Russian Patterns

For the first time in modern history of venues the exhibition “Russian Patterns” highlights rare examples of Russian folk art, which are only a small part of more than two-mullioned collection of items stored in the Russian Museum of Ethnography in Saint-Petersburg.

The objects once belonged to the Romanov’s dynasty give an idea of the history of formation of the museum collections. All the members of this dynasty were known as patrons of art, and collectors of folk art objects. The exhibition shows famous painted kvass pitchers from the town of Gzhel, ceramic zoomorphic vessels, shawls, sashes and women’s jackets decorated with gold embroidery from the private museum of the Emperor Alexander III and his wife the Empress Maria Feodorovna in the Anichkov Palace.  Here visitors can also see two extremely interesting carpets belonged to the Emperors Nicholas I and Nicholas II, which are real masterpieces of Russian carpet-making of the late 18th -early 19th centuries.             

The items from the personal wardrobe of the Empress Maria Feodorovna not only reflect her tastes, but also form a clear view of her public activity.  Among them one can find the gifts from the pupils of Mariinsky colleges organized and sponsored by the Empress. Some of these items are decorated with embroidered emblems, monograms, dates and inscriptions that enable to link these objects with certain individuals or events.

The exhibition also includes original male and female peasant costumes from various parts of Russia and the best samples of folk art.  They were specially purchased for the new Ethnographic museum which was established on personal funds of the Emperor Nicholas II and renowned Russian collectors of the 19th-20th centuries N.L. Shabelskaya, F. M. Plushkin, and others.  Many of these unique objects caused a true sensation at the International Exhibition in Paris in 1900, and couldn’t help attracting attention of European artists.  Thanks to their perfect mastery of golden embroidery, weaving and appliqué techniques, craftswomen in countryside created the works of highest artistic level.  Women headdresses and breast ornaments embroidered with gold, pearls, mother-of-pearls and rhinestones, as well as chains and back parts of headgears made of colored beads are real masterpieces of folk art. The unique works from the village of Kholmogory near the city of Arkhangelsk represent the world-famous bone carving tradition of the northern Russia. Lace-like painted and carved caskets and boxes were not only common in all the strata of Russian society, but also imported in large quantities to European countries. Women kept in these boxes their best ornaments and cosmetics, and used them as dressing-tables. The works of Russian jewelers who specialized in accessories, which enriched folk costumes, and showed remarkable fantasy and skill, were of great value.  Among them visitors can appreciate pearl earrings in form of butterflies, silver buttons decorated with filigree, enamel, and mother-of pearl, delicate silver crosses.

Ornate shaped ceramic vessels, various household utensils, copper flagons with archaic engraved patterns - all these objects give an idea not only of the interiors of peasant houses, but of professionalism of craftsmen as well.

In Russian folk culture much attention was paid to child rearing. Visitors have a chance to see devices for feeding a baby, children utensils and toys.

The final section of the exhibition showcases the golden embroidery of contemporary craftswomen from the towns of Torzhok and Kaluga, and collection of dolls in traditional Russian costumes, made on the base of museum collection by an artist G. S. Belehova in the 1980s. Significant supplementary to ethnographic objects are historical photographs from the Museum photo-archives.  The events immortalized in these pictures make the visitors an exceptional opportunity to imagine an authentic peasant life in all its diversity.

Exhibition area 300 square meters

Number of objects 250