Weekend tip: Dining with the Tsars exhibition

Yesterday I visited the exhibition Dining with the Tsars in the Hermitage in Amsterdam. The exhibitions is only open for a few more days, until March 1, 2015. I’m glad I went because it was stunning! You are welcomed as being a guest in the Winter Palace and to experience the grandeur of the Russian Court as it once was. Extravagantly bedecked tables, wine fountains and sulptures of exotic fruit were distinctive of a dinner at the Russian Court. You also learn more about the different Tsars and Tsarinas and their bespoke etiquette and dinner party styles.Dining with the Tsars - 30s MagazineIMG_0262IMG_0249


In the grand hall you get to feast your eyes on gorgeously laid tables, decorated with majestic services such as Meissen, Wedgewood, and Sèvres. There are almost one thousand service items to admire. It is the largest exhibition of porcelain dinnerware and creamware ever held in the Netherlands. You also learn more about the diplomatic aspects of porcelain and the secrets behind the beauty: From wedding services, services that were a (political) gift, to the one made for Stalin.IMG_0267IMG_0233IMG_0276IMG_0242IMG_0245

Besides the stunning tabletop you also learn more about the etiquette. Catherine the Great defined 10 rules for her guests that set her apart from other Tsars. During Catherine’s reign, lavish parties became a fixture of imperial court life. Seats were assigned and it was common that the male guests had to entertain the women sitting on their right hand sight. Subjects of conversation were politics, literature and arts, and current affairs. IMG_0204The menu cards were usually real works of art. The Tsars would ask painters and illustrators to design one especially for the occassion. They frequently featured symbols of the Romanov dynasty. The dishes read like poetry.IMG_0206

wedding service of Alexandra and Nicolas II, a gift by Wilhelm II

Elizabeth also threw extravagant balls and dinners. Sometimes the tables were adorned with pyramids of sweets and fruit. Her tablesettings were inspired by the elegant banquets in Versailles.IMG_0213IMG_0218Also on display are many bridal gifts like the one Wilhelm II gifted to Aleksand II, or the service made for Alexander the Great with his intial on each item. After dinner, the ball would start. The exhibition explains some of the etiquette during the ball as well, like fan flirtation.IMG_0270IMG_0265IMG_0266

The exhibition is really beautiful, so do go see it while you still can! http://www.hermitage.nl



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