Thursday, 28 February 2019

Emperor Paul and the Grand Dukes Stay at the Priory Palace, Gatchina

The ‘Atlas of Gatchina Palace and Gardens’ was one of a series of albums Emperor Paul initiated for Pavlovsk, Tsarskoe Selo, Peterhof, Ropsha and other residences. It contains drawings of the Priory Palace built in 1798 by the architect Nikolai Lvov; fa├žade of the Priory from the lake, lower floor, upper floor, plan of the balcony on the main road.

Aerial view (below) of the Priory Palace
The Priory Palace has been referred in documents with the names of ‘Abbess on the Shore of the Black Lake’, ‘Earthen House’ and ‘Priorat’. On August 23rd 1799 Emperor Paul decreed the property as the residence of the Knights of Malta.

Lvov’s plans c1798 (below) of the Priory Palace

Emperor Paul with his sons Alexander and Konstantin lived in the Priory Palace from August 4th to 8th 1800 as commander-in-chief of the troops that had arrived in Gatchina for maneuvers. The Chamber-Fourier Journal reveals details about the five days including dinner attendee lists.

On Saturday August 4th at 4:40pm Paul rode with his retinue from the encampment to the Priory Palace. Empress Maria Feodorovna and her daughter Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna had left in a carriage and were met at the Priory by her other daughters Catherine and Anna and their governess Countess Lieven. The dinner held in the Priory dining room that evening included the emperor, the empress, Alexander, Konstantin, Maria and four adjutants. The empress and her daughter left after dinner for Gatchina Palace and Paul and his sons stayed the night in the Priory Palace.

At seven o’clock Sunday morning Paul, his sons and suite went from the Priory to Gatchina Palace for a regimental parade. Meanwhile the empress and Maria left for the camp at 7:30am retuning to the Priory at 8:00pm for dinner. They again returned to Gatchina while the emperor and sons stayed.

The next three days followed a similar routine. The journal notes that on Tuesday the emperor walked around the Priory garden after midnight with the empress and his daughter Maria after which the two then returned to Gatchina Palace.

Grand Duke Alexander’s wife Elizabeth Alexeievna wrote to her mother in Baden on Wednesday August 8th that ‘from Gatchina Palace a very beautiful view opens. The time of maneuvers has come, the troops have encamped and since I live at the very top, I see the camp almost entirely. The emperor and grand dukes live now in the Priory but this does not prevent seeing the grand duke twice a day.’ Elizabeth is not listed in the journal attending any of the Priory dinners.

Photographs c1900 and c1944 (below) of the Priory Palace

No emperor after Paul ever stayed again at the Priory Palace. It was used in the following years as a reserve palace.

Model and photographs (below) of the Priory Palace and Interiors today

Monday, 25 February 2019

Queen Wilhelmina at Noordeinde Palace, The Hague in 1899

In 1898 Moritz Schilling was appointed second secretary of the Russian embassy in Vienna at the age of twenty-six. He attended the Hague Peace Conference initiated by Emperor Nicholas II and hosted by Queen Wilhelmina from May 6th/18th to June 17th/29th 1899.

Aerial view (below) of Huis ten Bosch Palace where the Conference was held
Photograph c1900 (below) of Huis ten Bosch
Photograph c1899 (below) of the Chinese Room at Huis ten Bosch from the album presented to attendees ‘Conference de la Paix, La Haye 1899’
Friday May 7th/19th ‘… to Huis ten Bosch. There are magnificent rooms although not large. I was particularly impressed by van Wite grisailles which were so well done that I was convinced I could see convex figures before me – a bas-relief not a mural’.

Photograph c1900 (below) of Noordeinde Palace
Wednesday May 12th/24th ‘… in the evening there was a reception in the [Noordeinde] palace which turned out to be much larger than what it appeared. The furniture especially the abundance of flowers gave an incomparable more brilliant view than the reception at the Quirinale’.

Photograph (below) of Queen Wilhelmina from the album ‘Conference de la Paix, La Haye 1899’
Photograph c1901 (below) of Queen Wilhelmina
‘Earlier at five Queen Wilhelmina had accepted the first delegates when Staal [Russian Ambassador to England] presented the Order of St. Catherine which she had on now. The Queen Mother [Emma] also wore the Catherine ribbon. Queen Wilhelmina is very young but she performs her role with great dignity. Not big and not beautiful, she keeps herself well, speaks softly, slowly and as I put it carefully as if afraid to go astray. Greeting Staal she said ‘I confer on you my Order of the Lion of Holland, paused recovering saying Netherlands’. She spoke to us in turn saying ‘I’m very glad to meet you’. The queen mother, fat and seemingly simple in a pince-nez, having talked to the Ambassador honored us with a nod and said only ‘I’m very glad to see all these gentlemen’. Neither gave her hand to anyone’.

Photograph (below) of the wedding of Queen Wilhelmina and Duke Henry of Mecklenburg-Schwerin on February 7th 1901
Queen Wilhelmina was ten years old when she inherited the throne in 1890 with her mother as regent until 1898. Wilhelmina Elena Paulina Maria was the daughter of King Wilhelm III. He was born in 1817 the son of Grand Duchess Anna Pavlovna, daughter of Emperor Paul. A span of two hundred years separate the birth of Empress Maria Feodorovna in 1759 and the death of her great-granddaughter Queen Wilhelmina in 1962.

