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Regalia of the Russian tsars

Regalia of the Russian tsars are the insignia of tzars and emperors of Russia from the 13th to the 20th centuries. Some of the artefacts were changed or substituted, the most radical change happened in the 18th century, when Peter the Great reformed the state and transitioned it to European-style monarchy. After the Russian Revolution the great number of the Romanovs' was sold by the Bolsheviks, but the most important coronation regalia were placed in the Kremlin Armoury. Since 1967 they are displayed as a part of Diamond Fund permanent exposotion. From the 13th up to the end of 14th century the main insignia of knyaz power were the decorated barmas and the knyaz belts. A barma is a mantle made of gold, encrusted with gems and diamonds; such treasured items were hereditary and connected to the knyazs' names, they were always mentioned in the wills. Barmas of Old Ryazan were produced by masters of Old Ryazan in late 12th - early 13th century, they are one of the greatest masterpieces of ancient jewellery.

The barmas belonged to the local knyaz family, but in 1237 the city was destroyed by Batu Khan, so the forsaken jewellery laid underground for nearly 600 years. In 1822, the royal barmas were brought to the Kremlin Armory; these precious barmas are the high-craft masterpieces and encrusted with gems. Some of the barmas have gold medallions with engravings in Greek of the Byzantine origin. "Cap of Monomakh" The oldest crown is the "Cap of Monomakh" or Crown of Monomakh, used in the ceremony of crowning a monarch in Russia. Its name is connected with a Russian legend of the 15th century, according to which it has been brought to Russia in ancient times as a gift from the Byzantine Emperor Constantine Monomachos; the cap is of oriental workmanship of early 14th century. The question of its origin is still unspecified; the oldest section of the crown consists of eight gold plates adorned with fine gold lace in a pattern of six-pointed rosette-stars and lotus blossoms. The semi-spherical top with a cross, the sable trimming and the pearls and gemstones belong to a period.

It is the lightest Russian crown. Since the late 14th till the late 17th century, the Cap of Monomakh a symbol of power, was used in the ceremony of setting the ruler of the Russian State for reigning. In the first quarter of the 18th century, after Peter the Great's reforms, the ceremonial setting for reigning was replaced by coronation, the main attribute of which became the imperial crown. Since the 18th century the Cap of Monomakh served as the heraldic crown of the "Tsardom of Great and White Russia". Kazan crown This 16th century crown is the second oldest in Russia; the gold crown is studded with pearls and turquoises. The sable-fur trimming was for comfort; the Kazan Crown is dated by 1553. It was first mentioned in the treasury of Tsar Ivan the Terrible, whose reign was marked by a series of important events in Russian history. Among them is the capture of Kazan in October 1552 and annexation of the Kazan khanate to the Russian state; the precious crown might have been executed by Moscow Kremlin jewelers on the successful solution of "The Eastern problem", so important for Muscovy.

Its name might have immortalized the memory of the glorious victory of Russian warriors. The crown's look combines eastern artistic traditions; some elements are reminiscent of the decor traditions of Russian churches of the epoch. At the same time, the combination of stones, e.g. red tourmalines and rubies with blue turquoise and the carved ornament of knitting herbs on a niello background represent oriental artistic influence. It may have belonged to the last ruler of the Tatar state of Kazan. Since the 18th century this crown served as the heraldic crown of the "Tsardom of Kazan"; the Ivory throne is earliest preserved tsars throne of the mid-16th century. The throne was made of wood faced with plates of ivory and walrus tusk, therefore it was called the "carved bone armchair"; the carved ornament unites the various representations into a single composition. Decorative scenes include images from the Old Testament; the depicted themes, the style of the carving and the motifs, which include grotesques and Cupids, enable researches to date most of the pieces to the 16th century and attribute them to Western European Renaissance craftsmen.

This bone throne has been renovated several times in Russia: worn pieces of bone were remade by local craftsmen. Golden throne In addition to the bone chair the showcase includes a throne of oriental workmanship executed in the late 16th century. Having been presented by Shah Abbas I to Tsar Boris Godunov it was called a "Persian throne with stones"; the form of the throne with its low back flowing into sloping arm-rests, reveals features typical of Iranian furniture of the 16th-17th centuries. The makers have used ornament beloved in the East, i.e. strips of gold decorated with a foliate pattern and coloured stones - blue turquoises and red rubies, tourmalines. The back of the seat, the arms and the whole lower section of the throne were covered with gold Persian fabric, replaced by French velvet in 1742 for the coronation of Empress Elizabeth. In total this throne is adorned 552 rubies and pink tourmalines, 825 turquoises, 177 pearls and 700 halves of pearls. Scepter and orb are magnificent creations of West-European jewelry of Late Renaissance.

