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’.


  1. In the last image, it appears the floor is flooded. Is that correct? Perhaps that was another reason that the contents of the house were removed either by auction or to a museum.

  2. The last image is the Gothic Library in the Winter Palace where museum staff have placed the sculpture of Nicholas II. It was taken prior to the installation of the new chandeliers in the library.

    Paintings were removed during the 1920s-30s from the imperial palaces, among other objects, for sale to foreign buyers and/or placed in other museums.

  3. Silly question Joanna, but where's the dining table?
    Ghostie x

  4. This is the only image discovered so far of the dining room. It was painted just after the death of Nicholas I. Possibly as the emperors seemed to move from one room to another like Nicholas II in later years to dine, the table was set up prior to the meal. The painting of the Pompeian Dining Room also did not have a dining table.