Photographs and floor plan (below) of Noordeinde Palace today

Photographs (below) of the interior of Noordeinde Palace today


Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Nicholas II’s Private Garden at the Winter Palace 1895 to 1930

The panorama of the Winter Palace (below) is a view of the west side facing the Admiralty and on the right Palace Square. The balcony outside Nicholas II’s private study on the 2nd floor is visible on the far left. In the corner is a wooden scaffold built by the architect Krasovsky during the reconstruction of the rooms of Nicholas II and Alexandra in 1895.
The private garden was built by Meltzer from 1897 to1901. The photograph (below) taken in 1918 shows  the gate to the garden on the Neva River side, two small entrances used by the imperial couple along the street and the balcony on the 3rd floor of Nicholas I and Alexander III’s large study [note the flag].
In the photograph c1930 (below) the gates and iron balconies have been dismantled. Nicholas II’s door from his private study to the balcony had yet to be removed and a window installed.
The photographs (below) show the entrance gate to the private garden c1918 at the southwest side facing Palace Square that was under the windows of Empress Maria Alexandrovna’s Gold Drawing Room and its removal by the 1930s.

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Romanovs at Schloss Wilhelmsthal, the Summer Residence of the Grand Dukes of Weimar

A hunting lodge built in the late 1600s was reconstructed by Grand Duke Karl Augustus of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach a century later. Schloss Wilhelmsthal located seven kilometers south of Eisenach in the Thuringian forest was the Weimar family’s favorite summer residence. The dukes of Weimar received the title of grand duke in 1815 at the Congress of Vienna.

Aerial view (below) of Schloss Wilhelmsthal [center of photo]

Johann Wolfgang Goethe the friend and confidant of Karl Augustus felt differently. He wrote to Frau Charlotte von Stein on September 13th 1777 that ‘it was the Duke’s suggestion that I should come here. Wilhelmsthal is too low and too hemmed-in for me’.

Friedrich Preller’s Watercolor c1804 (below) of Schloss Wilhelmsthal, a gift to Emperor Alexander
Karl Friedrich the son of Karl Augustus married Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna the sister of Emperor Alexander in 1804. She received the following letter from her sister-in-law Empress Elizabeth during her first summer at the Schloss. ‘I very much thank you, dear sister, for the detailed description of your stay at Wilhelmsthal and your meeting with the Prussian Majesties. I have very vivid memories of the surroundings of Eisenach which in my opinion are magnificent although very rustic. It is a pity that in such a nice place you have such bad cold weather’. [July 10th 1805]

Photograph today (below) of the Altes Schloss where the family lived on the 1st floor
At the Schloss on June 24th 1821 Maria Pavlovna wrote to her brother Alexander that ‘I feel distracted all the time, the reason for this is my son. He plays in the bedroom where I am writing the letter and being very lively, scoffs and pulls me in different directions that the letter has two blots’.  Her son Karl Alexander born on June 24th 1818 inherited the dukedom in 1853 after the death of his father and six years later his mother died.

Photograph today (below) of the ballroom on the 2nd floor of the Altes Schloss
The imperial and royal families continued to visit Weimar in the following years. Karl Alexander had married Sophia the daughter of his mother’s sister Dutch Queen Anna Pavlovna. His sister Augusta was the Queen of Prussia, mother-in-law of Queen Victoria’s daughter Vicky. In September 1864 the future Alexander III stayed at Schloss Wilhelmsthal before returning to St. Petersburg and lived in the former rooms of his great-aunt Maria Pavlovna.

Photograph c1870 (below) of the Pavilions in Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph’s album
Photograph c1900s (below) of the Pavilions connected by a colonnade added in 1804
Photographs today (below) of the Pavilions and the Telemannsaal [Music Hall] in the Pavilion

In July 1805 Maria Pavlovna wrote to her brother Grand Duke Konstantin Pavlovich that ‘I want to tell you that yesterday there was a holiday in the Schwiezerhaus with dancing’.

Photograph today (below) of the Schweizerhaus [Swiss House] near the Wilhelmsthaler Lake that was made of beech wood and built in 1802

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Nicholas II at Queen Louise of Denmark’s Funeral in 1898

At his mother’s urging, Nicholas II travelled overland by train and ship from Livadia arriving in Denmark on Saturday September 26th (OS) 1898 to attend his grandmother’s funeral.

Photograph (below) of Nicholas in Roskilde Cathedral for the funeral service on Saturday October 3rd 1898

Queen Louise had died on Thursday September 17th (OS) after a lengthy illness. The family including her children Dowager Empress Maria, Alexandra Princess of Wales and King George I of Greece were gathering together at Bernstorff Slot near Copenhagen.

On the afternoon of Friday October 2nd Nicholas wrote that ‘after a prayer in the bedroom we carried out the coffin to the hearse and everyone walked up to Gentofte. We placed the coffin in the funeral car and departed by train to Roskilde’. They returned to Bernstorff for the night.

Photographs (below) of the family and funeral train at Gentofte Station

The following day ‘we had lunch at noon in uniforms and in full mourning we started off to Roskilde at 12:45. Upon arriving we rode to the palace and met with all the foreign representatives and the King of Sweden. Then we went by way of corridors and stairways to the cathedral. The funeral service did not last long and the coffin was born to the family crypt. It was painful and sad to leave deeply loved Amama. We returned to Bernstorff before five’.

Photograph (below) of Nicholas leaving Roskilde Palace
Photograph (below) of King George I of Greece at Roskilde Cathedral
Photograph (below) of Queen Louise’s Coffin in Roskilde

Monday, 4 February 2019

Film of Nicholas & Alexandra Laughing with the Family at Bernstorff in 1899

Photographs (below) from the film of Nicholas and Alexandra laughing and having fun on the steps of Bernstorff in 1899
Photograph (below) from the film of Alexandra hugging Tatiana
Film of the family in Bernstorff link:

Film of Nicholas and Alexandra arriving in Denmark on August 20th 1901: