The Winter Palace in St. Petersburg has been waiting to share its intimate details in English.
It is a story of a palace of immense size and of an Imperial family of immense wealth. It is a story of the daily public and intimate life in the palace that was loved and disdained and withstood decades of changes.
hundred years ago Prince Albert was born in Schloss Rosenau. It had been
disappointing to read that his diaries and Queen Victoria’s journals were burned
by their daughter Princess Beatrice but many documents remain in various
archives that reveal fascinating details.
Winterhalter’s Portrait c1842 (below) of Prince Albert [Royal Collection]
studying at Bonn University with his brother Ernst in 1837, Albert wrote to
their former tutor Johann Florschutz about his worry over baldness at the age
‘In order to save my hair from coming out
entirely I have embarked on a radical treatment at the hands of Herr Smakur,
who rubs my head every evening with a very greasy oil. He promises the best
August 7th 1844 the day after the birth of Prince Alfred, Albert had
his head shaved and started to wear a wig.
c1842 and 1848 (below) of Prince Albert [Royal Collection]
following century Empress Maria Feodorovna noted in her diary on Monday January
11th 1916 that ‘at three
Andrusha and Feodor [grandsons] came. They said yesterday Irina lay down the
whole day in bed. She was poisoned by a hair-strengthening product.’
(below) of Princess Irina with her mother Grand Duchess Xenia and in 1913
weeks later on Monday January 16th the empress visited her daughter
Xenia writing that 'it was very damp and cold at her
place. I am always freezing there!'
During reconstruction on the 2nd floor of
the Winter Palace for Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra in 1895, the architect
Krasovsky built a mezzanine above the valet (180) and passage (179) rooms for
Nicholas’ wardrobe with two entrances. The photograph of the Gothic Library
(178) shows the upper gallery with the door (below the X) to the emperor’s wardrobe.
Link to the plan of the 2nd floor of the
Winter Palace –
In 1830 the architect Auguste de Montferrand
redesigned the apartment of Empress Alexandra on the 2nd floor
northwest section of the Winter Palace. Emperor Nicholas I approved Montferrand’s
drawings for a Rotunda (156) to connect the ceremonial halls facing the Neva
River (190-192), the rooms of the empress and the children’s off the Dark
E. Tukharinov’s Watercolor c1834 (below) of the
The design included four circular niches enclosed by
two columns with a fireplace in the center. The sofas and chairs were upholstered in
It was disconcerting to find in archival documents
that the large convex shaped object on legs in the lower left of the painting was
actually a spittoon. There were four of these large spittoons, one in each