Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Costumes of the Tsars
Wearable Art

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

Preamble
Designer clothes, cloths and wearable art itself have featured on this blogspot. For your convenience I have listed the following posts that feature images of designer clothes, cloths and/or wearable art.
Confluence – 2011 International SDA Conference
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ArtCloth Swap
A Selection of My Scarves
A New Collection of Designer Cloths
The Art of Jenny Kee
My Velvet Scarves@Purple Noon
Fabric Lengths@QSDS
Costumes of Ballets Russes
Nuno Felted Scarves@Felted Pleasure
Versace Retrospective – 1982 to 1997
After Five – Fashion From Darnell
My Fabric Collection
Ludmilla's Wearable Art
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The Basic Kimono Pattern
The Kimono and Japanese Textile Design
My Scarves@2014 Scarf Festival
The Art of Fascinators - Flora Fascinata
Some Wearable Art@The Powerhouse Museum
Muslim Headscarves
Wearable Art Produced by the TextielLab in 2013
Ancient Egyptian Dress
Costumes Designed for the Australian Ballet
A Fashion Data Base (1.0)


Introduction
The Moscow Kremlin Museums, including the Armoury Chamber, constitute Russia’s oldest collections of the ancient hereditary property of Russia’s Emperors and Tsars. In 2006 the National Treasury celebrated their 200th anniversary and held an exhibition in Great Britain on the work of master craftsmen, whose creations are ranked amongst the most significant cultural artifacts world wide.

Coronation Mantle (1896).
The mantle became a part of the Russian Imperial Regalia in 1724. A new mantle was made for every coronation in the same style until the last Russian Imperial coronation. Each mantle was 7 meters long and weighed approximately 13kg. The trimming and cape of the mantle used approximately 900 ermine skins. Typically gold buckles with cut emeralds decorated the coronation mantles.
Courtesy of Moscow Kremlin Museums.

Although Peter I (known as Peter the Great) moved the Russian capital to St. Petersburg in 1712, the original capital, Moscow, with its treasure trove safe in the Kremlin, remained the spiritual center of the country, where Russian monarchs were crowned. From 1721 these monarchs bore the title of “Emperor”. The Armoury enjoyed special status as the visible symbol of power invested in objects of great value and historical rarities.

Portrait of Peter I (Peter The Great).
Tsar 1682-1721 and Emperor 1721-1725.
Courtesy of Moscow Kremlin Museums.

This post will concentrate on the collection of ceremonial court dress that dates from the eighteenth to the beginning of the twentieth century. It formed the basis of an exhibition - Magnificence of the Tsars: Ceremonial Men’s Dress of the Russian Imperial Court, 1721-1917. All the information and images presented below were procured from the accompanying book – The Magnificence of the Tsars, S.A. Amelekhina and A.K. Levykin, V7A Publishing (2008).


The Costumes of Courts of The Tsars
Peter I was the first ruler of Imperial Russia. He was crowned in 1682 and ruled jointly with his brother Ivan V. On Ivan’s death in 1696, Peter the Great was declared Sovereign of all Russia. Via successful wars he expanded the Tsardom into a huge Empire that became a major European power. In 1697 he embarked on his first tour of Western Europe driven by his quest to modernize Russia by emulating cultural, social and political structures of Western Europe. On the 22nd of October in 1721 with the conclusion of the treaty of Nystad, which represented a triumphant military victory for Russia, the Senate accorded Peter I the title of Emperor. The first Imperial coronation took place in 1724, which was the crowning of Empress Catherine I (Peter’s wife). From that day forth, pomp and ceremony became a way to demonstrate the greatness of the new Empire, its wealth and its prosperity. He died in 1725 from a chill, without nominating an heir.

Display of the 18th and 19th century court dress in the Armoury Chamber.
Courtesy of Moscow Kremlin Museums.

The grandson of Peter the Great, Peter II ascended to the throne in 1727 at the age of 11 – after the death of Catherine I. During the early years of his reign actual power was in the hands of Prince Menshikov.

Portrait of Emperor Peter II.
Emperor 1727-1730.
Courtesy of Moscow Kremlin Museums.

In 1728 Peter II moved to Moscow with his court. In 1730 he caught a chill and he subsequently caught smallpox and died on the 19th January 1730. After his death his entire wardrobe was kept for 36 years in the storerooms of the Kremlin Palace in Moscow, before being sent to the Armoury in 1766 by command of Catherine the Great.

