'Dining with the Tsars' at the Hermitage

Sep 06, 2014Mar 01, 2014
Hermitage Amsterdam, Amstel 51, 1018 EJ

This September, the Hermitage Amsterdam will be opening their new exhibition Dining with the Tsars. Fragile beauty from the Hermitage, a display of the lavish porcelain, cream ware and decorum used in the banquet halls and ballrooms of the Tsars. 

Dining like a Tsar

Consisting of more than 1.000 pieces of exquisite porcelain, the exhibition is designed to give visitors the feeling that they have just walked into the Winter Palace for a legendary feast. 

Laid out across massive tables and mock-ups of dining rooms, the halls mimic the courts of Catherine the Great and Nicholas II. 

A tradition that faded with the end of imperial Europe, the Hermitage looks to recreate and publicly display what these feasts were like and why they were the talk of the continent at the time!

With this amount of the porcelain collection never having been exhibited outside of the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, it's a rare opportunity to see the evolution in design from 1745 to the early 1900s by leading brands such as Meissen, Sèvres, Gardner and Wedgwood.

hermitage dining with tsars
© State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg 

hermitage amsterdam dining tsars
© State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg 
Thumb: © State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg 

Exhibition highlights

The centre of the exhibition are the dinnerware pieces of Catherine the Great. 

Entrenched in complex etiquettes and rituals, the collections include the Cameo Service, Green Frog Service and Berlin Dessert Service. 

Accompanied by magnificent centrepieces, glassware worth a fortune, candelabras, a variety of vases and accessories that would make todays millionaires look frugal, the dining customs of the Tsars are on full display. 

Along with the pieces, the exhibition also tells the story of the iconography and the use of such services in political settings, with their diplomatic function receiving special attention.

A must-see is at the end of the exhibition, which displays the service for Stalin given by the Hungarian people in 1949.

Never before seen, it's one of the last significant instances where the dinnerware served a diplomatic function.