Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Alexander III’s Window Etching in the Winter Palace

Empress Alexandra’s famous inscription with her diamond on the window in her Study #185 in the Winter Palace is widely known: ‘Nicky 1902 Looking at the Hussars 17 March’. Walk through her Study, lift the curtain and step into the past for a moment.

Etching their name and a date on a window was a family tradition. ‘Nixa & Dagmar 1865’ and ‘Sasha & Dagmar 1866’ were inscribed on a window in Fredensborg Palace in Denmark.

‘Nicky & Alix’ was etched in 1889 at the Cottage in Peterhof. In 1896, they left their names in the Neues Palais in Darmstadt.

The windows in Peterhof and Darmstadt are lost forever. Fredensborg is the Royal family’s private home and likely preserved.

Unknown, until repairs 15 years ago, was Alexander III’s window etching.

Alexander lived in the 2nd Spare suite in the southeastern corner of the Winter Palace from 1852 to 1866. He shared the rooms with his brother Nicholas until 1858, then with Vladimir.

Hau’s 1874 watercolor of the bedroom (photo below) is critical. Alexander had moved out to the Anichkov in 1866. Alterations and redecoration were likely completed. Hau depicts the room when occupied by Vladimir who left when he married in the summer of 1874.

Alexander had scratched on one of the two windows: ‘Sasha 1860’. Alexander Sergeevich Voeinoff posted on Facebook [] a photograph of the pane.

For a century and a half, no one remembered and failed to notice. It is preserved in the Hermitage today.

Below is a photo of the bedroom today. Look up at the flowered tiled ceiling. The sons of Alexander II woke up to the very same view each morning.

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