Author Topic: Romanov Items in Museums  (Read 18191 times)

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Offline Almedingen

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Romanov Items in Museums
« on: February 14, 2004, 01:18:15 PM »
Since many Romanov antiques, furniture and possessions are no longer in Russia, I though it might be interesting if we can describe some of the museums, etc. where we have seen them.

There is a table from the Winter Palace at the Cuneo Mansion in Vernon Hills, Illinois, USA.  Mr. Cuneo was quite a collector and I believe he bought the table during the Soviet sales during the '20s or '30s.  

Below is the website for the Cuneo Mansion.   If you enjoy looking at many find old antiques, you will enjoy visiting the museum.  Many of you who saw the movie "My Best Friend's Wedding" with Julia Roberts will recognize this house because it was used in the movie.

Cuneo Mansion and Gardens
http://www.lake-online.com/cuneo/







Offline Nick_Nicholson

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Re: Romanov Items in Museums
« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2004, 06:33:22 AM »
It almost goes without saying, but by far the most Important collection of Romanov artifacts in the US is at the Hillwood Museum in Washington DC.  Aside from the two Faberge Eggs, there is furniture, porcelain, paintings and jewelry which were all property of the Imperial family.  Hillwood also boasts an important collection of French decorative art.

There are also Imperial Eggs in the US at the Cleveland Museum of Art (1), The New Orleans Museum Of Art (3), the Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore (2), and the Virginia Museum of Arts (5)
Nick Nicholson
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Offline BobAtchison

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Re: Romanov Items in Museums
« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2004, 11:46:37 AM »
It seems to me that a number of the items in the Virginia Museum came from a group of things gathered from from the Mauve Room.  I have wondered if the buyer was specifically offered items from this 'fund' because she asked for things that belonged to Alexandra - or if this group of items had simply been approved for sale at the time when the buyer was there.  The buyer seems to have bought these as a group since they all come from the same place.

Does anyone know?

Bob

RobMoshein

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Re: Romanov Items in Museums
« Reply #3 on: March 05, 2004, 12:02:43 PM »
The Virginia Museum of Art has a pair of Faberge nephrite obelisks, with a miniature of Nicholas II on one and Olga as a baby on the other, which are clearly visible in period photos by the telephone on the table next to Alexandra's Chaise Longue in her Mauve Boudoir.

Offline Penny_Wilson

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Re: Romanov Items in Museums
« Reply #4 on: March 05, 2004, 12:20:12 PM »
Vague memory of seeing Nicholas' collection of Buddhas... I think it was four or five years ago at the exhibition on board the Queen Mary.

There were, I think, three large red ones -- not unlike what you might see in a Chinese restaurant -- and a couple of dozen smaller ones of other colors and in different positions.  There was a purple dancing one that I rather liked.

Penny
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Offline BobAtchison

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Re: Romanov Items in Museums
« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2004, 06:22:48 PM »
Penny, that's interesting - the only ones I knew of were gilt-bronze - miniature ones.

Luke T.

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Re: Romanov Items in Museums
« Reply #6 on: March 09, 2004, 12:05:33 AM »
And let's not forget the infamous antiques dealer Jim Williams made famous by the book and movie "Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil."  

After his death, his sister auctioned off his collection in 100.  Let's hope some of these pieces went to museums.  

As to his Imperial Russian pieces, the following was the result of the Mercer House auction:

"It was occasionally spirited. Opening bid for the ormolu coach fitting from Napoleon I's coronation coach began at $13,000 and raced up, in increments of $1,000, to a final hammer price of $36,000 - $6,000 more than its highest pre-sale estimate. Commission fees brought the final cost to $42,000 plus sales tax, the highest price paid during the first round. (The piece went to a client bidding by telephone.)

Also performing impressively was a Faberge document casket presented by Czar Nicholas II to the Shah of Persia around 1899, which began at $10,000. Much jockeying among the telephone bidders ensued, and the gavel fell on $25,000 for the silver, enamel and leather object, $10,000 more than its estimated value.

