The exhibition opened in the Apollo Hall (Room No. 260) of the State Hermitage Museum shows Christmas gifts of the Imperial Family and introduces Christmas traditions of the Winter Palace inhabitants. The exhibition displays 115 porcelain and glass objects of the 18th - early 20th centuries from the collection of the Hermitage's new department, Museum of the Porcelain Works.
Since the 18th century, the favorite gifts were porcelain cups. The first
cup manufactured by the St. Petersburg Works was presented by the creator
of Russian porcelain D.I. Vinogradov to Empress Elizabeth Petrovna. Gift
cups had especially colorful decorations, with miniatures, portraits,
monograms and inscriptions.
Another theme of collection series is dishes with images of the Russian Army. These dishes were used as diplomatic gifts, decorated rooms of Grand Dukes and public figures or were collected by connoisseurs of military history and amateurs of porcelain.
Christmas gifts include the famous table sets, Cabinet, Guryev, Yusupov, Romanov, Rafael, etc., presented to the Emperor. Special gifts were big palace vases, usually intended for the Imperial Family or sometimes for high dignitaries or foreign royalties. The most grandiose vase, Russia, was executed to mark the 15th anniversary of Napoleon's defeat and presented to Nicholas I.
Lots of tiny porcelain pieces were manufactured for the Czar's children:
dolls, animal figures, miniature table sets, etc.
The show also includes the Romanov Table Set with portraits of Russian Czars and a view of the Romanov Boyar Palace in Moscow (designed by Vivan Boset) displayed at the London exhibition of 1862. Another noteworthy exhibit is the glass plate with a reproduction of the Madonna and Child by Fra Bartolomeo (1475-1517).
The glass collection came to the Porcelain Works' Museum in 1890 when
they were merged with the Imperial Glass Works. The collection is unique,
over four hundred pieces belonging mostly to the age of art nouveau. Alongside
excellent specimens of carved glass of Emile Galle, brothers Daum and
L.C. Tiffany are displayed equally beautiful creations of Russian masters.
Russian carved cut glass is unequally, especially ecclesiastical objects
made to the Imperial Family's order: crystal binding for the Gospels,
Easter eggs from multi-layer color glass, incense-burners, framed candlestick
with the Faberge brand, etc.