Monument to Four Faithful Subjects of Nicholas II to be Established in Ekaterinburg

NOTE: All of the articles pertaining to Nicholas II and his family which were originally published in my Royal Russia News blog, have been moved to this Nicholas II blog. This article was originally published on 9 November 2018 in my Royal Russia News blog – PG

A monument to four faithful subjects who followed Emperor Nicholas II and his family into exile in 1917, and later murdered by the Bolsheviks will be established on the grounds of the Novo-Tikhvinsky Convent in Ekaterinburg.

Craftsmen from the Glyptica-Stone Company in St. Petersburg are currently working on a stone stele monument, which will depict life-sized images of the four loyal subjects of the Imperial family.

Adjutant General Ilya Leonidovich Tatishchev (1858-1918), Marshall of the Imperial Court Prince Vasiliy Aleksandrovich Dolgorukov (1868-1918), sailor Klimentiy Grigorievich Nagorny (1887-1918) and boatswain Ivan Dmitrievich Sednev (1881-1918). All of them were buried in the territory of the Novo-Tikhvinsky Convent.

Now the place of their burial is unknown. All the graves at the convent cemetery were destroyed during the Soviet years. But for the sake of preserving historical memory, with the blessing of Metropolitan Kirill of Yekaterinburg and Verkhoturye, a stele will be installed on the territory of the monastery to these selfless noble people, said a spokesperson for the Novo-Tikhvinsky Convent.

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Adjutant General Ilya Leonidovich Tatishchev is one of four subjects depicted in the monument

The manufacture of the 4-meter monument, designed to perpetuate the memory of the martyrdom of the Royal Passion-bearers, was ordered by the Alexander Nevsky Novo-Tikhvin Convent in Ekaterinburg.

“It is a great honour that we received such an order, such an opportunity, ” said Mikhail Sergeyevich Parfentiev, general director of the Glyptica-Stone Company. – This is a piece of Russia’s history.

As Mikhail Sergeevich notes, this project is a great responsibility for all participants in the process.

Among the images of the subjects of Nicholas II, who voluntarily followed the sovereign into exile, first to Tobolsk, and then Ekaterinburg, the sculptors portray Adjutant-General Ilya Leonidovich Tatishchevas- a man full of nobility and love for his neighbors, who loved the Gospel and knew it by heart.

The figure of Tatishchev, is depicted holding the gospel in his hands. He received this as a gift from his mother and carried it with him throughout his life.

The monument of the four loyal Imperial subjects, will take place next year, on the territory of the Alexander Nevsky Novo-Tikhvinsky Convent. Thus, this monument will remind people for centuries of the martyrdom of the saints of the Royal Martyrs and their loyal subjects.

A Divine Liturgy was performed in Ekaterinburg on 10th June 2018 for General Ilya Leonidovich Tatishchev and Prince Vasili Alexandrovich Dolgorukov. Tatishchev and Dolgorukov were canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) in October 1981. Click HERE to read more.

A Divine Liturgy was performed in Ekaterinburg on 28th June 2018 for Ivan Dmitriyevich Sednev and Klimenty Grigorievich Nagorny. Nagorny and Sednev were canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) on 14 November 1981. 

They were listed among 52 confidants of the Imperial family, who were rehabilitated by the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation on 16 October 2009, as victims of political repression.

© Paul Gilbert. 30 November 2019

Exhibition: ‘From the Imperial Wardrobe’

NOTE: All of the articles pertaining to Nicholas II and his family which were originally published in my Royal Russia News blog, have been moved to this Nicholas II blog. This article was originally published on 30 November 2018 in my Royal Russia News blog – PG

The following exhibition ran from 29 November 2018 to 28 February 2019

Military uniforms from the collection of the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Preserve are currently on display at a new exhibition From the Іmperial Wardrobe, in the Mir Castle Complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, situated 100 km from Minsk, Belarus.

The exhibition, which opened on 29th November is dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. It is a joint international project of the Mir Castle Complex Museum, the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Preserve, the State Archives of the Russian Federation, the Grodno State Historical and Archaeological Museum, the Local Charitable Foundation “Brest Fortification” and the Lukskaya Secondary School.

The First World War changed the face of the Russian Empire, the way of life of people and families, including the imperial one. For a long time that war was in the shadow of the October Revolution, the Civil War and later the Great Patriotic War. The main purpose of the exhibition is to restore the historical memory of the war, drawing attention to the personality of Emperor Nicholas II and to military events related to Mir township and the surrounding villages.

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The exhibition features a total of 39 military uniforms, including those belonging to Emperor Nicholas II and his son, Tsesarevich Alexei. After the tsar’s abdication, his uniforms survived the 1917 Revolution, and were preserved in the Alexander Palace. During the Great Patriotic War (1941-45), the uniforms were evacuated to Novosibirsk.

An interactive excursion has been prepared for the visitors, during which they will be able to learn about the features of uniforms and learn about the history of individual Life Guard regiments.

A separate unit presents weapons and military equipment from the First World War from the funds of Grodno State Historical and Archeological Museum, which are complemented by the items from the State Institution “Lukskaya secondary school” located on the territory of Korelichi district and on the basis of which the military-patriotic club “Vityaz” since 2001 has been operating.

