Monument to Rasputin proposed for St. Petersburg

PHOTO: artist concept of the monument to Rasputin near the Alexander Palace

Earlier this week, a model of a proposed monument to Grigori Rasputin was shown to journalists, during a press conference held in St. Petersburg. The model – the fruit of five years of creative work by the artist – was displayed in Rasputin’s apartment on Gorokhovaya Street.

The monument is a project by the Artproekt sculptural workshop in Moscow, famous for its Orthodox patriotic sculptures. The studio’s most notable works include, Dmitry Donskoy, Alexander Nevsky, John of Kronstadt, Sergius of Radonezh, and Nicholas the Wonderworker.

Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin (1869-1916) remains one of the most controversial figures during the reign of Emperor Nicholas II. The head of the Artproekt workshop, Yevgeny Korolev, believes it is important to rethink the image of Rasputin: “All the claims against Rasputin are not confirmed by real documents, so what are the accusations against this man based on? One of the historians I spoke with wrote eight volumes in which he debunks these myths.”

The project is surrounded by a veil of secrecy, even the sculptor remains unknown at this time. The 2.5 m [8.2 ft.] monument depicts Rasputin [who stood 1.93 m / 6.3 ft.] carrying the Tsesarevich Alexei Nikolaevich (1904-1918) in his arms.

PHOTO: model of the proposed monument on display in Rasputin’s apartment

The monument is almost ready – it only has to be cast in bronze, and the place for it’s installation has yet to be determined. The sculptor and his supporters believe that it should be installed in one of three places in or near St. Petersburg. For example, at Tsarskoye Selo, where Rasputin was originally buried in the Alexander Park; or next to the Petrovsky bridge, where his body was discovered in the Malaya Nevka; or in the garden of the Yusupov Palace, where he was murdered.

According to the the head of the restoration department Viktor Voronin, “It will be next to impossible to erect a monument in the garden of the palace. The Yusupov Palace is a cultural heritage site, where the installation, in principle, of new sculptural objects is prohibited by law.”

In late 1906, Rasputin began acting as a healer for Nicholas II’s only son and heir, Alexei, who suffered from haemophilia. He was a divisive figure at court, seen by some Russians as a mystic, visionary, and prophet, and by others as a religious charlatan. In the early morning of 30th December [O.S. 17th December] 1916, Rasputin was murdered by a group of conservative noblemen who opposed his alleged influence over Empress Alexandra Feodorovna and Emperor Nicholas II.

PHOTO: detail of the proposed monument depicting Rasputin carrying Alexei

Historians often suggest that Rasputin’s scandalous and sinister reputation helped discredit the tsarist government and thus helped precipitate the overthrow of the Romanov dynasty a few weeks after he was murdered. Accounts of his life and influence were often based on hearsay and rumour.

In recent years, the Russian Orthodox Church has expressed some concern over the growing movement by some Orthodox Christians, who are calling for the canonization of the controversial and enigmatic figure of Grigori Efimovich Rasputin. Meanwhile, many other Orthodox Christians consider such a move as blasphemy.

This will be the second monument to Rasputin installed in Russia, the first was installed in Tyumen in 2014.

© Paul Gilbert. 8 March 2021

Nicholas II orders uniforms for Victory Parade 1917

There is a common myth that during World War One, Russia’s only breakthrough was the Brusilov Offensive in September 1916. There were allegedly no other successful campaigns. This myth is absolutely incorrect. Shortly after Nicholas II assumed command of the armed forces in 1915, the Russian Imperial Army carried out at least 15 major victorious operations, not counting the Brusilov Breakthrough.

PHOTO: Victory Parade uniform on display in the Russia in the Great War Museum,
Sovereign Marshall Chamber, Tsarskoye Selo

Nicholas II was so confident of Russia’s victory against Germany and Austria during the First World War, that in 1916, he ordered a new uniform be designed for the Victory Parade he planned to hold in Berlin, and then in Constantinople in 1917.

The new uniform was designed by Viktor Mikhaylovich Vasnetsov (1848-1926), a Russian artist who specialized in mythological and historical subjects. The uniforms were sewn in Siberian factories and stored in army warehouses in Petrograd.

PHOTO: The khaki cloth  “bogatyrka” cap

The uniform consisted of a long-brimmed overcoat, with a leather jacket and trousers, leggings and and a cap designed for troops of the army and air force, as well as the crews of armoured car, armoured trains and scooters. The khaki cloth cap was called a “bogatyrka” – because of the similarity with the ancient helmets of Russian heroes.

