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Russia cultural diplomacy


H.E. Madame Martine Van Loon-Labouchere, the Mistress of the Robes to the Queen,  together with H.E. Alexander Shulgin, Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the Netherlands.

The Embassy of Russia in the Netherlands made a strong and meaningful accent on its cultural heritage and special ties with the Dutch people. It was a successful year of multiple exhibits, concerts and commemorations round the Netherlands. An array of high quality events demanding professional logistics and resources on their cultural agenda 2017.

Amongst other events, one can mention: the Dutch Master collection from the Hermitage, to the exhibition of Pavel Vaan’s collection of pictures, the 200th Anniversary of the Russia Orthodox Church in the Hague and the magnificent Don KosakenChor Russland  presented at the World Forum Theatre at full house. “Art and culture are the precious little that has remained untouched by the global political situation. Art has always been a diplomatic mission of peace”, says H.E. Alexander Shulgin, Ambassador of Russia.

Rembrandt, Young Woman with Earrings, 1656 from Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, now at Hermitage Amsterdam.

The invaluable collection of Dutch Masters from the Hermitage was showcased for the first time at Hermitage Amsterdam, a very special and memorable event. It was also the first time in history this magnificent collection left their home gallery in Saint-Petersburg to the Netherlands. “We would like to express gratitude to all those who have worked hard to organize this outstanding exhibition – the State Hermitage Museum in Saint-Petersburg and particularly its director Mr. Piotrovsky, and the host museum, personally the director Catelejn Broers and the deputy director Paul Mosterd”, said Ambassador Shulgin.

“The exhibition not only demonstrates the greatest works of all time, but also tells about our bilateral ties and cultural cooperation with the Netherlands. Looking back to the history of Russia, we always remember Peter the Great. During his trips to the Netherlands he did not only learned shipbuilding, visited factories, arsenals and schools, but showed as well a great interest in the Dutch culture.

Tsar Peter built a western-oriented city of St. Petersburg, which later became the host city to one of the greatest museums in the world – the State Hermitage. He contributed a lot to the museum collection itself.

During his stay in the Netherlands the Tsar bought several masterpieces of the Dutch «Golden age» and brought them to Russia, which has become their home for centuries. One of the first customers at the Dutch art market appeared to be Tsar Peter’s diplomat Andrey Matveev, who was assigned Ambassador to the States General from 1699 to 1712.”

Empress Catherine the Great was also an admirer of the Dutch art. She owned one of Russia’s most outstanding picture galleries: «Portrait of a Man with Beard and Beret» by Rembrandt, «View of the Canal and City Hall in Amsterdam» by Gerrit Berckheyde and many others were acquired.

During the reign of Alexander I was bought the famous “The Glass of Lemonade” by Gerard ter Borch. One of the leading collectors was a Russian geographer Petr Semenov-Tyan-Shansky. During his frequent visits to Europe he had amassed a considerable collection of old Dutch masters that was later donated to the Hermitage Museum in Saint-Petersburg.

The collected art had enormous influence on Russian painters. Many Russian masters found their inspiration on Netherland’s artists. The European method of realistic depiction, techniques of light and shade were revolutionary for the Russian art. The outstanding Rembrandt’s style influenced Russian painters, such as Ivan Kramskoy, Ilya Repin and Karl Brulov. The unique Dutch technique was also emulated in the works of Vasily Tropinin and Pavel Fedotov. Even the Russian porcelain manufactory produced superb vases which were decorated with copies of easel paintings by famous Dutch masters.”

The Holy Mary Magdalene Russian Orthodox Church in the Hague.

The 200th Anniversary of the foundation of the Holy Mary Magdalene Russian Orthodox Church in the Hague was celebrated on October 21th 2017, in the presence of The Most Reverend Archbishop Simon, The Very Reverend Archimandrite Nikon, The Most Reverend Carel ter Linden, H.E. Madame Martine Van Loon-Labouchere and H.E. Nikolai Borysevich, Ambassador of Belarus to the Netherlands.

It was attended by hundreds of  guests despite the limited size of the church; a historical celebration of tradition and faith, commitment and respect. The congregation starting preparing the event a year before, settling a special committee to help the religious authorities on their work overload.

Ambassador Shulgin honoured the presence of His Majesty’s Court of the Netherlands and said that “We consider it as a true sign of friendship and mutual respect between our nations. Could I humbly ask you to pass the words of our most profound admiration and the highest consideration to His Majesty and the Royal Family for their unchangeable, unwavering support of the rich heritage of the historic and cultural ties between our countries?”

During his speech the ambassador Shulgin remarked: “In 1816 Anna Pavlovna Romanova married the Prince of Orange, who as we all know later became King William II of the Netherlands. They married at the Chapel of the Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg. After the marriage Anna Pavlovna came to live in the Netherlands but remained a Russian Orthodox follower. After her arrival, she established a Russian Orthodox Church at the Court. She even brought her own priests and cantors from Russia.”

Throughout the 200 years of its existence, the Russian orthodox church of The Hague changed its location several times from one place to another. It is truly emblematic that its very first location was on the premises of the Peace Palace.

Ambassador remarked: For as the Lord said: “where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them” (Matthew, Chapter 18, Verse 20). “

At the moment the Diocese of The Hague and the Netherlands of the Russian Orthodox Church was under the administration of His Eminence, the Most Reverend Archbishop Simon of Brussels and Belgium includes two monasteries and seven parishes, this church being one of them.

The Very Reverend Archimandrite Nikon and Ambassador Shulgin. Behing the Ambassador of Belarus, H.E. Nikolai Borysevich.

“Our deepest gratitude goes to the Very Reverend Archimandrite Nikon, who has been the archpriest of the Church since 1984 and has always actively participated in the life of his parish protecting and preserving the common heritage of the Netherlands and Russia – the Holy Mary Magdalene Russian Orthodox Church in The Hague”

A wonderful reception organized by the Embassy of Russia followed the religious ceremony.



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