FRANKFURT, GERMANY. An exhibition titled “Hessian Princesses in the History of Russia” opened on December 19, 2017 at the Museum of Icons in Frankfurt, Germany. The exhibition focuses on the lives of four princesses from the Grand Duchy of Hesse who married into the Russian Imperial Family: Grand Duchess Natalia Alekseevna (wife of Crown Prince Paul Petrovich, future Emperor Paul I), Empress Maria Alexandrovna (wife of Emperor Alexander II), Grand Duchess Elizaveta Feodorovna (wife of Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich), and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna (wife of Emperor Nicholas II).
The exhibition presents over three hundred portraits, documents, works of art and personal belongings of these four princesses and members of their families. They are drawn both from notable Russian collections, such as the Hermitage, Historical Museum, Tretyakov Gallery, Russian Museum, Tsarskoe Selo Museum, Pavlovsk Museum, and the State Archive of the Russian Federation, as well as from private collections.
Among the materials displayed are twenty-five objects from the Foundation of Russian History and Holy Trinity Monastery and Seminary. Porcelain Easter eggs with the cypher of Alexandra Feodorovna, an enameled Faberge brooch with the Empress’s monogram, a prayer book inscribed by the Tsarina, and a presentation cup from the coronation of Nicholas II are some of the items loaned for this exhibition. A number of the artefacts are personal effects found during the 1918-1919 investigation of the murder of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna and Grand Duchess Elizaveta Feodorovna: a pearl and diamond earring and an emerald cross belonging to the Empress, two small icons, a tear-off calendar for 1918, and photographs of the mine shaft into which Grand Duchess Elizaveta Feodorovna was thrown along with others who shared her fate.
This is the first time that artefacts from the collection of the Foundation of Russian History are exhibited in Western Europe. Approximately a third of the loaned materials has never been exhibited before.
The exhibition opening was preceded by a conference featuring lectures by historians, archivists, museum specialists and art historians detailing the lives and contributions of the four subjects of the exhibition. The conference concluded with a presentation of the exhibition catalog. The opening ceremony took place in the neighboring church, the Deutschordenskirche, where the exhibition’s organizers, representatives of Frankfurt’s municipal government, clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church, and embassy officials delivered opening remarks and greetings.
The exhibition, organized by the Elizabeth-Sergei Educational Society, will be open from December 19, 2017 to February 25, 2018.