Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Views of the Winter Palace c1897

The photograph below (click to enlarge) of the northwest section of the Winter Palace facing the Neva River gives a close-up view of the 1st floor windows of Nicholas II and Alexandra’s children’s rooms, Alexandra’s drawing rooms and study on the 2nd floor, and the former rooms of Nicholas I on the third floor that Nicholas II used for guests. Do you see the small entrance where the emperor and empress would exit the palace?
The photograph below shows the Neva entrance to the Winter Palace that led to the Jordan Staircase on the 1st floor. Above the portico is the Nicholas Hall on the 2nd floor. Do you see the small entrance to the left of the portico where guests i.e. Crown Prince of Germany would enter the palace?
The photograph below is the northeast section of the Winter Palace where the Minister of the Imperial Court had an apartment on the 2nd floor and 3rd floors. Do you see the minister’s small entrance? On the left is the Small Hermitage where the Director of the Imperial Hermitage had an apartment on the 1st floor. The Pavilion Hall is on the 2nd floor.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Emperor Nicholas II and Winter Thaws

On Saturday February 28th 1897 Nicholas II wrote in his diary that ‘a mass of snow fell during the night’. The following year the winter weather was mild. On Sunday February 28th 1898 ‘it was thawing and completely warm’. Thursday was ‘a nice sunny day, heavy thaw, the snow is almost gone from the streets’.

Two years later in the Winter Palace on Tuesday February 27th 1901 Nicholas wrote ‘the day remained marvelous and the snow has gone from the streets’. The next day he ‘took a walk in the marvelous weather’.

Photograph c1890s (below) of Nicholas II in front of the Commandant Entrance of the Winter Palace

A marvelous week here in Belleville Canada with sunny days and the snow gone from the streets! 

Watercolor (below) by my sister Catherine Joyce last Sunday of the river rocks in Presqu'ile Provincial Park

Photograph (below) of Presqu’ile Lighthouse

Monday, 26 February 2018

Krasnoe Selo’s Modest Wooden Palaces

Krasnoe Selo, located south of Saint Petersburg, began as a summer camp for military maneuvers. Emperor Alexander I, when staying in the camp near the military field, lived in a tent. Nicholas I made the decision on October 3rd 1827 to construct two residences [called palaces in archival documents]: one for himself and Empress Alexandra and the other for his younger brother Grand Duke Mikhail Pavlovich.

Photograph (below) of the Krasnoe Selo Palace c1880s

The modest palaces were two-storied wooden buildings on a stone foundation with balconies and verandas. The exterior was painted green. A kitchen was under construction. The following year accommodations were completed for the guards’ staff, horses and crews.

Plan (below) of the Wooden Palace 

Plan (below) of Krasnoe Selo in 1831 [A location of Nicholas I’s palace; B - Mikhail Pavlovich’s]

Plan (below) of the palace for the heir Alexander Nikolaevich in 1832

Plan (below) of the layout of Krasnoe Selo in 1859

On Monday August 8th 1888 Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich wrote in his diary that after the military maneuvers in the morning Emperor Alexander III invited all the officers to lunch. ‘The imperial table was set in the garden and everyone else was offered lunch on the grass covered with a table cloth and packed with many dishes. Then I saw the Empress, my wife, Mikhen and Ella. When the Emperor sat down at the table, we all surrounded the numerous dishes and sitting on the grass began to satisfy our hunger. Uncle Niki [third son of Nicholas I] became ill and left the royal table for the bushes where we were drinking coffee and smoking’.

The wooden palaces of Nicholas I and his son Alexander II were destroyed during the war. The palace of Grand Duke Mikhail Pavlovich (below) survived until the 1970s when it burned down. Nothing is left of the former wooden palaces, buildings and gardens.

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Empress Alexandra’s Boudoir in the Winter Palace

The architect Alexander Krasovsky retained original elements from the 1840s when he redesigned the Boudoir (183) on the 2nd floor of the Winter Palace for Empress Alexandra in 1895. The ceiling and upper wall panels were decorated with wreaths and floral garlands.

