The royal antique cabinets of Britain and Tsarist Russia have been placed under the spotlight in a stunning new exhibition at London’s V & A (Victoria and Albert) museum.
Treasures of the Royal Courts celebrates centuries of Anglo-Russian diplomacy through the majesty of the courts – from Henry VIII, Elizabeth I and Ivan the Terrible through to Queen Anne. The exhibition features over 150 sensational royal objects, including paintings, miniatures, jewellery, costumes, heraldic emblems and English and French silverware, gifted to successive Russian rulers by the British monarchy and on loan from the Moscow Kremlin Museum.
Also representative of the Stuart period is a short film about a spectacular coach that was gifted to Tsar Boris Godunov by James I in 1604. The vehicle itself is also at the Kremlin. Other highlights include a Shakespeare First Folio, a suit of armour custom-made for Henry VIII, and the famous Drake Star, a ruby-studded diamond pendant given to Sir Francis by Elizabeth I.
Portrait miniatures, something else showcased at the exhibition, were also made into pendants for members of the royal court. Alternatively they were put on public display, for example in glass-fronted antique cabinets. Exquisitely painted on fine vellum, they were popular in the Elizabethan and Stuart courts, being used as a sign of loyalty and in marriage negotiations.
Portrait miniatures are a rewarding and inexpensive way to begin a collection. Antique dealers in Preston often have antique cabinets suitable for displaying miniatures.
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