Armouries in Moscow Kremlin
The first building in the Kremlin, designed to store precious items from the royal treasury, was erected in 1756–1764. Architect D. V. Ukhtomsky at the eastern facade of the Annunciation Cathedral, on the site of the dismantled Treasury Chamber, erected the building of the Armory Chamber gallery. Soon it was dismantled in connection with the construction of the grandiose Kremlin Palace, designed by V.I.Bazhenov.
After the decree of Emperor Alexander I on the creation of the museum, in 1806-1810, a special building was erected at the Trinity Gate of the Kremlin to accommodate the exhibits according to the project and under the direction of the architect I. V. Yegotov. Its decoration lasted until 1812. It served for about forty years, but in the end it turned out to be unsuitable for storing unique exhibits. Under Emperor Nicholas I, it was turned into a barracks and rebuilt according to the project of the architect K.A. Ton, and in the late 1950s it was demolished.
The same K. A. Ton in 1844-1851 at the Borovitsky Gate, on the site of the dismantled building of the Stable Yard of the 17th century, designed and built another building for the museum. It is located on the slope of a hill and has different storeys. Closer to the Borovitskaya tower – three floors, on the other side – two. The eclectic facade is decorated with carved white-stone columns with floral ornaments distributed over its entire surface. The windows of the upper floor, united by a high arch, are double-height, like those of the nearby Grand Kremlin Palace, which forms a single ensemble with the Armory building. The main entrance and staircase are located at the eastern end of the building, despite the fact that its main interior space is symmetrical.
There are about four thousand exhibits in nine halls of the museum. Here are presented state regalia, royal clothes and coronation attire of Russian empresses Armouries, church vestments, gold and silver items, ceremonial weapons and horse decorations, carriages. These are works of outstanding domestic and foreign masters, made in the XII-XX centuries with great art from a variety of rare and precious materials. Since 1967 the exhibition “Diamond Fund” has been located here.
The chalice comes from the Transfiguration Cathedral of Pereslavl-Zalessky. The city was founded in 1152 by Prince Yuri (George) Dolgoruky, and soon a cathedral was erected by his decree. Perhaps it was he who put this church vessel into the built temple: on the chalice there is depicted the heavenly patron of the prince – St. George. However, the time of the vessel’s manufacture is unknown, according to some researchers, it could have been the contribution of Dolgoruky’s grandson, Vladimir Prince Yuri Vsevolodovich, who died in March 1238 on the Sit River during Batu’s invasion of Russia.
The chalice is one of the rare monuments of the pre-Mongol period. This is a magnificent example of the jewelry art of medieval Russia. Created by an outstanding craftsman, it is distinguished by its sophistication of form, proportionality of parts and skillfully executed decoration. The chalice is a prototype of the chalice, which during the Last Supper Christ handed over to his disciples with the words: “Drink from it all, for this is My Blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” These words are carved into the bowl of the vessel, along the upper edge from the outside. The inscription is gilded, as are the images placed in the medallions below. They represent the Blessing Savior, the Mother of God, John the Baptist, the archangels Gabriel and Michael, the Martyr George.
The black inscription on the frame of the precious altar Gospel testifies to the fact that it was the contribution of Tsar Ivan Vasilyevich the Terrible to the Cathedral of the Annunciation. Perhaps the gift was associated with the Tsar’s third marriage, with Martha Vasilyevna Sobakina, on October 28, 1571.
The manuscript of the Gospel was written in semi-ustav and supplemented with colorful miniatures on separate sheets. The text is accompanied by intricate drop caps, headpieces and endings made with paints and gold. Armouries
Salary is a kind of encyclopedia of jewelry art. Embossed medallions stand out with the scene of “Descent into Hell” in the center and the depiction of the four evangelists in the corners. Around them and on the four sides of the setting there are gold ribbons with nielloed dedicatory inscriptions and words of prayer. The entire field is covered with an intricate scanned pattern, between the graceful curls of which white and blue enamel is poured, into which droplets of gold grain are melted. The delicate tones of the enamel are in harmony with the color of large sapphires, along with tourmalines and topaz, placed in high castes and skillfully distributed over the surface of the product. In addition to the precious decoration of the salary, there is a pavorose tab, decorated with pearls and precious stones.