Photographs (below) of the Boudoir today

Photograph c1917 (below) of the Boudoir with the door to Alexandra’s Bathroom (670)

A 3D panorama [link below] of the Boudoir with the window facing the Admiralty and the door to the bathroom removed c1930s. Can you find the empress’ monogram АФ [Russian initials] among the floral garlands?

Monday, 19 February 2018

Architectural Drawings of the Mikhailovsky Palace

The Mikhailovsky Palace was constructed by the architect Carlo Rossi for Alexander I’s youngest brother Grand Duke Mikhail Pavlovich. After his marriage to Elena Pavlovna in February 1824, they continued to live in the Winter Palace until their palace was completed on August 30th 1825.

After the death of their daughter Grand Duchess Catherine Mikhailovna in 1894, her heirs sold the palace to the imperial court. Nicholas I ordered that the former palace be converted into the Museum of Alexander III. Today it is known as the Russian Museum.

Architectural Reconstruction Drawings (below) of the Mikhailovsky Palace
Plans c1819-1825 (below) of the Mikhailovsky Palace

Aerial view (below) of the Mikhailovsky Palace

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Empress Alexandra’s Glass Cabinet of Fabergé in the Winter Palace

Empress Alexandra displayed her Fabergé Easter Eggs and other precious objects [i.e. crystal vases on the third shelf] in a glass cabinet. It was located in her Study [185] by the door to her Bedroom [184].

Photograph (below) of Nicholas II standing in front of the glass cabinet visible in the right corner
After the February 1917 revolution all the gold, silver and Fabergé objects were removed from the rooms of the emperor and empress and sent to Moscow.

Photograph (below) of the same view of the Study in November 1917 [note the double doors between the rooms]
Photograph (below) of the Study today

Monday, 12 February 2018

Baron von Derviz Mansion - Fabergé Exhibition - in St. Petersburg

On Thursday March 7th 1902 Empress Alexandra and her sister Grand Duchess Elizabeth ‘went to organize a charity bazaar of Fabergé objects belonging to members of the family’. The exhibition opened the following Saturday in the von Derviz mansion on the English Embankment located near the Winter Palace.

Photograph (below) of the von Derviz mansion today

Photograph (below) of the English Embankment c1900 with the Winter Palace on the far left

Plans and photograph of the Salon (below) of the von Derviz mansion c1898

Photographs (below) of the Fabergé Exhibition on March 9th 1902

In 1903 the mansion was sold to Grand Duke Andrei Vladimirovich, the son of Grand Duke Vladimir and Maria Pavlovna.

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Empress Alexandra’s Study in the Winter Palace – Then and Now

The architect Alexander Krasovsky reconstructed the Study [185] on the 2nd floor of the Winter Palace for Empress Alexandra in 1895.

Photographs (below) of the Study today

In February 1899 Alexandra and her daughters Olga and Tatiana were sick. Nicholas II noted in his diary on Tuesday February 16th that ‘Alix at last got up and sat on the divan in the yellow room’. The following Monday the 22ndthe daughters were allowed to come upstairs to our quarters’.

Photographs (below) of the Study c1899

Photographs (below) of Nicholas II sitting in the ‘cozy corner’ with the platform and the corner today

The ceiling, window frames, parquet floor and door frames with gold trim in the former study have been restored.

3D Panorama of Empress Alexandra’s Study

Monday, 5 February 2018

Atlas of Tsarskoe Selo in 1857 – Catherine & Alexander Palaces

Nikolai Tsylov published an Atlas of the City of Tsarskoe Selo with plans of the imperial palaces and gardens and city streets in 1857. There are 74 pages of watercolor drawings.

Map and cover pages (below) of the Atlas of Tsarskoe Selo in 1857

Plan (below) of the Catherine Palace in 1857

Plan (below) of the Alexander Palace in 1857

Samples (below) of the streets in Tsarskoe Selo

Maps (below) of Tsarskoe Selo today