An illustrative series of the exhibition is represented by photographs from the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Preserve, the collection of Major General Svity EI.V. Vladimir Fedorovich Dzhunkovsky State Archives of the Russian Federation, as well as photographs from the archive of local historian Leonid Kudin.

The thematic section on medical services during the First World War will be of particular interest. A military field hospital tent and medical instruments are on display at the exhibition thanks to the Local Charitable Foundation “Brest Fortification”.

The exhibition closed on 28 February 2019.

© Mir Castle / Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve. 30 November 2019

Exhibition: ‘Nicholas II. Family and Throne’

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NOTE: All of the articles pertaining to Nicholas II and his family which were originally published in my Royal Russia News blog, have been moved to this Nicholas II blog. This article was originally published on 6 December 2018 in my Royal Russia News blog – PG

The following exhibition ran from 10 November 2018 to 15 April 2019

The State Historical Museum is currently the venue for an exhibition on the reign and family life of Nicholas Alexandrovich Romanov – the history of the Imperial family in photographs, paintings, diaries, personal items and other rare artifacts.

A significant part of the 750 photographs in the exhibit are from the funds of various archives and museums in Russia – including the State Archive of the Russian Federation (GARF), which contains a vast and unique collection of photo albums of members of the Imperial family.

Timed to the 150th anniversary of the birth and the 100th anniversary of the death of the last Russian emperor Nicholas II, the exhibition allows all visitors interested in history to create their own impression of one of Russia’s most controversial and misunderstood historical figures, which includes a look at the life of the Russian monarch and his family.

Photography, which is the basis of the exhibition, is of great historical importance, often fragile, requiring careful handling and protection. The photos submitted for the exhibit are 100 – 150 years old, and a considerable part of the photos were restored by professionals for presentation to the public in this exhibition.

As is known, the emperor and his family members took a great interest in photography: they all had cameras and enthusiastically photographed each other and and those close to them. Nicholas II was usually accompanied by a professional photographers who recorded his 23-year reign almost daily (the main merit belonged to the court photographer AK K. Yagelsky to the owner of the KE von Gan and Kº studio). Many photos come from Tsarskoye Selo and Peterhof palaces, and reflect the day to day lives in their private apartments of the Alexander Palace and the Lower Dacha.

The exhibition is divided into sections: family, official and memorial. The first sections testify to the two “functions” of Nicholas II: the head of the family and the ruler of a vast empire. It shows about 300 photographs taken in the 1870s – mid 1910s by leading Russian and foreign photo masters (K. K. Bulla, S. L. Levitsky, A. I. Saveliev, F. P. Orlov, M. I. Gribov, A. A. Otsup, K. A. Fisher, Atelier “Boissonna and Eggler”, “K. E. von Gan and Co.”, “J. Russell & Sons”, “W. & D. Downey “). Autographs and letters of Nicholas II are also on display, documents include a manifesto on the birth of Grand Duke Nicholas Alexandrovich, a lunch menu on the occasion of the coming of age of Tsesarevich Nicholas Alexandrovich, and an announcement of the coronation of Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna.

The family section of the exhibition is divided into the following topics: “Grand Duke. Tsesarevich. Emperor”, “Niki and Alix”, “Tsar’s Children. OTMA”, “Tsar’s Children. Alexei”, “In the Family Circle. Tsarskoye Selo. Livadia. Finland. Poland “. Particular emphasis is placed on the figure of Tsearevich Alexei Nikolaevich, the only son of Nicholas II, and heir to the throne, whose tragic fate left an imprint on the life of the entire imperial family.

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The official section of the exhibition shows photographs of Nicholas II during meetings with the heads of foreign countries (British King Edward VII, German Emperor Wilhelm II, Siamese King Rama V, French Presidents Armand Falier and Felix Faure) during the celebrations marking the 200th anniversary St. Petersburg and the 100th anniversary of the Patriotic War of 1812, during the opening of grand monuments and the consecration of churches, the holding of regimental holidays and parades, as well as during the First World War.

Two of the most important dynastic events in which Nicholas II was most directly involved – the coronation (1896) and the 300th anniversary of the Romanovs’ house (1913), are also featured.

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Ceremonial portrait of Nicholas II, by Léon Bakst, 1895

A large ceremonial portrait of Nicholas II, by the famous artist Léon Bakst (1895) in Paris is on display for the first time. The painting has never before been exhibited, and was specially restored for the exhibition. The exhibition also features pictorial portraits of Nicholas II and Alexandra Feodorovna by G.M. Manizer and A.V. Makovsky, and a series of watercolors by N.N. Karazin, N.S. Matveeva and A.I. Charlemagne.

In addition to photos, the exhibition is filled with numerous items, both personal and memorial, associated with Nicholas II and his family – portraits, diaries, letters and more. For example, the uniforms of Nicholas II and Tsesarevich Alexei, the Imperial Constellation Easter Egg, made by Faberge for Alexandra Feodorovna Easter 1917, but not presented to the Empress, are shown a bronze frame with a watercolor portrait of Tsesarevich Alexei, a drawing, a watercolor portrait of Tsesarevich Alexei, and a drawing of Alexandra Feodorovna with their children.

One of the most unique artifacts on display is a curl of hair belonging to Tsesarevich Alexei, embedded in a watercolor portrait (see below), which was transferred during the post-war period to the Belgrade Museum in Serbia. In order to confirm its’ authenticity, the staff of the Historical Museum turned to the scientists of the N.I. Vavilova Institute of General Genetics, who confirmed a direct connection to the female line of Queen Victoria.

