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The Hong Kong Jockey Club Series: Tsar of All Russia. Holiness and Splendour of Power

1/F Thematic Galleries 1, 2 & Function Place
29 May 2021 – 29 August 2021

Jointly presented by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and the Moscow Kremlin Museums
Jointly organised by the Hong Kong Heritage Museum and the Moscow Kremlin Museums
Solely sponsored by The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust

The exhibition comprises 170 sets of exquisite court treasures, meticulously selected from the splendid collection of the Moscow Kremlin Museums to reveal the sovereign power in the period of the Tsar of All Russia.

The wide-ranging objects, including staffs, holy relics, harnesses, weapons, articles from foreign diplomats, ornaments of queens and toys of princes, illustrate the monarch's coronation ceremony, ceremonial departure, military power, diplomacy and royal life in Russia from the 16th to 18th centuries. Through a combination of church and imperial power, the political and cultural environment at that time created a successful monarchy.

 

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Exhibit Highlights

Portrait of Tsar Mikhail Fyodorovich

Russia, mid 18th century
Unknown artist
Oil on canvas
Collection of Moscow Kremlin Museums
Inv. no. Ж-1960

<p>Portrait of Tsar Mikhail Fyodorovich <br/>Mid 18th century <br/>Collection of Moscow Kremlin Museums <br/>Inv. no. Ж-1960</p> <p> Tsar Mikhail Fyodorovich (1596 – 1645) was the first ruler of the Romanov dynasty. He was born on 12 July 1596 and elected tsar at the age of sixteen in 1613. Mikhail died at the age of 49 in Moscow on 13 July 1645 and was succeeded by his eldest son, Tsar Aleksei.</p> <p> Tsar Mikhail Fyodorovich is dressed in a brocade robe, a regalia collar (barmy) and a precious royal cap. He wears a pectoral cross around his neck and holds a sceptre and an orb in his hands. This image looks somewhat archaic and actually dates back to the portraits of the tsars in the <i> Book of Titles</i>, a hand-decorated compendium created at the Ambassadorial Chancellery in 1672. The illustrations in the <i>Book of Titles </i> were made by the court icon-painters. </p> <p> This canvas once hung in the picture gallery of the Marble Palace in St Petersburg. In the 18th and 19th centuries, such images could often be found among the numerous series of dynastic portraits decorating Russian palaces, mansions and public buildings.</p>

 

 <p>Pendant in the shape of an eagle<br />Late 17th century<br />Collection of Moscow Kremlin Museums<br />Inv. no. МP-2456</p> <p>This gold pendant in the shape of a double-headed eagle surmounted by three crowns is decorated with precious stones and enamel. The plumage of the eagle is formed from black enamel on a white background, while the eyes are created from transparent golden and black enamel. The eagle holds spheres in its talons which are decorated with white flowers on a background of blue-lilac enamel. The reverse side of the crown is decorated with a floral design on a golden background. The tear-shaped pendants on the claws of the eagle are covered in transparent red enamel. The decoration of the pendant using multi-coloured enamel on gold was typical of the craftsmen working at the Kremlin in the second half of 17th century. Sources list this particular pendant among objects of royal rank, implying that it once belonged to the tsar&rsquo;s family.</p>

Pendant in the shape of an eagle

Russia, Moscow, Kremlin Workshops, late 17th century
Gold, precious stones, embossing, enamel
Collection of Moscow Kremlin Museums
Inv. no. МP-2456

 

Jug in the shape of a female bust

Germany, Augsburg, 1651 – 1654
Silversmith: Melchior I Gelb
Silver
Embossing, pouncing, casting, gilding
Collection of Moscow Kremlin Museums
Inv. no. MЗ-2005

<p>Jug in the shape of a female bust <br/>1651–1654 <br/>Collection of Moscow Kremlin Museums <br/>Inv. no. MЗ-2005 </p><p> This embossed and partially gilded jug was the work of Melchior I Gelb, a celebrated silversmith from Augsburg in Germany. The embossed neck and body of the silver jug take the form of the bust of a woman wearing a low-cut dress, a necklace around her neck and her hair hanging loose around her shoulders. The hinged lid is cast in the shape of a lady's hat with pounced ostrich feathers. </p><p> This unique jug in the shape of a female bust is possibly linked to an engraving based on a drawing by a Swedish court artist. This engraving dates from 1649 and depicts a sculpture of Queen Christina as Minerva, surrounded by symbols of peace, learning and wisdom. The jug and a pendant work were brought to Moscow among the gifts from King Charles X Gustav of Sweden to Tsar Aleksei Mikhailovich between 1655 and 1658.</p>

 

