Sunday, 24 May 2020

Lost Portrait of Queen Victoria’s Granddaughters, the Princesses of Coburg

The four daughters of Alfred Duke of Edinburgh and Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna were painted c1893 by the German artist Friedrich August von Kaulbach (below).

Princesses Beatrice (Infanta of Spain), Marie (Queen of Romania), Alexandra (Princess of Hohenlohe-Langenburg) and Victoria Melita (Duchess of Hesse-Darmstadt and Grand Duchess of Russia)
After their marriage in 1874 and as heir to the duchy, Alfred and Maria lived both in England and the Edinburgh Palais in Coburg. After the death of the duke in 1900 Grand Duchess Maria remained in Coburg until her death in 1920.

A painting of the four daughters hung in the Drawing Room of the Palais although unknown if it was the lost Kaulbach portrait. Where is it now?

Photograph (below) of the Edinburgh Palais in Coburg

Sunday, 10 May 2020

Nicholas II’s Pool-Tub in the Winter Palace

Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra spent the first day in their newly reconstructed apartment on the 2nd floor of the Winter Palace on Saturday December 30th 1895. His bathroom (961) was located next to the Gothic Library. That evening the emperor wrote that ‘with delight I took a bath in my marvelous swimming pool-tub’  

Photograph c1930s (below) of the Bathroom’s marble pool-tub
Two days later on Monday January 1st he noted they ‘got up early. I splashed around with delight in my pool-size bathtub and after coffee I sat down to unbearable telegrams’.

Photograph c1930 (below) of the steps in the pool-tub that the architect Kramskoy enlarged in 1898 (note the door at the top right that led to the Passage Room (179) and Valet (180) with spiral stairs to his dressing room on the mezzanine)

Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Nicholas I and Empress Alexandra’s Bedroom in the Winter Palace

In 1826 the former apartment of Alexander I and Empress Elizabeth was reconstructed for Nicholas and Alexandra on the 2nd floor of the Winter Palace. Archival documents describe the new interiors but there have been few images of the rooms before the palace was destroyed in the 1837 fire until now.
A rare watercolor (below) of Nicholas and Alexandra’s Bedroom (184) before the 1837 fire
E. Hau’s watercolor c1859 (below) of the Bedroom (note the architect Briullov retained many architectural details)

Friday, 10 April 2020

Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra’s Celebration of Easter

In the Winter Palace on Good Friday March 22nd 1896 Nicholas II and Alexandra ‘attended at 7:00pm the service and then went around all the palace corridors and halls with the Shroud’.
Photograph (below) of the restored Cathedral in the Winter Palace today
Nicholas wrote on Holy Saturday April 8th 1900 that ‘we went with the children to Uncle Sergei’s and Ella’s to color Easter eggs’.

On Easter Sunday April 1st 1901 the Mass in the Cathedral of the Winter Palace ‘was over at 2:30am and we returned to the Malachite Hall and broke our fast with pleasure. We went to bed before 4:00am’.

Photograph (below) of the restored ceiling in the Cathedral of the Winter Palace today

Wednesday, 4 March 2020

The Last Sad Year of Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna, Queen of Württemberg

The diaries of Nicholas I reveal fascinating details of Alexandra Feodorovna’s pregnancy and birth of their second daughter Grand Duchess Olga on August 30th 1822 in the Anichkov Palace. Olga would later write a memoir of their family life up to her marriage to Crown Prince Karl of Württemberg in 1846.

Photograph c1892 (below) of the Dowager Queen Olga of Württemberg and her adopted granddaughters sixteen year old Elsa and Olga in Stuttgart
In the 1860s as Karl and Olga had no children they adopted her brother Grand Duke Konstantin’s daughter Grand Duchess Vera, mother of the twin girls in the photograph above. During the quarter century after Karl inherited the throne in 1864 the kingdom of Württemberg lost its important status with Stuttgart mainly a stopping place for family members on a tour of Europe.

In a nine month period Queen Olga mourned the deaths of her brother Grand Duke Nikolai on April 13th 1891, her husband Karl on September 24th and her brother Konstantin on January 13th 1892. Olga herself died soon after on October 18th at the age of seventy.

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Nicholas II’s Museum of Gold, Silver and Porcelain in the Winter Palace

Nicholas II was fascinated with gold, silver and porcelain table settings and often visited private and public collections. In the Winter Palace on Monday February 8th 1899 Nicholas and Alexandra ‘after lunch walked upstairs with Uncle Sergei and Ella to look at the Museum of Old Table Settings’. 

Rare Photograph c1911 (below) of the Gallery of Gold and Silver in the Small Hermitage
Nicholas approved the transfer of the Museum of Gold, Silver and Porcelain from the 3rd floor of the Winter Palace to the galleries in the Small Hermitage in 1910 for easier access to researchers and the public. The collections continued to increase during the 1900s including his uncle Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich’s silver objects.

Rare Photograph c1911 (below) of the Gallery of Porcelain in the Small Hermitage
The museum objects ‘remained at the disposal of the Marshal of the Court Count Paul Benckendorf and at any time be released for its use by the imperial court’.

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

The Clothes and Toys of Grand Duchess Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia and Tsarevich Alexei

The photographs (below) from the exhibition currently at the Kolomenskoe Museum shows parts of  the collections held by the Hermitage Museum and GARF of clothes, toys, diaries and letters of the Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia and the Tsarevich Alexei.