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Curl of hair belonging to Tsesarevich Alexei, embedded in a watercolor portrait

The exhibition is located in the renovated premises of the State Historical Museum, where there is also a small memorial hall with photographic portraits of members of the Romanov family and their personal belongings.

The end of the exhibition is a small hall, resembling a basement, where seven portraits are displayed of members of the Imperial family who were murdered in the basement of the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg on the night of July 16-17.

The exhibition Nicholas II. Family and Throne runs from 10 November 2018 to 15 April 2019 in the State Historical Museum in Moscow.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 30 November 2019

The Imperial Room in the Church on the Blood, Ekaterinburg

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NOTE: All of the articles pertaining to Nicholas II and his family which were originally published in my Royal Russia News blog, have been moved to this Nicholas II blog. This article was originally published on 20 June 2018 in my Royal Russia News blog – PG

On 20th June 2018, representatives of the media were granted a first look at the Imperial Room, in the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg. The altar of the Imperial Room is situated in the lower church sanctified in honor of the Holy Royal Martyrs. It was established on the site of the room located in the basement of the Ipatiev House, where Emperor Nicholas II, his family, and four retainers were all brutally murdered on the night of 16/17 July 1918. The decoration of the room received the blessing of the Metropolitan of Ekaterinburg and Verkhoturye Kirill to mark the centenary of this tragic event.

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The new design, the reconstruction of the altar, along with additional work in the Imperial Room, was carried out during the past year,the senior priest of the Church on Blood Achpriest Maxim Minailyo told journalists.

Father Maxim noted that the decoration of the Imperial Room was conducted by masters from Moscow and Belarus. Above the paintings worked talented Moscow icon painters led by Alexei Vronsky, and the mosaic was done by specialists of the mosaic workshop at the Holy Elizabethan Monastery of Minsk under the guidance of the icon painter Dmitry Kuntsevich. The work was supervised by nuns of the Novo-Tikhvin Convent in Ekaterinburg, known for their skill in restoring and decorating Orthodox churches.

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Representatives of the media saw a unique mosaic panel which occupies the central part of the altar depicting the Holy Royal Passion-Bearers and their faithful retainers who suffered with them: Emperor Nicholas Alexandrovich, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, Tsesarevich Alexei, Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatyana, Maria, Anastasia, Saint Yevgeny Botkin, Alexey Trupp, Ivan Kharitonov and Anna Demidova.

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As the priest said, the mosaic reflects the position of the Royal Passion-Bearers at the time of their martyrdom. They stood with their backs to the east, facing west, as it is now depicted in the altar.

Above them rises the Feodorovskaya Icon of the Mother of God, which is the heavenly patroness of the House of Romanov.

On the western vault depicts the Sovereign Icon of the Mother of God, which was revealed on the very day when the Emperor was forced to abdicate the throne, and the saints glorified during the reign of Emperor Nicholas Alexandrovich: St. Theodosius of Chernigov, St. Seraphim of Sarov, St. Princess Anna Kashinskaya, St. Joasaph Belgorod, St. Hermogen of Moscow, St. Pitirim of Tambov, and St. John of Tobolsk.

The creation of the paintings and mosaics took almost a year to complete. The creation of mosaic works was a particularly complex project, as the iconography of all the members of the Imperial Family and their faithful retainers had to be intricately created.

The walls and the floor around the altar are lined with red onyx, which is very symbolic, because the red color on one side symbolizes the martyrs blood shed by the Imperial family, and on the other hand, red is the color of the royal scarlet, porphyry, regal color. This color depicts very well the feat of the Royal Passion-bearers, who in both imperial majesty and in humiliation showed rare piety and great spiritual heights.

On the right side of the throne in a special reliquary containing fragments of the Ipatiev House: a brick and a balustrade.

At the end of the media presentation, the senior priest of the church thanked the journalists for the meeting, noting the great importance of this holy place in the church.

– “We must understand that this is the main sacred place of our city. And this room is the holy of holies in this church,” the father pointed out. – “This place today inspires us to move on and create such unique architectural and religious monuments to which our children, visitors, pilgrims will be drawn, because creating such a diverse national architecture, we lay the foundation for future generations to be proud of our country, including our cultural, religious and architectural heritage.”

CONSECRATION

NOTE: This article was originally published on 20 December 2018 in my Royal Russia News blog – PG

On 12th December 2018, Metropolitan Kirill of Ekaterinburg and Verkhotursk performed the rite of Great Consecration of the renovated side-chapel in the name of the Holy Royal Passion-Bearers of the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg. His Eminence was served by the hierarchs of the Ekaterinburg Metropolis: Bishop Method Kamensky and Alapaevsky, Bishop Evgeny of Nizhny Tagil and Nevyansky, and Bishop Serov and Krasnoturyinsky Alexy.

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At the end of the service, Metropolitan Kirill recalled in his archpastoral talk that the year 2018 – the Imperial or Royal Year – the year marking the 100th anniversary of the deaths and martyrdom of the Imperial family, was widely celebrated in the Ural city. He recalled that on the night 16/17 July, an estimated 100,000 people participated in the Divine Liturgy at the Church on the Blood and the subsequent cross procession, both of which were headed by His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia. According to the ruling bishop, it was truly a “nationwide prayer celebration.”

