kazimirovich Shileyko (1891-1930) lived in a room facing the Field of Mars and Suvorov Square.

In 1932-1933 a fourth floor was added to the former Service Building. During the Soviet years, it was used for educational purposes, and from 2011, the North-West State Correspondence Technical University.

The current owner has suggested that the building would be suitable as a luxury 5-star hotel.

© Paul Gilbert. 18 March 2019

State Russian Museum Establishes Monument to Founding Emperors


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

On 15th March, the State Russian Museum in St Petersburg, established a monument to its two founding emperors Alexander III and Nicholas II.

The monument, which was established in the courtyard of the museum, was designed by the Russian sculptor Ilya Dyukov. It features a granite base with bronze portraits of the two emperors, and the text of the decree on the establishment of the museum, published in April 1895. 

The monument was established on the eve of the 120th anniversary of the birth of the State Russian Museum. The main building of the museum is the former Mikhailovsky Palace,  a splendid Neoclassical residence of Grand Duke Mikhail Pavlovich (1798-1849), constructed between 1819-1825. Upon the death of the Grand Duke the residence was named after his wife as the Palace of the Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna, and became famous for its many theatrical presentations and balls.


The museum was established on 25 (O.S. 13) April 1895, by Emperor Nicholas II and renamed the Russian Museum of Emperor Alexander III, in honour of his father, who was a great patron of Russian art. The museum was officially opened on 19 (O.S. 7)  March 1898. The following day, the museum received its first visitors, and over time would acquire a rich collection of art and sculpture. After the 1917 Revolution, many private collections were nationalized and relocated to the renamed State Russian Museum. 

Today it is the world’s largest depository of Russian art, a unique and beautiful architectural complex of palaces and gardens in the heart of St Petersburg, with a collection of more than 410 thousand items. 

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 17 March 2018