Your invitation to dine with the Tsars

In Amsterdam? Why not accept the Tsars’ invitation to dine with them? The Hermitage Amsterdam has a temporary exhibition “Dining with the Tsars” and you’re most welcome to be their guest!

You may frown and wonder in disbelieve, but the Tsars used to invite the people to dine with them – once a year. Mind: the precious silver and other items were locked away. Just in case, someone like you and me was tempted to take home a souvenir. And like today, when you’re invited to dine with millionaires, politicians, pop stars: screening did take place.

But not at the Amsterdam Hermitage: you’re a welcome guest – provided you pay the entrance fee or show a valid culture discount card. And if this temporary exhibition is not to your taste, why not visit their “Portrait Gallery of the Golden Age“. It runs till the end of 2016. Nothing to keep you from visiting both exhibitions either; though “Dining with the Tsars” will terminate at the end of February.

Being a foodie, I settled for dinner first. To be honest: I hadn’t expected this exhibition to be highly fascinating. So I wrongly presumed, it’d take me about an hour and leave me plenty time for the portraits. Wrong!

The exhibition of the Tsars’ tableware is so fascinating and so beautiful, I spent over two hours there. It’s not only about cups and saucers, but also about etiquette, fan flirting, and more. “Portrait Gallery of the Golden Age” will be visited at some later date. So, accepting the invitation for dinner: don’t tell me I didn’t warn you!

Did you realise we abolished dining in the French fashion and now follow the Russian style? Of course, you’re aware that Catherine the Great ordered a series of dishes, soup bowls, cups and more from Wedgwood? No – not their Queen’s Ware Plain, but the famous and unique “Green Frog” service.

It must be said: the Tsarina baulked at the bill. She decided to settle it in instalments. The aristocratic world laughed behind her back.

Her “Green Frog” Service is not the only one you can admire at this wonderful exhibition. The Hermitage in St Petersburg ensured, there are other tables showing off more of her precious cups, saucers, and the rest. These include the exquisite Sevres Cameo Service, which once consisted of nearly a thousand pieces, as well as the interesting Berlin Dessert Service.

Moreover: where mum “went”, the rest of the Romanov family followed. So apart from porcelain and cream ware used by Catherine the Great, you can admire services ordered and used by other Romanovs. These include pieces still used by the Dutch Royal Family from a service owned by Queen Anna Pavlovna.

Just in case you think it all ends with Nicolas and Alexandra’s pudding bowls: there is more. There are for instance pieces on show, from a service given to Stalin by the Hungarian people in 1949. But unlike the Romanovs in such cases: he ungratefully never ever used it!

For more information about this exhibition, pictures, tickets and opening hours: Amsterdam Hermitage “Dining with the Tsars”.

If you’re unable to visit this exhibition: the new temporary exhibition will be even more fascinating! Maybe you’ll bump into me at “Alexander, Napoleon, and Joséphine”, which opens on the 28th of March.

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