Costumes of the 18th – Early-20th Centuries in the Hermitage Collection
On 16 May 2014,the State Hermitage held the official opening ceremonies of the first exhibitions of this anniversary year – “At the Russian Imperial Court. Costumes of the 18th – Early-20th Centuries” and “Servants of the Imperial Court. Livery Costume of the Late-19th – Early-20th Centuries in the Hermitage Collection.” The exhibitions were the focus of a press conference at the Hermitage Theater, attended by the General Director of the State Hermitage, M.B. Piotrovsky, Senior Vice President of VTB Bank, Yu.A. Levchenko, and the Head of the Department of Russian Cultural History, V.A. Fedorov. Opening ceremonies on the Jordan Staircase of the Winter Palace were accompanied by the RF MIA Military Orchestra of the Northwest Regional Internal-Forces Command.
On May 16, 2014, the most spacious great halls of the Winter Palace saw the opening of an ambitious exhibition entitled “At the Russian Imperial Court. Costumes of the 18th – Early-20th Centuries in the Hermitage Collection” – a slice of life of the upper echelons of society, which served as the backdrop for many state affairs, historical events and cultural developments in Europe, where the personalities and idiosyncrasies of certain individuals were on dramatic display, and where Western European and Eastern influences mingled but never outshone the nation’s signature style.
The exhibition recreates the image of the Russian imperial court through works of art and household items. Paintings, graphic art, furniture, palace silver, icons and devotional items, insignias, ceremonial arms and documents help visitors feel the daily rhythm of the country’s main imperial residence, where the personal lives of the Russian monarchs unfolded, and where official ceremonies, receptions, parades and balls were hosted. Celebrations of state and church holidays – as well as milestone events in the life of the imperial family – these ceremonies symbolized the majesty of the Russian empire and supported its international prestige.
The overall impression of the pomp and ceremony of the Russian Court that so often dazzled contemporaries was largely achieved thanks to the opulent, elegant attire of the monarchs and their courtiers. This is precisely why the exposition is anchored by clothing and accessories that once belonged to members of the imperial family and members of the Russian aristocracy.
The costumes put on display for specialists and the general public combine both international and national elements, reflecting, as if in a mirror, the shifting style-leanings of Russian society, whether to Germany, France or England. The exhibition includes both ceremonial and daily costumes, outfits for visits and horseback riding, children’s and masquerade costumes, morning and strolling attire, evening wear and ball gowns. The full-dress uniforms of different troops highlight a special world of fashion – military fashion. Every monarch added his own personal touches to military uniforms, tweaking the cut here and decorative elements there, so Russian emperors have every right to be called “military fashion designers.”
The exhibition takes place from 17th of May 2014 to 21st of September 2014