23 August 2019 – 08 November 2019

China, Beijing, Palace Museum (Gugong)

Organised by

the Moscow Kremlin Museums and the Palace Museum

Participant:
The Moscow Kremlin Museums

  

MedalThe exhibition “Russian Court Ceremony” is a part of the bilateral cultural project realized by two world-known museums —the Palace Museum (Beijing) and the Moscow Kremlin Museums. It is dedicated to the 70th Anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Russia and China celebrated this year. The first part of the project is the exhibition entitled “Treasures from the Palace Museum: The Flourishing of China in the 18th Century”, presenting pieces from the collection of the Palace Museum in the Moscow Kremlin which is due to open this spring.

On display in Beijing will be the most significant part of the collection of the Kremlin Museums. It comprises State regalia, coronation garments of the monarchs, luxurious decorations for ceremonial departures and processions, for sacred rites and congratulatory audiences with the monarchs. It allows reconstructing a majestic atmosphere of court ceremonies in the Russian Empire, which splendour became a legend.

It is for the first time that the Moscow Kremlins Museums give such a great amount of pieces from its collection abroad. One hundred fifty pieces reveal the significance of each step and rite in a series of ceremonies connected with the enthronement of the Russian monarch in the 18th-19th centuries. Visitors will familiarize with art pieces made by the best painters, engravers, photographers, jewellers, medallists, weavers, tailors and embroideresses, executing orders of the Russian Imperial court. It is notable that the considerable part of the exhibits is shown for the first time.

Ceremonial horse harness gives an opportunity to imagine the Emperor’s solemn arrival to Moscow. A luxurious herald’s suite, an embroidered cloth from a coronation canopy, brocaded cushions for the State regalia demonstrate the sumptuous procession to the Assumption Cathedral, where sacramental rites concerning the sovereign’s accession to the throne were traditionally performed. The engravings illustrate precious thrones which were transferred to the Cathedral from the Armoury Chamber especially for the ceremony. Throne cushions embroidered with the monograms of Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna adorn the exhibition. Coronation uniforms and portraits of Emperors Alexander II and Alexander III, and a tapestry portrait of Peter the Great, the founder of the Empire will be on display as well. Peter the Great himself contributed to the development of a number of original Imperial ceremonials. The State regalia kept in the Armoury Chamber are presented by watercolour paintings. Among the highlights of the exhibition is the Imperial mantle of gold brocade, belonging to Empress Maria Alexandrovna, as well as the Chain and the Badge of the Order of St Andrew the First-Called — the highest insignia in the Russian Empire.

Another key piece is a magnificent brocaded carpet, which was spread out during the anointment of Empress Catherine II, archdeacon’s vestments and liturgical vessels. The painting “Coronation of Empress Catherine II in the Kremlin Assumption Cathedral” illustrates the solemn ceremony. The photograph of 1896 depicts the procession with Nicholas II going with the canopy above him to the Archangel Cathedral after the coronation. Finally, visitors will see commemorative gold and silver coins, which traditionally were thrown into the crowd.

Special attention was also paid to a gala feast held at the Faceted Chamber after the enthronement ceremony. One can admire antique silver vessels and items from the ‘Kremlin’ porcelain service.

Over the next few days, the Emperor and the Empress were taking congratulations at the St Andrew Hall of the Grand Kremlin Palace. Precious dishes, saltcellars and embroidered towels, commissioned especially for the event, give insight into the tradition of meeting the monarch with bread and salt.

The last section, telling about dinners, festivals and balls, reveals the variety of celebratory events accompanying congratulatory audiences of a new monarch. It presents samples from a luxurious silver service, ordered in France by Empress Catherine II, a full dinner menu created by a famous Russian painter Vassily Vasnetsov, court full dresses, precious jewellery studded with diamonds, and gorgeous laces of Russian Empresses.

Treasures brought to Beijing from the very heart of Russia, the Moscow Kremlin, are priceless sources of knowledge. Through this exhibition, visitors can gain greater insight and become familiar with the rich historical and artistic heritage of Russia.

 
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