Tsar Nicholas II Empress Alexandra Romanov Coronation Double Portrait 1896


Fine pair of antique imperial Russian colour portrait prints from paintings by Ilya Galkin of Tsar Nicholas II (1868-1918), and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna (1872-1918), in their Coronation Robes dated 26th April 1896. Both prints have in Cyrillic their names, dates of birth, marriage and Coronation dates below their portraits.

Coronations in Russia involved a highly developed religious ceremony in which the Emperor of Russia (generally referred to as the Tsar) was crowned and invested with regalia, then anointed with chrism and formally blessed by the church to commence his reign. Although rulers of Muscovy had been crowned prior to the reign of Ivan III, their coronation rituals assumed overt Byzantine overtones as the result of the influence of Ivan's wife Sophia Paleologue, and the imperial ambitions of his grandson, Ivan IV. These elements remained, as Muscovy was transformed first into the Tsardom of Russia and then into the Russian Empire, until the abolition of the monarchy in 1917. Since czarist Russia claimed to be the "Third Rome" and the replacement of Byzantium as the true Christian state, the Russian rite was designed to link its rulers and prerogatives to those of the so-called "Second Rome" (Constantinople).

While months or even years could pass between the initial accession of the sovereign and the performance of this ritual, church policy held that the monarch must be anointed and crowned according to the Orthodox rite to have a successful tenure. As the church and state were essentially one in Imperial Russia, this service invested the Tsars with political legitimacy; however, this was not its only intent. It was equally perceived as conferring a genuine spiritual benefit that mystically wedded sovereign to subjects, bestowing divine authority upon the new ruler. As such, it was similar in purpose to other European coronation ceremonies from the medieval era.

Even when the imperial capital was located at St. Petersburg (1713–1728, 1732–1917), Russian coronations were always held in Moscow at the Cathedral of the Dormition in the Kremlin. The last coronation service in Russia was held on 26 May 1896 for Nicholas II and his wife Alexandra Feodorovna, who would be the final Tsar and Tsaritsa of Russia. The Russian Imperial regalia survived the subsequent Russian Revolution and the Communist period, and are currently on exhibit in a museum at the Kremlin Armoury.

Starting with the reign of Ivan IV, the ruler of Russia was known as "Tsar" rather than "Grand Prince"; "Tsar" being a Slavonic equivalent to the Latin term "Caesar". This continued until 1721, during the reign of Peter I, when the title was formally changed to Imperator (Emperor). Peter's decision reflected the difficulties other European monarchs had in deciding whether to recognize the Russian ruler as an emperor or a mere king, and reflected his insistence on being seen as the former. However, the term "Tsar" remained the popular title for the Russian ruler despite the formal change of style, thus this article utilizes that term, rather than "Emperor".

On 26 May 1896, Nicholas's formal coronation as Tsar was held in Uspensky Cathedral located within the Kremlin. In celebration on 27 May 1896, a large festival with food, free beer and souvenir cups was held in Khodynka Field outside Moscow. Khodynka was chosen as the location as it was the only place near Moscow large enough to hold all of the Moscow citizens.

The Silk Imperial Crown Of Russia was used, as an official coronation gift of the Russian Empire. Nicholas II was the first and only monarch to be presented with such a monumental coronation gift. It was not intended as ceremonial regalia, but as private Imperial property, a memento to his Coronation Event.

Mounted in a modern black wooden frame under conservation glass by Pure & Applied Conservation Framers of London.

Small defects.

Size: 70 x 53.5 cm approx

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