Friday, 25 May 2018

Panoramas of the Winter Palace and Surrounding Area c1920s

Panorama (below) looking towards Vasilevsky Island with the Admiralty in the center and the Winter Palace on the right showing the former private garden of Nicholas II [note the gates are still standing]

Panorama (below) of the Winter Palace and Palace Square

Panorama (below) of the Peter and Paul Fortress looking towards Vasilevsky Island with the Admiralty and Winter Palace in the far upper left

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Panorama of the Long Corridor in the Winter Palace

A long corridor connected the Jordan Staircase to the private apartments of Nicholas and Alexandra Feodorovna on the 2nd floor of the Winter Palace. The windows look out into the Large Inner Courtyard and opposite are mirrored doors into the Nicholas and Concert Halls.

Photographs (below) of the Corridor today

After the 1837 fire, the architect Stasov designed the Pompeian Gallery [151-153 on the 2nd floor plan] for the long corridor.

V. Sadovnikov c1842 watercolor (below) of the Pompeian Gallery

Painting c1850s (below) of the Pompeian Gallery with doors leading into Empress Alexandra’s Winter Garden [152 on the plan]

K. Ukhtomsky’s c1862 watercolor (below) of the Pompeian Gallery

Chandelier (below) preserved today

During the reign of Alexander III, the architect Gornostaev redesigned the corridor into the Eastern Gallery in 1886. Paintings of battle scenes from the Russian-Turkish war of 1877-78 were displayed on the walls.

Photograph c1903 (below) of the Eastern Gallery during the reign of Nicholas II and Alexandra

Photograph c1915 (below) of the Eastern Gallery used as part of the Tsarevich Alexei Hospital in the Winter Palace

Panorama (link below) of the former Pompeian Gallery known today as the Romanov Gallery:

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Emperor Nicholas II Riding in Tsarskoe Selo

A rare close-up photograph (below) of Nicholas II riding through the streets of Tsarskoe Selo
(Note the details of his saddle)

Thursday, 17 May 2018

The Dining Room in the Alexander Palace

In 1863, the artist Alexei Bogolyubov traveled with the heir Nicholas Alexandrovich down the Volga. He presented Emperor Alexander II an album with two hundred and fifty drawings of all the places they had visited. After the death of the heir in France on April 12th 1865, Bogolyubov sailed with the coffin to Kronstadt, expressing his condolences personally to Alexander II and the grand dukes.

Aerial view (below) of the Alexander Palace

Bogolyubov’s painting (below) Petersburg at Sunset

The new heir Alexander inherited his brother’s collection of nineteen paintings including a number of Bogolyubov's. Before his marriage to the Danish Princess Dagmar in the fall of 1866, Alexander traveled the traditional route through Russia with the artist a member of the entourage. The heir’s diary reveals the start of the close friendship between the two men: ‘Bogolyubov draws constantly and surprisingly fast’ [August 11th ]. ‘We all gathered in my room and had a long conversation about paintings and Russian artists. Bogolyubov is a connoisseur with great judgment’ [August 13th].

Bogolyubov’s painting c1870s (below) View of Smolny

The following summer King Christian IX of Denmark invited the artist to stay at Bernstorff during a visit of Alexander and his daughter Maria Feodorovna. The king asked him to do ‘funny caricatures of everyone and everything’. ‘Bogolyubov, who finally arrived, came to me’ [Alexander’s diary June 12th 1867]. ‘Returning, smoking and reading and then arranged the album of Bogolyubov’s cartoons’ [July 18th].

Bogolyubov’s painting c1868 (below) Copenhagen Harbor

The artist was part of Alexander’s inner circle, attending Sunday evenings in the Anichkov Palace. He also taught painting techniques to Maria Feodorovna. On January 3rd 1869 Alexander ‘went downstairs to Minnie who is painting with Bogolyubov and Princess Kurakina. We sat down for lunch and smoked with Alexei and even went to choose a painting to hang in the room’. On April 7th they had ‘lunch with Bogolyubov whom I asked to come to hang new paintings’ and they ‘corrected the catalog of my pictures’ on the 14th.

Bogolyubov’s paintings, mainly seascapes, were hung in the Dining Room of the Alexander Palace, later known as the Bogolyubov Hall.