According to the inscription on it, the golden censer was a contribution to the Cathedral of the Archangel made by Tsarina Irina Fedorovna Godunova in commemoration of the soul of her husband, Tsar Fedor Ivanovich. In its shape, the product resembles a one-domed ancient Russian temple, decorated with a hill of kokoshniks. Armouries
The censer is placed on a pallet made in the form of a multi-lobed rosette. On its walls there are figures of the Mother of God, archangels and saints, executed in a refined graphic manner in the technique of mob, as well as the composition “Cathedral of the Archangel Michael”. An intricate black pattern fills almost all the remaining free space, leaving room only for large gems placed in high castes. The even saturated color of pink tourmalines, blue sapphires, green emeralds brings the desired variety to the color scheme of this magnificent piece of ancient Russian jewelry art. Five gold ring chains are attached to the censer. They are connected to a cup, resting on a quadrangular base, decorated with niello and precious stones, at the top of which is a smooth ring.
Such a skillfully executed censer, according to the order of the patriarch, was allowed to be used only nine times a year: during the memorial services for Tsar Ivan the Terrible and his closest relatives. Armouries
This bucket belonged to Tsar Mikhail Fedorovich. A black inscription with the name of the ruler and his short title encircles the product from the outside. It was made from a single piece of gold weighing about a kilogram by the tsarist silver-maker Tretyak Pestrikov. Working at the court in the first third of the 17th century, he created many similar products and managed to pass on his business to his children and grandchildren.
A ladle is one of the oldest types of ancient Russian dishes. The shape of the oldest wooden ladles was later adopted by metal ones. In an era when in Russia there was an acute shortage of precious metals, they were highly valued and passed on by inheritance. The spiritual documents of the Moscow sovereigns mention both gold and silver ladles. By the 16th century, a peculiar form of these products had been developed in Moscow: low, wide, with a flat bottom. They were used during ceremonies in the Kremlin and beyond. From them they drank a widespread intoxicating drink in Russia – honey, distinguished by a variety of taste and color. Red honey was served in a gold ladle, white honey in a silver one. Often, such items served as an adornment for the tsar’s supply installed in the Faceted Chamber or other ceremonial halls. The Russian tsars gave them to foreign monarchs, gave them for good service, and received them as gifts from their subjects.
The bowl, created in the middle of the 17th century, is a common offering for that time. The inscription, placed on its outer side along the crown, says that in 1653 “the pious sovereign Tsar and Grand Duke Alexei Mikhailovich of All Russia, and with this bowl, Nikon blessed and struck with his forehead the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.” The gift was made shortly after Nikon accepted the rank of patriarch. The head of the Russian Orthodox Church in this inscription addressed the tsar both as a spiritual mentor and as a subject.
In 1686, on behalf of Tsars Ivan and Peter Alekseevich, the cup was granted to the favorite of the ruler Princess Sophia, Prince Vasily Vasilyevich Golitsyn “for his service, for eternal peace with the Polish king,” but three years later the prince fell into disgrace, all his property was confiscated, and the product returned to the royal treasury.
During the years of the creation of the bowl, the art of enamel in Russia experienced a flourishing period. Its hemispherical surface is embossed with wide valleys, rounded outward and covered with an exquisite floral pattern. Skillfully applied by the master enamel, now slightly translucent through transparent layers, now densely superimposed, dull, with its multicolor, successfully harmonizes with sparkling diamonds and emeralds, rubies and sapphires placed on the golden surface. The bud of a flower of wondrous beauty seems to open before the viewer. Armouries
The gold snuffbox is the work of an outstanding St. Petersburg jeweler, one of the creators of the great imperial crown, Jeremiah Pozier, of Swiss origin. According to some researchers, it served as a gift presented by Empress Elizaveta Petrovna to her favorite (and according to legend, secret husband) Count Alexei Grigorievich Razumovsky on the occasion of his fiftieth birthday, celebrated in 1759. On the lid of the snuff-box there is a profile engraved image made French jeweler Jean Georges), which is presented against the background of a view of St. Petersburg with galleys on the Neva and the building of the Kunstkamera.
To the right and just above the profile of Elizabeth Petrovna, a large yellow diamond (weighing 1.05 carats) sparkles, symbolizing the sun, from which rays-diamonds pour out in a sparkling fan on the Empress. Repeating the rounded shape of the lid, on either side of the portrait are stylized images of a palm tree and an intertwined ribbon of a laurel branch, and under them is an eagle with spread wings with a power and a scepter in its paws. They symbolize victory, peace and glory. On the side wall of the item, in cartouches, there are four chased images with allegorical multi-figured scenes: “Accession to the throne”, “Expulsion of the Brunswick dynasty”, “Peace with Sweden in Abo in 1743”, “Apotheosis of the Empress”. Armouries
An egg-clock with a bouquet of white lilies in 1899 was presented for Easter by Emperor Nicholas II to his wife Alexandra Feodorovna. It was made by the leading craftsman of the famous company “K. Faberge ”Mikhail Perkhin is a talented self-taught peasant who has created many masterpieces in his short life. The intricate mechanism was assembled by the watchmakers of the “G. Moser and Sons ”.
