The Best of Russia



The largest portraits of Peter the Great and Catherine the Great outside of Russia. Commissioned by FRCC and painted by Victor Pakhomkin and Natasha Mokhina. The portraits depict the highlights of the reigns of Russia's two most famous Czars---

Peter the Great. Grand Embassy "Incognito" tour of Western Europe; Building St. Petersburg - his "Window to the West"- making it Russia's new Capital; Table of Ranks; Father of Russian Navy; Appointment of Bering leading to discovery of Alaska.

Catherine the Great. Building the Hermitage and Acqusition of its Vast Art Collections; Building of Schools and Hospitals; Correspondence with Voltaire and other philosophes of the Enlightenment; Refusing George III's request for 20,000 Cossacks to fight against American colonies; League of Armed Neutrality.

Russia's famous Czar and Emperor; Czarina and Empress. Peter the Great ruled from 1682-1725, Catherine the Great from 1762-1796.
The Great Hall at the Russian Cultural Centre with its Czars, 3 walls of Gold Mirrors, Quartered Oak floors and view to the Dacha Terrace.

THE CATHEDRAL COLLECTION On loan from a private collection

World's most famous collection of models of the Moscow Cathedrals. A massive, never-to-be-repeated project by 10 Russian architects and artists working for 3 years to create these large models for the 850th anniversary of Moscow (1997). Models are exactly 1:50 to scale, are in meticulous detail and range up to 6 feet in height. Each model has a separate table in which the date of the original Cathedral is inlaid in satinwood and ebony. Models on loan from a private collection to RCC 2000-2004.
To know the history of these cathedrals is to know much about Russia. Pictured above in the Moscow Room. Private Collection on indefinite loan to the RCC. All of these famous cathedrals are located inside the Kremlin except for St. Basil's, which is located just outside the Kremlin walls on Red Square.
St. Basil's Cathedral Dormition Cathedral
St. Basil's Cathedral (1560). Built by Ivan IV (TheTerrible) to celebrate his victory over the Mongols/Tartars (The Golden Hoard) at Kazan (1552) , who had occupied Russia for three centuries (1237-1552). Surrounding the central church are eight auxillary chapels built by Ivan to commemorate his eight decisive victories over the Mongols. The ninth was added in 1588 to house the remains of St. Basil. The legend that Ivan had the architect, Postnik Yakovlev, blinded so he would never create anything as magnificient again, was never confirmed. Providence must have intervened because the cathedral resisted two attempts by Napoleon and two by Stalin to destroy it. Today it is perhaps the most recognizable symbol of Russia. Cathedral of Dormition--while sometimes (erroneously) known as Assumption, Dormition is theologically correct for the Russian Orthodox. Historically considered Moscow's most important church. All of the Czars were crowned here, beginning with the first Czar, Ivan IV---who, at his coronation in 1547, wanting a title higher than Prince or Grand Duke, first took the title of Czar (derived from Caesar). All of Russia's Metropolitans and Patriarchs from 1326-1700 were buried here. Originally built in 1326 during reign of Ivan Kalita---who was persuaded that building a great cathedral would make Moscow the capital, rather than Vladimir. In 1328 the Metropolitan See was tranferred from Vladimir to Moscow. Shortly thereafter, Moscow became the Great Moscow Principality, around which all the principalities of Russia began to unite. In 1472, Ivan III (The Great) assumed the title of "Sovereign of All Russia" and adopted the emblem of the two-headed eagle of the Byzantine Empire. The present building reflects the major reconstruction, completed in 1479, by Ivan III who wanted a more imposing cathedral.

During the 1812 occupation, many of Napoleon's troops and horses were quartered here. Before they departed, the French melted down some five tons of siver and gold religious objects and decorations. The cathedral houses priceless frescoes painted inside and out, and ancient icons. (For preservation, the Virgin of Vladimir was moved to the Tretyakov.) Its Harvest Chandelier contains silver recovered from the French.

