19 May – 16 August 2023

State Anteroom of the Armoury Chamber

Organized by
The Moscow Kremlin Museums

The Moscow Kremlin Museums, the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, the Russian State Library, the Moscow State Incorporated Museum and Heritage Site 

Copperplate ‘Full-dress Portrait of King Christian IV’

The exhibition presents a rare collection of European art, formerly part of the treasury of King Christian IV of Denmark and Norway, who ruled for almost sixty years – from 1588 to 1648 – the longest reign among all Danish monarchs. Through the efforts of his father King Frederick II, Christian received a comprehensive education and was prepared to govern a vast empire. A true Renaissance ruler, he put the arts at his service, encouraging artists, sculptors, musicians, and architects, thus attracting the most talented people of his time to Copenhagen. The sciences and all the arts flourished to an unprecedented degree in the Kingdom of Denmark-Norway in his epoch. The reign of King Christian IV is represented by works of decorative art, unique engraved portraits of the King, numismatics, and rare books with coloured copperplates from Russian museums and libraries.

During the reign of King Christian IV, Russia and Denmark maintained friendly relations and sought to form a strong alliance and enhance it with the bonds of dynastic marriage, the ambassadorial gifts presented to the Russian tsars in the name of the monarch bear witness to it. King Christian IV chose the most valuable and prestigious pieces from his treasury or specially acquired works of art created by the leading European masters. The exhibition features three items bearing the monogram of King Christian IV: a Renaissance double goblet from Augsburg, a Late Elizabethan livery-pot and basin of London masters, brought by the Russian embassy in 1622. On display you can also see a harquebus of the first half of the 17th century, and a Nuremberg nautilus cup with a stem in the shape of Hercules fighting Hydra, which were presented by the embassy of Count Valdemar Christian, the youngest son of King Christian IV.

Much of the jewellery from the treasury of King Christian IV, which is now part of the collection of the Moscow Kremlin Museums, consists of works made by German goldsmiths at the turn of the 16th and 17th centuries. In 1628 in Arkhangelsk, Tsar Mikhail Fyodorovich bought them from King Christian IV to replenish the state treasury, which had been devastated during the Time of Troubles. The exhibition shows memorabilia from the 1628 purchase – which were presented to the Danish king by his subjects. These include a magnificent eagle-shaped vessel – a gift to King Christian IV from the nobility of Ösel island; a standing cup topped with the figure of a soldier holding a lance – from the cathedral chapter of the city of Lund; a goblet decorated with a griffin – from the people of Malmö; and a standing cup with the figure of ancient hero Actaeon on top – a gift from the people of Wilstermarsch, a border town near Hamburg.