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The Hillwood Museum, a treasury of Russian and European art of XVIII-XIX centuries in the USA

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The Hillwood Museum, a treasury of Russian and European art of XVIII-XIX centuries in the USA


They say that the Hillwood Museum is “the Hermitage, the Peterhof, and the Diamond Fund all in a single location.” Apparently, one of the largest Russian art collections outside of Russia is located in the estate on the fringes of Washington.

Front gate of the Hillwood Museum

The Hillwood Museum opened its exhibitions for lovers of Russian and European art of XVIII-XIX centuries in 1977.

The Hillwood Estate was owned by Marjorie Merriweather Post, one of the richest women in the United States, the only heiress of the Postum Cereal Company.

Grand portrait of Marjorie Merriweather Post

Her father, Charles William Post, used to cultivate in his daughter business skills and desire to possess luxurious antiques since her childhood. On top of that, later the committed young lady completed the History of Art course.

One of the museum rooms

Marjorie started creating her collection in 1920 with works of French applied and decorative art.

Permanent exhibition

In 1937 her husband, Davies, was sent as the US ambassador to Moscow. Marjorie Merriweather Post, known at that time as a collector of works of European artists and artisans, was vigorously buying up belongings of the Imperial family expropriated by the Bolsheviks. According to her testimony, the antiques intended for mass sale used to be sold by weight, just like apples.

Portraits of Olga and Tatiana, daughters of Nicolas II, and Tsesarevich Alexei

During her long and exciting life Mrs. Post succeeded in creating a huge collection of European art. To accommodate it, entrepreneurial and vibrant Marjorie purchased the Hillwood Estate in the neighborhood of Washington and furnished her house in full conviction that it would become a museum after her death.

Permanent exhibition in the Russian Art Room

Masterpieces of Russian and French applied and decorating art of XVIII-XIX centuries have been placed with dignity within magnificent chambers of this house.

Currently the Hillwood Museum is one of the best house museums of private art collectors in the United States.

The Imperial Crown of the Romanov Dynasty

In its holdings the museum stores hereditary jewels of the Romanov Dynasty, Russian icons, French tapestries and Sevres porcelain.

Nuptial tiara of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna with pink diamond

Art objects from Russia can rightfully be considered the jewel of the exhibition.

Grand portrait of Catherine the Great near the stairs of the main entrance

Paintings by Russian artists are displayed in the museum rooms.

K. Brullov. Portrait of Countess Samoylova and her daughter

K. Makovskiy. A Boyar Wedding Feast

Visiting the museum, the one can admire two Easter Eggs by Imperial Jewelry Firm of Carl Fabergé. Nicolas II presented these unsurpassed masterpieces to his mother, the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna at various years.

The Grisaille Egg or the Catherine the Great Egg

This egg was made by a master jeweler Henrik Wigström and was presented for Easter 1914. It is made of rock crystal and decorated with gold and red enamel.

The Grisaille Easter Egg

The egg's surprise was mechanical palankeen decorated with relief work and golden carving. It is carried by two moors dressed in bright liveries of red enamel.

The Egg’s Surprise

The palankeen has small widows made of rock crystal. Through them you can see Catherine the Great seated inside. The Empress wears enamel crafted white rope fringed with minever. The surprise is fitted with tiny watchwork. If it is winded up with a tiny key, the moors start moving: they slowly step with their small feet, and the palankeen rolls on little wheels.

The Grisaille Egg in the central display stand of the Hillwood Museum

Empress Maria Feodorovna was extremely delighted with the present, and in a letter to her sister she wrote: “It is a fabulously beautiful and luxurious creation of Fabergé. That is what I told him: “You are the greatest genius of our time, incomparable!”

The Twelve Monogram Easter Egg

It was made as an Easter present in 1896 and commemorated the Emperor Alexander III.

The Twelve Monogram Easter Egg

The Hillwood Museum considers this jewelry egg to be one of the most beautiful works by the Fabergé makers. It consists of six panels covered with dark blue enamel and scroll work on their surfaces.

A fragment of the Twelve Monogram Egg

The panels are divided by textured bands enchased with diamonds. Large diamonds are placed on golden pads at the cross-points.

A fragment of the Monograms Egg

The crowned ciphers of Alexander III, the Emperor, and Maria Fedorovna are set in diamonds on each panel. The Imperial Crown rises above the ciphers. The interior is lined with velvet. As the surprise, this Egg contained miniature portraits of Alexander III on stands of gold. Currently the miniatures are considered to be missing.

The original article was published by Izbrannoe source.


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