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March, 09 - July, 14, 2013

Great Britain, London, the Victoria and Albert Museum

Organized by:
Victoria and Albert Museum with the participation of the Moscow Kremlin Museums

Decorative vessel in the form of a leopardThe exhibition, being held by the Victoria and Albert Museum, reveals the history of the diplomatic and cultural relations between Russia and Britain, which have been developed since 1555, when the English trading company, also called the Muscovy company, has been chartered to have a monopoly on trade between the two countries.

The exposition permits to experience the majesty of the royal courts from Henry VIII to Charles II and from Ivan the Terrible to the early Romanovs through more than 150 magnificent objects, including ceremonial armour and heraldry, portraits, precious fabrics, delicate vestments, jewellery masterpieces, pieces of interior decoration of that epoch.

Most part of the exposed articles is from the Victoria and Albert Museum's collection. The project was supported by other British museums, i.e. the National Portrait Gallery of London, National Maritime Museum of Greenwich, the Royal Collection and Arsenal. Some precious articles were derived from the famous Russian museums, the State Historical museum and the Moscow Kremlin Museums in particular.

The exhibition explores political and cultural interactions between the British kings and their contemporaries – tsars and officials – from the time of Henry VIII to the epoch of Charles II (1685), when the English monarchy has been restored after the revolution, and diplomatic relations with Russia have been re-established. The exposition is to present the most distinguished figures of the period – the monarchs, diplomats, merchants, courtiers – through delicate portraits and miniatures by court artists.

Over 30 unique items of the XVth-XVIIIth centuries are on exclusive loan from the Moscow Kremlin Museums in celebration of 500 years of Anglo-Russian exchange. The collection, including precious tableware, arms, portraits, is remarkable for the artworks by English and French silversmiths, related to the late Tudors and early Stuarts years. Many exposed items served as ambassadorial gifts, brought by the Britain's representatives to the Russian court.

The project, timed to the 400th Anniversary of the Romanov House, is a result of the close collaboration between the two world-famous museums in Russia and Great Britain within the cultural exchange programme.