A few weeks ago I visited a nice exhibition in the Hermitage in Amsterdam called "Dining with the Tsars".
Eight magnificent porcelain and creamware services from the collection of the Hermitage in Sint Petersburg are exhibited in a setting that conveys what the balls and banquets of the Russian Tsar's court were like.
The exquisite porcelain services comprising no less than 1,034 pieces exhibited on authentically laid tables with decorative centrepieces, reveal the enchanting grandeur of the Tsar's banquets.
The exhibition tells the story of the lavish ball and banqueting culture that reached its zenith under the reign (1762-1796) of Catherine the Great, Queen of Feasts when hundreds of dishes would be served at a single banquet and thousands of guests attended the balls.
The last Tsar Nicolas II (ruled 1894-1917) and his wife Alexandra organised the largest balls, but were only present as briefly as possible. With their tragic abdication, the ball and banqueting customs that had once captured the imagination of all the courts of Europe came to an end.