His wardrobe revealed an unashamed vanity that was extravagant in the extreme. It contained 36 complete outfits including uniforms and hunting attire, 24 court dress coats, 21 waistcoats, 10 pairs of breeches, various items of outerwear, informal indoor wear, undergarments, 25 pairs of stockings, 9 hats and 22 pairs of gloves. These clothes reveal that the young Emperor was still growing, as his coronation suit is small compared to his later items.

Peter II Wardrobe.
The lavish suit consists of a coat and waistcoat. It was made for an important court ceremony. The coat is made from cut and uncut velvet decorated with a small repeating pattern of flowers resembling carnations contained within ornamental compartments. The lining is made from crimson silk. The waistcoat and the cuffs of the coat are made from patterned silk in a complex weave, consisting of a large scale fanciful pattern of flowers, foliage and lace garlands.
Courtesy of Moscow Kremlin Museums.

Peter II Wardrobe.
The coat and waistcoat was made of luxurious patterned silks imported from France. The fabric used for the coat has a green patterned satin ground and features a heavy, symmetrical, stylized pattern, consisting of wide lace garlands and fanciful leaves, flowers and fruit. The large slit cuffs of the coat and waistcoat are made from a different type of silk, with a pattern consisting of large bouquets with a single large flower resembling a peony in the center and sharp oval scalloped compartments containing floral compositions in red and green silk and silver thread on a silver background.
Courtesy of Moscow Kremlin Museums.

Peter II Wardrobe.
This is a formal suit made from silk velvet. It is dark blue and the cuffs, the lining of the coat and the waistcoat are made from a silk called tartsenel. The main decorative element of the suit is a pattern of embroidery in several types of silver thread, the basis of which is a stylized floral and foliage ornament.
Courtesy of Moscow Kremlin Museums.

Peter II Wardrobe.
Informal robes, similar to the long skirted coats were popular amongst the Russian elite. They were know as shlafroki or shlafory from the German Schlafrock (sleep gown or in the 18th century known as night gown). They were made from expensive plain or patterned fabric – satin, taffeta, damask or brocade. The night gowns varied with the seasons: warm ones were lined with ermine, sable, squirrel or lynx fur and lighter ones were lined with silk.
Courtesy of Moscow Kremlin Museums.

Peter II Wardrobe.
Eastern style clothing such as Banyan (Beshmet) was also popular. These robes are identical in cut and are made of silk fabric in varying shades of red with small floral motifs.
Courtesy of Moscow Kremlin Museums.

Peter III was the son of the daughter of Peter the Great. He was proclaimed official heir to the Russian throne in 1742 by his Aunt - Elizabeth Petrovna.

Peter III.
Emperor 1761-1762.
Courtesy of Moscow Kremlin Museums.

In 1745 he married Princess Sophia Augusta Frederica of Anhalt-Zerbst of German heritage. She was christened into the Orthodox Faith as Catherine Alexeevna (later known as Catherine the Great).

Portrait of Catherine II (Catherine the Great).
Courtesy of Moscow Kremlin Museums.

Gunpowder Flask (Natruska).
This unique piece comes from the weaponry collection of Emperor Peter III and was probably given to him by Empress Elizabeth Petrovna in 1747. It is a gold flask set with 294 diamonds and was designed to store gunpowder.
Courtesy of Moscow Kremlin Museums.

In June 1762 he was overthrown by a court coup led by his wife – Catherine the Great. Whilst imprisoned in Ropshinsky Castle he was killed on the 7th of July by Count Alexey Orlov, Catherine’s favorite and one of the organizers of the coup.

Priorities began to shift under Catherine the Great. German by birth and education, she was conscious of the unlawful route in which she seized power and so was pleased to enforce the Russian Imperial Court to use traditional Russian dresses in symbolism and style.

Display of the 18th and 19th century court dress in the Armoury Chamber.
Courtesy of Moscow Kremlin Museums.

The son of Peter III and Catherine the Great, Paul I became Emperor in 1796, after the death of Catherine the Great. He married twice and from his second marriage in 1776 to Princess Sophia Dorothea of Wurttemberg, he had 10 children.

Paul I.
Emperor 1796-1801.
Courtesy of Moscow Kremlin Museums.

The day of Catherine the Great's death, the 42 year-old Paul declared himself Emperor. On the night of the 12th March 1801 he was suffocated by conspirators.

Officer’s Uniform of the Preobrazhensky Life Guards regiment worn by Emperor Paul I.
The uniform is made of green wool with red velvet edging on the collar and has a fastening which could be modified depending on the season.

Emperor Alexander I came to the throne after the murder of his father in 1801. As a young Emperor he was popular among all levels of society.

Alexander I.
Emperor 1801-1825.
Courtesy of Moscow Kremlin Museums.