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And completing this year, the consecration of the renewed side-altar in the name of the Holy Royal Passion-Bearers was performed in the Church on the Blood.

Metropolitan Kirill noted that a Divine Liturgy is performed once a week, on the night of Tuesday/Wednesday, in memory of the Holy Royal Passion-Bearers, whose murder occurred on the night of Tuesday/Wednesday 16/17 July 1918. In addition, once a month, on the night of the 16/17, a night liturgy is also celebrated. Metropolitan Kirill reached out to Orthodox Christians asking them to attend the night service and pray to the Holy Royal Passion-Bearers.

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– “Here you have this feeling – a special reverence for the Royal Family and our martyrs, the new confessors of the Russian Church, one which will enter the soul, even if the soul is cold. All this love and achievement will melt away any callousness and any coldness. And the more we pray, the more we pay attention to the memory of the Holy Royal Martyrs, to their feat – the feat of meekness, humility, purity, the feat of absolute love for their God and for their homeland, until then our country will stand, and no evil power will be able to disturb her. Therefore, today we especially thank God for the feat of our Regal martyrs, our holy martyrs, all those who have defended our Homeland and our Church, and thanks to whom we today live on this earth,” Metropolitan Kirill said.

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The ruling bishop also thanked the senior priest of the Church on the Blood, Archpriest Maxim Minyaylo, for his work in this church, and also thanked Abbess Domnik (Korobeinikova) and the sisters of the Novo-Tikhvinsky Convent, who “very strongly and powerfully helped create this chapel.”

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The altar of the Imperial Room is situated in the lower church, sanctified in honor of the Holy Royal Martyrs. It was established on the site of the room located in the basement of the Ipatiev House, where Emperor Nicholas II, his family, and four retainers were all brutally murdered on the night of 16/17 July 1918. In the summer of 2018, with the blessing of Metropolitan Kirill of Ekaterinburg and Verkhoturye, the altar of the Imperial Chapel of the Holy Royal Passion-Bearers – the so-called Royal Room – was redesigned and decorated for the Tsar’s Days held in Ekaterinburg. The interior of the room has completely changed: like the Cuvuclia in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem.

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The central place is occupied by a unique mosaic panel. in the central part of the altar, depicting the Holy Royal Martyrs and their loyal subjects: Emperor Nicholas Alexandrovich, the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, Tsesarevich Alexei, Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, St. Eugene Botkin, Alexei Trupp, Ivan Kharitonov and Anna Demidova. The mosaic reflects the position of the Royal Passion-Bearers at the time of their martyr’s death: standing with their backs to the east, facing west, as is now depicted in the altar.

© Paul Gilbert. 30 November 2019

“What if” the Ipatiev House was reconstructed?

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A computer generated reconstruction of the Ipatiev House

On 26th November 2019, I published my article ‘Doomed to Resurrection: Is it Possible to Reconstruct the Ipatiev House?

The article pertains to an interview with the head of the Department of Archives of the Sverdlovsk Region Alexander Alexandrovich Kapustin who in July 2018, proposed that the Ipatiev House (demolished in September 1977) should be reconstructed in Ekaterinburg.

Given that the Church on the Blood now stands on the site of the former ‘House of Special Purpose,’ Kapustins’ idea left a lot of people questioning both “Why reconstruct it?” and “Where to reconstruct it?”

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The monument to Komsomol (Young Communists League) of the Urals dominates Komsomolskaya Square, the Church of the Ascension in the background

While I personally am NOT in favour of reconstructing the Ipatiev House, I do believe I can recommend the perfect location!

Situated at the top of Ascension Hill is Komsomolskaya Square. It is located between the Church of the Ascension and the Church on the Blood, which is situated on the opposite side of Karl Liebknecht Street.

During the Imperial Family’s captivity from April to July 1918, the windows on the upper floor of the ‘House of Special Purpose’ (the Ipatiev House) were painted white. Through a crack at the top of one window, it was possible for them to see the gilded spire of the Church of the Ascension.

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The Church on the Blood is situated on the other side of Karl Liebknecht Street,
facing Komsomolskaya Square and the Komsomol monument

Before the Revolution, it was named Voznesenskaya (Ascension) Square after its location on Ascension Hill. In 1919, the old name was replaced by a new, rather sinister name – People’s Revenge Square. The name reflected the squares’ proximity to that of the Ipatiev House, of which its eastern façade faced the square, and the site of the regicide of 17th July 1918. In 1959, the square was renamed again as Komsomolskaya Square.

Dominating the square is the enormous monument to Komsomol (Young Communists League) of the Urals built during the Soviet years. The monument stands defiantly, almost mockingly at the Church on the Blood situated on the opposite side of the street.

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Young Communists gather on Komsomolskaya Square

Each year, beneath the shadows of the Churches of the Ascension and the Spilled Blood, young Communists continue to hold rallies on the square.

It is my understanding that the reconstruction of the Ipatiev House as a multi-functional museum has the support of the Ekaterinburg Eparchy, so “IF” the project ever gets the green light, I cannot think of a better location.

As noted above, I do not support the idea of reconstructing the House of Special Purpose in Ekaterinburg. As one reader aptly noted on my Facebook page, “the Ipatiev House to me was rebuilt. It was rebuilt as a church. A place of reflection to bring light into the darkness that fell there.”