Two other Russian objects performed solidly but not spectacularly. A Faberge leather portfolio with the last czar's monogram rendered in diamonds went for $20,000; it was estimated at $20,000-$30,000. And the Spanish-made silver-gilt and turquoise dagger reputedly used in the murder of Rasputin also was sold to an anonymous telephone bidder for $19,000, at the high end of its estimated value.

. . .

Other items failed to spark unusual attention. Five of seven lots of Nanking china - named for a cargo ship that sank in the 18th century and was relieved of its load in the 1980s - were sold for prices at or just slightly above estimated values. Three Russian Imperial silver serving dishes, commissioned for the wedding of Czar Nicholas I's third son and valued at $8,000-$12,000, were sold for $10,000.

And yet other lots - a group of jade and hardstone decorations, a Chinese ivory puzzle ball, a pair of bisque doves, Meissen vases, a watercolor of St. Catherine, a gold medallion bearing the profile of Czar Nicholas II - failed to garner even a minimum bid. Neither did a pair of cut-glass candelabra, which were "passed" at a high bid of $4,750."

http://www.coastalantiques.com/archives/november2000/ETCauction.html

Offline Penny_Wilson

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Re: Romanov Items in Museums
« Reply #7 on: March 09, 2004, 12:56:21 AM »
Bob...

On looking back over the notes I took at the time (I was writing up the exhibition for Atlantis) I see that I noted the display card's claim that the small colored Buddhas belonged to the Imperial daughters and that the three large Buddhas (3-4 feet high as best I could estimate, looking up at them on a raised platform behind glass) belonged to N, A and Alexei.

This was the first time I learned about Nicholas' interest in Buddhism. Perhaps he desired the inner serenity and acceptance of fate taught in this religion/philosophy...
"Don't do anything by half. If you love someone, love them with all your soul. When you go to work, work your ass off. When you hate someone, hate them until it hurts."  -- A Piece of Good Advice

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Offline Nick_Nicholson

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Re: Romanov Items in Museums
« Reply #8 on: March 09, 2004, 08:19:57 AM »
"It seems to me that a number of the items in the Virginia Museum came from a group of things gathered from from the Mauve Room.  I have wondered if the buyer was specifically offered items from this 'fund' because she asked for things that belonged to Alexandra - or if this group of items had simply been approved for sale at the time when the buyer was there.  The buyer seems to have bought these as a group since they all come from the same place.

Does anyone know? "

Bob


Dear Bob,

The pieces in the Virginia collection were all acquired from Armand Hammer.  Hammer would buy pieces from the Soviets in large quantities -- sometimes whole rooms full of objects would be sold en bloc.  When Hammer sold the pieces in the US, there would be small cards which would bear very specific descriptions such as "Faberge Frame in Nephrite and Diamonds, formerly belonging to the Dowager Empress, from her second vitrine in the Blue Salon of the Anitchkov Palace."

For decades, these labels were completely ignored as fabrications on Mr. Hammer's part.  His business methods were so unorthodox that these descriptions were ignored, and most of these little cards were thrown away or lost.  

Now that the archives have been reopened, we can see that in fact, Hammer was simply translating the bills of sale from the Soviets, and these attributions and locations were actual documented provenances.

It is probable that Hammer bought the entire Faberge contents of the Mauve Room, and sold them over the years.

Unfortunately, the Hammer Galleries no longer has any of Hammer's records from the period in which he was selling Russian Works of Art, and they are presumed lost (though I have my suspicions about where they are...).