Ivan the Great Bell Tower and Ascension Belfry
Archangel Cathedral
Ivan the Great Bell Tower and Ascension Belfry.The octagonal Bell Tower (right) was completed in 1508 during the reign of Ivan III's son, Vassili III. When Boris Godunov added a third story in 1600 it became the tallest building in Moscow---and a strategic look-out with visibility to 30 km. The Ascension Belfry section (center) was built in 1543. The Tsar Bell, the largest in the world at 200 tons (Big Ben bell in London is 15 tons, Liberty Bell: 1 ton), fell from the tower in 1701 in a fire and shattered. Outside the tower is a replica which was made from the original's fragments but never raised, as an 11 ton section broke off in the casting pit during another fire. The tent roofed annex (left) was commissioned by Patriarch Filaret in 1642.
Archangel Cathedral. Named for Archangel Michael, the cathedral was the burial place for all the Moscow Princes and Czars until the capital was moved to St. Petersburg in 1712. It is the third Archangel Cathedral on this site: the first wooden structure, built in 1250, was demolished less than a century later and rebuilt in stone. The current cathedral was commissioned by Ivan III (The Great) in 1505 shortly before his death, and completed in 1509. All Moscow Princes and Czars used to come here to pay tribute to their ancestors.
Cathedral of Twelve Apostles and Patriarch's Palace
Annunciation Cathedral
The Cathedral of the Twelve Apostles and the Patriarch's Palace. The Metropolitans of the Russian Orthodox Church lived on the site of this cathedral until the Patriarchate was created in the 16th century, and the Patriarchs became the senior leaders in the Russian church. The Patriarch Nikon felt that the existing residence and small church were not grand enough, and had the present structure constructed. It was completed in 1656. His autocratic style caused a schism in the church between his reformers and the "Old Believers". He also angered Tsar Alexis when he advocated supremacy of Church over State, and was forced to retreat to a monastery outside the city; he was deposed in 1667. Today the Palace rooms are used for various ceremonies and receptions, and as the residence for the Patriarch when he is in Moscow. It also houses the Museum of 17th Century Life and Applied Art, a collection of exhibts from churches and monasteries destroyed by Stalin and Napoleon. The Iconostasis of the Chapel of the Twelve Apostles was brought from the Kremlin Convent of the Ascension prior to its demolition in 1929.
Annunciation Cathedral. While many of the other cathedrals were created primarily by Italians, Annunication, like St. Basil's, is wholly Russian. Commissioned by Ivan III (The Great) in 1484 as a Royal chapel, it was designed by architects from Pskov and completed in 1490. While not a large cathedral, many feel it is the most tastefully decorated. It is most noted for its frescoes, which cover the entire interior, and its Iconostasis, widely considered the finest in Russia. Much of the artwork was done by the monk Feodosius, son of the icon painter Dionysius who worked on Dormition cathedral. Three of Russia's most famous Icon painters contributed to the Iconostasis: Theophanes the Greek, Andrei Rublev and Prokhov. While it was the Czar's family church, Ivan IV (Terrible) was barred from services when he contravened church law by marrying for the fourth time. He then built the Groznenskiy Porch on the south facade from which he could watch through a grille.
The Palace of Facets. Commissioned by Ivan the Great in 1485 and completed in 1491, the Renaissance style palace was the Royal Residence. Named for the faceted stones on the exterior, it was, and is, the principal secular ceremonial building in the Kremlin. When President Yeltsin and President Putin were inagurated here, a red carpet was laid down the grand staircase. Known for centuries as the Red Staircase, Tsars passed down this Staircase on their way to Assumption (Dormition) Cathedral for their coronations. The last such procession was for Tsar Nicholas II in 1896. The large vaulted main hall, decorated with frescoes and gilded carvings, was the throne room and banquet hall of the Tsars for State Dinners. Here Ivan IV celebrated his victory over the Mongols at Kazan (1552) and Peter the Great toasted his triumph at Poltava in 1709. The Kremlin and Kremlin Towers. This citadel, known as the Heart of Russia, was first built as a wooden fortress in 1156, after the founding of Moscow by Prince Yury Dolgoruky in 1147. (This collection of Kremlin models, like the cathedrals, was built for the 850th Anniversary). Because of vulnerabililty to fire, pursuant to the order of Moscow Prince Dmitry Ivanovich Donskoi, the Kremlin walls were built of white stone (1367). Ivan III (The Great) commissioned Italian architects Antonio Fryazin and Pietro Antonio Solari, who built the present walls and towers in the ten year period, 1485-1495. The Kremlin battlements at the top of the walls, designed to resemble a swallows tail, protected Russian marksmen defending the Kremlin against its ememies.

