The world’s biggest country, in a magazine. Since 1956.
Author: Darra Goldstein
Page 60 ( 2 pages)
In celebration of Tsar Alexander III’s coronation in May 1883, the renowned artist Viktor Vasnetsov designed menus for a series of festive dinners. One of the most beautiful commemorates a meal held in the Kremlin’s Faceted Chamber in honor of the tsar and his wife, Maria Fyodorovna. Vasnetsov’s design is notable for the deep sense of Russianness it conveys. Unlike most courtly menus of the time, it is presented in Russian, not French, to underscore the event’s nationalist nature. The lettering, executed in the stylized form of Old Church Slavonic manuscripts, with ornate capitals and illuminations, emphasizes centuries of Russian tradition. The initial letters S (the Slavonic C) and G in the words “Glory” and “Lord” spill down the page in a riot of organic forms. Prominently placed amid this song of praise is an image of khleb-sol – the presentation of bread and salt, the great symbol of Russian hospitality. This was no fanciful image on Vasnetsov’s part. As part of the coronation festivities, delegates paid tribute to the tsar for two days, bringing him exquisitely crafted bread plates and saltcellars. The saltcellar depicted here is actually in the form of a small throne whose seat opens up to reveal precious salt inside.
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