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After the tragic death of Alexander II, the government had been delaying the coronation of his successor for two years. On 24 January 1883, a decree establishing the coronation commission was signed, and on 27 March there was approved the ceremonial public transfer of the coronation regalia from the Brilliant apartment of the Winter Palace to the Armoury Chamber.

On 8 May 1883, the square before the Smolensky railway station was crowded with people in festive attires. On the platform, the ceremonial guard from the Leib-guard of His Majesty’s cavalry guard regiment greeted the Emperor. Together with his spouse and followed by the retinue, the Emperor moved in the open carriage towards the Petrovsky Palace.

The monarch’s solemn entry to the ancient capital took place on 10 May 1883. The buildings along the cortege’s way were decorated with state and national coats of arms and flower garlands. The white horse was prepared for the sovereign, the heir Tsesarevich Nikolay Alexandrovich also rode a horse, and Grand Prince Georgy Alexandrovich aged 12 rode a pony. The ceremonial carriage of the Empress was drawn by white horses in gold harnesses. The procession moved along Tverskaya Street under the unceasing ‘hurrah’ shouts. The gendarmes opened it; the Emperor's convoy and dragoons of the Pskov regiment followed them.  Thereafter went: master of ceremonies, deputies of Asian nations subject to Russia, Moscow nobility, chamber lackeys, outrunners, hunters and blackamoors in oriental attires. On Cathedral Square, the Emperor with his spouse entered the freshly-restored Assumption Cathedral. Having visited the Archangel and Annunciation Cathedrals, the sovereign entered the Kremlin Palace to the peal of bells.

On 11 May, the mid-Pentecost, the Emperor with his spouse and sons was present at the consecration of the new Banner of State in the Trophy Hall of the Armoury Chamber. Then, he headed to the Throne Hall to observe the imperial regalia.

The next morning, the court clergy consecrated the Faceted Chamber, the wall painting of which was reconstructed upon the Emperor’s order by the Belousovs brothers, peasants of the Paleh village. At midday, the repetition of the coronation procession was held there. At that time, all around Moscow, the heralds read out loud the coronation announcements, throwing them in bunches to the crowd. On 14 May, the regalia were solemnly transferred from the Armoury Chamber to the Grand Kremlin Palace.

At the dawn of 15 May, the streets and embankments in the city centre were crowded with pedestrians and carriages that moved to different gates of the Kremlin, which opened at 9 a.m. and allowed entry by tickets only. By 7 a.m., Russian and foreign correspondents arrived at the cathedral to observe the ceremony. The select circle located itself on the roofed stands. When the Emperor appeared on the Red Porch, the loud ‘hurrah’ resounded. The sovereign in general’s uniform with adjutant-general’s aiguillette bowed friendly right and left.  By the hand, he led the Empress, who was wearing ‘a white glazet dress, luxurious by its simplicity and grace’. Having entered the Assumption Cathedral, Their Majesties came close to the Royal Doors and ‘bowed three times before the Lord’.

The mantles, laid on the Emperor and the Empress, differed from all previous. Instead of numerous coats of arms, they had one big, made after the drawing of artist A. Lehmann and sewn on each mantle. When the metropolitans passed the crown to the Emperor, ‘the sovereign took it with the firm hands and with unhurried, calm, and smooth movement put it o his head’. Adjutant-General Count E.T. Baranov handed him the sceptre, and Count P. A. Valuev – the orb. The Empress knelt before the Emperor and he laid a Minor Crown on her head, then - the purple mantle, and the chain of the Order of St Andrew the First-Called. After that, the Emperor and Empress sat on ‘the ancestors’ thrones’. Alexander III sat on the throne of Tsar Mikhail Fyodorovich, and Maria Fyorovna - on the throne of Tsar Alexey Mikhailovich. To the peal of bells and ‘hurrah’ shouts, the procession went out of the Assumption Cathedral.  

A ceremonial dinner started at about 3 p.m. in the Faceted Chamber. Five tables for 59 guests were served out with ‘the historical tableware of the Armoury Chamber and new precious sets’.

