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Tin Soldiers in the Hermitage

16 January, 2013 г.

In the Arab Hall of the Winter Palace ( Palace square,2) an exhibition entitled Tin Soldiers in the Hermitage was opened to mark the 200th anniversary of the Patriotic War of 1812.

The numerous soldiers represent not only the Russian and French armies of the Napoleonic Wars, but also allied armies: Prussian, Austrian, Bavarian, Saxon. The exhibition displays figures that are portraits, groups representing regiments, and compositions that show military actions. The basis of the current exhibition is the collection of model soldiers that belonged to Lev Lvovich Rakov (1904-1970), scientific secretary to the State Hermitage Museum and founder of the Museum of the Defence of Leningrad.

An interesting fact: military toys appeared in St. Petersburg in the 18th century mainly in the imperial family and aristocratic houses.Imperial children received a diverse range of soldiers: from porcelain and silver to tin and paper.

The most renowned workshops making tin soldiers were in Nuremberg, Germany. Particularly well known of these are soldiers produced by the Heinrichsen Dynasty. It was the Heinrichsens that well-engraved and painted figures could be used for children not just for games, but also for educational purposes. So popular was this workshop that in Russia, flat, three-centimetre high tin soldiers were sometimes simply called Heinrichsens’ or Nuremberg soldiers. In 1855 Tsar Nicholas I made an order for extra large (6-8 cm high) tin soldiers depicting the Russian Imperial Guard. About a hundred moulds were made for casting the figures. The General Staff prepared coloured sketches for the uniforms of all Russian regiments. However, when the work was complete two years later, the soldiers had lost their utilitarian value in displaying military uniforms, as the new Emperor, Alexander II, had changed them significantly.

Collecting and playing with toy soldiers was traditional for St. Petersburg boys in the late 19th and early 20th century.If the boy’s collection is, mainly, for play, then an adult’s use for them was to create panoramas and layouts, reconstructing various historical events.

In one word the exhibition will be interesting for everyone.The exposition will be opened till the 7th of April .

Opening hours : Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday:
Wednesday: 10.30-21.00.

Ticket sales end half an hour before the museum is closed.

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