Advertisement
  1. News

Hyde Park woman brings 19th century collection to UT's Plant Museum

Kathy Durdin, collector of rare Russian and Hungarian decorative objects pose for a photo with the Durnovo Casket on Tuesday, March 20, 2018. Summary: The Durnovo Casket was presented to Ivan Nikolaevich Durnovo in 1889, as indicated by the coat of arms and inscription on the top.OCTAVIO JONES | Times
Published Mar. 22, 2018

TAMPA — Some little girls get dolls for their birthdays, Kathy Durdin's parents bought her antique chairs and a Louis XVI bed.

As a kid in Lakeland, she cut out magazine ads with photographs of gold, bejeweled Faberge eggs made for the tsars as Easter gifts. She studied the memoirs of Marie, Grand Duchess of Russia and watched every episode of the 1991 television miniseries Young Catherine, based on the early life of Catherine II.

Fast forward and the self-employed CPA, leadership development consultant and coach will tell you her childhood fascination grew into owning, "one of the largest collections of Russian decorative objects in the U.S.," hundreds of artifacts from pre- Catherine the Great through the fall of the Romanov Empire.

Durdin is sharing a portion of her treasures with the Henry B. Plant Museum in a exhibition called Imperial Designs: From the Habsburg's Herend to the Romanov's Fabergé, opening Friday (March 23).

As guest curator, Durdin worked with executive director Cynthia Gandee Zinober and museum staff to display more than 200 items as if they might have been seen by Margaret and Henry B. Plant on their travels through Europe at the turn of the 20th century.

What might they have acquired for the Tampa Bay Hotel when they visited the Paris Expo of 1889 and marveled at the Eiffel Tower? Did they buy Herend china for the grand dining room? Was it similar to the pattern Durdin owns that was made for the Royal Palace of Gödöllo?

"We know from a hotel guest's letter that she was served dessert on Herend china," Durdin said. "We don't know what pattern or what happened to it."

Visitors will see brooches, jewelry and exquisite enamelware among the wealthy royals' personal effects, and the opulent china and porcelain used aboard their yachts. Also pieces from a circa-1883 Raphael porcelain service with allegorical figures inspired by the frescoes painted by renaissance artist Raphael in the Vatican.

"It's a taste of what you'd see at the Hermitage and other St. Petersburg, Russia museums," Durdin said. "They'll be blown away."

Durdin points to a cherished favorite: the Durnovo Casket, a gift to Ivan Nikolaevich Durnovo, a top Russian official in 1889. More than a foot long, enameled silver gilt openwork covers sheets of lapis lazuli in the Old Russian Style.

"It was one of the few pieces I bought on my own, without a dealer. Which I don't recommend because there are so many fakes out there."

Durdin became a serious collector when the management consultant firm she co-owned was sold in 1998. She used some of her share of the proceeds to buy her first Fabergé, a gold on gold cigarette case bearing the monogram of Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich.

"I vowed if I ever had any money I would buy a piece of Fabergé," said the Hyde Park resident and an award-winning watercolorist.

"It became really addicting," Durdin said. "I was really lucky in that I found a great dealer and did most of my buying in the early 2000s before the Russians started buying it and the prices got really ridiculous."

Contact Amy Scherzer at ascherzer@tampabay.com.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Pat Frank, at a 2016 candidate debate with then-challenger Kevin Beckner. She won. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
    From school board to state lawmaker to clerk of courts, she just keeps on going, Sue Carlton writes.
  2. Researchers from the University of Central Florida and International innovation company, Imec have developed a camera that uses specific wavelength of light to easily find pythons in habitat where they are typically well camouflaged. 
 Imec
    University of Central Florida researchers worked with Imec to develop the cameras.
  3. Pasco County Sheriff's deputies lead three teenagers from a Wesley Chapel Publix store after responding to reports that the boys had been showing off handguns there in a Snapchat video. PASCO COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE  |  Pasco County Sheriff's Office
    The three Pinellas boys were apprehended while they were still walking the aisles of the Wesley Chapel store.
  4. The 59-year-old pastor was arrested Oct. 2 after a young woman told investigators he began abusing her in 2014 when she was 14 and he was senior minister at the First Congregational Church of Winter Park. Orange County Sheriff's Office via AP
    Rev. Bryan Fulwider was released Wednesday night after posting a $700,000 bond.
  5. Sam's Club fulfillment center manager Nick Barbieri explains to a shopper how the new Scan & Go shop works at 5135 S Dale Mabry Highway. SARA DINATALE  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The shuttered store has been reinvented and debuted to the community.
  6. Yogi Goswami
    The Molekule Air Mini is a scaled-down version of its original purifier.
  7. In this image taken from video provided by the Florida Immigrant Coalition, border patrol agents escort a woman to a patrol car on Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, at Aventura Hospital in Aventura, Fla. The woman had been detained by border patrol agents when she fell ill. The agent took her to the hospital emergency room for treatment. The presence of immigration authorities is becoming increasingly common at health care facilities around the country, and hospitals are struggling with where to draw the line to protect patients’ rights amid rising immigration enforcement in the Trump administration. (Florida Immigrant Coalition via AP) AP
    Hospitals are struggling with where to draw the line to protect patients’ rights amid rising immigration enforcement in the Trump administration.
  8. Lee Coel pleaded no contest Wednesday to second-degree manslaughter as part of a deal with prosecutors. Punta Gorda Police Department/Facebook photo
    A Lee County judge withheld adjudication of guilt and sentenced Lee Coel to 10 years of probation.
  9. FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2018, file photo, students hold their hands in the air as they are evacuated by police from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., after a shooter opened fire on the campus. Parents whose children were killed or wounded during last year's Parkland high school massacre asked the Florida Supreme Court on Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019, to rule that each pull of the trigger was a separate occurrence for which the Broward County School Board should be held liable. MIKE STOCKER  |  AP
    A judge issued an order Thursday to begin jury selection on Jan. 27 in a trial involving the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
  10. Luis Tull, 36, is a suspect in a shooting and carjacking at a Zephyrhills McDonald's on Wednesday night, the Pasco County Sheriff's Office said. Pasco County Sheriff's Office
    Luis Tull, 36, was arrested Thursday after stealing three cars and driving at deputies, drawing their fire, the sheriff says.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement