Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Nicholas II & Empress Alexandra attended a Ball held in the Yusupov Palace

On Tuesday February 8th 1900 Nicholas and Alexandra after an early dinner ‘went to the Alexandriinsky Theatre, where the Italian Salvini played the role of “Otello” with our people. From there we went off to a ball at the Yusupovs. A supper was served for us in their theatre – this was very beautiful. We returned home after 3 am.” Photograph (below) of the Yusupov Palace on the Moika River in St. Petersburg
Photographs c1900 (below) of the Ballroom, Banquet Hall, Nikolaevsky Hall, Roman Hall, Music Room and the Antique Hall

Thursday, 10 September 2020

Rare Photograph c1917 of Nicholas & Alexandra’s Malachite Hall in the Winter Palace

The Malachite Hall [189] on the 2nd floor of the Winter Palace was the entrance room to the apartment of Nicholas and Alexandra where family dinners and gatherings were held. After the revolution the Malachite Hall was one of the former rooms of the imperial couple used by the provisional government in late summer of 1917 (photo below).
Photograph c1920s (below) of the Malachite Hall during the 1920s when the former imperial apartment was opened as a museum

Sunday, 23 August 2020

Grand Duchess Ella’s Bequest to her sister Empress Alexandra

Grand Duke Sergei noted in a letter on January 27th 1897 to his brother Paul that ‘the painting La Vierge received from the French exhibition – it’s lovely’. La Vierge (Rest of the Virgin) was the original name of The Dream of the Virgin. V.P. Trofimov Watercolor c1900 (below) of Grand Duchess Ella’s Study in the Moscow Governor General’s Mansion (note on the right a partial view of the left side of The Dream of the Virgin)
The French artist Eduard Jerome Poupion had exhibited The Dream of the Virgin at the 1896 Paris Salon. After the death of Sergei in 1905 Ella hung the painting in the Kremlin’s Nicholas Palace (below partial view of the frame - with the staff of her warehouses April 1906).
E.J. Poupion Painting c1896 (below) of The Dream of the Virgin
Prior to her move to the Marfo-Mariinsky Convent the grand duchess bequeathed The Dream of the Virgin to her sister Alexandra and the portrait of Alexander III to Nicholas II in memory of her husband Sergei. Photograph (below) of Alexandra’s Mauve Boudoir in the Alexander Palace with The Dream of the Virgin
Photograph (below) of Nicholas’ New Study in the Alexander Palace with the portrait of Alexander III

Thursday, 23 July 2020

Catalogue from the Children of Nicholas II’s Exhibition

Last winter an exhibition on the ‘Children’s World of the Family of Emperor Nicholas II’ was held in a small palace on the Kolomenskoye estate. The catalogue is online (see link below photos).



Tuesday, 7 July 2020

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

Since my blog post on the portrait of the Princesses of Coburg, the question of the date has now been identified by the Tsarskoe Selo Museum with F.A. von Kaulbach’s pastel of Queen Marie of Romania in their possession.

Kaulbach Pastel c1898 (below) of Queen Marie of Romania

Monogram FK and date 98

The painting may have been a gift for Duke Alfred and Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna in celebration of their Silver Wedding Anniversary held on January 23rd 1899 in Schloss Friedenstein, Gotha.

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

Tsarskoe Selo Museum Article

Monday, 6 July 2020

A Rare Discovery of a Sculpture in Empress Alexandra’s Winter Palace Study

In 2015 Petra H. Kleinpenning, author of The Correspondence of the Empress Alexandra of Russia with Ernst Ludwig and Eleonore, Grand Duke and Duchess of Hesse 1878-1916 and Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig and Princess Alix of Hesse and by Rhine in Italy 1893, wrote me that she had discovered a sculpture by Georg Busch bought by Empress Alexandra in 1899 while on a visit to Darmstadt. A few days ago we were excited to confirm that the Caritas sculpture had been placed in the Winter Palace between two windows in Alexandra’s Study #185 (below c1900).

Georg Busch Sculpture Caritas (below)
The following note from Petra reveals her research on the Caritas sculpture.

From 11 September to 26 October 1899 (O.S.), Tsar Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra and their three daughters stayed with Alexandra’s brother Ernst Ludwig and his first wife Victoria Melita at the Wolfsgarten Hunting Lodge, just north of Darmstadt. On 16/28 September, a rainy day, Nicholas wrote in his diary: ‘… we spent part of the day in Darmstadt. We went there by train and sat down to lunch in the castle. … Having looked over the rooms, we drove to the New Palace, in order to show it to Niki, Kirill and Boris. On our way back to the railway station, we visited a nice art exhibition and returned home at 5 o’ clock. …’

‘An art exhibition’ – The details behind these unobtrusive words are more interesting than one might think. The Darmstädter Zeitung reported that this exhibition was the Second Hessian Art Exhibition organized by the Freie Vereinigung Darmstädter Künstler (Free Association of Darmstadt Artists). It took place at the Kunsthalle on Rheinstraße in Darmstadt, which is indeed near the station of the Main-Neckar Railway to Egelsbach-Wolfsgarten.

The Darmstädter Zeitung further reported that Nicholas bought a majolica wall fountain by Maximilian von Heider and an oil painting titled Märkischer Birkenwald by Eugen Bracht. Bracht (1842-1921) had previously created the large painting of Romrod Castle hanging in the Palisander Room at the Alexander Palace in Tsarskoe Selo.

According to the newspaper, the Empress Alexandra purchased a sculpture titled Caritas by Georg Busch. Georg Busch (1862-1943) appears to have created several sculptures titled Caritas. The sculpture bought by Alexandra represents a merciful sister, meditating while holding two small children sleeping peacefully in her arms; its bas-relief shows a sister feeding a sick person with a spoon. Alexandra’s Caritas appears to be a replica.

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