Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Emperor Nicholas I's Office on the 3rd Floor of the Winter Palace

In 1826 after ascending the throne, Nicholas I arranged his office in a suite of rooms on the 3rd floor of the Winter Palace.

The Study (#390) and Corner Drawing Room (#391) are well known with Hau’s and Ukhtomsky’s watercolors. Although there are no images of the next two rooms facing the Neva River, archival documents reveal partial descriptions.

In the Portrait Drawing Room (#392 on the 3rd floor plan), the walls were covered with panels of yellow flowered silk. Today the walls are blue. The silk was removed either in 1888 for Alexander III, 1902-04 when Nicholas II reconstructed the rooms for guests or in the 1920s-30s.

Photographs (below) of the Portrait Drawing Room and restored ceiling today

3D Panorama (link below) of the Portrait Drawing Room

In the State Secretary’s room (#393), the walls were decorated in white marble. Above the doors were bas-reliefs and on the sides caryatids of artificial marble.

Photographs (below) of the State Secretary Room and restored ceiling today

3D Panorama (link below) of the State Secretary Room

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Princess Alice’s Darmstadt in 1870

Princess Alice, the daughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, married Prince Ludwig of Hesse-Darmstadt in 1862. Until their new palace was completed in 1866, they lived with his parents in his childhood home the Prinz Karl Palais. Karl was the brother of Empress Maria Alexandrovna, the wife of Alexander II.
Photograph c1870 (below) of the Prinz Karl Palais
 Photographs c1870 (below) of the Residenzschloss

Photograph c1870 (below) of Prinz Alexander Palais, the brother of Karl and Empress Maria
Photograph c1870 (below) of the Alte Palais, the future residence of Victoria of Battenberg
Photograph c1870 (below) of the Neues Palais completed in 1866
Photograph c1870 (below) of the Jagdschloss Kranichstein, the summer home of Alice and Ludwig
Photograph c1863 (below) of Princess Alice and Prince Ludwig in Darmstadt

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra visit the Hermesvilla in Vienna

In the Lainzer Tiergarten to the southwest of Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, Emperor Franz Joseph built the Hermesvilla for Empress Elisabeth in the 1880s. Their daughter Archduchess Marie Valeria celebrated her engagement here in 1890.
Photographs c1890s (below) of the Hermesvilla

During their visit to Vienna in 1896, Nicholas II and Alexandra went on Friday August 16thto a hunt in the Lainzer Park. I stayed there until 3:30; ran after deer, climbed around on the hills, rode in the woods. I absolutely missed Alix. We met her at the Empress’ house right there in the park. At 4:00 there was an informal family dinner’.

The Lainzer Tiergarten is today a wildlife preserve. My sister and I loved hiking through the woods and swatting bugs . Touring the historic Hermesvilla, we found it difficult to imagine what it was like during imperial times. I recently discovered the following photographs from the 1890s that reveal the formal drawing rooms and private apartments

Photographs (below) of the Staircase and Entrance Hall

Photographs (below) of the Salons

Photographs (below) of Emperor Franz Joseph’s Rooms

Photographs (below) of Empress Elisabeth’s Rooms

Photographs (below) of Archduchess Marie Valerie’s Rooms


Sunday, 18 March 2018

Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra at the Cathedral of the Resurrection

On Sunday August 19th 1907 Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra sailed from Peterhof to Saint Petersburg. ‘We went up the Neva to the Marble Palace from which we rode in a carriage to the new Cathedral of the Resurrection [known also as the Church of the Spilled Blood]. I went around all the platoons standing around the building. The consecration began at 10:00 and Mass was over at 1:00 on the very place of the death of Anpapa [Alexander II]. The church made a marvelous impression with its spaciousness and beauty of its decorations – all of stone and mosaics’.

Aerial photograph c1920 (below) of the Cathedral of the Resurrection in St. Petersburg
Aerial photograph (below) of the same view today
Photographs (below) of Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra outside the Cathedral on August 19th 1907


Thursday, 15 March 2018

The Crown Prince’s Bedroom in the Winter Palace

When the Winter Palace was reconstructed in 1838-1839 after the fire, Nicholas I arranged a suite of rooms for his daughter Maria and her new husband Duke Max of Leuchtenberg on the 2nd floor south section facing the Large Inner Courtyard. They moved to the Mariinsky Palace facing St. Isaac’s Square in the winter of 1843-1844.

The suite of rooms [290 to 301 on the 2nd floor plan] were known as the 1st Spare and used for guests such as Emperor Franz Josef of Austria, Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany, Franz Ferdinand of Austria, Ferdinand of Bulgaria, etc.

E. Hau’s 1867 Painting (below) of the Bedroom #298 in the 1st Spare

On Friday January 3rd 1903 Nicholas II with Empress Alexandra went ‘to the 1st Spare where Crown Prince Wilhelm [of Germany] soon arrived’. The next day Wilhelm had lunch with them and ‘our daughters are already relating to him very, very familiarly’.

The following Monday ‘before dinner we learned that the crown prince was not feeling well and that he had a fever of 39.2C. At 8:00 we went to see him. He was already lying in bed in a sweat and was complaining of hurting all over his body. One must hope that this is a slight case of influenza. It is unpleasant to have an ill guest’.

Photographs (below) of the Bedroom today

By Wednesday January 8th the crown prince had ‘slept excellently and got up, remaining in his apartments. We sat with him and met Mama, Minny and Aunt Mikhen there. We had dinner with him in his quarters with Misha’.

3D Panorama of the Bedroom in the 1st Spare

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Emperor Franz Joseph & Empress Elisabeth – Bad Ischl in 1870

The Kaiservilla in the town of Bad Ischl, south of Salzburg in Austria, was the summer home of Emperor Franz Joseph and Empress Elisabeth from the time of their marriage in 1854. Although it was a century and a half ago, Bad Ischl today remains the same. My sister and I were fascinated, comparing old photographs, while walking around the town, the Kaiservilla, Sisi’s Marmorschloss, crossing the bridge to Katharina Schratt’s Villa Felicitas.

Step into the past with the photographs of Bad Ischl in 1870 below:

The Town of Bad Ischl

Hotel Kaiserin Elisabeth
Hotel Erzherzog Karl
Gasthof zur Post