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2 December 2016 – 31 March 2017

Saint Petersburg, The State Russian Museum

Organized by
The State Russian Museum

The Moscow Kremlin Museums participate in the exhibition at the State Russian Museum dedicated to Empress Elizabeth Petrovna’s reign – the epoch when Russian culture flourished. The new ideas, such as collecting the art pieces penetrated into Russian culture in the 18th century owing to Peter the Great and continued expanding and achieved high development level during his daughter’s reign.

The exhibition presents more than one hundred fifty artworks created during the reign of Empress Elizabeth. At the exhibition’s core are works by the German painter Georg Christoph Grooth – one of the most prominent representatives of the rossika art, which is a pleiad of foreign artists who worked in Russia in the 18th century.

For this exhibition the Moscow Kremlin Museums loaned three precious snuffboxes and a tin bas-relief. The bas-relief was made by Bartolomeo Carlo Rastrelli, the most famous sculptor of the 18th century, who was entrusted with especially important commissions by the Russian Imperial court, including portraits of the monarchs starting from Peter I. It is not surprising that after the enthronement of Empress Elizabeth, it was Rastrelli who was commissioned to make twin tondo relief portraits of the customer and her father Peter the Great.

The golden snuffbox decorated with a diamond monogram of Empress Elizabeth was created by a renowned St. Petersburg jeweller Jean-Pierre Ador in 1784 by request of Count Pyotr Borisovich Sheremetev. The inside of the hinged cover is adorned with a portrait of Elizabeth Petrovna, which was probably granted to Count Sheremetev and which he kept for a long time.

There is a connection with the Sheremetev family when it comes to another gold snuffbox on display. It was made in 1757-1758 by the French jeweller Jean Georges who managed to distinguish delicately the empress’ portrait on the cover and keep the unity and harmony of the décor.

The third snuffbox was executed to commemorate the significant victory of the combined allied army of Russians and Austrians under the command of Count Saltykov over the Prussian King Frederic II at the Battle of Kunersdorf in 1759. The snuffbox’s cover is adorned with the depiction of the final moment of the battle, while its inside presents a portrait of Empress Elizabeth surrounded by the inscription: “God save Elizabeth the First Empress of All Russia”.

In the mid 18th century Russia, such granted snuffboxes with a portrait of the ruler were considered to be a great reward, sometimes exceeding the orders in its value.