There are 19 towers in the walls of the Kremlin, and one adjacent tower, each replete with history. Two examples: the Savior's Tower is named after an icon of Christ was installed over its gate in 1648 (removed after the Revolution). Everyone using Savior's Gate, including the Czar, had to remove their hat. Czar Michael Romanoff commissioned Englishman Christopher Holloway to add the tent shaped top and clock (1625). At the end of the 17th century the clock broke down and Peter the Great ordered it replaced with a new clock from Holland, with music--chimes. Originally the clock chimes played the Tsarist national anthem; in 1917 it was changed to a revolutionary anthem; today they play the Russian National Anthem. Trinity Tower - in 1812, Napoleon triumphantly marched his army into the Kremlin through the Trinity Tower gate; a month later when they left in retreat, a tower of chimes added in 1686, similar to Savior Tower, was destroyed.

Today, the Kremlin, this ancient historic core of Russia--triangular in shape and approximately 90 acres---bounded by the Moscow River and Red Square and St. Basil's---continues as the citadel of the Russian Capital. In addition to the cathedrals in this collection of models, the Kremlin contains the Official Residence and Executive Offices of the Russian President and the two main ceremonial buildings, the State Kremlin Palace (previously the Palace of the Congresses) and the Great Kremlin Palace with its St. George's Hall and other vast ceremonial halls. It also includes the State Armory Chamber, a museum of the most precious objects, representing the wealth accumulated by Russian Princes and Czars over the centuries. It includes Catherine the Great's golden carriage, 189 carat Orlov Diamond (given to her by her lover which she placed on her royal scepter), and her Crown with 5000 gems; the Diamond Throne of Czar Alexis I made in Persia in the 1600s; Faberge Eggs; the world's largest cut sapphire, of 258 carats. Also the huge carriage of Empress Elizabeth--drawn by 23 horses, one pair and seven troikas--with several doors and 14 windows---an early stretch limousine which provided Her Majesty a comfortable vehicle for her journey of several days from St. Petersburg to Moscow.

