Room 19. Russian Orthodox Church in the 16th and 17th Centuries

Since the time of the Museum foundation this room has been devoted to the reign of Ivan the Terrible; hence such a grand and solemn appearance. Against the gold back-drop of the vault is a crocket created after the paintings in the galleries of the Cathedral of St. Basil the Blessed (Pokrovsky) built in 1561 at the decree of Ivan the Terrible in honour of the victory over the Kazan khanate. The paintings and architecture of the portals in the Pokrovsky Cathedral underlie the decor of rooms 17 and 19.

The central part of the room is occupied by a replica of the so-called «Tsar’s Place» of Ivan the Terrible made in 1551 for the Assumption Cathedral in the Moscow Kremlin where it has been kept until now. The replica was manufactured specially for the Historical Museum in the late 19th century and is remarkable for being a reconstruction of the unique artifact in its original appearance with restored decor details, gilding and polychromatic painting that had been gradually lost.

The «Tsar’s Place» was a symbol of autocratic power wielded by Russian sovereigns. In the records of the 16th and 17th centuries it is even described as a «throne». Placed on its door wings is a text of the legend telling of how Great Prince of Kiev Vladimir Monomakh received the state regalia as a gift from Byzantine Emperor Konstantin Monomakh – among them the famous cap of Monomakh, the crown of Russian tsars, is found. The three walls of the «Tsar’s Place» are decorated with 12 thematic relieves illustrating this story. The legend was called to show the succession of Moscow sovereigns’ political power from Byzantine emperors.

The «Tsar’s Place» is crowned with a double-headed eagle. This symbol of the Grand Prince power adopted in the 15th century by Ivan III was stamped on princely things, coins and state seals. As time went by, the double-headed eagle became regarded as the Emblem of the Russian State.

cases 1-2
The biggest section of the exposition (cases 1-6) is dedicated to the making and establishment of Russian autocracy. The beginning of the section presents the history of three tsar’s dynasties: Ruriks, Godunovs and Romanovs.

In case 2 there are things from the treasury of early Russian tsars. A possessor’s inscription on a silver glass indicates that it belongs to Sovereign Tsar and Grand Prince Ioann Vasilyevich and his son, tsarevich Feodor Ioannovich. Here also one can see a wineglass that belonged to equerry and trusted boyar Boris Godunov. After ascending the throne tsar Boris did not leave it in his treasury, but presented it to one of his courtiers Klaus Sevastyanov. The portrait of the tsar Feodor Ioannovich originates from the already mentioned series of graveside portraits of Russian tsars from the St. Michael the Archangel Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin. The double portrait of the first tsars from the Romanov dynasty – Mikhail Feodorovich and Aleksey Mikhailovich – belongs to the same collection.

case 3
The exhibits dealing with the reign of the first Russian tsar Ivan the Terrible (case 3) are assigned a special place in the section. Historians single out two periods in his reign. Initially the young tsar tried to create an efficient system of state governance by means of reforms to ensure the unity of Russia and strengthen her international standing. But very soon the tsar changed his policy: by terror and repression he secured the fulfillment of his agenda. This period came down into history under the name «oprichnina».

In the case there are two works compiled under Ivan the Terrible. One of the volumes of The Personal Chronicle Cord describes the reign of Ivan the Terrible and justifies his brutal methods. Presumably the tsar edited this volume himself. The book is open at the miniature depicting the «coronation scene» of young Ivan. The second collection – Stepennaya Kniga (Genealogical book) – presents the history of Russia as a staircase, each step corresponding to the reign of a certain prince.

In the same case there is tsar’s penitential, prayerful sackcloth. This rarity arrived to the Historical Museum from Aleksandrovskaya Sloboda that had been the centre of the «oprichnina» force formation for 10 years.

cases 5-6
The materials of the closing part of the section (cases 5-6) recount the political crisis of the 1680s and the early reign of Peter the Great.

cases 7-10
The second part of the exposition is devoted to the governance system of the Russian State in the 16th and 17th centuries. The things exhibited in cases 7-10 highlight the activities of state departments called «prikazy». These are departmental seals, samples of business papers, personal things of clerks, heads of government bodies, boyar members of the Duma, highest boyar ranks and Sovereign Court ranks. Here also reward dippers and gold breastplates and decorations presented to public officials for their service are [exhibited. In the middle of the XVII century the number of «prikazy» amounted to 42; however the exposition focuses on the Posol’skiy Prikaz (Ambassadorial Department) and Diplomatic Service (case 7). The establishment of diplomatic contacts with foreign countries and organisation of permanent ambassadorial missions in leading European capitals was strengthening the standing of Russia on the world arena.

