Category Archives: Hermitage

Russian Tortoiseshell Parure

This parure highlights hand-inlaid gold and silver on tortoiseshell. Each cameo has a complex floral pattern in a geometric frame. The balls on top of the comb show the influence of Napoleon’s Josephine. The cultural exchange between Russia and France occurred during the Napoleonic Wars. Educated Russians traveled to Europe and wanted to implement liberal political ideas in Russia. When Napoleon was defeated in 1815, Tzar Alexander I bought Josephine’s art collection. Indeed, the language of the Russian court was French. Nicholas I took over in 1825. The parure resides in the Hermitage, c. 1830 – 1850.

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For more scholarly research, please examine these books, which can be found in our Resource Library.

Jewels of the Romanovs: Family & Court

Jewels of the Tsars: The Romanovs and Imperial Russia

Tiaras – A History of Splendour

Hermitage: Gold Scythian Comb

It belongs to the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia and usually resides in the Second Chamber of the Gold Room. It was found in 1913, when N. Veselovsky excavated the Solokha Barrow. Epic Scythian legend recounts the quarrel between three brothers seen as the founders of the Scythian tribe. The battle has been portrayed many times in different media.

Scholars feel the comb was created between the 5th and 4th Century BC, when the Scythian king was killed by his own brothers for his love of Greek culture. At some time in the first third of the 4th century BC, the comb was placed on the head of the victor, Octamasad, whose tomb was placed inside the grandiose 18 metre barrow earlier erected for his brother Orik. This tomb was robbed in Antiquity, but the comb survived.

What I find ironic is that combs are the territory of women, but this most famous one was about war and made for a man.