Following the 1917 Revolution, this uniform was redesigned for use by the Cheka – the Bolshevik secret police.

© Paul Gilbert. 5 March 2021

Furniture recreated for the Corner Reception Room in the Alexander Palace

PHOTO: Colour autochrome of the Corner Reception Room, taken in 1917

The restoration of the gilded furniture set (armchairs, chairs and sofas), which will decorate the Corner Reception Room of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna in the Alexander Palace has been completed.

The Corner Reception Room was originally connected to the Concert Hall by a door located along its central wall. In 1895, a fundamental restructuring of the eastern wing of the palace began, whereby the private apartments for Nicholas II and his family would be created. In 1902–1904, when the Maple Drawing Room and the New Study of Nicholas II were created on the site, the Corner Reception Room was connected to the corridor, becoming part of the personal imperial apartments, but at the same time retained its ceremonial function.

PHOTO: recreated chairs, armchairs and sofas for the Corner Reception Room

The furniture of the Corner Reception Room was almost completely lost during the Great Patriotic War (1941-45). For the new recreated interior set, the selected items were made in the classic style, since most of the gilded furniture that adorned this interior at the beginning of the 20th century – until 1941 – was executed in this style.

The set was restored by specialists from the Tsarskoye Selo Amber Workshop. The restored gilded chairs and armchairs with oval backs and seats were made in the 1770s. Before World War II, these items decorated interiors of the Catherine Palace, in the foyer of the Chinese Theater (in the Alexander Park) and in the White Hall of Gatchina Palace. Two sofas from the second half of the 19th century, also included in the furniture set, were transferred to the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum from the State Hermitage in 1959.

PHOTO: original upholstery sample for the furniture in the Corner Reception Room

In the process of restoration, the craftsmen removed all types of dirt, restored the gesso and gilding, recreated the lost carved details with the subsequent summing up of gesso, diverging and gilding, and upholstery works. In the seat cushion of one of the sofas, the craftsmen found fragments of the original  horsehair, used to fill it. Due to the fact that one of the fragments clearly reads the date – 1865, as well as the fact that the sofa was upholstered once, the object can be dated to that year.

The chairs, armchairs and sofas share the same stylistic unity, as well as the upholstery fabric. In the an old 1917 brochure which describes the Alexander Palace, the furniture of the Corner Reception Room is described: “Furniture of the Louis XVI style of the Russian slave. late 18th century, re-gilded and upholstered in silk. the work of the Sapozhnikov factory in Moscow. / In the style of striped fabrics of the era of Louis XVI.” A fragment of the original upholstery fabric for the furniture of the Corner Reception Room, made in 1903, which had been preserved in the collection of the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum, served as a model for recreating the upholstery fabric of the restored items. A pattern of alternating light stripes and stripes of various shades of pink with small ornaments of roses, flower garlands and wavy lines is clearly visible on the silk fabric.

PHOTO: recreated chairs, armchairs and sofas for the Corner Reception Room

NOTE: all photos © Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Reserve

© Paul Gilbert. 3 March 2021

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Fifteen interiors situated in the eastern wing of the palace, are now scheduled to open to visitors in 2021. Among the recreated interiors are the New Study of Nicholas II, Moorish Bathroom of Nicholas II, Working Study of Nicholas II, Reception Room of Nicholas II, Pallisander (Rosewood) Living Room, Mauve (Lilac) Boudoir, Maple Drawing Room, Alexandra’s Corner Reception Room, the Imperial Bedroom, among others.

In the future, the Alexander Palace will become a memorial museum of the Romanov family – from Catherine the Great to Nicholas II, showcasing the private, domestic life of the Russian monarchs who used the palace as an official residence. The eastern wing of the palace will be known as the Museum of the Russian Imperial Family. The multi-museum complex, which includes the Western wing is scheduled for completion no earlier than 2024.

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Dear Reader: If you enjoy my articles on the history and restoration of the Alexander Palace, then please help support my research by making a donation in US or Canadian dollars to my project The Truth About Nicholas II – please note that donations can be made by GoFundMePayPal, credit cardpersonal check or money order. The net proceeds help fund my work, including research, translations, etc. Thank you for your consideration – PG

Elena Tretyakova’s gift to Nicholas II in 1911

PHOTO: Elena Andreevna Tretyakova. Paris, 1875. 