case 11
The materials of case 11 introduce visitors to the court etiquette and ceremonial. Feasts and hunting played an important role in the court life back in the days of old. The ruler would demonstrate his lavishness at a feast thereby enlisting new subjects for the state service; when hunting he was to demonstrate personal courage, bravery and to vindicate his right to govern the state. It wasn’t by accident that admiration for the unparalleled shine and splendour of the Russian tsar’s court was expressed in the reports of foreign ambassadors. In the centre is a rich harness, the book Falconry Regulations written by the tsar Aleksey Mikhailovich himself. On a separate shelf is a silver beer mug made in Germany with the possessor’s inscription of tsar Feodor Alekseyevich and image of a falconer with a bird of prey on his hand.

Tsar’s Place
Since the time of the Museum foundation this room has been devoted to the reign of Ivan the Terrible; hence such a grand and solemn appearance. Against the gold back-drop of the vault is a crocket created after the paintings in the galleries of the Cathedral of St. Basil the Blessed (Pokrovsky Cathedral) built in 1561 at the decree of Ivan the Terrible in honour of the victory over the Kazan khanate. The paintings and architecture of the portals in the Pokrovsky Cathedral underlie the decor of rooms 17 and 19.

The central part of the room is occupied by a replica of the so-called «Tsar’s Place» of Ivan the Terrible made in 1551 for the Assumption Cathedral in the Moscow Kremlin where it has been kept until now. The replica was manufactured specially for the Historical Museum in the late 19th century and is remarkable for being a reconstruction of the unique artifact in its original appearance with restored decor details, gilding and polychromatic painting that had been gradually lost.

The «Tsar’s Place» was a symbol of autocratic power wielded by Russian sovereigns. In the records of the 16th and 17th centuries it is even described as a «throne». Placed on its door wings is a text of the legend telling of how Great Prince of Kiev Vladimir Monomakh received the state regalia as a gift from Byzantine Emperor Konstantin Monomakh – among them a famous cap of Monomakh, crown of Russian tsars, is found. The three walls of the «Tsar’s Place» are decorated with 12 thematic relieves illustrating this story. The legend was called to show the succession of Moscow sovereigns’ political power from Byzantine emperors.

The «Tsar’s Place» is crowned with a double-headed eagle. This symbol of the Grand-Prince power adopted in the 15th century by Ivan III was stamped on princely things, coins and state seals. As time went by, the double-headed eagle became regarded as the Emblem of the Russian State.

Сentral part
Presented in the central part of the section are items from the time of the first Romanov tsars’ reign: portraits of tsarinas, personal things of Aleksey Mikhailovich, a table from the cell of tsarevna Sofia in the Novodevichy Convent, a chair from the tsar’s chambers in the Ipatievsky Monastery in Kostroma.

The portrait of the tsar Aleksey Mikhailovich is of special interest. The inscription says: «The Image of Great Sovereign Tsar and Grand Prince of All Great, White and Minor Russia Aleksey Mikhailovich, the Autocrat». The Sovereign is represented in a stately posture and full dress glittering in gold and gems. This is the earliest of all known tsarist gala portraits painted in the 1670s. Aleksey Mikhailovich is known to personally pose to the painter several times.

Pier
By the end of the 18th century the gala portrait genre took shape in Russia where painters, instead of showing individual features of represented statesmen, emphasized their social status, merits to the State and affiliation with power structures. For this very reason the gala portrait of those days is an important historical source. Thus the portrait of the tsar Aleksey Mikhailovich emphasizes his exclusive social standing, and hence autocracy that stroke deeper root in his reign. Prince V.V.Golitsyn is also represented, first of all, as an outstanding political and military figure: his arm rests on the text of the perpetual peace treaty with Rzeczpospolita (Poland), which he initiated. The prince’s breast is adorned with «a gold coin on chain valued at ten Hungarian coins» – the highest decoration of those days presented solely to voevodes. This decoration reminds of famous Crimea campaigns of 1687 and 1689 led by prince Golitsyn.

Current exhibitions

Exhibitions in 2017

1 Jan. — 31 Dec., 2017