In the evening, the illumination lit up. Its project was prepared by the famous inventor and military engineer of the Grand Kremlin Palace M.P. Fabritsius with artist Boitsov assisting: ‘It was not an illumination, but a heavenly sign: the Kremlin shining, the Kremlin radiant. Above the grandiose palace of crowned Emperor, a fiery crown was hanging in the air’.

The next two days in the St Andrew’s Hall of the Grand Kremlin Palace, marshals of the provinces’ nobility and heads of the volosts congratulated the imperial couple. In the morning on 21 May, the imperial family headed to the Khodynskoe field for public celebrations.

On 27 May, in the St Alexander’s Hall of the Grand Kremlin Palace, the farewell dinner was held for the Moscow authorities. The Emperor thanked them for the brilliant organization of the coronation festivities. The next day, Their Majesties left Moscow, where they had stayed for 21 days.

01# Портрет императора Александра III


Russia, the 1890s.

Oil on canvas.

Alexander III is depicted in general’s uniform with retinue epaulettes and the monogram of Emperor Alexander II. Badges of numerous Orders are on his chest. The exposed portrait was painted by N. G. Shilder after the photograph, made in the atelier of S.L. Levitsky in the late 1880-ies. S.L. Levitsky was a master of photography who achieved all European recognition.  Besides, he was awarded the rank of Their Majesties’ photographer and created the photo portrait, which pleased the Emperor and became the iconographic standard for further pictorial reproductions. As a result, N. G. Shilder created the memorable image of Alexander III, filled with inner significance. Alexander III had always left an indelible impression on his contemporaries without regard to their social status. The aura of a native Russian tsar that had formed around Alexander found support in the cultural policy of this monarch. To strengthen the national identity of his rule, he drew the incentives not in the imperial period of Russian history, but in the epoch of the first Romanovs. The ancient heritage of the native culture, which had been actively revived, determined the form of Alexander III’s personality, making it monumental in the art of his time – from the image of epic bogatyr in the sculpture after P.P. Trubetskoy to the ideal of Father the Tsar, close to people’s perception, in the paintings of I.E. Repin.

Коронационный мундир императора Александра III.


Saint-Petersburg, tailor of His Imperial Majesty F. Rauzer, 1883.

Cloth, reps, cashmere, gold threads, spangles, metal; weaving, needlework.

During the coronation on 15 May 1883, Emperor Alexander III was wearing a military uniform. When the festivities were over, the Armoury Chamber received only the uniform, without epaulettes and Orders. The general’s uniform was sewn of dark green cloth with a stand-collar, red-coloured cuffs and welts, deep fold and sunk buttons. By the design, it reminds the national clothing – a zipun (homespun coat). At Emperor’s behest, the design of the Russian army’s military uniform was brought most closely to the Russian national costume. Despite the usability of the new uniform, its ‘gloomy simplicity’ and ‘peasants’ style caused negative attitude among the officers. There is a vertical through placketing on the chest, the use of which became clear thanks to the note of Grand Prince Konstantin Konstantinovich Romanov in his diary. Talking with him on the coronation eve, Emperor Nicholas II remembered ‘how hard it was for Pobedonostsev to persuade the late Emperor to make the placketing on the uniform for the anointing ceremony’. In Russia, it happened for the first time, probably, due to the specific design of the uniform. However, in world practice, such cases had occured: coronation attires of French Kings Louis XV and Louis XVI had the placketing for the anointment.

Подушки для регалий


Moscow, 1883, upholstery master I. Vasiliev; Smooth gilded brocade — ‘A.& V. Sapozhnikovs’ firm.

Smooth gilded brocade, fringe, cord, tassels andsuede; weaving, braiding.

To underline the attitude to the imperial regalia as relics, no one was allowed to touch them, except the Emperor himself or the priests.  In the course of the procession, the highest hierarchs with assistants transferred the regalia on the cushions, traditionally made of the silver gilded smooth brocade and decorated with fringe and tassels. The same cushions served to place the regalia on the table in the Assumption Cathedral and then to pass them to the Emperor. The exposed cushions were used for the crown, the ribbon of the Order of St Andrew the First-Called and the Seal of State. These cushions, made of the smooth gilded brocade for the coronation of Emperor Alexander III and ordered in ‘A. & V. Sapozhnikovs’ firm, were decorated with three-coloured ‘heraldic’ cord, fringe and tassels. Ivan Vasiliev, the court upholsterer, was put in charge of the production of eight coronation cushions for the regalia.  For the second time, they were used during the coronation of Emperor Nicholas II. After that, they were returned for keeping in the Armoury Chamber.

