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June, 24, – September, 13, 2015

Saint-Petersburg, The State Russian Museum, St. Michael's Castle

Organized by:
The Radishchev State Art Museum in Saratov, the Moscow Kremlin Museums

12# Tapestry portrait of Emperor Alexander IThe exhibition in the Radishchev State Art Museum is dedicated to the unique period of the Russian history which took almost 200 years. More than 170 masterpieces of Russian, West European and Eastern work of the XVIIIth – XIXth centuries are demonstrated there.

The represented monuments are of special historical and memorial significance apart from their high artistic value. Most of the exhibits come from the Imperial Ryust-Kamera, Court Office, Emperor’s chambers, Services store room of the Winter Palace, Kremlin cathedrals and the main collection of the Armoury Chamber.

The XVIIIth century marked the determinate and effective reforms of the army and weaponry as well as formation of the order system and building of the new country capital undertaken by Peter the Great. All these events are connected with the name of the first Russian Emperor.

The exposition starts with items reminding of reforms in the military sphere and arms productions, as well as the organization of new factories in Sestroretsk and Olonets instead of closed armory workshop of the Kremlin. There is a dirk of Peter I from the Preobrazhenskiy Palace, officer insignia, sword and mortar which appeared in the Russian army in the early XVIIIth century.

Just like in the XVIth – XVIIth centuries, hunting stayed one of the most popular entertainments at the court. There are impressive specimen of Russian and West European weapons exhibited, such as gorgeously decorated saddle pistols made in Tula, rifle from Petersburg, Bohemian carbine by constructor Leopold Becher and pistols by Turin, the court armoury master of Louis XIV of France.

The construction of the new capital with its palaces and celebrations required production of new household utensils, furniture and interior decorations. The exhibited tapestry portrait of Peter the Great was executed at that manufactory open in the newly built capital in 1717 after the decree of Peter I. Large, highly artistic pieces made of precious materials, such as the silver dish executed by the Moscow master Alexey Ratkov and presented to Catherine II by the citizens of Smolensk, were also used for interior decoration.

Special significance was given to such representative silver items as silver dinner sets which appeared in the XVIIIth century to serve as household utensils and were at the same time an evidence of the high status of the owner,. The exhibited Paris service is executed by Paris and Saint Petersburg silversmiths.

A group of precious jewelry pieces is demonstrated to relate the atmosphere of the court entertainments, amusements and balls of the gallant XVIIIth century. The exhibition represents toilet bags and watch on ribbon as well as snuffboxes , which were used not only for keeping snuff tobacco, becoming widespread in the XVIIIth century Russia inside, but also for nonverbal communications between ladies and cavaliers.

New administrative and territorial division of the country, which began in 1708 with the creation of provinces by Peter the Great, was continued by his successors. Radical reform in this area was undertaken by Catherine II. Representative silver tableware was executed by her order for delivery to provinces. The exhibition presents items from the Mitavskiy service by Saint Petersburg master N. Lund and the Kazan service by Parisian silversmith R.-J. Auguste.

A group of memorial silver pieces related to the development of Siberia in the XVIIIth century occupies the special place at the exposition. The exhibition includes the silver cup, presented to the Irkutsk voevode Larion Sinyavin by Peter I and a group of utensils made for the family of the Governor of Siberia D. I. Chicherin by masters from Tobolsk, a large silversmith center of the XVIIIth century Russia.

The beginning of the XIXth is inseparably linked with the name of Alexander I. It’s during his reign that the wars with Napoleon, primarily, the Patriotic war of 1812, have occurred. The exhibition presents his personal items – porcelain utensils made at the Imperial manufactories in Sèvres and Dagoty, France, presented to him by Napoleon on the occasion of the conclusion of the Tilsit peace treaty; combatant arms used during the war of 1812; the memorial plaque with the text of the Manifesto of the Holy Alliance. Some skillfully executed weapons represented at the exhibition are produced at the factories in Izhevsk and Zlatoust, opened during the reign of Alexander I.

Moscow, destroyed by the enemy invaders, needed restoration. The process of building begun during the reign of Alexander I and continued under Nicholas I. Construction of the Grand Kremlin Palace, the part of which the new building of the Armoury Chamber is, was of a special importance. This section of the exhibition is represented by the keys to the Spasskie (Saviour) and Borovitskiye gates of the Kremlin with the monogram of Nicholas I, as well as the new porcelain set made at the Imperial porcelain factory for the new Palace and tapestry produced at the Petersburg Imperial Tapestry Manufactory to serve as decoration for one of the rooms.

There is also a group of exhibits illustrating the formation of the Russian award system. Apart from the Russian orders and insignia, it includes items connected to the award system, such as the granted bucket, sabre and award arms of the XIXth century.

The concluding section of the exhibition is dedicated to the coronations of the Russian monarchs. It presents unique items reflecting the traditions respected during these celebrations which usually lasted for several days.

 
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