Saturday, 19 February 2022

Toy Easter Eggs for Grand Duchess Maria and Grand Duke Dmitry

On March 20th 1896 Grand Duke Sergei wrote to his brother Paul that he ‘went today on your instructions to the Mamontova toy store and chose the following: for the baby [Maria] a hare filled with surprises for a girl and for Dmitry a wicker egg with surprises for a boy. Besides this also two eggs maybe you can give them to the younger children of Kostya plus a skating rink with wooden eggs - for me it was irresistible’. The 1896 Mamontova Katalog (below)
Photograph (below) of Grand Duke Sergei and Grand Duchess Elizabeth with Maria and Dmitry

Wednesday, 16 February 2022

Rare Photographs of Gatchina Palace Interiors c1917

After the death of Emperor Alexander III in 1894 Empress Maria Feodorovna moved from their former small rooms on the mezzanine floor of the Arsenal wing in Gatchina Palace to the first floor. Photograph (below) of Empress Maria’s bedroom on the first floor and the following were taken by Kubesh who photographed in July 1917 the rooms of Nicholas and Alexandra in the Winter Palace.
Photograph (below) of Alexander III and Maria’s rooms on the Mezzanine Floor
Photograph (below) of Emperor Paul’s Oval Office
Photographs (below) of the Throne Hall, Chesme Gallery and Corridor

Tuesday, 15 February 2022

Hemmelmark Estate of Princess Irene, Empress Alexandra’s Sister

Prince Heinrich and Princess Irene of Prussia lived in Kiel Castle in north Germany. In 1894 Heinrich purchased the Hemmelmark estate Eckernförde as a country residence. Photographs (below) of Princess Irene and sons in the garden of Hemmelmark c1890s
Photographs (below) of the original early 18th century Hemmelmark mansion and interiors c1901
In 1903 Heinrich had the mansion demolished and the architect Ernst von Ihne created a new one in the style of an English country house. On Tuesday July 14th 1909 Nicholas II wrote ‘we dropped anchor at 4:00 am in the Eckernförde roadstead. At 10:00 Irene and Ernie came on board and an hour later we disembarked with them and all the children during endless transporting to shore to the estate of Hemmelmark. We still crossed a lake there and reached the house on foot where lunch was at one. The house and garden were very beautiful. I took a big walk with Irene around the entire estate. We had tea in the garden and watched the children romp.’ Photographs (below) of Hemmelmark c1909
Aerial View (below) of Hemmelmark

Saturday, 12 February 2022

Photographs of Nicholas II’s Private Garden in the Winter Palace in 1916 with Tsarevich Alexei and later years

After four years of construction on Saturday January 13th 1901 returning to the Winter Palace Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra ‘looked over their rooms and then went out for a walk. It was pleasant that the grille-work fence around the garden was finished and it turned out beautiful and fitting for the style of the building.’ Photograph (below) of Tsarevich Alexei standing by the fountain in the private garden c1916
Photographs (below) of the Private Garden in 1929 [note the ventilation tower on the roof above Nicholas and Alexandra's rooms later dismantled] and in 1944

Monday, 7 February 2022

Grand Duchess Elizabeth with Ekaterina Schneider at Illinskoe c1884

After the wedding in the Winter Palace on June 4th 1884 Grand Duke Sergei and Ella went to Illinskoe the estate Sergei inherited from his mother Empress Maria Alexandrovna for their honeymoon. Photograph (below) of Ella with Ekaterina Schneider at Illinskoe c1884
Sergei’s diaries reveal Ekaterina Schneider who was Ella’s Russian language teacher became an intimate family friend. Christmas Eve December 24th 1892 ‘After lunch preparations for the Christmas tree began… Dinner with Masha, Fafka, Schneider and Alexei [Sergei’s nephew son of Grand Duke Alexei] - gifts to everyone - it was nice and lively.’ December 25th ‘Dinner with Masha, Schneider - had a pleasant evening.’ December 27th ‘For dinner, our Schneider - read aloud a Christmas story.’ Photograph (below) of Ella, lady-in-waiting Kitty Kozlyaninova and Ekaterina Schneider c1890

Wednesday, 26 January 2022

Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra and baby Olga’s Bedrooms in the Paris Embassy 1896

On Tuesday September 24th 1896 Nicholas wrote ‘We woke up to marvelous weather. At nine in the morning we arrived at Versailles and transferred to the presidential train. Towards ten we arrived in Paris… We were excellently quartered at our Embassy. We found our little daughter at home.’ Prior to departure on Thursday September 26th they ‘had lunch with all the members of the Embassy as well as our and the French Suites. It was a pity to leave Paris and our charming home in which we spent in all two and a half days!’ Photographs (below) of Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra arriving at the Palais de l'Élysée and the Embassy the former residence of Duchesse d'Estrées purchased by Alexander II in 1863
The rooms of Nicholas and Alexandra were located on the first floor. Their bedroom (below and today) was decorated in white and gold with mauve woven silk wallpaper and upholstered furniture.
Grand Duchess Olga’s bedroom (below) was on the second floor with white lacquered furniture and a white-curtained baby’s cot with the night-nurse bed next to it.
Illustration (below) of the Drawing Room in 1896 and today
Illustration (below) of the Dining Room in 1896 and today

Friday, 21 January 2022

Death of Princess Elisabeth of Hesse at Skierniewice in 1903

On Saturday October 25th 1903 Nicholas II wrote ‘we packed up all the last things, walked about the courtyard and watched the suitcases being put on big vans. At noon we said goodbye to Irene and Heinrich who left for Bonn by motorcar. At four we departed Wolfsgarten with Ernie and his daughter.` The imperial train arrived the next day in the afternoon at Skierniewice. Photographs (below) of Skierniewice Palace in October 1903
Photograph (below) of Nicholas, Alexandra, Princess Elisabeth and Grand Duke Ernst of Hesse
Photograph (below) of Empress Alexandra and her brother Ernst
Photograph (below) of Nicholas II and Ernst at Skierniewice
A week later on Monday November 3rd `Ernie’s little one spent the night poorly, her heart was functioning very weakly and between nine and ten in the morning she passed away without any suffering. This sudden death struck us terribly. Poor Ernie’s heart is simply bleeding; the little child whom he idolized has been taken from him and now he remains in awful solitude… We sent our own children to Tsarskoe at four with Kochubei and Sonia Orbeliani.` Photograph (below) of Princess Elisabeth with her cousins the Grand Duchesses at Wolfsgarten before leaving for Skierniewice
On Wednesday November 5th `ìn the morning I went walking with Ernie a few times. The body had already been placed in the silver casket with a glass top. Then they put a cover on top and transferred it to room next door placing it on a catafalque. Around noon Uncle Sergei and Ella arrived from Moscow. After lunch we put on our uniforms and overcoats. The pastor recited a prayer for the journey and we all carried the coffin out. At the station the coffin was placed through the window of the train carriage.`