© Paul Gilbert. 29 November 2019

The Jewel Album of Tsar Nicholas II

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NOTE: All of the articles pertaining to Nicholas II and his family which were originally published in my Royal Russia News blog, have been moved to this Nicholas II blog. This article was originally published on 21 December 2018 in my Royal Russia News blog – PG

Between 1889 and 1913 Nicholas II, Grand Duke, Tsesarevich and Emperor of Russia, painted his jewellery in a small album as a private record of his collection. His watercolours of more than 300 items – some of which were created by jewellers such as Fabergé and Cartier – give a realistic picture of what the tsar was wearing as jewellery. His handwritten notes also comprise dates and names of those who presented him with each item, a record of the small circle of those who were near to him.

The drawings of his personal jewellery were made by him not to record valuables such as precious stones or gold but as a personal record of family souvenirs with memorable dates. The album is an encyclopedia of men’s fashion ornaments of the turn of the century full of crowned monograms and symbols as well as surprisingly modern jewellery designs.

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The jewel album of Tsar Nicholas II was re-discovered in the 1990s in the archives of the Moscow Kremlin Museum. It consisted of 82 pages and a total of 305 watercolour drawings of his personal collection of men’s jewellery. The date of receipt of gifts from loved ones connected with holidays and memorable events were noted by Nicholas II in his own handwriting: his birthday, name day, days of engagement and wedding, the day of the coronation, birth, christening, and on major Christian holidays, such as Easter and Christmas.

In 1997, the publishing firm Ermitage issued a facsimile of the album, entitled The Jewel Album of Nicholas II and a Collection Private Photographs of the Russian Imperial Family. It was published in a high quality cloth-bound edition with 216 pages, enclosed in a handsome green-board slipcase. The accompanying text on the jewellery was written by Alexander von Solodkoff, an authority on Russian and Fabergé art. It is supplemented with an article on the history of the album by Irina A. Bogatskaya, curator of the Moscow Kremlin Museum Archives.

In addition to the more than 300 watercolours of Nicholas II’s jewellery, the book also includes 95 illustrations from the original, unpublished private photographs of the Russian Imperial Family. This rare collection offers an authentic glimpse of their private life with evocative scenes of private visits, fashion and interiors of the time. The material was discovered by von Solodkoff in the archive of Hemmelmark, formerly the home of Princess Irene of Prussia, sister of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna.

Alexander von Solodkoff has studied the history and art of Russia specializing in goldsmith work and jewellery. Among his publications are books such as Russian Gold and Silver (1981), Fabergé (1988) and numerous articles in exhibition catalogues and art historical publications. He served as director of Ermitage Ltd. London.

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The facsimile edition (pictured above) was distributed through Christie’s of London in the late 1990s, and sold out very quickly. This beautiful book is now long out of print, however, second-hand copies which sell for hundreds of dollars, continue to be highly sought after by Romanov enthusiasts and lovers of Imperial Russian history.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 29 November 2019

‘The Last Romanovs – Archival and Museum Discoveries in Great Britain and Russia’

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120 pages, richly illustrated. Price: £25 + postage – order details below

NOTE: All of the articles pertaining to Nicholas II and his family which were originally published in my Royal Russia News blog, have been moved to this Nicholas II blog. This article was originally published on 13 April 2019 in my Royal Russia News blog – PG

The Grand Duchess Elizabeth Romanov Society (UK) have published a high quality book The Last Romanovs – Archival and Museum Discoveries in Great Britain and Russia.

This English language publication is an illustrated collection of contributions to the British-Russian Symposium, held in Windsor in June 2017 and organised by the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Romanov Society. The articles cover various aspects of the lives of the last members of the Imperial House of Romanov and also present new information about documents and exhibits from various collections in Russia and the United Kingdom.

The book (edited by Dr Maria Harwood) was released by the prestigious British publishing house PINDAR PRESS. The Foreword has been written by the President of the Romanov Family Association Princess Olga Andreevna, and Introduction by the Chairman of the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Romanov Society (UK) Dr. Maria Harwood.

Below, is a list of the articles and their respective authors:

PART I – CORONATIONS

The Decoration of the Kremlin as a Sacred Space for the Last Coronation in 1896: Tradition and Innovation
by Dr. Inessa Slyunkova

Rare Photographs of the Romanovs’ Russia During the Time of the Coronation, 1856
by Stephen Patterson

PART II – THE ROMANOVS AND THE BRITISH ROYAL FAMILY

The Romanovs at Osbourne
by Michael Hunter

The Rescue of the Dowager Empress Marie Feodorovna from the Crimea
by Coryne Hall

The Letters of Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia, Duchess of Edinburgh and of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, in the National Archives of Romania in Bucharest
by Charlotte Zeepvat

PART III – BIOGRAPHICAL RESEARCH

The Art Collection of Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich and Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna: New Discoveries
by Dmitry Grishin

New Documents for the Biography of Grand Duchess Elizabeth: Police Reports 1909-1917
by Olga Kopylova

The Question of Giving the Title of Deaconess to the Sisters of Saints Martha and Mary Convent: Discoveries in St. Petersburg’s Archives
by Priest Andrei Posternak and Elena Kozlovseva

Journey to the East of Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich and Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna (Letters to Princess S.N. Golitsyna, 1888)
by Olga Trofimova

The Collection of the ‘Tsar Nicholas II Museum’ in Belgrade Within the State Historical Museum, Moscow
by Nikolai Misko and Marina Falaleeva

Father Nicholas Gibbes: Teacher to the Royal Children and Orthodox Monk. The Romanov Collection and the Issue of Creating a Romanov Museum in Oxford
by Archpriest Stephen Platt

During the past three years, the work of the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Romanov Society has included pilgrimages to Russia by Orthodox Christians, holding historical exhibitions and educational events in the UK – including the Nicholas II Conference held in Colchester, England on 27th October 2018 – as well as the unveiling of the memorial Cross to the Holy Royal Passion-bearers and Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, on the Isle of Wight near the Palace of Queen Victoria.

