Museum complex

Tsar Mikhail Fedorovich and tsar Alexey Mikhailovich praying in front of the Image of Edessa (Holy Image of the Saviour Not Made by Hands)

Fyodor Zubov
Moscow. Armoury Chamber
Wood, gesso, tempera
261,8 х 191,8 cm
From: the Archangel Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin, 1891
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The pair image of Tsars Mikhail Fedorovich (1596–1645, Tsar from 1613) and Alexei Mikhailovich (1629–1676, Tsar from 1645) in “big attires”, which served as the parade tsar’s attire during solemn palace ceremonies and receptions of foreign diplomats, with symbols of authority – the sceptre and the orb. This primitive portrait was painted by an outstanding Russian artist, isograph of the Armoury Chamber F. E. Zubov after the order of Tsar Fedor Alekseevich for the “sovereign’s coffins”. It is one of sepulchral "icon portraits" created for the Archangel Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin – the necropolis of Moscow Grand Dukes and tsars, appanage dukes and princes. It was located, probably, on the southwestern pillar of the cathedral, near which were placed burials of the first two Russian tsars of the Romanov dynasty.

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The Archangel Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin is the necropolis of the male part of the grand-ducal and tsar’s family, where the graves of the Grand Duke of Moscow Ivan Kalita (? –1340) to the brother of Peter I, Tsar Ivan Alekseevich (1666–1696) are placed. In the lower row of the fresco ensemble of the cathedral are images of the great Moscow and appanage princes of the XIV–XVI centuries, resting in the basement of the temple. On four tiers of the temple pillars, princes are depicted – descendants of Rurik, with whose names the ancient Russian tsardom is associated, thus creating in the “portrait gallery” a continuous line of historical succession of the power of the Moscow princes from the former grand dukes. All images of great princes and tsars were the subject of church worship. They are presented with halos.
In the middle of the XVII century ancient frescoes were struck down, but the painting copied with tracing paper by craftsmen of the Armoury Chamber was again reproduced on walls. On the south-western pillar, opposite to the tomb of Tsar Mikhail Feodorovich, a space was left without a pictorial image. After the burial of Tsar Alexey Mikhailovich next to the sovereign’s father by order of Tsar Fyodor Alekseevich, a squad of craftsmen of the Armoury Chamber led by the icon painter Fyodor Yevtiheev Zubov in 1678 made for “sovereigns’ coffins” the paired image of the first tsars of the Romanov dynasty: Mikhail Fyodorovich (1613–1645) and Alexei Mikhailovich (1645–1676). This tumulary portrait of tsars is distinguished by its iconographic program. Members of tsar’s family are painted in ceremonial vestments, “big dresses”, with symbols of power: Monomakh's cap, shoulder-mantles, a pectoral cross, a scepter and an orb, indicating the succession of the august power of the Roman Caesars after the political fall of Byzantium Empire by the Moscow Tsar. A similar canon was developed and approved for parade images of royal persons in the Titulyarnik (Tsar’s book of titles). The compositional decision reveals peculiarities of the Russian board portrait as a solemn ceremonial portrait with a sacred purpose. The orb that Alexey Mikhailovich stretches in front of him is centered under the aer vividly representing the power under the blessing of the Savior. By the end of the XIX century these tumulary portraits decayed badly and, at the insistence of the clergy, were transferred to the Russian Historical Museum.
Tsar Mikhail Fedorovich (1596–1645, tsar since 1613) was the first of the Romanov dynasty on the Russian throne. In the first decade of his reign, the difficult tasks of rebuilding the economy and establishing internal order in a country that was ravaged during the Time of Troubles. In 1617, the Russo-Swedish War ended with making the Stolbovsky Peace, at the end of 1618 an agreement was signed with the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (Poland). International recognition of the new dynasty was ensured by the restoration of diplomatic relations with Netherlands, Austria, Denmark, Turkey and Persia. During the reign of Tsar Mikhail Fyodorovich, the reorganization of the army and the creation of regiments of the "new order" began, intensive urban construction developed, Russian explorers, passing through Siberia, reached the shore of the Pacific Ocean. Restoration and construction of new fortified lines – so-called “Zasechnaya cherta” led to the gradual shift of the country's borders to the south.
Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich (1629–1676, Tsar since 1645) was the eldest son of Tsar Mikhail Fedorovich. Years of his reign were marked by active state reforms. In 1649, the Council Code was adopted – a complete set of laws regulating all spheres of life of the state. Economic policy was directed to encourage domestic industry and Russian merchants. The biggest successes of foreign policy were the return of Smolensk and reunification in 1654 with Little Russia (Malorossia). The church reform that begun at the same time established the uniformity of the church service on the territory of the country, which significantly expanded its borders. Measures taken to strengthen the state as the growth of tax oppression, the complete formation of serfdom led to popular demonstrations: urban riots and an uprising led by Stepan Razin in 1670–1671, which encompassed a significant part of the territory of European Russia. By the end of Alexey Mikhailovich reign the transformation of estate-representative monarchy in the absolute began.