Towering just over eleven feet high, this magnificent ash armoire was specially created to reside in the Winter Palace, the residence of Tsar Nicholas II, the last known Russian Emperor. Masterfully crafted, no attention to detail was spared on this monumental work of art. Corinthian columns, stepped arches, elaborate turrets, and urns lavishly adorn the architectural framework, which is truly the finest example of the cabinetmaker’s art.
Nicholas II became Emperor in 1895, during a period of great political unrest. Prior to the Revolution of 1905, Nicholas moved his headquarters from the Winter Palace just south of St. Petersburg to Tsarskoye Selo, the summer home of the Tsars where he remained until the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution.
This armoire and a similar library cabinet eventually surfaced in the cargo of a freight-ship in Ghent, Belgium, in 1935. After the owner of the freight-ship passed away, both cabinets remained untouched until 1940 when they were seized by Ghent customs officials due to unpaid harbor charges. Created in 12 boxes, the two pieces were sold to a local cheese import/export firm who assembled the cabinets in a warehouse. The magnificent Russian cabinets were then publicly exhibited during World War II, drawing large crowds to see the “famous Russian cabinets.” Since the war, this cabinet has remained in the hands of private collectors, until now.
The Winter Palace, one-time residence of the tsars and now the home of the Hermitage, is the most famous building of Imperial St. Petersburg. The Hermitage was built in 1762 for Empress Catherine the Great to house her private collection and has since become, along with the Louvre, the world’s largest museum of art.
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