The exhibition project Alexander Suvorov’s Alpine Campaign: Dialogues with the Past is a joint project between ROSPHOTO State Museum and Exhibition Center, A. V. Suvorov State Memorial Museum, and Olga Rachkovskaya, photographer and journalist from St. Petersburg.

The exhibition displays photographs of places in Switzerland, visited by Suvorov and his army during the Alpine campaign of 1799. One hundred years after the campaign, in the late 19th and early 20th century, Vasily Pavlovich Engelhardt (1818–1915) commissioned Swiss photographers to take pictures of the Russian army’s path in the Alps. Another hundred years later, Olga Rachkovskaya stepped on the same trail to capture mountainous landscapes, memorial sites, villages and valleys, breathing with history. The exhibition offers a unique opportunity to get an insight into this chapter in national history and follow Suvorov’s track in Switzerland 100 and 200 years after his glorious campaign.

The project is dedicated to the 220th anniversary of the Suvorov’s Alpine campaign (1799), to be celebrated in 2019. It was one of the most difficult and heroic campaigns in his military career, and the last one. Under his command, the army carried out an impossible mission. They spent 27 days in Switzerland, constantly moving forward. From battle to battle, they covered the distance of 405 kilometers in a mountainous region; conquered 7 mountain passes in almost unbearable weather conditions of rain, blizzard, and wind. 

The Alpine campaign unites Russia and Switzerland, being a common historical heritage of the two countries, that have been sharing, honouring, and keeping alive the memory of the great military leader for more than two centuries. In the 21st   century, one can find 18 buildings and sites in Switzerland, where the commander stayed overnight.   

The exhibition presents in great detail Suvorov’s route in Switzerland, and introduces people who kept his memory alive and keep doing so. Here one can find objects from the ‘Suvorov Collection’ of V. P. Engelhardt, photographs from a unique handmade album with notes by Engelhardt, which he made himself and donated to the Suvorov Museum in St. Petersburg, where it is still held now.

A well-known astronomer and admirer of Suvorov, Engelhardt did a lot to eternalize his memory on the Swiss land. He installed commemorative plaques along Suvorov’s route and on the houses where the commander had stayed. He acquired memorabilia, which he then donated to the Suvorov Museum. In 1902, a cargo of 13 containers, weighing 995 kilos in total, arrived in Petersburg. The museum was constructed between 1901 and 1904 upon the royal permission and command of His Imperial Majesty, Emperor Nicholas II. The personality of V. P. Engelhardt and his expedition trips along Suvorov’s route, not yet widely known, are a true discovery.

Olga Rachkovskaya, photographer and journalist from St. Petersburg, made it all the way along the route of Suvorov’s army, from Ponte Tresa to Balzers (Liechtenstein), Feldkirch (Austria), and Lindau (Germany). It took 13 years and 9 trips across Switzerland to complete the project. The result of this historical expedition was an archive of 15 400 photographs of historic sites connected with Suvorov’s Alpine campaign, and an elaborate itinerary, including 146 sites and objects one can see in Switzerland today. What is more, the researcher gathered additional information on route points and conducted a number of interviews with the Swiss who preserve Suvorov’s sites in their country.