The Cathedral Collection will be on tour 2007-09. Please check "Calendar" for times & locations.
Ivan the Great Tower and Ascension Belfry The Moscow Room
One of four paintings by Valery Arkipov near the ceiling of the Moscow Room is of the new Christ the Saviour Cathedral. The original cathedral on the same site was built to commemorate the victory over Naploeon.
ETERNAL BALLET On loan from a private collection
Eternal Ballet captures the entire 4 century history of ballet in one painting. The result of a 3 year research and painting project by Maria Fedorova and Daniil Fedorov, the 3d and 4th generation of a family of ballet artists, the Osipov-Fedorov family of Moscow.
Eternal Ballet - the history of classical ballet: from Catherine de'Medici and Louis XIV (who started the first ballet school), to Tchaikovsky and Petipa (Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Nutcracker among others); famous Prima Ballerinas and ballet dancers from Anna Pavlova to Baryshnikov in their most famous roles. Scene is the Bolshoi Theatre (founded in 1773) in which many paintings of the artists, the Osipov-Fedorov family, hang. Please the see the bottom of this page for identity of each person in the painting and their contribution to classical ballet.
"Eternal Ballet" at the RCC, and the Kennedy Center during Bolshoi performances
Catherine the Great State Dinner china Eleanor Davies Tydings Ditzen, fellow FRCC Governor Rilchard Stoltz, RCC Director Batova
Between 1936-38, U.S. Ambassador to Russia (USSR), Ambassador Joseph Davies and his wife, Marjorie Merriweather Post, purchased numerous valuable Russian art pieces while he was stationed in Moscow---including the above Catherine the Great State Dinner china, the silver plates of Czar Nicholas I, and the private china of Czar Nicholas II and Alexandra. These pieces, and silver and gold china of the former Russian nobility, were donated by Ambassador Davies' daughter and FRCC Board Member, Eleanor Davies Tydings Ditzen, in memory of her father. Mrs. Ditzen, whose husband and son were both United States Senators from Maryland, remains active in Washington, and celebrated her 100th birthday in 2003.
St. Vladmir and St. Alexander Nevsky Catherine the Great china (1700s). Tsar Nicholas I china (1826) and Tsar Nicholas II china (1913).
Icons in the Orthodox tradition are among the oldest art forms in Russia, dating from the 12th century. Originally from Byzantium, Icon painting schools developed in several Russian cities until Ivan the Terrible decreed in the late 15th century that all iconographers must live in Moscow. While no longer true, Iconographers in Russia are few in number---but still create Icons using
Oleg Molchanov, The Very Reverend Dmitry Grigorieff, Sergei Goussarin
the same methods used a milleninum ago, adopted from Byzantium, and adhering to the same strict rules of the Russian Orthodox church. The RCC/FRCC collection includes The Virgin, St. Nicholas, St. George and the Firey Ascent of the Prophet Elijah.
Article "Russian Soul in Revision"about Icon exhibit at the RCC by Alexander Sokolov
Sculpture of Alexander Pushkin, Russia's most famous poet. Donated by the sculptor, Leonid Brener for the RCC Pushkin Library. The Library is modeled after Pushkin's "Last Cabinet" in St. Petersburg---where he died, after a duel, "surrounded by 1505 of his friends, his books." See "Pushkin Library". Sculpture of Mikhail Gorbachev, former President of Russia (USSR), Nobel Peace Prize winner and partner with President Reagan in ending the Cold War. The sculpture by Selene Fung of Macau and New York, is entitled "Architect of Peace", and was donated by Nanette Ho of Macau. Sculpture of the last Czar, Nicholas II, representing the end of 300 years of the Romanoff dynasty, which began with Mikhail Romanov in 1613. Executed along with his family by overzealous Bolsheviks in 1917, Nicholas II's reign was perhaps best known for his fairytale love story with his wife, Alexandra, and the influence in his court by the controversial Rasputin. "Friends Forever." At the Dacha with her Beloved Borzois. Sculpture by Chiparus. A Russian tradition is that everyone should have a Dacha, a residence in the countryside, whether large or small, where one can experience the pleasures of quiet enjoyment, including nature and perspective. On loan to RCC from private collection.
Peter Carl Faberge, known as the Cellini of the North or latter day Cellini (the 16th century Italian jeweler and goldsmith), was born in St. Petersburg in 1846. In Czarist days, Easter was a time for presenting gifts and the Easter Egg took first place as the age-old symbol of Resurrection, New Life and Hope. In 1885 Faberge proposed to Czar Alexander III that he create a special egg with a surprise inside for him to present to the Empress, but refused to tell the Czar what the surprise would be---a dangerous strategy. However, the Czar was so impressed with the lavish, elegant and unique guilloche craftsmanship that he gave Faberge a standing order for one each year. During the reign of Czar Nicholas II, he made two each Easter: one for Czarina Alexandra and one for his mother, the Dowager Empress. In all, 50 Imperial eggs were made for the Royal family. The present locations of 42 are known. After the revolution, Faberge fled to Switzerland where he died. Today, however, the Faberge business continues, producing elegant Easter Eggs in the style of Peter Carl Faberge.

The "Guilloche" process employed by Faberge involves an application of translucent layers of enamel over a hand engraved surface. The eggs were made with such minute detail, that the "Coronation Egg", which contained inside, a 4 inch miniature of Catherine the Great's carriage complete with the crown on top with diamonds, and a working suspension---was used by the Hermitage in its recent restoration of the carriage.

Faberge Easter Egg from the continuing Faberge business, on display at RCC, was exhibited at the White House for Easter 2002. The official RCC/FRCC dessert "Pavlova Faberge" was inspired by the Faberge Eggs and Bolshoi Prima--see Special Events and Cuisine. On loan to RCC 2002-2004.
Palekh boxes come from the village of Palekh, in the Ivanovo region, also famous for its Icon painters. The boxes, while appear to be of wood, are produced in a papier mache process and lacquered--and always black in color except for the painting. The painting on the Palekh box is of an historical, literary, folklore or religious subject. The value of these boxes is due to the high quality of the art, in minature, and with great detail---often painted with a brush of one sable hair. Some boxes can take a year for an artist to produce. Palekh artists are generally regarded as the most highly trained of the Russian miniature painters, reflecting the discipline and technique of ancient icon painting. To sign a box as Palekh, the artist must have completed at least four years at the local institute, which receives applications from all over Russia, but graduates only a handful of artists each year.
Palekh Boxes such as this one on loan to the Russian Cultural Centre, are often painted with one sable hair and take a year to make. The village of Palekh is about 250 miles from Moscow.
The Russian Samovar today is known as the Russian symbol of hospitality, similar to the pineapple in the U.S. On special occasions, it is the centerpiece in the tradition-steeped Russian tea service---which ranges from the simple, to ritualistic and ceremonial. Historically, the Samovar was not only the symbol of hospitality, but family comfort and prosperity---some homes had two---one for everyday use, and one more valuable for entertaining.There were even some homes with a separate Samovar Room.

