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A nineteenth-century Mournful Knight suit of armour joins the exhibition of the Arsenal pavilion in the Alexander Park.

After thorough restoration, the suit is put on display together with the Happy Knight. The two suits were used during Alexander I's ceremonial funeral procession in 1826. It is the only surviving complete set of ceremonial imperial funeral armour in Russia.

According to Mr Gleb Arlyuk, Tsarskoe Selo Arms Curator, fragments of both suits were found thirty years ago during the restoration of the Catherine Palace Circumference building, where they probably stayed hidden under the floors since World War Two. The fragments were long unidentified until our museum research fellow Mr Vladimir Vekshin linked them to the funeral ceremony of Alexander I.

The Happy Knight suit was restored in 2016, while its more ruined mournful counterpart was in need of much more serious care. 

Work on conservation, restoration and reconstruction of lost details of the second suit was carried out by the Nasledie (heritage) workshop. The armour parts are cleaned and decorroded, all deformations are fixed, the ruined details reinforced and the lost ones remade. Three shoulder and arm plates are restored based on the surviving ones. The reconstructed cuirass' front and back plates, as well as the helmet, gorget and decorative elbow plates, are based on an armour from the Moscow Kremlin Museums. The newly made parts are matte coloured for recognition.

The Happy and Mournful Knights were part of Russian imperial funeral ceremonies since the reign of Peter the Great, who borrowed the ritual from Western Europe, till Alexander III. In the funeral processions, the allegorical participants in the golden and black armours symbolised life and death.

The ceremonial suits of armour were stored in a special room of the Arsenal (Armoury) in St Petersburg. One set of suits was transferred to the Tsarskoe Selo Collection in the late 1920s.