Exhibition | Triumph & Tragedy: Catherine, the Romanovs, and Fabergé

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on August 3, 2019

Attributed to Giacomo Quarenghi (Italy 1744–1817), designer, Pair of ‘Hercules’ armchairs, ca. 1795, Russia, gilt wood, and silk upholstery.

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From the press release, via Art Daily, for the exhibition:

Triumph & Tragedy: Catherine, the Romanovs, and Fabergé
The David Roche Collection, Adelaide, 12 July — 21 December 2019

A new exhibition, Triumph & Tragedy: Catherine, the Romanovs, and Fabergé, showcases 150 pieces of some of Russia’s most opulent pieces of decorative art from the 18th and 19th centuries, many of which have never been seen before.

David Roche was enchanted by the Russia, its people and its art. He spent the last two decades of his life—with the assistance of Martyn Cook—assembling a collection of nearly 100 pieces of the best Russian art. This collection remains the most significant collection of its type in Australia said Robert Reason, Museum Director of The David Roche Foundation House Museum.

For the first time, Roche’s items are on display together alongside some of the finest Russian pieces from other Australian collections, private and public. The exhibition covers the period from Catherine the Great through to the fall of the Romanov dynasty in 1917, and the tragic end of the Imperial family. Roche was particularly captivated with Catherine the Great—famed for her expansion of the Russian Empire, her attempts to Westernise Russia, and her enthusiastic collecting of art.

Roche first travelled to Russia in 1994 and was overwhelmed by the opulent art and palaces of St Petersburg said Robert Reason. This subsequently turned to a passion for collecting Russian art, and in almost 20 years he amassed a singularly unique collection in Australia.

This is one of the most significant exhibitions the Foundation has staged. People will have the opportunity to view not just imperial portraits, exquisite porcelain and objects that once furnished the palaces of Catherine the Great, the Romanovs and Russia’s elite but see the work of Fabergé from the finest private collections in Australia. Official portraits of Catherine the Great and Emperor Nicholas I reside alongside the personal hand seal of Emperor Alexander I and porcelain especially commissioned for the Hermitage and Pavlovsk Palace. Highlights from the exhibition include precious objects in malachite, glass and gilt-bronze from the Romanov period which highlights the internationalism of 19th century Russia. The final decades of the Russian Empire are remembered for the work of Fabergé.

Robert Reason said Roche’s Fabergé parasol handle from the collection of Queen Anne of Romania, the Fabergé miniature eggs, and precious vases and plates from the Imperial Porcelain Factory are some of the most magnificent works in this exhibition. One of the works in the exhibition is a masterpiece that Roche considered himself privileged to own: a magnificent ormolu mounted glass vase on pedestal with delicately cut edges trimmed by frosted neoclassical garlands and a base said to imitate flowing water.


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