This English language title is a large soft-cover (9½” x 12″), with 120 pages, richly illustrated with more than 140 colour and black & white photographs and illustrations. Price: £25 + postage.

For information on how to order your copy, please contact Mr David Gilchrist at the following email djgilx@btinternet.com

Click HERE for more information about the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Romanov Society (UK)

© The Grand Duchess Elizabeth Romanov Society (UK). 28 November 2019

World Monument Fund Reports on the Alexander Palace

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NOTE: All of the articles pertaining to Nicholas II and his family which were originally published in my Royal Russia News blog, have been moved to this Nicholas II blog. This article was originally published on 20 April 2019 in my Royal Russia News blog – PG

The Alexander Palace

Designed by the Italian architect Giacomo Quarenghi and completed in 1796, Alexander Palace housed three generations of Russian monarchs before it was abandoned by the Imperial family in the months preceding the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. Built on the order of Catherine the Great as a gift to her grandson Alexander I, the palace is in Tsarskoye Selo, a 1,500-acre imperial estate near St. Petersburg. The building was later used as a summer residence by Alexander’s brother, Nicolas I, and then by his nephew, Tsar Nicolas II. In 1917, the Imperial family was expelled from the palace by order of Alexander Kerensky, head of the provisional government. Nicholas II and his family were murdered by the Bolshevik regime one year later. From then until World War II the palace remained uninhabited; it functioned as a museum until occupying German forces converted the building into their military headquarters. Alexander Palace later served as a naval command base and research station, until the mid-1990s when we assisted with efforts to convert the palace into a museum.

Parts of Alexander Palace had fallen into serious disrepair by 1994 when it garnered local interest as a potential museum. We provided funds toward assessments and planning for public access to a suite of rooms to be used as museum space. Shortly after its inclusion on the 1996 World Monuments Watch, the palace was added to the list of institutions operated by the Museum-Preserve of Tsarskoe Selo, which agreed to manage the upkeep of the property and its tourist facilities. In September 1996, we helped with emergency renovations to the roof over the Nicholas II wing of the palace, comprising approximately one-third of the building’s total roof structure. Alexander Palace is now an exhibition space dedicated to the final years of Tsarist Russia, and houses a collection of Nicholas II’s personal effects and historical documents.

An important national heritage site (1995)

One of the few Tsarist residences left relatively intact following World War II, Alexander Palace provides a window into Imperial life during pre-communist Russia. For its historical value as the setting of Nicholas II’s final years, and for its artistic merits as a much-celebrated work of sumptuously decorated neoclassical architecture, the palace is an important national heritage site.

NOTE: the following three reports, published in 1995, 1996 and 1997 respectively, although now dated, still provide readers with some interesting facts on the history of the Alexander Palace, and the challenges presented with it’s restoration – PG

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CLICK ON THE IMAGE ABOVE TO DOWNLOAD AND REVIEW REPORT

Alexander Palace: Restoration and Adaptive Re-Use as a Museum (1995 – 112 pages)

Describes an investigation into the prospect of adapting the 18th century Alexander Palace in Tsarskoye Selo near St. Petersburg for use as a house museum interpreting the history and life of the last Romanovs, the last imperial dynasty to rule over Russia. The neoclassical palace was designed by Giacomo Quarenghi and built between 1792 and 1796, a gift from Catherine the Great to her eldest grandson Alexander before he acceded to the throne. Following the Bolshevik Revolution and the execution of Nicholas II and his family the palace was used as a museum, until World War II, when it was damaged during the German occupation. In 1995-1996, World Monuments Fund conducted three missions to the palace. The first mission, described in this report, had an exploratory and fact-finding character and took place over five days in February 1995. During this mission the potential for repairing the structure, restoring its interiors, and returning to it original furnishings from the collections of Russian museums was studied. Two subsequent missions are described in separate reports.

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CLICK ON THE IMAGE ABOVE TO DOWNLOAD AND REVIEW REPORT

Alexander Palace: Groundwork for Restoration and Museum Adaptation (1996 – 47 pages)

This report provides a bilingual summary of the research later compiled into the report entitled “The Alexander Palace: Preliminary Assessment Report for Restoration and Adaptive Re-Use,” published by World Monuments Fund in 1997.Designed by Giacomo Quarenghi and built between 1792 and 1796, this neoclassical palace near St. Petersburg was a gift from Catherine the Great to her eldest grandson Alexander before he ascended to the throne. Alexander I, Nicholas I and Nicholas II all spent their summers living in the palace.

