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Watercolours of 1910


Two watercolours of 1910 by artist Pavel Shipov are returned to the Alexander Palace by Mr Björn Kohler Svendsen via the Russian Embassy in Germany.

Björn received the artefacts from his relative, Horst Kohler Svendsen, who was in Pushkin town (Tsarskoe Selo) during the Nazi occupation in 1941. The watercolours are glued to paperboard backing, with Horst's inscriptions in ballpoint pen briefly describing how he, "legionar Yvar Hjort Kohler Svendsen", found them in a bomb-damaged Alexander Palace and brought to Hünxe, Germany in 1941.

The watercolour "A Vologda Governorate deputation introduced to Nicholas II on 29 January 1910" shows three deputies, two of them with icons and rushnyks (decorative ritual cloths) in their hands, meeting the Tsar who is followed by two officers.

The other watercolour depicts a private of the Life-Guards 4th Rifles Battalion, part of the Imperial Regiment. It is signed П. Шиповъ (Pavel Shipov) at lower right and inscribed Царское Село / 29 Янв. 1910 (Tsarskoe Selo / 29 Jan 1910) in two lines at lower left.

Both watercolours hung in the Working Study of Nicholas II until 1941 and bear the museum's prewar inventory numbers. Now our museum has five Shipov's watercolours, which is very important for the revival of the Alexander Palace collection of graphic works.

Pavel D. Shipov (1860–1919) was a professional artist and military portraitist, a lieutenant general during the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05 and the First World War, and a member of the tsar's retinue since 1909.

As Dr Iraida K. Bott, Tsrskoe Selo deputy director for research and education says, "It is an awe to us when the artefacts once considered lost forever are returned to our collection. The museum lost hundreds of objects during the war. Only few return, but each of them acquires a special meaning, making us peer into them more closely. We are happy that the "returnees" of recent years include authentic objects from the Alexander Palace, where the permanent museum exhibition is still being formed."

The Shipov watercolours will soon take their original place in the Working Study of Nicholas II at the Alexander Palace.