Настольник под регалии


Russia, 1883; brocade — Moscow, ‘A.& V. Sapozhnikovs’ firm.

Brocade, silk, gildedfringe and tassels; weaving, braiding.

The gorgeous cloth for the regalia table was made of the patterned brocade, produced by ‘A. & V. Sapozhnikovs’ firm. It was created for the coronation of Emperor Alexander III and secondly used during the coronation of Emperor Nicholas II. Along the edges, the cloth is covered with a braid and large gilded fringe, at the corners there are massive gilded tassels.

An ornament with fancy cartouches is weaved following the fabric’s pattern against the crimson background. The cartouches are filled in with arabesques, made with gilded thread. The cloth was used to cover the regalia table in the St. Andrew’s Hall of the Grand Kremlin Palace, and also during the official reception of the congratulatory delegations. 



Russia, early 1880s.

Glazet, silk, gilded thread; weaving, needlework.

The aer made of the gilded glazet is a part of the liturgical set that originates from the Assumption Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin. In the centre, there is an embroidered four-pointed equal-sided cross with rays, on the borders – the stylized ornament with floral motifs. The embroidery is made of different gilded threads, gilded lace, gilded spangles and decorative pierced metal plates. The contours are outlined by a silk brown cord; the openwork net is in the details of the ornament. The borders are covered with the fringe of the gilded gimp. The liturgical set of the aer and two palls was most possibly created for the coronation of Emperor Alexander III.



Russia, early 1880s.

Glazet, silk, gilded thread; weaving, needlework.

Four-pointed openwork cross with the rays is embroidered in the centre piece of the pall, which belongs to the liturgical set from the Assumption Cathedral. A wide broad stripe outlines the centrepiece. A stylized ornament with floral motifs is embroidered on four ends. The central part of the composition is made using the openwork pattern. The embroidery is made of different gilded threads, gilded lace, gilded spangles and decorative pierced metal plates. The contours are outlined by a silk brown cord; the openwork net is in the details of the ornament. The borders are covered with the fringe of the gilded gimp. The liturgical set of the aer and two palls was most possibly created for the coronation of Emperor Alexander III.



Russia, 1883; brocade – Moscow, ‘A.& V. Sapozhnikovs’ firm.

Brocade, glazet, silk, gilt threads, galloon, golden thread, silver; weaving, needlework.

The sticharion is a liturgical vestment of a deacon. It is made of the gilded brocade that imitates one of the most expensive fabrics of the 17th century – the Italian samite. The sticharion was created for the coronation of Emperor Alexander III in Kremlin in 1883. The direct sample for the fabric’s pattern was the ornament of the 17th-century chasuble from the sanctuary of the Annunciation Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin. Such a choice was not accidental. Emperor Alexander III is known to have been interested in national history, archaeology and art history. Having been yet heir to the throne, he had visited the Patriarch’s sanctuary and sanctuaries of the Kremlin cathedrals many times.  We can not eliminate the possibility that he had chosen the pattern for the coronation vestments in the sanctuary of the Annunciation Cathedral himself. In the painting after G. Bekker ‘Coronation of Emperor Alexander III and Empress Maria Fyodorovna’, one can clearly see two figures of deacons, wearing similar sticharions. The order to produce the ceremonial liturgical vestments for the coronation was placed in ‘A. & V. Sapozhnikovs’ firm, while it specialized in the production of brocade fabrics in a ‘historicism’ style. The fact that Sapozhnikovs’ factory had never adopted foreign patterns was another reason to choose the firm. To support and maintain this style, the owners assigned money for prizes to the winners of special exhibitions, held in the Stroganov Academy.

Далматик коронационного герольда


Russia, 1883.

Fabrics - Moscow, ‘A.& V. Sapozhnikovs’ firm, embroidery — Saint-Petersburg, ‘A. Loman’ gold embroidery shop; hat — Saint-Petersburg, ‘Bruno Frères’ hat atelier, 1883.

Smooth gilt brocade, galloon, fringe, weaving, needlework.

Preparing for the coronation of Emperor Alexander II, Baron B. K. von Koehne offered a sketch of a costume for the coronation herald, based on the heraldic colours of the Empire: gold (yellow), silver (white) and black. The sketch was approved and even though the heralds’ costumes were then renewed for the next two coronations, the principal decision remained the same. Produced for the coronation of Alexander III, the dalmatic is made of smooth gilded brocade, ordered in ‘A. & V. Sapozhnikovs’ firm. The firm was one of the leading textile factories in Russia in the late 19th – early 20th centuries. Its main product was the heavy brocade fabrics, which were distinguished by their premium quality and brought the firm world prominence. The images of the Minor State Coat of Arms, embroidered after the approved drawing of artist A. A. Fadeev, are placed on the chest, back and shoulders. Three-coloured pantaloons and a satin and moiré beshmet decorated with the gilded galloon were worn under the dalmatic.

Шляпа и перчатки  коронационного герольда


Saint-Petersburg, ‘Bruno Frères’ hat atelier, 1883. Satin, velvet, galloon, weaving. GlovesRussia, 'Morisson Alphonse Berny Successeur Gantier de Paris’ firm, 1883.

Gilt fringe, suede, gilt threads; needlework.

The costume of the coronation herald, made for the coronation of Alexander III, wascomplemented by the kid gloves with the monogram of Emperor Alexander III and velvet ‘musketeer’ hat, decorated with ostrich feathers, gilded galloon and tassels.


Коронационное платье императрицы Марии Федоровны


Russia, 1883.Brocade — Moscow, ‘A.& V. Sapozhnikovs’ firm; cutout, needlework — Saint-Petersburg, Izambard Chancean’ firm; embroidery — Saint-Petersburg, ‘A. Loman’ gold embroidery shop.

Brocade, silk, silk ribbons, gauze, silver thread; weaving, needlework.

Starting from the 19th century, the coronation dresses of Russian empresses were designed solely in the national ‘Russian’ style. Such dresses, introduced at the Russian court in 1834 as an obligatory ceremonial uniform, were called ‘the trains’ or ‘the sarafans’ and reminded ‘the franchised sarafan’ as the contemporary wrote. An example of the coronation ‘sarafan’ is the dress of Empress Maria Fyodorovna, the spouse of Emperor Alexander III. The silver brocade for the empress’s dress was ordered in Moscow, in ‘A. & V. Sapozhnikovs’ firm – one of the leading textile firms in Russia of the late 19th – early 20th centuries. This dress was sewn in the fashion house ‘Izambard Chancean’, and the luxurious ornamental silver embroidery that covers almost the whole dress was made in ‘A. Loman’ gold embroidery shop. After the coronation, the Armoury Chamber received together with the dress the white silk openwork stockings with embroidered initials of Maria Fyodorovna, white kid gloves and shoes of silver glazet with figured heel and lacy bow on the arch, which preserved the mark ‘Alexey Egorov. Moscow’

Жетон в память коронации императора Александра III


Saint-Petersburg mint, 1883.

Silver; chasing.

On the obverse, there are monograms of Emperor Alexander III andEmpress Maria Fyodorovna under the imperial crown. Along the edge, there is an inscription: LORD/WITH US. On the reverse, there is an inscription under the imperial crown: CROWNED/IN MOSCOW/1883. The counter came from the Archives in 1883.



Western Europe, the 16th – 17th cc.

Аgate, silver; chasing, casting, pouncing, gilding.

An exquisite salter of red-grey agate in silver gilded frame consists of the shallow bowl for salt and a lid, upraised above it on three ringlets. In the course of coronation events, the dinner in the Faceted Chamber on the main ceremonial day had a special symbolic meaning. During the meal on 15 May 1883, this salter from the storages of the Armoury Chamber was prepared for Emperor Alexander III. Such choice was not accidental. Yet from the Middle Ages, when salt used to be rare and expensive product, the salter had taken one of the main places on the served ceremonial table as a symbol of wealth and high status in the society. In 1883, this salter was thought to have been a gift from English merchant and diplomat, known in Russia under the name of Thomas Rytsarev. He presented it to the son of Tsar Mikhail Fyodorovich, Tsarevich Ivan Mikhailovich in 1663.

Рукомойный кувшин «Лев»


Hamburg, 1671—1673ss.

Master Jürgen RichelsSilver; chasing, casting, pouncing, gilding.

Danish King Christian IV sent this ewer among other ambassadorial gifts to Tsar Mikhail Fyodorovich in 1644. It was presented by Prince Valdemar during the audience in the Faceted Chamber. The prince arrived in Moscow to enter into dynastical marriage with Tsarevna Irina, daughter of Tsar Mikhail Fyodorovich. The parties did not come to an agreement. However, the gifts brought for the Russian monarch remained in the Kremlin treasury. Figured vessels were usually exposed as decorative sculptures in the palace interiors or on special stands. But on a few special occasions, they were used as intended – when the ‘sweet’ tables were served at the Russian court. All kinds of confections – candied and usual fruit, sweets and syrup - were served in dishes and vases. Sweet wines were served in figured vessels. The Danish diplomats, who had chosen the gifts, must have known about this tradition as they brought the ewers in the form of a crane and a deer, a bunch of grapes and a large amount of font-shaped cups. In the photograph of 1883(?), six gifts from Danemark embellish the stand in the Armoury Chamber.



Hamburg, 1688—1691ss.

Master Heinrich EichhoffSilver; chasing, casting, engraving, gilding.

In Europe, such type of silverware was widely spread and known as a tankard for beer or ale. There is no tankard on the images of the stand and ceremonial tables in the 17th c. Only in the photograph of 1883, one can see on the stand two tankards with engraved floral ornament. In the collection of the Armoury Chamber, just two tankards among eleven made by Eichhoff have a similar design. Probably, these very tankards were shown in the photograph of 1883 but it is also possible that the exposed tankards were created by famous silversmith Jürgen Richels from Hamburg. They are similar in size and design to the works of Eichhoff. 

Меню коронационного обеда в Александровском зале Большого Кремлевского дворца 27 мая 1883 года (по рисунку В.М.Васнецова)


Saint-Petersburg, ‘A.A. Iliin’ maps publishers; Moscow, printing-house of M.I. Jeiburger (?), 1883.

Cardboard; chromolithography.

The Old Russian rider in the armour, with a shield and a flanged mace in his hands, and standing boyar with a charter in his right hand are depicted on the sheet of the coronation dinner menu with the Moscow Kremlin as the backdrop. Three shields are placed under them: the left shield with the two-headed eagle under the Orthodox cross, the middle shield with the monograms of Emperor Alexander III and Empress Maria Fyodorovna, and the right shield with the coat of arms of the House of Romanovs. Close to the shields, there are samples of Russian weapons. The composition is framed with a foliage pattern on three sides. Its lower part and the right field are decorated with floral motifs, adopted from the Old Russian books. At the top of the right field, there is a date – 1883; the image of the Monomakh’s cap is under it, and the menu’s text is below.

Блюдо для поднесения хлеба и соли


Moscow, 1882.

Silver; casting, champlevé enamel, gilding. 

Similar dishes, made of precious metals, porcelain, glasses and wood, were used to present bread and salt to the imperial family on the occasion of coronation, solemn meetings and jubilee dates. This dish was presented to Emperor Alexander III on the coronation day of 15 May 1883 by the Tobolsk city council, which is proved by the monogram on one of the  decorative enamel plaques and the inscription along its edge. The dish’s bottom is decorated with the enamel image of Ermak’s banner, which used to be the most valuable historical and military relic of the Berezov’s cathedral, where it had been preserved up to 1883. Berezov is the chief town of Tobolsk province. Legend has it that this banner was fluttering above the army of the renowned Cossaсks' ataman, who had put Khan Kuchum and his army to flight.  At a later date, the image of this banner became the symbol of the Cossaсk army’s victories and Siberia’s conquest in the 16th century. The other plaques depict the Tobolsk coat of arms and images that symbolize the main occupation of the locals – fishing and wheat cultivating.