<p>‘Jericho Cap' Helmet <br/>Late 16th – early 17th centuries <br/>Collection of Moscow Kremlin Museums <br/>Inv. no. Op-163</p> <p> According to records dating from the 17th century, this ceremonial helmet was brought back from Constantinople (Istanbul) by a Russian nobleman called Afanasy Pronchischev, who had led a Russian embassy to the Ottoman sultan Murad IV. Forged from wootz steel and covered in ornate lettering inlaid with gold, this ornate object is listed among the first items in order of importance in the Armoury's Inventory Book of 1687. The helmet is also mentioned as being part of the portable armoury which accompanied Tsar Aleksei Mikhailovich on his campaigns from 1654 to 1656. Quotations from the Quran are included in the ornamental design on the crown of the helmet, on the base of the hood, above the visor and on the earpieces, visor and neck-guard. The original lining of red damask and the red and yellow satin cords still survive.</p>

"Jericho Cap" Helmet

Turkey, late 16th – early 17th centuries
Wootz steel, silver, silk fabric and threads
Forging, embossing, carving, gold damascening
Collection of Moscow Kremlin Museums
Inv. no. Op-163

 

"The Worship of the Cross" Icon

Russia, Moscow, 1677 – 1678
Artist: Ivan Saltanov
Canvas, gesso, wood
Tempera, oil, coloured varnishes
Collection of Moscow Kremlin Museums
Inv. no. Ж-1714

<p>‘The Worship of the Cross' icon <br/>1677 – 1678 <br/>Collection of Moscow Kremlin Museums <br/>Inv. no. Ж-1714 </p><p> This composition is based on the traditional subject of the True Cross flanked by the Byzantine Emperor Constantine the Great and his mother Helena. The artist has added two contemporary rulers — Tsar Aleksei Mikhailovich and his first wife, Maria Miloslavskaya — who also wear royal robes and crowns on their heads. All four figures are identified by inscriptions. Beneath the image of Tsar Aleksei Mikhailovich is a genuflecting bishop, wearing ceremonial vestments. This is Patriarch Nikon, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church. </p><p> Instead of the traditional Cross of Calvary in the centre of the composition, there is a representation of the replica installed on 1 August 1656 at the Monastery of the Cross on Kiy Island. This object was brought to Russia from Palestine by order of Patriarch Nikon, who endowed it to the monastery which he had founded in the White Sea. Over three hundred relics — of ecumenical and national saints — were placed inside the cross.</p>

 

<p><i>Barmy</i> of Tsar Mikhail Fyodorovich <br/>1629 – 1645 <br/>Fabrics: 17th century <br/>Collection of Moscow Kremlin Museums <br/>Inv. no. TK-2858 </p> <p> The barmy was an important symbol of the authority of a grand prince or tsar in Russia. It was a round, wide regalia collar worn by the sovereign over the royal robes. </p><p> This particular example is made from grey-violet satin and decorated with embroidered figures in medallions. Eight large medallions have full-length images of saints, forming a Deisis composition. The figures include a representation of St Michael Maleinos, the patron saint of Tsar Mikhail Fyodorovich. Eight small round medallions are embroidered with waist-length images of Muscovite prelates, ecumenical church fathers and St Alexius the Man of God, the celestial guardian of Tsarevich Aleksei. The presence of these two patron saints suggests that the barmy was made for Tsar Mikhail Fyodorovich after the birth of his son and heir, Tsarevich Aleksei, i.e. between 1629 and 1645.</p>

Barmy of Tsar Mikhail Fyodorovich

Russia, Moscow, Kremlin Workshops, 1629 – 1645
Fabrics: Italy, 17th century
Satin, gold and silk threads
Weaving, embroidery
Collection of Moscow Kremlin Museums
Inv. no. TK-2858

 

Table decoration

Germany, Augsburg, 1655 – 1660
Silver
Embossing, pouncing, casting, gilding
Collection of Moscow Kremlin Museums
Inv. no. M3-2020

<p>Table decoration <br/>1655 – 1660 <br/>Collection of Moscow Kremlin Museums <br/>Inv. no. MЗ-2020 </p><p> This table decoration is made of embossed and partially gilded silver. The object consists of the figure of a horseman on a high base. The warrior wears half armour and a helmet and sits on a rearing horse. He raises his right hand and grips the reins with his left hand. </p> <p>Sets of figured vessels, wash jugs and plates were popular in the Baroque period. Such objects were often included among the ambassadorial gifts given by European rulers to the Russian tsars, as we can see from this particular work, which was sent by King Charles XII of Sweden to Peter the Great in 1699. The numerous presents made that year by the Swedish king to Peter the Great are known to have included 10 wash sets, many of which consisted of massive silver platters and jugs in the form of different figures.</p>

 

