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8 September 2023 – 3 March 2024

Khabarovsk Regional Museum named after N.I. Grodekov

Organized by:

The Moscow Kremlin Museums, Khabarovsk Regional Museum named after N.I. Grodekov

Participants:

The Moscow Kremlin Museums

 

Painting “Portrait of Emperor Alexander II”

Exhibition from the Moscow Kremlin Museums’ collection at the Khabarovsk Regional Museum named after N.I. Grodekov is dedicated to Emperor Alexander II, whose reign (1855-1881) has a special significance for the Amur region. The demarcation of the Russian-Chinese border, the development of Eastern Siberia, and the founding of a number of cities mark that period. The city of Khabarovsk, which celebrates its 165th anniversary in 2023, is one of them.

Emperor Alexander II made it into Russian history as the tsar-liberator and reformer. The changes he made had an impact on all aspects of society. His reign was a period of great reforms, the most important of which was the abolition of serfdom.

Fifty-six pieces from the Moscow Kremlin Museums’ collection illustrate various aspects of life and work of the Emperor. You can see both the personal belongings of Alexander II and artefacts commemorating key events in the Russian history, many of which are being shown to the public for the first time.

Important events in life of the Emperor are connected with the Moscow Kremlin – he was born and crowned there. Graphic works depict the Nicholas Palace, where the eldest son of Grand Prince Nikolai Pavlovich and Grand Princess Alexandra Fyodorovna was born on 17 (29) April 1818, as well as the coronation celebrations and the design of the memorial complex erected in memory of Emperor Alexander II, which has not survived to the present day.

The story of the heir's growth and his marriage to Maria Alexandrovna is told through various works of art, including portraits.

The central section of the exhibition is devoted to the coronation of Emperor Alexander II, who ascended the throne on 19 February (3 March) 1855. Ceremonial horse harness from the Kremlin collection brightened the solemn entry of the Emperor and his convoy into Moscow on 17 (29) August 1856. The uniform worn by Alexander II on the day of his coronation, which took place on 26 August (7 September) 1856 in the Assumption Cathedral, is of exceptional historical value. In the manifesto issued on that occasion, the Emperor proclaimed his goal to ensure the welfare of the Fatherland and to follow the precepts of his predecessors.

One of the first foreign policy steps taken by Alexander II was the Treaty of Aigun, signed in 1858. The treaty set the border between the Russian and Chinese empires, which had been left unsettled by the Treaty of Nerchinsk in 1689. The peaceful settlement of relations with the Qing Empire was the final stage in the joining of the lands of the vast region discovered and developed by the Russian people in the 17th-19th centuries, as demonstrated by a group of artworks on display.

The consolidation of territories in the Far East, achieved through diplomacy, and then the expansion through the territories of the Caucasus and Central Asia were important stages in the history of the Russian Empire. Various types of cold and firearms, including those presented, were witnesses of glorious deeds and victories. Remarkable examples of arms made by skilled gunsmiths are part of the exhibition.

The monarch consistently carried out changes in all areas of state and social life, i.e. administrative, judicial, financial, and educational. The most important milestones of the Emperor's life and reign are depicted on the commemorative medals. In 1861, on the regular anniversary of his accession to the throne, Alexander II signed the "Regulations on Peasants Freed from Serfdom", after which his contemporaries called him the tsar-liberator. In 1911, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the reform, a jubilee encyclopaedia was published, in which the authors comprehensively examined the problems of the peasant question. A copy of this work is on view.

The reforms initiated in the country have excited Russian society. Some welcomed them with joy, while others were indignant to see the centuries-old foundations crumbling. In 1866-1881, there was a series of terrorist attacks on Alexander II. The Emperor was mortally wounded on 1 (13) March 1881 on the embankment of the Catherine Canal in St Petersburg. In the pocket of the Emperor's coat was a handkerchief, now kept in the Moscow Kremlin Museums in a case with an inscription about this tragedy. Visitors will have a unique chance to see this historical relic.

The exhibition is an opportunity to better understand the multifaceted character of Emperor Alexander II, who was called by destiny to the highest duties, as well as to gain new knowledge about important pages of Russian history during his reign.

 
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