In 1911, the famous Russian collector and philanthropist Elena Andreevna Tretyakova (1846-after 1917) presented as a gift to Emperor Nicholas II: her vast collection of paintings, icons, weapons and historical documents which documented Russia’s military history from ancient times. In addition, she donated a significant amount for the construction of the Госуда́рева Ра́тная пала́та [Sovereign Military Chamber] at Tsarskoye Selo. Due to the outbreak of World War I in August 1914, the construction of the war museum was not completed. At the height of the First World War, and in anticipation of impending hard times, Elena Tretyakova wrote: “Probably, if not during my lifetime, then afterwards others will appreciate my idea and work.”

It would be another century before the Sovereign Military [aka Martial] Chamber would become a museum. The building was transferred to the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Preserve in 2010. Between 2011-2014. the building underwent restoration, at a cost of 292,000,000 rubles ($8 million USD). The building is now home to the ‘Russia in the Great War’ Museum, which was inaugurated on 4th August 2014 , marking the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War One. The museum has been visited by more than 120 thousand people.

The Sovereign Military Chamber at Tsarskoye Selo is the first museum in Russia dedicated entirely to Russia’s participation in the First World War. The history of the museum has its roots in the era of Nicholas II. Today, the museum is a rich repository of military uniforms, weapons, and items used in military life, as well as photographs and documents.

PHOTO: portraits of Elena Tretyakova and Nicholas II in the Sovereign Military Chamber

This year marks the 175th anniversary of the birth of Elena Andreevna Tretyakova (1846-after 1917). 

She was born on 26th February (O.S. 14th) February 1846 in Moscow in the family of the hereditary honorary merchant Andrei Matveyev. In 1868 she married Sergei Mikhailovich Tretyakov (1834-1892), brother of the founder of the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, Pavel Mikhailovich Tretyakov (1832-1898).

According to her contemporaries, Elena was “educated, and distinguished by her natural beauty, with beautiful curved shoulders, a pale, slightly puffy face, a heavy plait of hair on the back of her head and tiny hands, which she was very proud”. She dressed very luxuriously, ordered dresses from Paris and rented a large summer dacha in Peterhof for the summer. Her neighbour at Peterhof was the Russian pianist, conductor, and composer. Nikolai Grigoryevich Rubinstein (1835-1881), with whom she was in love (he died in her arms in 1881 in Paris). Every day she received guests at her home, where an exquisite choir of gypsies sang, which was then in great fashion. The Tretyakovs’ marriage was childless. After the death of her husband she lived in St. Petersburg. Elena Andreevna Tretyakova died after 1917, the exact date is unknown.

Elena Tretyakova’s idea came true more than a hundred years later. Today, her portrait hangs in the Sovereign Military Chamber at Tsarskoye Selo.

PHOTO: the restored Sovereign Martial Chamber at Tsarskoye Selo

© Paul Gilbert. 2 March 2021

Family Disloyalty: Nicholas II and the Vladimirovichi

During the final years of his reign, Emperor Nicholas II was more than aware that the various branches of his family were creating a politically dangerous situation by their open hostility towards him. Among them were his cousin Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich (1856-1929) and uncle Grand Duke Nicholas Mikhailovich (1859-1919), however, it was the hostility which simmered from the Vladimirovich branch of the family which posed the greatest threat to him. 

The Vladimirovichi are inextricably linked to the many myths and lies which have been allowed to germinate for more than a century, and continue to overshadow the life and reign of the Holy Tsar Nicholas II to this day. Some members of the Vladimirovichi were, devoid of principle. They embodied the “treason, cowardice and deceit” that Nicholas II recorded in his diary.

Over the past year, I have been researching material for my forthcoming article ‘Family Disloyalty: Nicholas II and the Vladimirovichi’, Iwhich will be published in two parts this spring. Below, is a short summary of some of the issues which will be discussed:

In part one, Uncle Vladimir and Aunt Miechen (April 2021), I discuss the often hostile relationship between Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich and his wife Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna towards Emperor Nicholas II. During the last years of Vladimir’s life, the rift between his family and that of Nicholas II widened.

