From tapestries to crystal. 10 new exhibits in Tsaritsyno

January 2

An exhibition of new acquisitions was opened in the Tsaritsyno Museum-Reserve. It exposes artifacts entered in the collection over the past 10 years. For the exposition, the museum staff selected near 500 out of 18 thousand artifacts of the 16th – 21st centuries. The most interesting of them can be found in the article. Elena Karasyova, the chief curator of the Tsaritsyno Museum-Reserve and the curator of the exhibition, selected 10 exhibits and told why they are valuable.

Elena Karasyova. Photo by Yu. Ivanko.

Tapestry "The Captivity of Zenobia" (first quarter of the 17th century)

In 1778, the French journalist Simon-Nicolas Henri Linguet named Catherine the Great La Zenobie de la Baltique (Baltic Zenobia) for the first time. A little later, from the beginning of the 19th century, St. Petersburg was surnamed Northern Palmyra. Zenobia was the ruler of Palmyra, a state formed on the territory of the Roman Empire in the 3rd century. During the reign of Zenobia, Egypt, Syria, Palestine, and southern Armenia were annexed to Palmyra. Catherine the Great admired the courage and tenacity of the ruler, her ability to create a powerful army. True, Zenobia's reign ended sadly: after the queen declared independence from Rome, her troops were defeated, and she herself was captured.

The Capture of Zenobia tapestry was made of dyed wool and silk in the 17th century in Delft (Netherlands) by an unknown craftsman. Zenobia, with folded hands, stands before the Roman emperor Aurelian, who defeated her army. Historians write that Catherine II often compared herself to the rebellious queen of Palmyra. And this fact is especially important for the museum, which forms its own collection of 18th century artifacts.

The exhibit entered the museum in 2017.

Miniature portrait of Adrian Gribovsky (1795)

The pencil drawing depicts an associate of Catherine the Great, Adrian Gribovsky. Presumably, the drawing was created by the famous Austrian artist Heinrich Füger. On the back of the figure there is an inscription, probably left by a descendant of Gribovsky: “Adrian Moiseevich Gribovsky, State Secretary of Empress Catherine II”.

Adrian Gribovsky made a brilliant career: at first he was the treasurer of the prikaz of public care in Petrozavodsk, then he served in the military field office of Prince Potemkin, then became the head of the Count Zubov office. After that, he became the state secretary of the empress herself. He read her mail, presented documents for signature and did many other things. A year after the death of Catherine, he was accused of embezzlement and imprisoned in the Peter and Paul Fortress. In 1799 he was released from prison, but soon imprisoned again - this time in the Shlisselburg fortress, where he spent two years. Gribovsky died in poverty — he spent all his fortune on litigation fees, seeking to restore his good name.

Engraved portraits of 18th century adventurers

The engravings depicting famous adventurers of the 18th century came to the museum's collection from a private collection. One of the personages is Count Saint-Germain, whose life is covered by mystery. He was fond of the occultism, alchemy, was accused of spying for the Jacobites, for which he was arrested in England in 1745. The Comte Saint-Germain is still considered one of the most mysterious persons in the history of the 18th century.

Another miniature depicts Charles de Beaumont, Chevalier d'Éon, a spy with an amazing destiny. He spent the first half of his life as a man, and the second as a woman: the crinoline, wig and makeup made him unrecognizable. Historians believe that for the first time he changed into a lady in Russia, where he served as secretary of the French embassy and secretly collected information about the internal affairs of the royal court.

Another adventurer is Giuseppe Balsamo, who was known under the name of Count Alessandro Cagliostro. Together with his wife Lorenza Feliciani, they conducted magic and spiritualistic séances, made magic potions. The most common cream was sold as miraculous: young Feliciani announced that in fact she was much older and it was cream which helped her look so young.

The Fortune Teller tapestry (last quarter of the 18th - early 19th century)

The work belongs to that rare type of landscape tapestries-alentours (from the French alentours — "surroundings"), which were created in the second half of the 18th century and are associated with the name of the French artist Francois Boucher. This artifact was created at the Gobelin brothers' manufactory or at the Beauvais manufactory — the exact place is not clear — based on the painting of the same name by Boucher in 1757.

