Thursday, 16 January 2020

Empress Alexandra with a Group of Singers in the Winter Palace

In 1902 Empress Alexandra took singing lessons with a professor from the St. Petersburg Conservatory. A year later the photographs below show the empress joining a group of singers in her Silver Drawing Room (186) on the 2nd floor of the Winter Palace.




On the afternoon of Saturday February 8th 1903 Nicholas II noted in his diary that ‘four singers from Vienna sang various funny things in the Malachite Hall’.

Photograph c1917 (below) of the Silver Drawing Room with the Schroeder Piano
 
Photograph (below) of the Schroeder Piano exhibited today in the former Study (305) of Empress Maria Alexandrovna on the 2nd floor of the Winter Palace
 

Sunday, 12 January 2020

Emperor Nicholas II’s Winter Palace Private Garden

There was a severe blizzard during the night which stopped by morning. A mass of snow had fallen’. [Nicholas II’s Diary Friday January 26th 1901]

Photograph (below) of Nicholas with his dogs and Empress Alexandra’s little dog near the Saltykov Entrance in the Private Garden of the Winter Palace [ГАРФ, ф 601 оп.1 д.1632]

Photographs (below) of the Private Garden showing the northwest section’s 2nd floor corner balcony of Nicholas’ Study and the large gates to the Palace Embankment


 

Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Empress Alexandra’s Fabergé Vitrine in the Winter Palace

During a visit from Saturday January 13th to Thursday February 15th 1901 Empress Alexandra’s brother Ernest, Ducky and their daughter Elizabeth lived on the 3rd floor of the Winter Palace. A series of family photographs were taken in the Study (184) of Alexandra on the 2nd floor [ГАРФ, ф.601 оп.1 д.1632].

Photographs (below) of Nicholas II, his sister Xenia and Ducky next to Alexandra’s vitrine



 

Sunday, 15 December 2019

The Christenings of two Grand Duke Nicholas Alexandrovichs in the Catherine Palace Church

Grand Duke Nicholas Alexandrovich, the eldest son of Alexander II and Maria Alexandrovna, was born in Tsarskoe Selo on September 8th 1843. A month later on October 10th the christening was held in the Catherine Palace Church.

E. Hau’s Watercolor c1860s (below) of the Catherine Palace Church in Tsarskoe Selo
 
The godparents were his grandfather Nicholas I, aunt Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna, grandfather Grand Duke Ludwig of Hesse-Darmstadt, and great-aunts Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Weimar and Anna Pavlovna of the Netherlands. ‘During the whole ceremony in the gallery the young painter Hau was sketching the entire brilliant picture’. [Baron Korf diary October 11th 1843]
 
The baby as heir would one day ascend the throne as Emperor Nicholas II. It was not to be. With his death at twenty-one on April 12th 1865, his brother Alexander became Tsarevich.

Twenty-five years later his namesake and nephew Grand Duke Nicholas Alexandrovich was born on May 6th 1868 in Tsarskoe Selo who did ascend the throne as Nicholas II. The christening in the Catherine Palace Church on May 20th was sketched by Zichy (below).
 
Photographs (below) from the destruction in the 1940s to the magnificent restoration of the Catherine Palace Church by the Tsarskoe Selo Museum today




 

 

Monday, 9 December 2019

Where in the Catherine Palace were the rooms of Grand Duke Dmitry and his sister Grand Duchess Maria?

In the Alexander Palace on Wednesday February 1st 1906 Nicholas II’s diary reveals that Maria and Dmitry had dinner with him and Alexandra. ‘We went for a ride and took them back to the [Catherine] Palace’.

Photographs c1906 (below) of Grand Duchess Maria and Grand Duke Dmitry in the Catherine Palace from Empress Alexandra’s Album [GARF]
 
 
Why did Maria and Dmitry live separately while under the care of Nicholas and Alexandra? My curiosity has finally been answered in an article by Vladimir Vekshin of the Tsarskoe Selo Museum on the origins of the Catherine Palace Hospital in 1915-1917.

The youngest son of Alexander II Grand Duke Paul lived in the former apartment of his brother Tsarevich Nicholas who died in 1865. After the tragic death of his wife Alexandra the former Greek princess, their children Maria and Dmitry occupied the rooms next to Paul.

Plan (below) of the former rooms of Grand Paul and his children on the 1st floor of the Catherine Palace with the Zubov Wing on the right [GMZ Tsarskoe Selo Museum]
A – GD Paul’s rooms; B – Childrens Rooms – 1 entrance hall, 2 dining room, 3 drawing room, 4 study, 5 – bedroom; C – Vacant Rooms; D – Princess Yurievskaya, morganatic wife of Alexander II in the Zubov Wing

‘In February 1914, Alexandra Fedorovna expressed a desire that the premises in the Grand Tsarskoye Selo Palace, engaged in His Highness the Grand Duke Pavel Alexandrovich and the children of His Highness were overhauled and furnished, for the appointment of these premises in the future for the highest foreign persons’.

Plans (below) for the infirmary reconstruction of Grand Duke Paul’s apartment (upper) and childrens rooms (lower) [GMZ Tsarskoe Selo Museum]
 
Photograph c1900s (below) of the Catherine Palace
 

Thursday, 5 December 2019

The Grand Dukes in the Arsenal Hall of Gatchina Palace


The interiors of the imperial family’s private apartments in Gatchina Palace are known through watercolors, photographs and inventories from 1850 to 1917.

E. Hau’s Watercolor c1860s (below) of the Arsenal Hall in Gatchina Palace
 

Nicholas I and Alexandra Feodorovna extended their stay in Gatchina from the autumn of 1854 to January 1855 for the empress to recover from an illness. The youngest sons Grand Duke Nikolai and Mikhail arrived for Christmas to surprise their mother. Lady-in-waiting Baroness Maria Fredericks, childhood friend of the grand dukes, noted in her diary that ‘later a photograph of the group of us was made in memory of this joyful moment’.

Photograph (below) of the family group with Grand Duke Nikolai and Mikhail on January 2nd 1855 in the Arsenal Hall from an album published in 1911. A month later their father Emperor Nicholas I died in the Winter Palace.
 

The above is the earliest known photograph of an interior in Gatchina Palace. Alexander II would stay only a few weeks each year at Gatchina during the hunting season. From 1881 to 1894 it was the family home of Alexander III and until 1917 the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna.

Archival documents from the 1920s-1930s note that numerous photograph in boxes and albums were transferred from Gatchina to other archive funds. Fifteen inventory books were devoted to photographs as well as a special section in one of the books listing negatives’. The fate of a further seventeen albums from Gatchina including a ‘leather-bound album with pre-revolutionary photographs of Gatchina Palace’ looted during the war are unknown. 

Aerial (below) of Gatchina Palace (Arsenal Wing on the right)
 

Photographs (below) of the Staircase leading to the Arsenal Hall (currently being restored) in Gatchina Palace





Monday, 25 November 2019

Rare Interior Photographs of the Rococo Palace in Peterhof – Part III


As there are very few photographs of the rooms for servants in the imperial palaces, it is a researcher’s dream to finally discover more. The valet for Alexander II and the maid for Empress Maria Alexandrovna lived on the 3rd floor of the small rococo palace in Peterhof (photographs c1930s below).

2nd Floor Landing with Servants Staircase to the 3rd floor


Emperor’s Private Staircase on the 2nd floor with Servants Stairs to the 3rd floor
 


3rd Floor Corridor
 


Empress Maria’s Wardrobe
 


Maid’s Sitting Room
 




Maid’s Bedroom



Valet’s Bedroom
 



Links to Part I and Part II: