By Cynthia A. Drayton
Mikhail Romanov was crowned Czar in 1613. The Romanov family then ruled Russia for the next three hundred years until the 1917 assassination of Nicholas II. To mark the four hundredth anniversary of the Romanov’s ascension to the throne and the family’s patronage of both Fabergé and the decorative arts, there are exhibitions, an auction, and artworks for sale from California to Moscow.
Durnovo Casket, Firm of Ovchinnikov, Russia, 1889. Silver gilt, enamel and lapis lazuli at the Bowers Museum of Art, Santa Ana, CA. © Giovanni Lundardi Photography.
Portrait of Peter the Great by unknown Russian artist, 1717, at the State History Museum, Moscow. © State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg.
Enameled and silver gilt cigarette case by Fabergé, c. 1897.Purchased by Empress Alexandra and given to Nicholas II. Bonhams, London.
Imperial silver wine cooler engraved with the crown and monogram of Catherine the Great from the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, 1770. A La Vieille Russie, New York.
On the West Coast, the Bowers Museum of Art in Santa Ana, CA, hosts the traveling exhibition “The Tsars’ Cabinet: Two Hundred Years of Decorative Arts under the Romanovs” from June 8 to September 1. Organized by the Muscarelle Museum of Art at the College of William and Mary, one hundred and sixty objects, many from the
Kat hleen Durdin collection, are on display. Many of these objects were commissioned by Catherine the Great and Nicholas II and his wife Alexandra. While on the East Coast, the Hillwood Estate, Museum, and Gardens in Washington, DC, marks the anniversary with the exhibition, “Pageant of the Tsars: The Romanov Coronation Albums”through June 8th. Up north in Salem, MA, the Peabody Essex Museum opens “Fabergé Revealed: From the Collection of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts”on June 22. Fabergé is synomous with the Romanovs and until September 29th four imperial eggs made for the family are on display. Three more imperial Easter eggs can be seen at New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art where “Fabergé from the Matilda Geddings Gray Foundation” remains on view.
If you want to start a collection of decorative arts with a Romanov family provenance, a visit to the A La Vieille Russe gallery in New York City is in order. There is a silver-gilt presentation charger probably made for the coronation of Grand Duke Konstantin Pavlovich (1779-1831), the second son of Emperor Paul I and Czesarevich throughout the reign of his older brother Alexander. The coronation never took place since the Grand Duke secretly renounced his succession to the throne. If you prefer to collect silver, there are three caskets and a soap dish made for the dowry of the Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna, the eldest daugher o f Emperor Nicolas I, who married Maximilain, Duke of Leuchtenberg in 1839 and a wine cooler engraved with the monogram and crown of Catherine the Great from the Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg. Fabergé objects can also be found including miniature eggs, a bell push, a cigarette case, and a frame displaying photographs of Nicholas II and his son Alexei the Tsesarevich.
Bonhams London’s June 5 auction offers a jeweled Fabergé cigarette case purchased by Empress Alexandra Fedorovna and given to her husband Nicholas II to celebrate the birth of their daughter Grand Duchess Tatiana on May 29, 1897.
Amsterdam, London, and Moscow mark the 400th Romanov anniversary celebration with exhibitions. Moscow recognizes the anniversary with the exhibition “Romanov Dynasty: The First Romanov Tsars” at the State History Museum until June 30. The Victoria and Albert Museum in London celebrates 500 years of exchange between Britain and Russia in “Treasures of the Royal Courts: Tudors, Stuarts and the Russian Tsars” to July 14.
“Peter the Great, an Inspired Tsar” is on view at the Hermitage Museum in Amsterdam until September 13.
All of these events are a precursor to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, held from February 7 to 23, 2014, where all eyes will be focused on Russia.