Tea drinking, originating in China, first came to Europe in early 1600s via Portugal, Holland and England, the 3 seafaring nations trading with China. Because the French preferred dark roasted coffee and wine and the Germans, beer, the growing tea markets were Holland and England (and its Colonies - cf. the Boston Tea Party)---and Russia.

Russia was formally introduced to tea in 1618 when the Chinese embassy presented several chests of tea to Czar Alexis. During the late 1600s, Russia imported Chinese tea by camel caravan (an extension of the ancient "Silk Route" from China to Byzantium)---as many as 300 camels at a time arriving in China carrying Russian furs. Returning to Russia carrying Chinese tea and porcelain on a 11,000 mile trip that took over 16 months, the tea in the cloth camel saddlebags absorbed the aroma and smoke from the campfires along the way. Today's Russian Caravan Tea has that smoky aroma.

The Russian Samovar, centerpiece of the Russian ceremonial tea service. The large bottom section is to heat water, the tea pot rests on top. The most famous come from Tula, Russia's oldest metalurgical center (where Peter the Great built Russia's first arms factory). Russians make tea as follows: (1) pour boiling water from Samovar into tea pot and let stand for several minutes, then pour out water. (2) Put in 2-3 spoons of loose tea and a small amount of hot water. (3) Steep for about 10 minutes and use this "brew" as a concentrate, pouring a portion into each cup. (4) Add boiling water from the Samovar to each cup, to desired strength.
Lomonosov china. Often considered Russia's finest china, the china factory was founded in 1744 by decree of Empress Elizabeth, daughter of Peter the Great, and named for Russia's famous 18th century academic scientist and writer, Mikhail Lomonosov. Using alabaster porcelain technology, the china is whiter than usual, delicate and translucent.
This carved Russian Bear holding a gold-leafed Samovar, was brought from Russia and integrated into the RCC grand staircase. The Russian Samovar, like the pineapple in the U.S., is a symbol of hospitality.
Lomonosov Colbat Net Pattern at RCC
By the end of Catherine the Great's reign (1796), Russia was importing thousands of camel loads of tea per year and was a world leader in tea consumption. The caravans continued until the Trans Siberian Railway was built between 1891-1905.
Called the food of the gods or the food of the Czars, Caviar may be the most legendary dish in history---probably because of its association with royalty, its scarcity and price---and it is totally identified with Russia.

While the meat of the sturgeon was prized for centuries, eating the roe (caviar) was considered somewhat vulgar by Russian polite society until Catherine the Great served it at a State Dinner in 1778. After that, an extensive caviar industry developed in the Caspian Sea, particularly at Astrakhan where the world's oldest and largest caviar fisheries are now over 200 years old.

True Russian caviar comes only from the Caspian Sea sturgeon, a prehistoric fish which was swimming at the time of the dinosaurs. The caviar is named for the type of sturgeon from which it comes: Beluga (largest sturgeon); Osetra (or Russian sturgeon); Sevruga (or Stellate) - the smallest sturgeon.