Best,

Nick
Nick Nicholson
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Offline Robert_Hall

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Re: Romanov Items in Museums
« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2004, 11:33:14 PM »
It has always amazed me- from th eiMperial Romanov era thru the end of  the Soviet Empire- tha so much has actually survived.  Fires, a common hazzard: theft, petty or grand, wars, revolutions, nationilzation- sales, exile-more sales- simple greed.
Yet there is so much on display as well as in private hands.  If one has the money, one could put together an Imperial china, crystal & silver service. Wear Imperial orders & medals. Decorate a home [a pretty lavish home], and furnish a fairly complete library !
A few years before the collapse of the Soviet system, I think there was a story of a party official [name of Romanov-coincidentally] who gave a lavish bridal party for his daughter.  I forget the exact details, but as these things tend to go with certain cultures, it ended up a plate smashing drunken free for all. The plates & other service were from the Imperial collection.  I do not know how true  this actually is. It was a news item, with no follow up that I know of.
But years later, at an exhibit in Las Vegas there was a vast display of Imperial dinner service, for 100 I think.
Obviously the bridal dinner did not diminish by much the collection.
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RobMoshein

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Re: Romanov Items in Museums
« Reply #10 on: March 18, 2004, 09:50:34 AM »
Robert
To me, the truly mind blowing thought is that since this much HAS survived, and then one looks at the reality of history since 1917, to think of WHAT Imperial Russia was like, since the real truth is that only a small FRACTION survives today.

There are a few amazing photos of Soviets cataloguing "privatised" property. Literally mountains of silver. The Yussupov silver alone hidden in their Palace was massive. Also, most of the Imperial Services alone, porcelain and silver, were meant to serve one to two HUNDRED at a time. Replacement pieces were ordered as needed. The porcelain was of no use to the Soviets, but the silver was melted.

All private silver, gold and jewelry was also confiscated as much as possible. All of the bank vaults were stripped of their contents, even the private deposit boxes. Most of these pieces were also broken down for the stones and the gold and silver melted into bars. Only the best pieces, for the most part were sold by Christies and Hammer.
This is not to even mention the German pillage of WWII and what the later Soviets did...

The few thousand (at best) pieces of genuine Faberge extant are but a small percentage of their production...

To me, given that so much remains, while many more times that was destroyed, Imperial Russia was an amazing place for those with money....

Offline 3710

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Re: Romanov Items in Museums
« Reply #11 on: March 18, 2004, 10:03:14 AM »
Robert, what do you mean by ''certain cultures'' I wonder? There is culture and 'no culture' in every country.
This is an old rumour about the Palace service,  strongly denied by the Hermitage. I suspect if it was true, young  ''democrats'' would have been only too happy to make it public in early years of perestroika.
Galina

Offline Robert_Hall

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Re: Romanov Items in Museums
« Reply #12 on: March 18, 2004, 12:00:45 PM »
well, Galina, let me put it this way:
I have been to Russian, Greek,Bulgarian, Serbian  & Albanian weddings. None of them put out their "best" china for the wedding dinners. And for very good reason. If "culture" was a poor choice of words, my mistake.
Rob, I read in one catalogue that there were probably 20 china services for EACH palace plus the yachts & trains. And that was for one reign, so EACH reign had at least the same amount.  Added to that, the services that were recieved from fellow monarchs, and, like you said, they were most likely for at least 100 settings,  the amount is staggering.
Now that you mentioned it, it makes sense that seeing actual table silver is rare. I have been told that there are reproductions, but have not seen them.
Life may not be the party we expected, but while we are here, might as well dance..

Do you want the truth, or my side of the story ?- Hank Ketchum.

elisa_1872

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Re: Romanov Items in Museums
« Reply #13 on: April 10, 2004, 05:48:12 PM »
Hello!

In Darmstadt there are also some Imperial Russian gifts now in the "Porcelain Museum" which were given as gifts by the Romanovs to the Hessians. Included in the collection are Russian eggs with the monograms. Too thrilling! :)

Best wishes,
Elisa :)

Offline londo954

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Re: Romanov Items in Museums
« Reply #14 on: April 22, 2004, 04:25:49 AM »
Be careful when examining supposed Imperial Items it was common practice (particularly by Hammer) To identify items as having come from the Imperial Suite or having belonged to Nicholas or Alexandra in an obvious attempt to increase the're value