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December, 17, 2004 - March, 1, 2005

The Assumption Belfry of the Moscow Kremlin

Organized by:
The Ministry of Culture and Mass Communications of the Russian Federation, The State Historical and Cultural Museum-Preserve “The Moscow Kremlin”

Sakkos of Patriarch FilaretExhibition in the Assumption Belfry of the Moscow Kremlin is devoted to the history of cultural relations of the Moscow state with Italian lands in the XVth-XVIIth centuries. More than 170 exhibits represent the early period of diplomatic, trade and cultural contacts of the Moscow state with Rome, Venice, Milan, Florence: from the 1472 arrival from Rome to Moscow of the last Byzantine Princess Sophia Paleologos to completing the Agreement of 1697 between the Venetian Republic and Russia against Turkey.

The events of the old XVth century reflected astonishing coincidence of the two countries' historical fortune. This period is displayed by the rarest monuments linked to the name of Sophia Fominichna, Great Moscow Princess, the wife of Prince Ivan III, i.e. the icon of Christ the Saviour, which, according to a legend,  had been brought from Rome, and was later on used for blessing last empresses of Russia, and reliquaries with fragments of Italic Christian holies. Thanks to the activity of Sophia Paleologos the Kremlin's reconstruction by Italian architects was started. In 2005, there will be the 530th Anniversary of the founding and construction of the Assumption Cathedral (1475-1479) by Bolonian maker Aristotle Fioravanti.  His name can be read in the original Sophian 2 Manuscript of the early XVIth century and on exhibited Russian coins. The Fioravanti was the one to create the main concept of the Kremlin citadel. Italian architects erected walls and towers, main churches and palaces of the Kremlin. That is why of particular interest are unique white-stone fragments of the original “Italian” decoration of the Kremlin constructions.

The key of the display is a unique collection of Italian artistic textiles of the XVI-XVIIth centuries from the collection of Moscow Kremlin Museums. Venice, Florence, Geneva were leaders in production of precious silk fabrics. At the Moscow Court they sewed ceremonial dresses for Russian rulers and vestments for the higher hierarchs which were carefully preserved in the Royal treasury and the Patriarch's Vestry in the Kremlin and were often remodeled as the fabrics were very expensive.   The key of the display are platno of Tsar Peter Alexeevich made of Venetian axamite and axamite velvet sakkos of Patriarch Adrian with weaved two-headed eagles and blue velvet kaftan (suit) of Patriarch Nikon.

The exhibition includes a ceremonial sepulchral portrait of Tsar Theodore Alexeevich and his father Tsar Alexis Mikhailovich of the XVIIth century. The Russian Tsars are depicted wearing ceremonial vestments of gold Venetian velvet.

The display is decorated with gorgeous items of applied art of the XIV-XVIIth centuries, rare exhibits of numismatics, ancient maps. For the first time  on display are Italian engravings of the XVIIth century with depiction of official ceremonials of Venice, Florence, Rome as well as original charters representing the character of Russo-Italian relations of the XVI-XVIIth centuries. Among the latter – the Pope bulla of 1582, addressed to Tsar Ivan IV.

The exhibition is participated by the Russian State Archive of Ancient Acts, the State History Museum, the State Schussev Scientific-Research Museum of Architecture, the State Russian Museum.