Russian Caviar (L-R): Beluga, Osetra, Sevruga. Russia has always strictly regulated the caviar industry---from the Czars granting to the Cossacks exclusive rights to sturgeon fishing---to the required colors on containers: Beluga-blue; Osetra-yellow; Sevruga-red. Each of the 3 types of caviar has its own cult of aficionados. The best Russian caviar does not taste salty; it is labeled "Malossol" (little salt) and is only lightly salted to prevent freezing as caviar is best stored at slightly above or below 32 degrees (F). Its taste is described as a breath of clean ocean air. Russians do not serve high quality caviar with accompaniments, such as eggs or onions. Quality caviar is served with a mother of pearl spoon, as silver gives the caviar a metallic taste. Because of serious overfishing, Russian and 151 nations signed an International Convention on trade in endangered species including the Caspian sturgeon---which has increased its scarcity and price. It is hoped that one day, the roe of the Russian mother sturgeon will again be available for all to enjoy.
Mikhail Gorbachev, FRCC Chairman Costley
The painting Russian American Cooperation Through History was dedicated by Mikhail Gorbachev on April 20, 2001. The painting includes important examples of cooperation: Catherine the Great and John Paul Jones (1775 & 1788); Handshake at the Elbe River (1945); Soyuz-Apollo (1975); Russian Goose Quill Pens (18th-19th century trade); Reykjavik (1986 - one of four Gorbachev-Reagan summits which ended the Cold War).
Russian American Cooperation Through History is built into the woodwork above the fireplace in the Russian American Room. The painting is on wood constructed with struts on the reverse to prevent warping--a technology used in damp medieval castles. Research for the painting was joint U.S. and Russian project. Particular credit is owed to James Cheevers, Senior Curator, U.S. Naval Academy Museum, Annapolis.
Czar Alexi I, father of Peter the Great. Ruled 1645-1676. Vladimir Tolstoy presents RCC Director with Painting Alexander Pushkin Presentation of painting at RCC Literary Salon
Vladimir Tolstoy presented to the RCC a painting of Czar Alexei I, father of Peter the Great, and son of Mikhail Romanov, founder of the Romanov Dynasty. This painting of Russia's most famous poet, an authorized reproduction of Orest Kiprensky's original in the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, was donated by Murray Howder to the RCC Pushkin Library of Arts and Humanities.
The Seal of Russia, the two-headed eagle, was adopted by Ivan the Great in 1472 from Byzantium. Ivan had married Sophia Paleolog, the niece of Constantine XI, the last Byzantine Emperor. This symbol of Russia for over 400 years,was readopted, after the communist period, as the national emblem by Presidential Degree of 1993 and by Federal Law in 2000.The double eagle faces both east and west, as Russia rests in both Europe and Asia. On the eagle's chest is St. George slaying the dragon, the ancient symbol of Moscow, symbolizing the fight of Good versus Evil. This scene of St. George often appears in Russian Icons.
Historic and official Russian Seal at the RCC
The Seal was adopted in the 15th century from the ancient symbol of Byzantium, the eastern capital, and later capital (330AD), of the Roman Empire. Byzantium (Constantinople) had great influence on Russian culture.
The Russian Flag, the tricolor, was ordered by Peter the Great, in 1705, to be flown on all merchant ships sailing on all major Russian rivers. There are several theories as to why Peter chose this flag as the symbol of his country. One is that his father, Czar Alexis, had designed a similar red, white and blue ensign for his favorite ship, The Eagle. The significance of the three colors has changed through history: white (nobility), blue (honesty), red (courage and love). Also, from top to bottom, the white, blue, red colors represented the three cardinal virtues of Faith, Hope, Love. (For additional interpretations, see, "State Symbols".) The tricolor was readopted as the Russian Flag by degree of President Yeltsin (1993) and by Federal Law in 2000.
The Russian tricolor was first ordered to be flown on maritime vessels by Peter the Great. It was officially adopted as the national symbol at the 1856 Paris Congress ending the Crimean War. It was temporarily replaced for 38 years by a black-yellow-white banner by Czar Alexander II, (Czar Nicholas II reinstated the tricolor) and the communist hammer and sickle flag for 76 years. In 1993, President Yeltsin reinstated the tricolor.
Shortly before his death, Peter the Great appointed Vitus Bering to conduct an expedition to see if the eastern end of Russia connected to the American continent. Some scholars believe he was influenced to order this expedition while in London, in 1698, on his "Incognito Tour" of Europe---after an encounter with William Penn who had just returned from America and founding the colony of Pennsylvania.

In 1741, on his second expedition, Bering discovered land on the northwestern tip of the American continent. It became Russia's only major colony in the new world. The colony was named Russian America.