The watch does not have a traditional round dial. Coated with white enamel, here it is presented in the form of a ribbon with Roman numerals inlaid with diamonds. Before, when the mechanism was in good working order, the dial rotated around the central axis of the egg, and the gold, diamond-studded hour hand, executed in the form of an arrow of the god of love Cupid embedded in a bow, showed that the hour had come.
Time passes – love remains, this is also hinted at by the unfading lilies crowning the egg, as if sprouting through a wreath of golden roses, made of milky white cacholong or onyx, each with golden stamens and a pestle covered with small diamonds. Their stems and leaves are made of green gold. The golden egg, the surface of which is covered with yellow enamel applied to a guilloche background, resembles a vase and rests on a low golden leg resting on a rectangular base, which has a date 1899 on its front surface lined with diamonds. Armouries
This magnificent front shield was made in the workshop of the Iranian master Muhammad Mumin Zernishan, who put his name on the surface of the product. Its first owner was Prince Fyodor Ivanovich Mstislavsky – a voivode, a descendant of the Lithuanian prince Gediminas, head of the Boyar Duma and a pretender to the Russian throne. After his death in 1622, the shield passed to the royal treasury, where, among others, it was mentioned in the first place.
The shield is forged from a solid sheet of damask steel. Its surface is embossed with concave spiral-shaped valleys that create the illusion of rotation. Through one they are covered with gold inlay. Among the exquisitely traced images are figures of hunting or fighting people, animals and birds, intricate grass patterns. Many of these compositions evoke scenes from famous oriental poems.
The central part of the shield is separated by a narrow strip decorated with turquoise, so beloved in the East. The dales here are twisted in the opposite direction. There is a large zapon in the middle. There used to be four more smaller ones around it, of which two have survived. A steel strip with a figured edge runs along the edge of the shield. All these elements are decorated with rubies and turquoise, and in the very center also filigree and pearls. A striking addition to the color scheme of the shield is a red fringe sewn along its edge.
The helmet-shishak, made by an unknown Turkish master who worked at the end of the 16th century, also belonged to Prince Fyodor Ivanovich Mstislavsky. When and in what way this voivode, who served Tsars Ivan the Terrible and Boris Godunov, acquired it, it is not known exactly. The prince, along with the helmet, belonged to bracers, very close to him in decoration. All these valuables entered the royal treasury soon after the death of F.I.Mstislavsky, in 1622.
The entire surface of the helmet is covered with an intricate gold ornament, including large tulip flowers, so prized in Turkey. This decoration is made using a complex technique of tapping (notching) on damask steel. Embossed gold plates are expressive, placed in strict order among flowers and shoots. On them, in golden castes, stones of a contrasting color rise: bluish-green turquoise and red rubies. On the helmet itself and the ear-plates attached to it, there are Arabic inscriptions engraved in gold. For example, this: “I sent you to enlighten the human race, but the infidels, when they hear that you preach the teachings of the Koran, they want to confuse you with their eyes and, envious of you, they will say: he is possessed by a demon.” Armouries
This saadak was made in the Moscow Kremlin in the workshops of the Armory Order. However, a large group of foreign jewelers who worked in the Golden Chamber also took part in its creation. Luxurious decoration, amazingly beautiful work and heraldic signs applied to its surface allowed for almost three decades to consider it as the main military regalia of the kings of the Romanov dynasty.
Saadak is a whole complex of objects, which included a bow with a bow and a quiver with arrows, which was once an indispensable part of the armament of the Russian horseman. But over time, due to the widespread use of firearms, it fell out of use. In addition to the items already mentioned, the Tsar’s Saadak of the “Big Dress” also included a takhtuy – a silk cover for a bow and a cover.
The bow and quiver are made of leather and covered with gold plates. On their surface is a bizarre pattern of intertwining golden shoots. Glittering gems and bright enamels painted the rest of the space like a blooming meadow. Among this splendor are the heraldic images made using the enamel technique. On the upper beam, in a round medallion, is the state emblem of Russia – a two-headed eagle under three crowns. Around him are the figures of four animals holding regal objects.