Vladimir’s German born wife, Maria Pavlovna (née Duchess Marie Alexandrine Elisabeth Eleonore of Mecklenburg-Schwerin), a vile opportunist with an over inflated ego, carried the family’s anti-Nicholas agenda to the end of her days. Known as “Miechen” or “Maria Pavlovna the Elder,” she was well known for her acid tongue and spiteful demeanour. The power hungry Maria Pavlovna had an open rivalry with her sister-in-law the Empress Maria Feodorovna (wife of Emperor Alexander III) and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna (wife of Emperor Nicholas II), the latter of which Maria Pavlovna was notorious for plotting against and spreading malicious gossip. She was also very crafty. Maria remained Lutheran throughout most of her marriage, but converted to Orthodoxy in April 1908, believing it would give her son Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich a better chance at the throne. 

The treachery and deceit which emanated from the Vladimir Palace was not restricted to the senior grand ducal couple, but also to their eldest son and his wife Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich and Grand Duchess Victoria Feodorovna. In part two, Kirill and Ducky (June 2021), I discuss Kirill marrying his paternal first cousin, Princess Victoria Melita of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in 1905, both defying Nicholas II by not obtaining his consent prior. But it was Kirill’s traitorous act during the February Revolution of 1917, in which he is most famous for. It was in Petrograd, that Kirill marched to the Tauride Palace at the head of the Garde Equipage (Marine Guard) to swear allegiance to the Russian Provisional Government, wearing a red band on his uniform. He then authorized the flying of a red flag over his palace on Glinka Street in Petrograd. In 1926, Kirill pompously proclaimed himself “emperor-in-exile”, I also discuss Kirill and Ducky’s alleged Nazi affiliations during their years in exile, Kirill’s infidelity.

It is ironic that following the 1917 Revolution, ALL the members of the Vladimirovich branch of the family managed to get out of Russia, with the exception of Grand Duke Vladimir who had died in 1909

My two-part study will feature excerpts from letters by Nicholas II, his mother Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna, and information from new documents sourced from Russian media and archive sources.

Why is this story relevant?

During the Nicholas II Conference, held in Colchester, England on 27th October 2018, I announced that I would be committing myself to researching and writing about the life and reign of Nicholas II. In addition, my personal mission to clear the name of Russia’s much slandered emperor and tsar. As part of the latter, I believe that a comprehensive study of the relationship between the Vladimirovich branch of the Imperial Family and Nicholas II, was an issue which had to be addressed.

As a result, I severed all ties with Maria Vladimirovna and her son George Mikhailovich, as well as the Russian Legitimist cause. My main reason being that this branch of the Imperial Family must be held accountable for their hostility and treachery towards the Holy Tsar Nicholas II.

Many monarchists (myself included) and those faithful to the memory of Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II, believe that Maria Pavlovna’s malicious gossip and intrigues against Nicholas II, and her son Kirill’s act of treason in 1917, should eliminate the Vladimir branch of the Russian Imperial Family from any further consideration.

In 2011, I interviewed Maria asking her the following two questions on Nicholas II:

“For nearly a century, the last Emperor of Russia, Nicholas II, has been maligned and slandered by Western historians and biographers. In your opinion, how have these historians and authors been mistaken about Nicholas II?”

and . . . 

“In your view, why is the rehabilitation of the Tsar-Martyr Emperor Nicholas II by the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation so important for a proper understanding of Russian history?”

Her responses were indeed admirable, however, her refusal to acknowledge the open hostility and treachery of her ancestors towards Nicholas II, in which she remains defensive.

On 2nd September 2020, Maria Vladimirovna, stated the following on her web site:

“She [Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna] was critical of some aspects of the official political course, but she always retained her loyalty and love for Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna. She was subjected to slanderous persecution by the court intriguers, who sought to sow discord within the Imperial Family.”

Maria Vladimirovna’s attempt to whitewash the truth about her power hungry great-grandmother and her traitorous grandfather, eluding that she was the victim of “slanderous persecution” is utter nonsense! One cannot sweep history under the rug. Maria and her supporters do not want her ancestors exposed for what they are: traitors! Maria might just gain some respect if she simply spoke honestly, and admitted that her grandfather and great-grandmother were a rotten pair.

In addition, I like many others, believe that the Russian Imperial House ended with the death of Nicholas II, on 17th July 1918. The “Russian Imperial House” – as it exists today – consists of no more than two people: one, a woman who is Russian only because Yeltsin gave her family Russian passports, she failed Russian at Oxford University, and currently lives in Spain; her son, is a Hohenzollern prince and nothing more. Their claim to the now defunct Russian throne is disputed by many Russians.

© Paul Gilbert. 1 March 2021