Plan (below) of the 1st floor of the Alexander Palace. Dining Room (38) was between Alexander’s Reception Room (37) and Study (39)

A rare image - Volsky’s c1856 Watercolor (below) of the Dining Room

A year before the artist’s death at the age of seventy-two, Nicholas II ‘after lunch sat for more than an hour while Bernshtam made a mold of me which Bogolyubov had requested’. [September 20th 1895] The sculpture is now in the Gothic Library in the Winter Palace (below).

Throughout the 1920s-30s, Alexander III’s collection of paintings in the Anichkov, Gatchina and Alexander Palaces were transferred to other museums or sold. In 1931 the thirty-one Bogolyubovs in the dining room of the Alexander Palace were removed and auctioned off. The archival documents reveal their ‘whereabouts are unknown’.

Monday, 14 May 2018

Bedrooms of the Grand Duchesses - Alexander Palace

Photograph c1904 (below) of the Alexander  Palace with Empress Alexandra’s Balcony  [above were the bedrooms of the Grand Duchesses]
Floorplan (below) of the 2nd floor of the Alexander Palace
Photographs (below) of the Grand Duchesses' Bedrooms

Friday, 11 May 2018

Rare Photos in the Winter & Alexander Palaces

On Wednesday January 5th 1900 Nicholas II left ‘at 10:15 with the entire family to the Warsaw Terminal to meet Uncle Alfred [Duke of Edinburgh and Saxe-Coburg], Sandra [Alfred’s daughter] and her husband Erni Hohenlohe. We took them to the Winter Palace’.

A series of photographs were taken by Alexandra, Sandra and Erni in the emperor and empress' rooms on the 2nd floor of the Winter Palace, two of which were in his Private Study (below).
An unattributed photograph (below) has been misidentified as the Alexander Palace. It is the Private Study (181) in the Winter Palace. [Note the exact placement of objects as shown in the above photos]
Where did the author find this rare photo? Although it was not included in the series of photographs from Nicholas’ 1899-1900 album released by the GARF Archives a few years ago, it may have been from the Hohenlohe’s albums.

Another possibility of a later date for the photo is if it came from the albums of Grand Duke Ernest of Hesse-Darmstadt. After Nicholas had recovered from typhus in the fall of 1900, they left Livadia on Wednesday January 10th 1901. Transferring from the yacht to the train, Nicholas and Alexandra in the evening were informed of the death of Queen Victoria.  On the way to St. Petersburg, they picked up Ernest and his wife Ducky, Sergei and Ella. In the Winter Palace, the Hesse couple with their daughter lived on the 3rd floor above the rooms of the emperor and empress. On Tuesday the 16th Ernest and Grand Duke Mikhail left for the Queen’s funeral in London. A week after returning to the Winter Palace, they went for the day to Tsarskoe Selo on Friday February 1st. ‘We showed the entire Alexander Palace to Erni and Ducky’.

Photograph (below) of Nicholas and Ernest joking around in his study in the Alexander Palace
The two photographs (below) of Nicholas in his bathroom in the Alexander Palace are part of GARF’s current release. They are unusual due to the missing objects, with the painting still to be hung, and may have been taken in 1907. On Wednesday February 14thduring the night the tiles in my bathtub cracked’. Was Nicholas inspecting the repair work?

Do you see the electric bell-push on the bathtub with the wire hanging over? It may be a Fabergé.

Monday, 7 May 2018

The Playwright and the Mikhailovsky Castle

During Paul and Maria Feodorovna’s journey through Europe in 1781-82, the grand ducal couple visited the northern Italian castle of Cardinal Farnese in Caprarola. An album of drawings with facades and floor plans of the castle was given to Paul. Among the last sheets was a partial plan of the center of St. Petersburg. A drawing of the Caprarola Castle was sketched in where Rastrelli’s Summer Palace for Empress Elizabeth stood. Paul contemplated, as early as 1782, dismantling the palace of his birth and erecting the Mikhailovsky Castle on its site.

Aerial photographs (below) of the Mikhailovsky Castle

Aerial photograph (below) of the Caprarola Castle

It took the architect Vincenzo Brenna from 1797 to 1801, the span of Emperor Paul’s reign, to complete the construction of the Mikhailovsky Palace. The floor plan was as follows:

1st  Floor      Grand Duke Alexander & his wife Elizabeth, Court Staff
2nd Floor      Emperor Paul, Empress Maria Feodorovna, Grand Duke Konstantin & his wife Anna
3rd Floor      Children Maria, Catherine, Anna, Nicholas and Mikhail, Servants

Façade and Floor Plan c1797 (below) of the Mikhailovsky Castle and Model

In the late summer of 1800, the emperor instructed the German playwright August von Kotzebue to write a guidebook on the interiors of the Mikhailovsky Castle. Paul was interested in the progress of the book and advised Kotzebue to ‘not describe anything superficially but everywhere and everything in great detail’.