Following the Bolshevik Revolution and the execution of Nicholas II along with his family, the palace was converted into a museum, which it remained until World War II, when it was damaged during the German occupation. From the end of the war until 1995, the building served as administrative offices for the Russian Navy. Over the first half of 1995, a team from the World Monuments Fund conducted three missions to the palace, evaluating the potential for repairing the structure, restoring its interiors, and returning its original furnishings then in the collections of three different Russian museums. During the course of these missions, the World Monuments Fund established the scope of work necessary to convert the palace into a historic house museum focused on the life of Nicholas II and his family and secured funding for the site through American Express as part of the inaugural World Monuments Fund Watch List. This grant provided for emergency repairs to the roof over the southeast wing of the palace.

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CLICK ON THE IMAGE ABOVE TO DOWNLOAD AND REVIEW REPORT

Alexander Palace: Preliminary Assessment Report for Restoration and Adaptive Re-Use (1997 – 85 pages) 

Designed by Giacomo Quarenghi and built between 1792 and 1796, this neoclassical palace near St. Petersburg was a gift from Catherine the Great to her eldest grandson Alexander before he ascended to the throne. Alexander I, Nicholas I and Nicholas II all spent their summers living in the palace. Following the Bolshevik Revolution and the execution of Nicholas II along with his family, the palace was converted into a museum, which it remained until World War II, when it was damaged during the German occupation. From the end of the war until 1995, the building served as administrative offices for the Russian Navy. Over the first half of 1995, a team from the World Monuments Fund conducted three missions to the palace, evaluating the potential for repairing the structure, restoring its interiors, and returning its original furnishings then in the collections of three different Russian museums. During the course of these missions, World Monuments Fund established the scope of work necessary to convert the palace into a historic house museum focused on the life of Nicholas II and his family and secured funding for the site through American Express as part of the inaugural World Monuments Fund Watch List. This grant provided for emergency repairs to the roof over the southeast wing of the palace.

© World Monuments Fund / Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 20 April 2019

New photos of the Mauve (Lilac) Boudoir of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna

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Photo © Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Reserve

The Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Reserve have released these new photos of the progress of recreating the Mauve (Lilac) Boudoir of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna in the Alexander Palace.

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Photo © Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Reserve

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Photo © Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Reserve

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Photo © Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Reserve

Over the two decades of Alexandra Fedorovna’s life in Russia, the Mauve or Lilac Boudoir – her favorite room in the Alexander Palace, created by Roman Meltzer – has never been redesigned, despite the change in artistic fashion at the turn of the century. To decorate the interior, silk – mauve with a pattern of interwoven vertical threads – was ordered from the Parisian company Charles Bourget. The wood panels at the bottom of the walls and the furniture designed by Meltzer in imitation of the Rococo style were painted in two colors resembling ivory. Many furnishings, a corner sofa, half cabinets are built-in and connected with wall panels. Here the emperor and the empress with their children often drank coffee after breakfast, gathered for evening tea, and it was in this room where Alexandra Feodorovna spent many hours working and reading.

Works in the Mauve (Lilac) Boudoir: according to historical patterns, fabric upholstery of walls, curtains, built-in furniture, carpet, wood panels, fireplace, picturesque frieze were recreated.

© Paul Gilbert. 26 November 2019

Doomed to Resurrection: Is it Possible to Reconstruct the Ipatiev House?

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The Ipatiev House, also known as the House of Special Purpose was built 130 years ago

NOTE: All of the articles pertaining to Nicholas II and his family which were originally published in my Royal Russia News blog, have been moved to this Nicholas II blog. This interview with the head of the Department of Archives of the Sverdlovsk Region Alexander Kapustin, was originally published on 2 July 2018 in my Royal Russia News blog – PG

In July 2018, Russia will mark the 100th anniversary of the deaths and martyrdom of the last Russian Imperial family. On the possibility of restoring the Ipatiev House, where the Holy Royal Martyrs ended their earthly journey, AiF-Ural journalist Alexei Smirnov sat down with the head of the Department of Archives of the Sverdlovsk Region Alexander Alexandrovich Kapustin.

Alexei Smirnov: Alexander Alexandrovich, do you remember what the Ipatiev House looked like before it was demolished in 1977?

Alexander Kapustin: Yes, I remember it. From 1972 to 1977 I studied at the Ural State University and visited the Ipatiev House on a number of occasions. The first time I went alone, then I went returned several times with some of my fellow students. I remember walking up the steps to the entrance. We did not get into the “execution room”, it was boarded up. Some organization was working in the mansion at that time, the staff showed little interest in us. I did not feel any “aura” around the house, for me it was an old historic building, typical of Sverdlovsk at the time. Although, like any person interested in history, I knew perfectly well that the tsar and his family had been shot here. Of course, I did not know everything, I was only 17 years old at the time. I can not say that my visits found me shaking inside me. Do not forget that we studied at the Soviet school, so we were taught the official Soviet version of the events. We were taught that Nicholas Romanov was the not the best tsar, however, today the evidence held in our archives, proves that the Soviet version was wrong.

Alexei Smirnov: The decision to demolish the mansion was made in Moscow, was this a mistake?

Alexander Kapustin: It was a political mistake by the authorities. But Yuri Andropov, who headed the KGB at the time, was right in one thing: the Ipatiev House was steadily becoming a place of pilgrimage for those who wished to honour the memory of the imperial family.

Alexei Smirnov: Could Yeltsin disobey Andropov?

Alexander Kapustin: Yeltsin was a member of the party, the first secretary of the regional committee. He carried out the order, one which he simply could not disobey. And it was not just an order, it was the decision of the Central Committee. Another question, did Yeltsin realize the consequences of his actions? It is quite possible that he did not. Therefore we have no right to make any claims against him.

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Boris Yeltsin was ordered to demolish the Ipatiev House in September 1977

Alexei Smirnov: Is it possible to reconstruct the Ipatiev House according to surviving documents? And whether it is necessary to do this?

Alexander Kapustin: I think that there would be no technical problems with a reconstruction. We know what it looked externally, we can determine its dimensions, the height of the ceilings, etc. Preserved drawings, numerous photographs – inside and out, will greatly benefit such a project.

NOTE: In the archives of the Sverdlovsk region, more than two dozen documents concerning the Ipatiev House have survived, as well as an extensive photo-fund. Up until 1977, the building was photographed extensively. A lot of the pre-revolutionary images have also been preserved. The earliest document in the archive is a list of owners dating from 1916, including Nikolai Nikolaevich Ipatiev. In 1929, Uralstroikontrol made a detailed plan of the mansion, which is kept in the archives in a separate file.

As to your other question: if to restore, for what purpose? When the idea of ‌‌”reconstruction” of the house arose, it created a lot of excitement and discussion. The problem is that we look at those events through the eyes of people of the 21st century, and this is not always entirely correct. Try to look at them through the eyes of people of that time. It should not be forgotten that on 2nd March 1917, that the tsar abdicated from the throne. The Bolsheviks shot not the emperor, but “Citizen Romanov”! And how did Russian society react to this? The event passed almost unnoticed. And already on 3rd March 1917, the church swore an oath of allegiance to the provisional government! Yes, he was a royal martyr, he died a martyr. But at that time, atrocities were occurring throughout Russia. It is pointless to demand that everyone worship the tsar, just as it is pointless that everyone worship Lenin. Society is divided.

The point is also that the figure of Nicholas II overshadowed many other worthy people in the public eye, including members of the Romanov dynasty. Why, for example, are we not interested in the life and fate of Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich, whom I have great respect for? He was a man, independent in his decisions. He fell in love with a married woman and, due to the then conventionalities, was forced to leave Russia. They had a morganatic marriage. He was expelled from the country, but on the eve of World War I he returned, went to the Front, and commanded the Caucasian Division. Under his authority, Muslim volunteers showed great courage in defending Russia against her enemies. He proposed laws which were adopted after the February Revolution, abandoned the throne, was exiled to Perm, where in 1918 he died tragically.

Alexei Smirnov: If you restore the Ipatiev House, where would it be built?

Alexander Kapustin: Well, for example, near the Church on the Blood, where there is a lot of land, and certainly enough space. But what most people to not know, is that the foundation of the Ipatiev House is actually buried under the road. Therefore, we are not talking so much about reconstruction as that of a new construction.

Alexei Smirnov: Who could undertake the reconstruction of the Ipatiev House? Sponsors? The Russian Orthodox Church? The city? What would be exhibited?

Alexander Kapustin: I think that those wishing to reconstruct the building will eventually be found, and it does not matter who it is. Personally, I see it as an object of history, culture and architecture. We already have many places of worship for the Romanov family. For the majority of people, the Ipatiev House is associated only with the murder of the tsar and his family. But the mansion had a long history before this terrible tragedy. A new Ipatiev House would house an exhibition hall, a library with a reading room, a cultural and educational complex. In addition, another beautiful mansion to the landscape of Ekaterinburg would not hurt. The house, really, was very beautiful, I really liked it.

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The Church on the Blood and the Patriarchal Compound in Ekaterinburg

Alexei Smirnov: But you understand that if the house is restored, it will automatically become a place of pilgrimage?”

Alexander Kapustin: Looking at who and for what purpose it will be restored. And there is nothing wrong with the pilgrims. They do not harm the house. And the capital of the Urals will receive an additional tourist facility. As with other historic buildings in the city, each house has its own history, it’s own individuality. The Ipatiev House is no exception, it is unique in terms of architecture and is already an important part of our history.

Alexei Smirnov: Recently an unfinished TV tower was demolished in Yekaterinburg …

Alexander Kapustin: I would not make any parallels here. The tower was a monument of mismanagement and irresponsibility. At one time, the authorities did not have enough funds for its completion and security. Yes, some people were angered by its demolition, but if it had collapsed, the consequences could have been terrible. I think that the dismantling of the tower was justified and logical, this is my point of view. Governor Evgeny Kuyvashev repeatedly tried to offer something, contests were held, but no one was willing to undertake the completion of the structure.

Alexei Smirnov: If a person or company comes forward, is the state archive ready to provide documentation on the Ipatiev House?

Alexander Kapustin: Of course! We are ready to cooperate with any organization, political party, the Russian Orthodox Church. Come, make copies of the documents, work, build!

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Head of the Department of Archives of the Sverdlovsk Region Alexander Kapustin

Alexander Alexandrovich Kapustin. Born 13 May 1955 in Nizhny Tagil. He graduated from the Faculty of History of the Ural State University. Initially, he worked as a school teacher, and then taught at a university. He is a Candidate of Historical Sciences (1986), and Head of the Department of Archives of the Sverdlovsk Region, since 1990.

© Paul Gilbert. 26 November 2019