Thursday, 14 February 2019

Romanovs at Schloss Wilhelmsthal, the Summer Residence of the Grand Dukes of Weimar

A hunting lodge built in the late 1600s was reconstructed by Grand Duke Karl Augustus of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach a century later. Schloss Wilhelmsthal located seven kilometers south of Eisenach in the Thuringian forest was the Weimar family’s favorite summer residence. The dukes of Weimar received the title of grand duke in 1815 at the Congress of Vienna.

Aerial view (below) of Schloss Wilhelmsthal [center of photo]

Johann Wolfgang Goethe the friend and confidant of Karl Augustus felt differently. He wrote to Frau Charlotte von Stein on September 13th 1777 that ‘it was the Duke’s suggestion that I should come here. Wilhelmsthal is too low and too hemmed-in for me’.

Friedrich Preller’s Watercolor c1804 (below) of Schloss Wilhelmsthal, a gift to Emperor Alexander
Karl Friedrich the son of Karl Augustus married Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna the sister of Emperor Alexander in 1804. She received the following letter from her sister-in-law Empress Elizabeth during her first summer at the Schloss. ‘I very much thank you, dear sister, for the detailed description of your stay at Wilhelmsthal and your meeting with the Prussian Majesties. I have very vivid memories of the surroundings of Eisenach which in my opinion are magnificent although very rustic. It is a pity that in such a nice place you have such bad cold weather’. [July 10th 1805]

Photograph today (below) of the Altes Schloss where the family lived on the 1st floor
At the Schloss on June 24th 1821 Maria Pavlovna wrote to her brother Alexander that ‘I feel distracted all the time, the reason for this is my son. He plays in the bedroom where I am writing the letter and being very lively, scoffs and pulls me in different directions that the letter has two blots’.  Her son Karl Alexander born on June 24th 1818 inherited the dukedom in 1853 after the death of his father and six years later his mother died.

Photograph today (below) of the ballroom on the 2nd floor of the Altes Schloss
The imperial and royal families continued to visit Weimar in the following years. Karl Alexander had married Sophia the daughter of his mother’s sister Dutch Queen Anna Pavlovna. His sister Augusta was the Queen of Prussia, mother-in-law of Queen Victoria’s daughter Vicky. In September 1864 the future Alexander III stayed at Schloss Wilhelmsthal before returning to St. Petersburg and lived in the former rooms of his great-aunt Maria Pavlovna.

Photograph c1870 (below) of the Pavilions in Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph’s album
Photograph c1900s (below) of the Pavilions connected by a colonnade added in 1804
Photographs today (below) of the Pavilions and the Telemannsaal [Music Hall] in the Pavilion

In July 1805 Maria Pavlovna wrote to her brother Grand Duke Konstantin Pavlovich that ‘I want to tell you that yesterday there was a holiday in the Schwiezerhaus with dancing’.

Photograph today (below) of the Schweizerhaus [Swiss House] near the Wilhelmsthaler Lake that was made of beech wood and built in 1802

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Nicholas II at Queen Louise of Denmark’s Funeral in 1898

At his mother’s urging, Nicholas II travelled overland by train and ship from Livadia arriving in Denmark on Saturday September 26th (OS) 1898 to attend his grandmother’s funeral.

Photograph (below) of Nicholas in Roskilde Cathedral for the funeral service on Saturday October 3rd 1898

Queen Louise had died on Thursday September 17th (OS) after a lengthy illness. The family including her children Dowager Empress Maria, Alexandra Princess of Wales and King George I of Greece were gathering together at Bernstorff Slot near Copenhagen.

On the afternoon of Friday October 2nd Nicholas wrote that ‘after a prayer in the bedroom we carried out the coffin to the hearse and everyone walked up to Gentofte. We placed the coffin in the funeral car and departed by train to Roskilde’. They returned to Bernstorff for the night.

Photographs (below) of the family and funeral train at Gentofte Station

The following day ‘we had lunch at noon in uniforms and in full mourning we started off to Roskilde at 12:45. Upon arriving we rode to the palace and met with all the foreign representatives and the King of Sweden. Then we went by way of corridors and stairways to the cathedral. The funeral service did not last long and the coffin was born to the family crypt. It was painful and sad to leave deeply loved Amama. We returned to Bernstorff before five’.

