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Couple being married in front of a crowd of dignitaries
This exhibition is in the past. View our current exhibitions.

The exhibition

The earliest links between Great Britain and Russia were formed in the mid-sixteenth century through trade. These links developed into political and military alliances, particularly during the Napoleonic Wars (1803–15). In the nineteenth century, dynastic marriage and family ties dominated relations between the two countries. Works of art of all kinds – from grand diplomatic gifts to intimate, and personal, mementos – have richly documented the relationship. Beginning with the visit of Peter the Great in 1698, the first Russian ruler to set foot on English soil, they mark significant moments of contact between Great Britain and Russia. These works of art are exhibited together for the first time and tell the story of the complex interconnection between two great countries and their rulers over more than three hundred years.

Painted during the Danish artist Vigilius Eriksen’s 15-year residency in Russia, this image displays all the elements of grand state portraiture. The Empress stands, resplendent, raised on a porphyry dais, commanding attention; this is not just a po
A country little known

Over the past 450 years connections both positive and negative have been shared between Britain and Russia.

Lawrence was the most fashionable and also the greatest portraitist of his generation. He was made Principal Painter to George III in 1792 after Reynolds’s death, and received occasional commissions; however it was only after 1814 that George IV began t
Ambassadors and confused relationships

Diplomats were the key to a relationship between countries

The photograph, taken in front of Barton Manor (adjacent to Osborne House), records what would be the last visit of the imperial Russian family to Britain. Standing at the back, from left to right, are: Prince Edward of Wales (later King Edward VIII and D
Revolution and New Relationships

Edward VII's accession meant the English king was an uncle to both the Emperor and Empress

<p>Khlebnikov was a firm of silversmiths, established in Moscow by Ivan Khlebnikov (1819&ndash;81) in 1870. After his death, his sons Mikhail, Alexei, Nikolai and Vladimir, took over and rebranded the firm as Khlebnikov Sons and Partners. In the same year
‘Holy Russia’ in the Royal Collection

It was in the nineteenth century that interaction with the Orthodox church began

Considered a great beauty in her youth, with a tall, graceful figure, the Grand Duchess Alexandra, or &lsquo;Sanny&rsquo;, was the fifth daughter of Joseph, Duke of Saxe-Altenburg and Amalie Therese Louise, Duchess of W&uuml;rttemberg. In September 1848 s
Dynastic links

The end of the nineteenth century saw direct intermarriage between the British and Russian royal families

On 18 January 1874, Queen Victoria, writing from Osborne House, recorded that the &lsquo;Feldj&auml;ger&rsquo; (the Queen&rsquo;s messenger) had arrived, bringing &lsquo;the long expected portrait of her [Maria], which is a gift from the Emperor. It is a
Dynastic Marriage

A number of weddings were attended by members of both families

The Coronation of Alexander II, planned for September 1856, was regarded as a diplomatic event of critical importance due to the recent conclusion of the Crimean War. A special diplomatic mission representing Queen Victoria was therefore sent to attend th
Russian Photography and Photographs of Russia in the Royal Collection

Holdings range from early experiments, to informal family snapshots

A detachable baluster shape dark pink veined marble vase and cover. From the end of the 18th century stone cutting became an important craft in the Russian city of Ekaterinburg. The vase is marked with an inscription in cyrillic which translated reads: 18
Russian Decorative Art in the Royal Collection

Representative of a wide range of the country's craftsmanship, including lapidary, metalwork, furniture, sculpture, porcelain, glass, textiles and jewellery

Queen Victoria is sitting in the Green Drawing Room at Windsor Castle, surrounded by members of her family. On the mantelpiece is a bronze bust of Prince Albert. Queen Victoria commissioned the painting to commemorate the gathering of her family for the G
Family Gatherings

The English, Russian and Danish ruling families spent considerable amounts of time visiting one another

The income from your ticket contributes directly to The Royal Collection Trust, a registered charity. The aims of The Royal Collection Trust are the care and conservation of the Royal Collection, and the promotion of access and enjoyment through exhibitions, publications, loans and educational activities.