The one-headed eagle holds the crown, the unicorn holds the scepter, the griffin holds the power, the lion holds the sword. Among other state regalia there is an attribute of the military power of the Russian tsars. Below these five images, in a small medallion, is shown the ancient emblem of the Moscow Grand Dukes – a sovereign on a horse, striking a winged serpent with a spear. On the top of the quiver, in the medallion, is the Russian coat of arms, below – the unicorn. Armouries
In the workshops of the Moscow Kremlin and Armouries, a kind of medal was made, intended for Prince Vasily Vasilyevich Golitsyn for the Crimean campaigns of 1687 and 1689, organized by virtue of the allied obligations that Russia assumed, concluding Eternal Peace with the Commonwealth in 1686 and joining the anti-Turkish coalition. The success of the campaigns was minimal, but the ruler, Princess Sophia, hastened to reward her favorite in a royal manner. Soon she was removed from power by her brother, Peter I, and the prince was sent into exile.
Before the reign of Peter I, there was no special reward system in Russia. In the 15th – 17th centuries, precious cups and ladles, as well as gold and silver coins were often used as incentives. Coin-shaped awards were sewn onto a headdress or worn on a chain, for which a hole was made in them or they were enclosed in a frame with an eyelet. The V.V. Golitsyn medal belongs to this type of award. For its manufacture, a gold coin of five ducats was used. On the obverse there are conventional portraits of Tsars Peter and Ivan Alekseevich, who ruled in Russia at that time, and on the reverse – Tsarevna Sophia. The medal is enclosed in a gold setting, covered with blue enamel and decorated with rubies and emeralds. Armouries
The reason for the creation of the saber was the events of the Russian-Turkish war of 1828-1829. One of its brilliant pages was the capture of the Turkish fortress of Varna, which was blocking the path of the Russian troops. On the blued steel blade of the saber, Bushuev, using the techniques of engraving, etching and gilding, on the one hand painted images of the storming of the city, on the other, the entry of Russian regiments into it. Armouries
There is also a monogram of Emperor Nicholas I and a Russian coat of arms with the inscription “Varna on July 29, 1828”. The steel handle of the saber is gilded and overlaid with ivory. It is crowned with the winged figure of Nika with a palm branch in one hand and a laurel wreath in the other. These attributes of victory are complemented by the imperial monogram. Skillfully executed scabbard decorated with polished and carved bone plates, on the steel surface of which there is a gold pattern and images of military fittings. Armouries
The table decoration – the incense burner – belonged to the Danish king Christian IV at the beginning of the 17th century. He, having suffered defeat during the Thirty Years’ War, was forced, in order to improve the shaky financial situation, to pawn precious items from his treasury. Since the king could not redeem them in time, they had to be sold. In 1628 in Arkhangelsk, a large batch of silver items was acquired for the Russian Tsar Mikhail Fedorovich, including values from the treasury of Christian IV. This is how the famous censer mountains, created by Dirich Utermarke, a master from the North German city of Hamburg, ended up in Moscow. Armouries
In 1656 the cup was presented to Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich by the Swedish ambassador Gustav Bjelke. Armouries
The dish and the jug, which made up a single hand-wash set, were made by different craftsmen at the beginning of the 17th century in France. Sent to the Russian Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich in 1664 by King Charles II Stuart among other ambassadorial gifts, they were intended to help restore the old trade contacts interrupted by the English Revolution and the execution of his father. Among these offerings were a squeak and a pair of pistols that belonged to Charles I.
The presented set, now kept in the Armory, was part of the dowry of his mother – the French princess Henrietta Maria, daughter of King Henry IV and Maria de Medici. This is a rare example of 17th century French silverware. Many such things were melted down according to royal decrees in order to replenish the treasury ravaged by wars by minting a coin from the resulting metal.
A massive cast dish weighing over ten kilograms had no practical purpose. It, like the jug, was intended primarily for solemn ceremonies and decoration of halls. In the center of its gilded surface, at the bottom, there is a story known from Ovid’s Metomorphoses: the siege of the city of Megara by King Minos. On one of the fortress towers stands Scylla, who is ready to open the gates to the enemy, because she fell in love with a royal commander prancing on a horse in the center of the composition. She was the daughter of the ruler of Nisa, whose strength lay in the purple hair growing on his head. Having pulled it out, Scylla deprived her father of the ability to resist, but then was severely punished for her betrayal. Armouries
The name of the ancient Russian shoemaker who created this now rare example of ceremonial shoes of the second half of the 17th century is unknown, as well as who it was sewn for: men or women. Rich men then wore such smart shoes, richly decorated with pearls. They did not distinguish at that time whether it was a right or left boot, they were sewn on one leg. There was no such variety of types of footwear as now. In the villages, they put on shoes in bast shoes, and in the city, especially in the capital, wealthy people, both men and women, wore mostly boots: either short to the ankle, or higher, sometimes reaching the knee. Soft boots made of various fabrics, smooth or patterned, were intended for the home, leather for the street.
