|The Holy Trinity Church in Jordanville on a spectacular day for the opening of the eagerly anticipated exhibit of the Foundation of Russian History.|
|Inside the exhibit: The Russian Word and Image.|
Among these artifacts are some remarkable items which surprisingly survived following the fall of czarist Russia. Perhaps most recognizable, Romanov family items are now part of the exhibit highlighting these and some of Russia's rare historic objects.
The artifacts SAC treated for the exhibit included both paper and textiles. The paper based items included a menu from a celebratory dinner of the Coronation of Czar Nicholas II (often referred to as "the last Czar") and a set of illustrations of the coronation. Before they arrived in our studio, many items had been painstakingly preserved by well-intentioned individuals who knew that these items were rare. Many paper based items had been glued to poster boards with rubber cement, and some had been placed in very acidic environments. Other items, like the print below had been "touched up" by painting areas where there was great loss. With perseverance, SAC was able to remove the prints from their boards and conserve each of the paper items.
|One of a set of four prints celebrating the coronation of Nicholas II.|
The textiles we treated in this collection were magnificent. The flags and banners in particular were each richly and heavily embroidered with intricacy and unbelievable detail. The embroidery was often 3-dimensional. Such an artifact treated for the exhibition was a double-sided standard (image below) elaborately worked with metallic threads and silver discs. At the center, the image incorporated enameled metal for the face and hands of St. George who appears in the still richly red colored center of the double-headed eagle's crest all on a silk damask.
Many of the items are so rare simply because of the consequences of the changes that took place in Russia as the Socialist and then Communist parties controlled the government. During this time of great change, monasteries were closed, priests were murdered or jailed, it was forbidden to teach children religion or to publish religious literature. Museums and their contents were deemed "not necessary"; therefore much of the art, history, and culture of Russia was lost in the effort to make everything the same and free from religion or the rule of the past. However not all was lost. Miraculously, objects were rescued and brought out of Russia to the tiny town of Jordanville where they would be safe from destruction.
"The Russian Word and Image" exhibit sheds light on 400 years of Russian art and books, covering the time periods of the Muscovite czardom, through the reign of Catherine the Great to Nicholas II, to the civil war to the life of Russians abroad. If you are able to go, it is just a beautifully presented exhibit.
Gwen Spicer is a textile conservator in private practice. Spicer Art Conservation specializes in textile conservation, object conservation, and the conservation of works on paper. Gwen's innovative treatment and mounting of flags and textiles is unrivaled. To contact her, please visit her website.