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Call for Conference Papers: Russia: Courtly Gifts and Cultural Diplomacy

last modified Sep 19, 2018 12:59 PM

Friday 22 March 2019
Conference 10.00-18.00; Drinks reception 18.00-20:30
The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, London

A collaboration between Royal Collection Trust, Cambridge Courtauld Russian Art Centre and The Burlington Magazine, this one-day international academic conference takes its cue from the exhibition, ‘Russia: Royalty and the Romanovs’, to be held at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, London, from 9 November 2018 to 28 April 2019.

The exhibition explores the relationship between Britain and Russia and their royal families through the stories of art and objects in the Royal Collection, charting a history of alliance, dynastic marriage, and war. Over a long historical timeframe beginning with Peter the Great’s visit to London in 1698, the display of portraits, sculpture, photographs, archival documents and miniature masterpieces by Fabergé will illustrate historic events, state ceremony, and family meetings between the rulers of the two nations.
For further information, visit the website of the Royal Collection at:

The conference ‘Russia: Courtly Gifts and Cultural Diplomacy’ will explore themes of courtly gift-giving and cultural diplomacy between Russia and the west, a history that sits within the broader framework of the history of British-Russian state and cultural relations. Scholarly research in these areas has flourished over the past few decades, and continues to generate debate and activity as the discipline of history itself has developed to encompass the study of material culture; sensory history and the history of emotions; domestic history; histories of power, ceremony and ritual; and internationalism and cross-cultural exchange. Increasing access to archives and the availability of new methodologies, not least the advent of the ‘digital’ humanities, have provided further opportunities for cutting-edge research. This conference accordingly embraces innovative methodologies from disciplines including history, art history, literature, area studies, and anthropology to explore ways in which Russia’s international relations have been forged, fermented and fractured by the exchange of material objects in the social, cultural and political spheres.

Call for Papers
Papers are invited on the following themes:

  • practices of gift-giving between the British and Russian monarchies and governments
  • British-Russian cultural exchange at state and diplomatic level interactions between cultural diplomacy, art and politics
  • cultural diplomacy and nationalism/imperialism
  • gift-exchange in the formation of royal collections
  • royal portraits as gifts
  • the exchange of court artists, craftsmen and other cultural producers
  • the role of ambassadors and cultural mediators
  • royal photographs, photographs of royalty
  • royal patronage in the cross-cultural context
  • gift-giving and domestic court life
  • family, marriage, and dynastic ties
  • material culture and gift-giving
  • the material accompaniments of royal travel and state visits
  • transcultural ritual and ceremony
  • custom, convention and protocol
  • societies promoting cultural exchange between governments
  • the forging of cultural links between state departments
  • British artists and makers and Russian royal patronage (e.g., Godfrey Kneller,   Christopher Galloway, George Dawe, Christina Robertson, Charles Cameron)
  • Russian artists and makers and British royal patronage (e.g., Carl Fabergé, Savely Sorine)

Paper topics should relate to a British-Russian or British-Soviet context and, to complement the exhibition, may address any period from the late seventeenth to the mid twentieth century.

Papers shall be twenty minutes long and will be organised into panels of two to four papers, with time allocated for questions on all papers at the end of each session.

Participation in the conference for both speakers and delegates will include an opportunity to visit the exhibition and an early evening drinks reception.
In accordance with the event policy for conferences held at The Queen’s Gallery, the conference organisers will not be able to reimburse travel expenses or arrange accommodation for speakers. Some limited funding may become available as a result of grant applications that are in progress; if you wish to be considered for this, please provide an estimate of costs as part of your proposal.

Further information
Abstracts of up to 300 words should be submitted to Dr Louise Hardiman (Cambridge Courtauld Russian Art Centre) at . Please include a paper title, your name, institution (if applicable), brief biography, and full contact information (address, phone number, and email). Any questions about the conference may also be sent to the above email address.

The deadline for submission of abstracts is Monday 15 October 2018.
Cambridge Courtauld Russian Art Centre (CCRAC) is an academic collaboration between the Department of History of Art at the University of Cambridge and The Courtauld Institute of Art. CCRAC promotes research, collaboration and scholarly debate on all aspects of the visual arts, architecture, design, and exhibitions in Russia and the Soviet Union. For further information see

Organising Committee
Caroline de Guitaut (Royal Collection Trust), Dr Louise Hardiman (CCRAC), Professor Rosalind P. Blakesley (University of Cambridge and CCRAC), Professor John Milner (The Courtauld Institute of Art and CCRAC) and Michael Hall (Editor, The Burlington Magazine).

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Nicolas Chevalier, The Marriage of Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, 23 January 1874 (1874-75)
Image credit: Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2018