Medieval Russian boot, kept in the Armory, is made of dark red velvet. Its spacious, padded, slip-on boot rests on a wide leather sole and not-too-high heels. There is a narrow gilded braid at the top of the bootleg. The bottom and middle of the boots are richly decorated with pearl embroidery. Armouries
Among the exhibits of the Armory Chamber, an important place is occupied by the coronation outfits of Russian empresses. Armouries
The first is the dress in which his wife Catherine was crowned by Peter I on May 7 (18), 1724. It was made of French crimson silk according to the old Spanish fashion and delivered for the coronation from Berlin. The names of the tailors who created the dress are unknown, but they may have been German sewing masters. It is possible that the creator of the next coronation dress could be a German – a dress made of patterned scarlet brocade of Empress Anna Ioannovna, whose coronation took place on April 28 (May 9) 1730. It is assumed that it was sewn in Russia, but with the direct participation of a tailor who arrived with the Empress from Courland.
Both dresses, in accordance with the fashion of the time, consist of a wide skirt, a detachable train and a tight-fitting bodice with a deep neckline and short sleeves, at the waist of which wide elastic teeth covered with cloth are sewn with whalebone plates. Catherine’s outfit is adorned with magnificent embroidery with a pattern of crowns and flower garlands, and Anna Ioannovna’s – with golden braided lace and braid. After the coronation celebrations, the dresses were handed over to the Armory, along with shoes, silk stockings and gloves. Armouries
The main symbol of state power in Russia for almost two centuries, the Monomakh hat was created, as expected, at the end of the 13th or the very beginning of the 14th century. The exact place of its manufacture is unknown. According to one version, Monomakh’s hat was a gift from the Khan of the Golden Horde Uzbek to the Moscow prince Ivan Kalita.
For the first time a certain “golden hat” is mentioned in his spiritual reading. Perhaps, the creators of the headdress of the Golden Horde or Central Asian jewelers should be considered, since its shape and decorations bear some oriental motives. The low round crown of Monomakh’s cap resembles the skullcap very popular in the East. Eight gold plates that make up it are covered with the finest crimson gold pattern. Among its spiral curls, various rosettes and droplets of grain, you can see the images of a stylized lotus flower. Most likely, a chased gold pommel with a cross, semi-precious stones and a sable edge appeared already in Moscow. Armouries
The throne is a low, regal oriental seat with low armrests and a figured back. Its wooden base is covered on the outside with gold basma plates with floral and floral designs. Gemstones of contrasting colors are fixed on them: red rubies and tourmalines, blue-green turquoise and pearls. The small, easily portable throne has been used more than once during ceremonies for several centuries, primarily when accession to the throne. In 1742, the gold Iranian velvet, which had been heavily worn out for the coronation of Empress Elizabeth Petrovna, was covered with new, smart French. Armouries
The crown, which was first crowned on April 28 (May 9) 1730 by the Archbishop of Novgorod Theophan Prokopovich Empress Anna Ioannovna, was made by the German jeweler Gottlieb Wilhelm Dunkel. It consists of two openwork hemispheres resting on a circular base-hoop, decorated with a pattern in the form of a diamond-shaped grid and eight-pointed stars, and a wide arcuate plate between them, on which a large precious stone carrying a cross is fixed. By its shape, the product goes back to the first Russian imperial crown, which belonged to Catherine I, created for her coronation in 1723. Approximately 2,500 precious stones, diamonds, rubies and tourmalines were taken from it.
The diamond pen is made by an outstanding jeweler. Unfortunately, his name is still unknown. It is also not clear whether he was a European or an oriental master. This precious item was sent by the Turkish Sultan Abdul-Hamid to the Russian Empress Catherine II in 1775, shortly after the conclusion of the Kuchuk-Kainardzhi peace treaty that ended the Russo-Turkish War of 1768-1774, along with other no less valuable gifts that made up the ceremonial horse decoration. Among them were a saddle, a blanket decorated with corals and lapis lazuli, a precious headband, a reshma, a porch and stirrups, as well as a silver bucket intended to water a horse, and silver horseshoes and carnations for them.
The feather is an egret – a headdress decoration. On both sides it has chains, at the ends of which there is a hook and a hairpin, and on the back side there are two brackets, which, apparently, were used to fasten the feathers. There is also a gold plate on which images of various military attributes are minted: a shield, a bow and a quiver with arrows, a spear, banners and a burning torch. The obverse of the feather features over a thousand sparkling diamonds. The central part is occupied by a rare yellow rectangular sapphire weighing thirty-five carats. Armouries