<p>Portrait of Tsarevich Peter Alekseyevich <br/>Late 17th–18th centuries <br/>Collection of Moscow Kremlin Museums <br/>Inv. no. Ж-1966 </p><p> Peter the Great (1672–1725) was the son of Tsar Aleksei Mikhailovich and his second wife, Natalia Kirillovna Naryshkina. He was born in Moscow on 30 May 1672. Peter I was crowned co-tsar on 25 June 1682, along with his half-brother Ivan, with their elder sister Sophia as regent. After the death of Tsar Ivan V in 1696, he became the sole ruler. Peter was an active reformer who westernised Russian society. He defeated Sweden in the Great Northern War (1700–1721) and founded the city of St Petersburg at the mouth of the River Neva (1703). He made St Petersburg the capital of Russia (1712) and adopted the title of emperor (22 October 1721). Peter was married twice. His second wife was a Livonian servant girl called Marta Skowrońska, who converted to Russian Orthodoxy as Catherine Alekseyevna and was crowned empress (7 May 1724). Catherine gave birth to his daughters Anna and the future Empress Elizabeth. Peter the Great died in St Petersburg on 28 January 1725. </p><p> Several portraits of Tsarevich Peter as a child were commissioned by members of his entourage and painted in the last quarter of the 17th century.</p>

Portrait of Tsarevich Peter Alekseyevich

Russia, late 17th – 18th centuries
Unknown artist
Oil on canvas
Collection of Moscow Kremlin Museums
Inv. no. Ж-1966

 

Pair of ambassadorial axes

Russia, Moscow, The Armoury Chamber(?), first half of the 17th century
Wootz steel, silver, turquoise, wood
Forging, embossing, gold damascening, flat chasing, gilding
Collection of Moscow Kremlin Museums
Inv. nos. Op-2240, Op-2241

<p>Pair of ambassadorial axes <br/>First half of the 17th century <br/>Collection of Moscow Kremlin Museums <br/>Inv. nos. Op-2240, Op-2241 </p><p> The Moscow Kremlin Museums own a total of four such axes. In the 17th century, they served as the ceremonial weapons of a rynda, the tsar's personal bodyguard. They were called ‘ambassadorial axes' because guards wielding these objects were invariably present when the tsar met with foreign diplomats in his Kremlin palace. Four men dressed in tall hats and white kaftans with gold chains crossed over their chests would stand at each corner of the tsar's throne, resting such axes on their shoulders.</p> <p> The wootz steel tips and the heads of the axes are damascened in gold. The central decorative feature on the blades is a double-headed eagle surmounted by three crowns. Besides the Russian coat of arms, the axes are also damascened in gold with images of lions. The handles of the axes are coated all over in gilded silver, while turquoises have been inserted into the rounded ends.</p>

 

<p>‘St Michael Maleinos' icon in cover <br/>First half of the 17th century (overpainting: 18th century) <br/>Collection of Moscow Kremlin Museums <br/>Inv. no. Ж-548/1-2 </p><p> This work comes from the iconostasis over the tomb of Tsar Mikhail Fyodorovich in the Archangel Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin. The subject of the icon is St Michael Maleinos, the patron saint of the first tsar of the Romanov dynasty. </p><p> St Michael Maleinos is depicted standing at full length with his arms raised and parted at the sides. He makes a blessing with his right hand and holds an open scroll in his left hand. The saint is dressed in a monk's habit. A gold cover almost entirely covers the icon, leaving visible only the figure of the saint. The cover is decorated with ornate embossed and niello ornamental foliage and precious stones in high mounts. All the elements of the precious decoration are framed with pearls. The original paintwork is covered by overpainting made in the 18th century. The attribution of the icon is based on the stylistic features of the cover, which has direct analogies to other creations made by craftsmen working at the Kremlin in the 1610s and 1620s.</p>

"St Michael Maleinos" icon in cover

Russia, Moscow, first half of the 17th century (overpainting: 18th century)
Wood, gesso, gold, precious stones, pearls
Tempera, embossing, carving, chasing, niello
Collection of Moscow Kremlin Museums
Inv. no. Ж-548/1-2

 

Sabre in scabbard of Tsar Ivan V

Turkey, Istanbul, second half of the 17th century
Damascus steel, gold, precious stones, wood, leather, glass, red stones
Forging, casting, carving, engraving, flat chasing, stamping, enamel, damascening
Collection of Moscow Kremlin Museums
Inv. no. Op-4567

<p>Sabre in scabbard of Tsar Ivan V <br/>Second half of the 17th century <br/>Collection of Moscow Kremlin Museums <br/>Inv. no. Op-4567 </p> <p>This sabre is a fine example of an oriental ceremonial weapon dating from the mid or late 17th century. Such precious objects were brought to Russia from Istanbul and presented to the tsar by Ottoman merchants. </p><p> The blade is forged from Damascus steel and decorated in gold inlay with images of the Virgin and Child, angels holding a crown above them, two candlesticks with burning candles and a sun and a crescent moon. The Greek inscription is an appeal to the Virgin Mary. The other side of the blade has an image of St George slaying the dragon. The hilt and parts of the scabbard are coated with gold and decorated with diamonds and multi-coloured enamel. This sabre belonged to Tsar Ivan V, half-brother and co-ruler with Peter the Great from 1682 to 1696.</p>