Monday, 29 August 2016

Kiot of Icons in Nicholas II’s Bedroom in the Winter Palace

There was a kiot of five panels with icons, eggs and crosses in the bedroom of Nicholas II and Alexandra on the 2nd floor of the Winter Palace.

The kiot was designed by N. Nabokov in 1895 in karelian birch with a red fabric backdrop on each panel. I have a copy of his drawing in color.

The photo below of the bedroom shows the kiot in the far corner. Also, on the far right, there is a partial view of their basket for pillows!

M. Eagar was mistaken on the size when describing the kiot in her book. She wrote that “… the Empress’ bedroom … in pink and green … One corner is hung with scarlet cloth from ceiling to floor. On this are displayed icons …”

In his diary on Monday, January 1st, 1896 Nicholas wrote “… and then spent the entire evening hanging up holy images on the iconostasis in the bedroom …”

On Sunday, March 10th, 1896 he wrote “… we went to the Anichkov … We looked over the icons, which I had … which I brought to the Winter …”

I have a copy of a drawing of the kiot, completed for the 1898 inventory, with the numbered placement of the icons, eggs and crosses
The following is the numbered list of icons on each panel from the left:

1st Panel – 339 to 352
2nd Panel – 353 to 365
3rd Panel – 366 to 374
4th Panel – 390 to 404
On the wall above the kiot – 409 to 422

Next to the kiot is a small round table with a triptych and other items, numbered 423 to 427 in the inventory.

In the Alexander Palace on Friday, February 10th, 1912 Nicholas wrote “… We looked over our old icons, which had been kept since the time of our wedding in the Winter Palace …”

Do you own an Imperial icon?

If so, look to see if the number corresponds to the list above. It will confirm the provenance although there may be an additional number (initials AД) since some had been removed to the Alexander Palace. If you own numbers 417 to 422 and 423 to 427 and wish to confirm, send me a message as I do have a partial list with the names of these icons.


  1. I wish I had one of these icons, but unfortunately ....

    I'm thrilled to see that Nicholas II and Alexandra also used the pillow basket. If it is indeed the same one as in the pictures you posted a couple of days ago, it had got a new lining, in a much lighter colour, not the original blue cloth which would not have matched with the colour scheme of the bedroom as it was in those later years.

  2. Taking a closer look at the pictures in "Furniture in the Winter Palace – Bedrooms (1)", I see that I should have noticed that the baskets shown are different: the bars and knob on the lid of the baskets in the 1852 and 1868 watercolours differ from those in the 1859 watercolour; and unlike the 1852 and 1868 baskets, the 1859 basket also has bars on the lid.


  3. The 1859 basket was made by Gambs, and Nicholas II's by N. Nabokov. Nabokov used the same material as the walls. I have Krasovsky's drawing of the bedroom in color showing green and white paper.