Russia's primary interest in this new possession was the fur trade---notably the furs of the sea otters which were prized by the Chinese---to whom Russia traded the furs in exchange for porcelain, silk and tea. (See Samovar and the "Silk Route", above). In 1799, to develop Russian America and its valuable furs commodity, Czar Paul I chartered the Russian American Company and gave it monoply trading privileges. One third of the profits went to the Czar. The most important Governor of Russian America, Aleksandr Baranov, established a permanent settlement at Sitka and extended the fur trade down the west coast, eventually founding a settlement in northern California, Ft. Ross (1812).

In the 1840s the fur trade diminished and the Czar retook control of the Russian American Company from the merchants. The company was officially dissolved in 1867 when Alaska was sold to the United States for $7.2 million. However, to this day, because of the impact of Russian America and its former citizens who remained, Russia maintains on the west coast, two of its five official missions in the U.S.---Consulates in Seattle and San Francisco---in addition to its Consulate in Houston, its Embassy in Washington and United Nations mission in New York.

Order of St. Andrew. The highest royal Russian Order, established by Peter the Great. St. Andrew is the patron saint of Russia. Order of St. Alexander Nevsky (who defeated the Swedes and then the Teutonic Knights in the "Battle on Ice"). Established by Peter the Great as a military order. Order of St. George. Created by Catherine the Great for meritorius military service or bravery in combat. Order of St. Anne. Named to honor Anna the daughter of Peter Great. Conferred on John Paul Jones by Catherine II for his victory at Battle of Black Sea. Order of St. Vladimir. Created by Catherine II. Named for Vladimir of Kiev who, in 978, chose Christianity for the Russian state.
The following description was prepared for the loan of the painting to the Kennedy Center.


History of Classical Ballet

On loan to RCC from a private collection

“Eternal Ballet” is on loan to the Russian Cultural Centre and to the Kennedy Center for the Bolshoi performances. The artists, Maria Fyodorova and her son, Daniil Fyodorov of Moscow, are the 3d and 4th generation of a family of ballet artists, the Osipov-Fyodorov family. "Eternal Ballet" is the result of a three year research and painting project (1999-2001) by the artists, who received unprecedented access to the Bolshoi and its archives of records, paintings and photographs. The painting reflects the four centuries of classical ballet:

(1) Catherine de' Medici. First presented ballet as a distinct art form, 1581.

(2) Louis XIV. Founded first ballet school, 1672. Louis XIV was

accomplished dancer in his own right until he became too corpulent.

(3) Anna Pavlova (Dying Swan). Anna Pavlova introduced Russian classical

ballet to the world on her tours abroad in early 1900s. In Australia/New

Zealand the well-known dessert "Pavlova" was created in her honor.

Perhaps the most famous ballerina in history.

(4) Maya Plisetskaya (Carmen). Fame and recognition came early to

Plisetskaya as she was selected as a soloist dancer at the Bolshoi, at age

18, upon graduating from the Bolshoi school in 1943. Recognition as

one of the world’s foremost ballerinas was due to her combination of

flawless technique and expression of every emotional nuance. Because

of her latter ability, she may be best remembered for the passionate title

role in Carmen.

(5) Isadora Duncan (Greek inspired dance). The innovative and dynamic

American greatly influenced modern dance through triumphal world

tours and her ballet schools in Berlin, Paris, Moscow. Married Russian

poet Sergey Yesenin, 1922. Reflecting classical Greek art, she danced

barefoot in a tunic costume which included her trademark scarves.

Ironically and tragically, following her final performance in Paris, she

died when her long scarf was caught in her car wheel while motoring at full

speed in Nice (1927).

(6) Galina Ulanova (Romeo & Juliet). Noted for her lyric grace and beauty

and the emotionalism of her acting, she became Prima Ballerina of the

Bolshoi in 1944. She created the role of Juliet in Lavrovski’s version of

Romeo & Juliet. Accomplished young Russian ballerinas were told they

"danced like Ulanova.". She was lauded abroad as the greatest since

Pavlova. After her retirement in 1962 she continued to teach at the Bolshoi.

(7) Mikhail Baryshnikov (The Prince in Swan Lake). Although highly

respected and very popular at home, he left the Soviet Union in 1974 and

became a star of the American Ballet Theatre (ABT) and New York City

Ballet. He increased the American awareness and popularity of ballet when

he starred in the movie, The Turning Point (1977), and appeared on

television. Has remained very active: artistic director of ABT (1980-89)

and in 1990 formed and began dancing with his White Oak Dance Project.