It is well known that Alexander I was personally involved in creating a new uniform for the Russian army, and after his accession he showed a keen interest in matters relating to army attire.

Following his father’s example, Emperor Alexander I chose to wear the officer’s uniform of the Preobrazhensky Life Guards Regiment for his coronation. The short coat with long tails is made of red wool and embroidered in gold with intertwined oak and laurel branches.

He died in 1825 in Tananrog and the third son of Emperor Paul I - Nicholas I - come to the throne after the death of his elder brother - Alexander I. Nicholas I married Frederica Louisa Charlotta Wilhelmina, daughter of King Federich William III of Prussia in 1817. Nicholas I was crowned in 1826.

Nicholas I.
Emperor 1825 -1855.
Courtesy of Moscow Kremlin Museums.

His reign ushered in the flourishing of absolute Monarchy in both military and civil areas. Harsh and despotic by nature he suppressed brutally any sign of liberalism in Russia. He initiated and oversaw Russia's bitter defeat at the hands of the Ottoman Empire during the Crimean War of 1853-1856.

Coat from the coronation ensemble of Nicholas I.
Nicholas I chose a general’s coat with gold embroidery in the form of a garland of oak leaves. There are gold epaulettes on the shoulders and stars of the Orders of Saint Andrew and Saint Vladmir on the front.
Courtesy of Moscow Kremlin Museums.

He died in 1855 and was succeeded by his eldest son, Alexander II. In 1841 Alexander II married Maria of Hessen-Darmstadt, who had seven children with him. Alexander II implemented important reforms; for example, he abolished serfdom.

Alexander II.
Emperor 1855 -1881.
Courtesy of Moscow Kremlin Museums.

He also re-thought Russia’s foreign policy and so he refrained Russia from overseas expansion, concentrating on strengthening her borders.

General’s uniform.
Alexander II wore a newly designed general’s uniform for his coronation. The dark green wool with red collar and cuffs is fastened with gilt buttons decorated with the State Emblem and has a gilt embroidery around the collar, the cuffs and pocket flaps. A silver sash woven with black and orange was around the waist. Insignia of the Orders of St. Andrew and St. Vladimir are pinned to the front of the tunic.
Courtesy of Moscow Kremlin Museums.

On the 1st March 1881 in Saint Petersburg, Alexander II was mortally wounded by a bomb thrown by a student member of the revolutionary organization - “The National Will”.

The second son of Alexander II became heir to the throne, with the death of his elder brother in 1865 and so he ascended to the thrown in 1881 as Alexander III.

Alexander III.
Emperor 1881 -1894.
Courtesy of Moscow Kremlin Museums.

Alexander III's reign coincided with an industrial revolution in Russia, which underwrote the strengthening of Russian capitalism. His domestic policies were harsh, directed not only against revolutionaries but also against all other liberal movements.

General’s uniform.
The only item from Alexander’s III coronation uniform that was handed over to the Armoury after the ceremony was his full dress general’s coat without the epaulettes and Insignia of the Orders. The coat is made of a dark-green wool and has a standing collar and red cuffs and edging; it is cut following the lines of a zipun, or folk coat, wrapping to one side.
Courtesy of Moscow Kremlin Museums.

He died on 20th October 1894 and was succeeded by his eldest son – Nicholas II – who was crowned Emperor on the 14th May 1896.

Nicholas II.
Emperor 1894 -1917.
Courtesy of Moscow Kremlin Museums.

Nicholas II was a stubborn supporter of the divine right of the sovereign and so he did not give sway on any issue. He struggled desperately to hold onto power both during the 1905 and 1917 revolutions. On 2nd of March 1917 he abdicated and by a decision of the interim he was transported to Toblosk in Siberia. In April 1918 the Bolshevik Government moved the Imperial family to Ekaterinburg in the Urals, where they were all shot on the 17th July 1918. The Romanov Dynasty had come to an emphatic end.

Nicholas II.
Emperor Nicholas II considered himself a soldier, the first soldier of the Empire and so at his coronation he wore the Colonel's uniform of the Preobrazhensky Life Guards Regiment. His uniform was made from dark green wool with white edging. The coat has a red collar and cuffs, skillfully embroidered in gilt thread. The epaulettes bear the monogram of Alexander III. During the coronation ceremony the sovereign himself moved aside the small square folding flap, especially made on the breast of his coat, so that he could be anointed.
Courtesy of Moscow Kremlin Museums.

The robe belongs to one of the highest officials of the military orders - the Chief Master of Ceremonies, who was responsible for overseeing all of the order's festivals and ceremonies.

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