The Fortune Teller belongs to the Love of the Gods series of tapestries. The tapestries of this series, made on a burgundy background, were presented by king of France Louis XVI to Pavel Petrovich, the future emperor, and his wife Maria in 1782, during their trip to Europe. Before the revolution, they decorated the Carpet Study of the Pavlovsk Palace.

Bureau (1800s)

The bureau is made of pine and mahogany with elements of brass, morocco and gilded bronze, decorated with an insert using the églomisé technique (pattern on the glass, engraved on the reverse side on a silver amalgam). It was made by the Prussian craftsman Heinrich Gambs, who worked in St. Petersburg. Analogues of such a bureau are now in the State Hermitage and Tsarskoe Selo.

The artifact was preserved in excellent condition — it was practically not touched by the restorer's hand. Nothing is known about its owner, but there is every reason to assume that it was one of the high-ranking persons.

Interior items (early 19th century)

The museum acquired all three artifacts from the antique market. The table and the secretaire were in a depressing state, the restorers did a great job to show what these things were like before. The clock did not need restoration. The secretaire and the clock are unusual, with the so-called theater — partitions and mirrored walls that expand the space. Rich citizens loved to decorate their rooms with such things.

Tapestry "Old Russian" (19651967)

The Tsaritsyno Museum-Reserve houses one of the most voluminous and significant tapestry collections in Russia. And the tapestry "Old Russian" occupies a special place in the collection. Moscow artist Albina Voronkova created it in the second half of the 1960s by order of the chief architect of Moscow, Mikhail Posokhin. For a long time it decorated the Arbat restaurant — the largest at that time in Europe. There were no special wishes for the subject of tapestry, and Voronkova, who was then studying the art of Medieval Russia, decided to depict old churches. In 1991, when the restaurant closed, the artist bought the tapestry for herself, and in 2020 she sold it to the museum.

Composition "Tea pair" (1967)

Sometimes interesting items are donated to the collection by the museum staff. Among them is an honorary employee Lyudmila Romanova, this year she celebrated her 90th anniversary. She recently donated the composition "Tea pair" to the foundation, created at the Lviv Experimental Ceramics and Sculpture Factory. Its author is Boris Smirnov, an artist, innovator, theorist of decorative and applied arts and one of the founders of the national school of art glass. "Tea pair" is made using a molded technique, which involves molding a product from molten glass by hand using tools.

Photo by Yulia Ivanko,

Foothills of the Alatau tapestry (2016)

Against the background of the Alatau mountain range, the name of which is translated from the Turkic language as "motley mountains", there is a caravan of camels with palankeens, bulls with wagons and horseback riders. All this is not painted, but is woven by hand from multi-colored yarn in the form of diagonal and vertical stripes. The author is a modern Kazakhstani artist Malik Mukanov, who used the "striped style" earlier. Especially for the Alatau metro station in Almaty city, he in collaboration with the artist Aydar Zhamkhan, made a mosaic depicting the Zailiyskiy Alatau where he also used multi-colored stripes located diagonally and vertically.

Two compositions by Vladimir Kasatkin (2020)

The Tsaritsyno Museum-Reserve maintains friendly relations with many contemporary masters. One of these authors is Vladimir Kasatkin, who has worked at the Gusev Crystal Factory for almost half a century. The artist donated many artifacts to the museum. Among them are two compositions created in 2020 for the anniversary of the Great Victory: "Red Wing" and "Front Roads". The first is a sculpture made of colored crystal blown into a mold. The decorative composition "Front Roads" consists of seven items: flasks, mugs, shot glasses and bullets.

The theme of war occupied a special place in Kasatkin's life. Like everyone who was born in the 1940s, he personally knew many who returned from the front. Memories of their stories remained with the artist for whole life.

Photo by Yulia Ivanko,


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