Currently, he is a principal in the Baryshnikov Arts Center in New York.

(8) Nadezhda Pavlova (Giselle) Prima Ballerina of the Bolshoi who, like

Plisetskaya, gained fame at an early age, and has written her own pages of

Bolshoi history. Nadezhda was the first major ballerina to perform the

dramatic leaps, previously done only by men. In 1999 she created and

performed a new dance for Washington audiences, The Swan, and in return,

the dessert “Pavlova Faberge” was created in her honor. (See Cuisine.)

(9) Rudolf Nureyev (La Bayadere). Regarded by many as the leading ballet

dancer of his generation, Nureyev was born in Siberia and became a soloist

at the Kirov (1958) before leaving the USSR while on tour in Paris (1961).

Noted for his powerful stage presence and exceptional athletic skill, his

career included the Royal Ballet in London and nearly every leading ballet

forum in the world, and dancing with many celebrated ballerinas, most

notably Margot Fonteyn. He appeared in film, television and on Broadway,

and in 1983 became ballet director of the Paris Opera.

(10) Peter Tchaikovsky. Wrote the music for Swan Lake, Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty.

(11) Marius Petipa. Responsible for Russia becoming center of ballet, beginning in1862, and

ushering in the Golden Age of classical ballet. His most famous original ballets are Swan Lake,

Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Don Quixote, La Bayadere--and his revision of Giselle--which

remain premier examples of the art form to this day. (Commissioned Tchaikovsky to compose the

music for Swan Lake, Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty.) First Ballet Master to the Czar of Russia.

Born in Paris in 1818 into a ballet family, his brother, Lucien Petipa, danced the lead male role of

Albrecht in the original 1841 production of Giselle at the Paris Opera house. Many consider that it

is Marius Petipa's revisions and transformation of Giselle in Russia in the 1880s and again in 1899,

which provide the model for most twentieth (and now twenty-first) century productions.

(12) Michel Fokine. Created Dying Swan for Anna Pavlova (1905). Born in

Russia, he studied and performed at the Imperial Ballet School. He

accompanied Sergei Diaghilev to Paris in 1909, where he became

choreographer for the Diaghilev school. Considered the founder of modern

ballet, his choreography used the old system of training but eliminated

rigid traditions allowing for more freedom of expression.

(13) Pierre Beauchamp. Master of Louis XIV Ballet School, created the 5

basic foot positions, late 1600s.

(14) Jean-Georges Noverre. French choreographer, 1760s, first to combine

plot, music, lavish sets and brilliant movement.

(15) Lynn Swann. Famous American football player who credited childhood

ballet lessons for improved footwork and balance in motion. Former Board

member of Pittsburgh Ballet. Has funded over 100 ballet scholarships.

(16) Avdotya Istomina. Became Russian Prima ballerina in 1816, first to perform works of close

friend, Alexander Pushkin, and Pushkin wrote stanzas about her in his poems. She was acclaimed

both for her exceptional dancing ability and alluring beauty. In 1817, to defend her honor, a

four-fold duel was fought: Count Count Zavadovsky killed Count Sheremetev, while the playright

Alexander Griboedov was shot in the palm by Decembrist Yakubovich.

Painting scene: Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow. The Bolshoi Ballet began as a dancing school for the Moscow Orphanage in 1773. The Bolshoi Theatre opened in 1780. After a fire it was rebuilt in 1825. Destroyed again by fire in 1853, the (current) Bolshoi was rebuilt and opened in 1856. Of the 9 classical Muses in the Bolshoi ceiling, Terpsichore, the Muse of Dance, was repositioned closer to the stage for this painting.

The Russian Cultural Centre (RCC) is an agency of the Russian Government under the auspices of the Russian Embassy, His Excellency, Yuri Ushakov, Ambassador. The Founding Director of the RCC, Natalie Batova, is also Counselor, Russian Foreign Ministry, Moscow, and Cultural Attache of the Russian Embassy in Washington. The painting was commissioned by, and is on loan to the RCC from the personal collection of Lloyd Costley, Chairman of the Friends of the RCC, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation which provides support for the RCC.