The Tales of Things

18th century Dutch tobacco boxes

Digital environment provides great opportunities to explore what we do not notice or simply cannot notice in our daily haste as visitors to museums. In the Rundāle Palace Museum, one group of such items is the Dutch tobacco boxes. Although these tobacco boxes are exhibited, they cannot be viewed from all sides and not only the lids and edges of these boxes, but also their bases deserve attention. Even in the third exhibition catalogue of the Museum’s new acquisitions held 30 years ago at Rundāle Palace, the descriptions of tobacco boxes are supplemented only by black and white photographs of their lids. I have written this article to offer an insight into the history of tobacco boxes and to afford a closer look at these objects, whilst also appealing to the visitors of the Museum to not miss these seemingly simple objects. It is worthwhile to pause and study them longer because the most interesting information is often concealed in the details.  More…

Stoves from Apriķi Manor 

The collection of Rundāle Palace Museum contains fragments of several stoves from Apriķi Manor, which invite contemplation on the luxurious interiors of the manor house and the vision of its author Christoph Friedrich von der Osten-Sacken (1697–1759). The manor house was built between 1742 and 1745.  More…

Rings of Duchess Sophie of Prussia, Duchess of Courland

Upon entering the first room in the exhibition ‘From the Gothic Style to Art Nouveau’, several unique objects are revealed in a display case on the right, found and acquired by the Rundāle Palace Museum during the restoration of the family vault of the Dukes of Courland. More…


Utrecht tiles in Rundāle Palace

In Rundāle Palace, you often hear two erroneous notations – ‘Dutch stoves’ in relation to the blue-painted tile stoves and ‘Delft tiles’ upon entering the Duke’s tiled bathrooms. Although mainly tableware and tiles were made in Delft, visitors often refer to all blue-painted products on white glaze as ‘Delft blue’ and allude to all tiles made in Holland as ‘Delft tiles’. More…

Tapestry with antique mythology scenes

The Rundāle Palace Museum’s exhibition ‘From the Gothic Style to Art Nouveau’ features two expressive tapestries with scenes from antique mythology – ‘Agamemnon at Apollo’s Altar’ crafted in Flanders in the 1st half of the 17th century and ‘Apollo and Calliope’ made in the same area during the 1st quarter of the 18th century. More…


Mantel clock “Diana with Deer”

On October 1988, a phone call from Riga rang through to the Museum. Somebody was offering a large clock ‘with malachite’. Malachite? In that case, the clock was most likely made in Russia during the second half of the 19th century and doubtless would be of little value to Rundāle Palace. Nonetheless, a jaunt to Riga ensued. In the Moscow suburb, resting on a table in a small kitchen of an undistinguished house, was a large object covered with a slice of old oilcloth. More…


Cosmetic and toiletry set of the Duchess Dorothea

In 2013 Count Théodore Medem gifted a collection of family relics to the Rundāle Palace Museum, which in 1918 his grandfather had transported from Stukmaņi and Vecauce Manors to Germany and then onto France. This gift also includes a porcelain cosmetic and toiletry set of Duchess Dorothea – altogether 22 items manufactured at the Royal Porcelain Manufactory (Königliche Porzellan Manufaktur or KPM) in Berlin. More…


Buratto lace

While working on the Rundāle Palace Museum’s collection of 18th century lace, which contains complex and fine samples of needle and bobbin lace, one cannot help but wonder – what were the origins of lace? During the past three years, the collection has been more…


Historical dresses

Fashion is not only about clothes or a type of applied arts, it also a social manifestation. Fashion is lifestyle, interior, resorts, pets. Fashion is everything that surrounds us.’ (Alexandre Vassiliev in his book ‘I Am Fashionable Today’).
Two exhibitions at the Rundāle Palace Museum – ‘18th Century Fashion’ and decorative art exhibition ‘From the Gothic Style to Art Nouveau’ have been supplemented with outfits More..


Vases of the Duchess Dorothea

On 18th October 1791, Dorothea, Duchess of Courland, wrote from Berlin to Karl von Manteuffel, the proprietor of Blankenfelde Manor: ‘His Highness gifted five large, magnificent porcelain vases to me, dark blue with gold and exquisitely painted.’ (This letter is in the collection of the National Library of Latvia.) More..


Candle holders given as a present to General Mārtiņš Peniķis

Each object’s journey to the Museum is different. To complement the Museum’s collection, two elegantly forged silver Biedermeier style candle holders were acquired for a price of 3000 roubles from Olga Aleksandra Justīne Peniķe (1901-1991) on 30 October 1986. Both candle holders have an identical engraving on the obverse of their foot: ‘To Army Commander General Peniķis – Minister of War, Division, Regiment and Battalion Commanders 1921-1935.’ More..


Chair from the Green Dining Room in the Catherine Palace

The stunning Neoclassicism style chair was acquired by the Rundāle Palace Museum on 5 May 1981, purchased in Riga from R. Ostapkovičs. It was made in 1783 following the design of architect Charles Cameron (1745-1812) and was initially situated in St Petersburg in the Green Dining Room in the Catherine Palace at Tsarskoye Selo. More..


Hearth hooks

Back in the days when meals where prepared daily on an open hearth over a fire, each household had various utensils and appliances to ease the cooking process. Originally, these were constructed from wood, later – forged iron. One of the most essential kitchen utensils was a device used for suspending the cauldron.  More..


The portraits of Medem family from Eleja Manor

In Spring 2018, while furnishing one the last rooms in the exhibition ‘From the Gothic Style to Art Nouveau’ dedicated to Historicism, it became apparent there was a shortage of portraits that would enable the viewer to experience the presence of the previous owners of exhibited items. And at the very moment from the faraway Chile arrived a proposition from Count Alejandro Medem about the acquisition of his grandparents’ portraits. More…


The portrait of Charles I

Recently a very large painting (276 x 217 cm) was displayed on a wall in one of the ground floor rooms of the Rundāle Palace Museum. Many will recognise portrayed in it Charles I of England, painted by Anthony van Dyck. The portrait on show at the Louvre Museum is one of the most famous depictions of this tragic monarch and portrays him on a hunt assuming a proud posture with romantic coastal scenery in the background. More…




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