By the way, the enamels on relief technique was not known to Russian goldsmiths of that time. There are reasons to consider the scepter and orb to belong to the set of gifts, brought to Tsar Boris Godunov i

August Volz

August Volz was a German sculptor. Born in Magdeburg, Volz worked in Riga, the present-day capital of Latvia; the workshop of Volz received prestigious commissions in Riga from its opening in 1876 and created several of the most well-known sculptures of the city, for example the Roland statue and sculptures decorating the House of the Blackheads. The firm of Volz was responsible for the complete or partial decoration of a number of important public buildings in the city. August Franz Leberecht Volz was born as the eleventh child of shoemaker Johann Volz and his wife Johanne, née Morin, in Magdeburg, he received his basic education in the city and began an apprenticeship at a sculptor's workshop in Magdeburg at the age of 1865. In the spring of 1869 he moved to Berlin, where he worked in a sculptor's workshop and from autumn studied sculpting at the Prussian Academy of Arts under the tutelage of Eduard Holbein, Carl Domschke, Friedrich Eggers and Karl Geppert. In 1870, at the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War, Volz tried to join the military but was refused, the first time because he was underage and the second time because there were too many volunteers.

Throughout his studies, Volz had been working at different workshops. In October 1871, Volz ceased his studies at the academy and began to work full-time for the firm Ende & Böckmann; the firm took on commissions abroad, it was through Ende & Böckmann that Volz came to Riga in the autumn of 1875 to work on the sculptural decoration of a large tenement house. On 2 January 1876 he established his own firm in Riga. Riga had at that time a large Baltic German population. In addition to his own work as a sculptor, Volz taught at the Art Academy of Riga after its establishment in 1906. Volz married his first wife Maria, née Thurm, in 1876; the couple had seven children, of which two died before World War I. Maria died in 1909 and in 1911 Volz married his second wife, Olga, née Kalning; the couple had one son. Volz spent the rest of his life in Riga apart from the years of World War I, when he and his family were obliged to go into exile in the small town of Tsivilsk; this was because Volz had retained his German citizenship and the Russian Empire and Germany were at war.

In Tsivilsk the family rented a room from the town's notary and were treated civilly by the authorities. His home in Riga, was used by both Russian officers and Germans but kept intact and after his return in 1917 only his collection of hunting rifles were missing. Volz died in Riga in 1926, his descendants live in Germany. A memorial plaque was put up in 1996 at the site where Volz' workshop was located for many years on the present-day address Krišjāņa Valdemāra iela 31. Volz established himself in Riga at a time of great economic expansion of the old Hanseatic town, a major port of the Russian Empire. During the years around the turn of the 19th–20th centuries Riga experienced an unprecedented building activity. At the same time, a professional cadre of local sculptors had not yet formed. Volz' workshop could therefore operate without serious competition, developed into a large and profitable enterprise; the firm grew to employ about 130 people in the time around 1910, had in 1890 employed 40 people.

Following the death of August Volz in 1926, his widow Olga continued operating the firm with great skill and energy. On the eve of World War II, because the Volz family was to be forcibly "repatriated" to Germany following the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, the firm was sold to the stone-carving firm of Oto Dambekalns. Stylistically, August Volz had been trained in the classical tradition of the Academic art. Although his firm took on commissions ranging from simple structural elements such as stairs and columns to facades and interiors, memorial plaques and reliefs, Volz' arguably finest works were freestanding sculpture in the round in the form of free-standing monuments or architectural decoration. A question of dispute is how much the workshop of Volz contributed to providing sculptural elements for the extraordinary flowering of Art Nouveau architecture in Riga. Archival documentation is lacking, while several sculptures e.g. on the expressive buildings on Alberta iela display characteristics which could link them to the workshop of Volz, it is known that August Volz himself was dismissive of Art Nouveau as a style.

It is however known that Volz supplied the sculptural elements of the Art Nouveau buildings by Jacques Rosenbaum in neighbouring Tallinn, for at least some Art Nouveau buildings in Riga. One of the first prestigious commissions given to Volz was the decoration of the Nativity Cathedral, designed by architect Robert Pflug in a Byzantine Revival style and built 18876–1884. Volz' company subsequently participated in the decoration of an additional two churches in Riga. One of Riga's most iconic buildings, the House of the Blackheads, underwent a significant alteration to designs by architect Heinrich Scheel in 1886 and Volz was responsible for the extensive sculptural decoration; the facade had in the 17th century been decorated with four trompe-l'œil paintings depicting four allegorical figures, Volz thus created four sculptures representing the same deities: Hermes, Poseidon and Harmony, which each stand in a niche prominently displayed at the centre of the facade. Volz would continue to create sculptures for the House of the Blackheads but it remains unclear which sculptures were made in his workshop.

Cubo Architects

Cubo Architects is a Danish architectural practice located in Aarhus. The company was founded in 1992. 1996 Transportcenter, Hørning 1998 Faculty for Health Sciences, University of Southern Denmark, Odense 2000 Jysk store, Aarhus 2002 Hanstholm fortress Museum 2003 Egaa Gymnasium, Aarhus Bergen University College, Norway Business Academy Aarhus Technical University of Denmark University of Southern Denmark, Odense Aarhus University Hospital, Aarhus, in collaboration with C. F. Møller Architects Official site