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12 September 2023 – 14 January 2024

Vladivostok city, Vladimir K. Arseniev Museum of Far East History

Organized by:

The Moscow Kremlin Museums, Vladimir K. Arseniev Museum of Far East History


The Moscow Kremlin Museums 


Memory of Azov Easter Egg

The Moscow Kremlin Museums and Vladimir K. Arseniev Museum of Far East History present the fifth joint exhibition in a series of large-scale projects introducing Vladivostok residents and guests to remarkable works from the collection of one of Russia's oldest museums. Dedicated to the theme of the sea and its interpretation in the art of Russian, West-European and Oriental masters from the 16th to the 21st centuries, the exhibition introduces exceptional works of icon painting, jewellery, artistic embroidery, pieces made of rare and exotic materials, samples of cold arms, and medals. Some of them are exhibited for the first time.

The opening section of the exhibition is dedicated to the sea elements, which for centuries inspired artists from different countries, providing them with an inexhaustible source of subjects, images and decorative motifs. This interest is particularly evident in the design of silverware, ceremonial weapons and fabrics decorated with images of sailing ships, dolphins, shells and fantastic sea creatures. The development of diplomatic relations and the strengthening of the country's position on the international stage in the 17th century allowed these precious objects to accumulate in the royal treasury, owing to purchases and gifts from foreign monarchs. The exhibition showcases works made by craftsmen from the major maritime powers of the time – England and Holland, as well as works from the leading German silversmiths' centres.

The development of navigation and the exploration of new lands in the Age of the Great Geographical Discoveries helped to acquaint Europeans with previously unknown specimens of flora and fauna, and created a powerful wave of interest in rare natural materials such as nautilus shells, mother-of-pearl, corals and turtle shells. It was believed that objects made from these materials would protect against disease and have healing properties. In ancient Russia, the treasures of the sea were used to create various pieces of art for both secular and religious purposes. One of the most popular materials in the 17th-19th centuries was pearl, which was used to embellishgarments and accessories, liturgical vestments and temple décor. In addition to creations of the old masters, the exhibition also features works of outstanding contemporary jewellery designers.

The semantic centre of the exhibition is the Easter egg with a miniature model of the cruiser "Memory of Azov", created in Saint Petersburg by the famous Carl Fabergé Firm at the request of Emperor Alexander III as a gift for his wife, Empress Maria Fyodorovna. Like many other Imperial Easter gifts, it was dedicated to an important event – the long sea voyage of the heir to the throne, Tsesarevich Nikolai Alexandrovich, across the countries of the Far East, which he undertook on the cruiser "Memory of Azov". That distant and remarkable trip, which lasted nine and a half months, ended on 11 May 1891 with his arrival in Vladivostok, where the future emperor was solemnly received by representatives of the city administration. His visit to the Primorye part of the Far East was marked by several important events, the greatest of which was the start of the construction of the Trans-Siberian Railway, linking the European and Asian parts of the Russian Empire and stimulated the unprecedented development of Siberia, Trans-Baikal and the Far East regions.

The last part of the exhibition tells about the glorious pages of the history of the Russian Navy, about the victories and heroic deeds of Russian sailors, which are reflected in commemorative and award medals, samples of combat and award weapons, memorial jewellery. One of the earliest exhibits is a unique hunting sword from Peter the Great's Preobrazhensky Palace, which may have belonged to the emperor himself. Medals to the participants of the Battle of Chesmen, the Russo-Japanese War, including the Battle of Chemulpo, and the Soviet naval orders in honour of Admirals F. Ushakov and P. Nakhimov remind of heroism and valour of Russian sailors. Commemorative medals from the second half of the 20th century, dedicated to the history of navigation in Arctic waters and the creation of one of the world's first nuclear-powered icebreakers, represent successes in the exploration of new sea routes. These artefacts are tangible evidence of the long and heroic path of the Russian Navy for more than three centuries.