In the emperor's bedroom/study there were ‘a lot of landscape paintings hanging on the walls that are lined with white wood. In the middle stood a small camp bed, without curtains, behind simple screens. Above the bed hung Guido Reni’s Angels painting. In one corner of the room there was a portrait of a knight, the work of Jean Le Duc who was greatly valued by the Emperor. The bad portrait of Frederick II and plaster statue depicting the same King on horseback, placed on a marble pedestal, were a strange contrast to these magnificent paintings. The Emperor’s writing desk was wonderful in many ways. It rested on ivory columns with bronze plinths and capitals; an ivory lattice of the finest work adorned with small ivory vases surrounded it. On one of the walls there was a picture depicting all the uniforms of the Russian army. A magnificent carpet was on the floor and the room had two doors hidden by a curtain. One of them led to a closet with a well-known purpose [toilet] and the other a locked cabinet. The double doors that led from the Emperor’s room to the Empress’ apartment were locked with a key and a bolt’. The corridor between this room and the library had two hidden doors with ‘the one on the left opened onto a secret staircase leading to the rooms on the first floor’.

Photographs (below) of Emperor Paul’s Desk and Fireplace Screen designed by V. Brenna

After the death of the emperor on March 11th 1801, the imperial family left for the Winter Palace, never to return to live there. Emperor Alexander I permitted high ranking military officers and their families to occupy the apartments. By November 1801 many of the furnishings, lighting fixtures and works of art were removed to other palaces. The oak mosaic parquets were replaced with simple pine floors; fabrics and colored glass on the walls were dismantled. For the next two decades, the castle retained its former appearance until the transfer of the building to the Engineering Department in 1822. The interiors were dismantled and most sold at auction. Archival documents reveal details of the objects [i.e. mirrors, etc.] and their buyers. The marble on the walls in the rooms of Empress Maria Feodorovna were sent to her daughter Grand Duchess Anna and the Prince of Orange for their palace in Brussels.

Photograph c1890 (below) of the Mikhailovsky Castle

Plan and photograph c1900 (below) of the Mikhailovsky Pavilions

The Mikhailovsky Castle is today part of the Russian Museum.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

A Century of History in the Small Nicholas Palace, Moscow

Nicholas and Alexandra’s first child, a son Alexander, was born in the small Nicholas Palace in Moscow on Wednesday, April 17th 1818.

Photographs c1900s (below) of the Nicholas Palace and model

The palace, formerly the Bishop’s residence part of the Chudov Monastery in the Kremlin, was purchased as an imperial residence in 1817. A half century later Grand Duke Konstantin Nikolaevich returned with his son Konstantin. On June 11th 1879 he wrote that they ‘settled in the small Nicholas Palace. Here at every step Papa had childhood memories. After dinner he took me to Alexandria where every room reminded him of those years and his late sister Alexandra Nikolaevna with whom he was especially close. We went to the garden. Papa wanted to show me the pavilion where he ran between lessons. Professor Sergei Soloviev lives there now. We found him over the manuscript of Catherine the Great’.

Plans (below) in N. Shokin’s 1894 book ‘Historical Sketch of the Small Nikolaevsky Palace’

On Tuesday July 4th 1906 Queen Olga of Greece, her son Christopher, Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich, his wife Elizabeth and daughter Tatiana arrived at the Nicholas Palace for the reburial of Grand Duke Sergei in the Chudov Monastery. It was the home of his widow Grand Duchess Elizabeth (Ella) and her wards Maria and Dmitry. Konstantin noted on Wednesday morning that ‘my wife and I slept in the governess E. Dzhunkovskaya’s room. In the old days it was the bedroom of my grandmother Alexandra Feodorovna’.

Watercolors c1840s (below) of Alexandra’s Study and Drawing Room

In January 1908 Ella went through a complicated operation in her convent’s infirmary. After six weeks recovery there, cared for by her sister Princess Irene, she returned to the Nicholas Palace. On March 24th her brother Grand Duke Ernest and his Eleonore of Hesse-Darmstadt arrived to stay until April 3rd.
Photograph c1920 (below) of a 3rd floor room in the Nicholas Palace

The palace was demolished in 1929.