Photograph (below) of Nicholas leaving Roskilde Palace
Photograph (below) of King George I of Greece at Roskilde Cathedral
Photograph (below) of Queen Louise’s Coffin in Roskilde

Monday, 4 February 2019

Film of Nicholas & Alexandra Laughing with the Family at Bernstorff in 1899

Photographs (below) from the film of Nicholas and Alexandra laughing and having fun on the steps of Bernstorff in 1899
Photograph (below) from the film of Alexandra hugging Tatiana
Film of the family in Bernstorff link:

Film of Nicholas and Alexandra arriving in Denmark on August 20th 1901:

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Photographs of the Maple Drawing Room & Working Study in the Alexander Palace c1930s

The rare view (below) of Empress Alexandra’s Maple Drawing Room was taken by the photographer Pavel Perelomov c1930s.
Photographer Pavel Perelomov (below) in Nicholas II’s Working Study in the Alexander Palace c1930s
ГМЗ «Царское Село»

Monday, 28 January 2019

Aerial Photograph of the Winter Palace

The aerial (below) shows a view of the Winter Palace looking west with the Neva River on the left and Palace Square to the right. The apartments of Nicholas and Alexandra were in the northwest section at the lower left with the small inner courtyard which the windows of Alexandra’s bath and Nicholas’ pool overlooked.

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Views of the Winter Palace and St. Petersburg at the time of Nicholas II & Alexandra’s Marriage in 1895

The following rare stereoscopic photographs show the palace and city as it was in the first year after the wedding of Nicholas II and Alexandra. [Deutsches Historishes Museum]

Photograph (below) of the Winter Palace Northwest Section where Nicholas and Alexandra lived on the 2nd floor
Photographs (below) of the Winter Palace from across Vasilyevsky Island, the Neva River, the west side facing the Admiralty and Palace Square showing Empress Maria Alexandrovna’s balcony on the 2nd floor

Photographs (below) of the New Hermitage, the Grand Staircase and Hall

Photograph (below) of the Alexander Column and General Staff Building
Photographs (below) of St. Isaac’s Cathedral, Peter the Great Statue and Emperor Nicholas I Statue
Photographs (below) of the Nevsky Prospekt, Church of the Spilled Blood, Mikhailovsky Castle and Smolny

Sunday, 20 January 2019

Catherine the Great’s Childhood Homes in Stettin and Zerbst

Princess Sophia of Anhalt-Zerbst at the age of fifteen sailed to Saint Petersburg with her mother Princess Johanna in 1744 to marry the heir taking the name Grand Duchess Catherine Alexeievna and in 1762 Empress Catherine II. After her mother left, she never visited her childhood homes in Stettin and Zerbst or saw her family again.

Aerial view today (below) of the old Stettin Palace, a port city in northern Germany now part of Poland, birthplace of Catherine
The legend of the poor German princesses dazzled by the riches of the imperial court is relative, absence of excessive luxury. Born in Stettin on April 21st 1729, Catherine grew up with governesses, tutors and servants and regularly visited family relatives for long periods: Hamburg, Brunswick, Kiel and Frederick the Great in Potsdam. Her friend the author Friedrich Grimm proposed a biography in 1776. Catherine asked ‘why are you going to Stettin? You will find no one alive there. I lived in the palace wing to the left of the square in three vaulted rooms with the church bell tower adjacent to my bedroom. But in all this I do not find anything particularly interesting unless you think the place contributes to the formation of ordinary empresses’.

Photographs c1870 (below) of Schloss Zerbst in central Germany from the albums of Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria

In November 1742 when her father Prince Christian co-ruled with his elder brother the principality of Zerbst, the family moved to Schloss Zerbst. After his death in 1747 her mother Johanna was regent until their son’s majority. They fled to Paris in 1758 after Frederick the Great incorporated Zerbst into the kingdom of Prussia, where she died in 1760 at the age of forty-eight.

Aerial view c1920s (below) of Schloss Zerbst
Plan c1798 (below) of Schloss Zerbst and Garden [Stables 14, Laundries 21, Riding School 23, Orangery 28]
Aerial view (below) of the restoration of Schloss Zerbst today
Photograph (below) of the reconstruction of Princess Johanna’s rococo bed