Imperial Gifts from Pavlovsk Palace
South Karelia Museum, Lappeenranta, Finland
29.4. – 2.10.2016
The exhibition Imperial Gifts from Pavlovsk Palace explores the gift-giving culture of the Russian Empire. More than 150 luxurious gift items from the collections of Pavlovsk Palace, located near St. Petersburg, will be on display at South Karelia Museum. The exhibition will feature porcelain tableware, cigarette cases, jewellery boxes, fans, sculptures, decorative items and portraits, among other things. The exhibition will also include items made by Fabergé workmasters.
The collections of Pavlovsk Palace include gifts that date back to the era of the palace’s mistress, Empress Maria Feodorovna (1759–1828, born Duchess Sophia Dorothea of Württemberg), in particular, but they also include a great number of gifts received by other members of the imperial family at other times and in other palaces. The other main characters of the exhibition are Nikolai II (1868–1918), the last emperor of Russia, and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna (1872–1918), during whose time the luxurious gift-giving culture was at its peak.
Luxurious gift-giving culture
The items illustrate the gift-giving culture of the imperial court of Russia from the end of the 18th century until the beginning of the 20th century. Gifts were an integral part of both the ruling family’s official and private life. The gifts are intertwined with stories of family history, international connections and official events within the empire. The gifted items also illustrate the history of fashion and style, the preferences of the imperial family and the richness of the court’s spiritual, artistic and social life.
A great deal of information has been preserved on the gift-giving culture of the imperial family in the Romanov family’s memoirs, diaries and letters. Gifts exchanged between family members and other relatives were usually connected with annual celebrations, such as Christmas, New Year and Easter, or stages of life, such as engagements and weddings, birthdays and name days, coronations and the births and christenings of children. Typical gifts exchanged between family members included jewellery, small utility and decorative items made by goldsmiths and silversmiths, porcelain tableware and works of art.
During the time period covered by the exhibition, the movements that most influenced art, interior design, architecture and fashion were Neoclassicism and Empire style, which flourished in Napoleon’s France in the early 19th century. During the era of Alexander III, the people’s interest also turned towards Russia’s own history, resulting in the birth of a new national romantic movement that was inspired by folk tales.
Photo "Medaljonki": Cameo “Portrait of Alexander and Konstantin Pavlovich" 1790s. A replica of Maria Feodorovna’s birthday gift to her mother-in-law Catherine II in 1789. The cameo depicts Catherine’s grandchildren, Alexander (I) and Konstantin. Wedgwood, England. Maria Feodorovna. Jasper, bronze, brass, gilding. © State Museum-Preserve Pavlovsk
Photo "Lautanen": Serving tray 1911. A commemorative gift from the Kursk city administration to Nicholas II and Alexandra Feodorovna on their visit to Belgorod in 1911. Russia. Artist Ivan Petrovich Khlebnikov. Wood, silver, carnelian, jasper, quartz, rhodonite. © State Museum-Preserve Pavlovsk
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The Museums of Lappeenranta
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The exhibition is produced in cooperation with the State Museum “Pavlovsk” and Turku Castle. The exhibition has previously been on display at Turku Castle.
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