Friday, 4 November 2016
Empress Alexandra’s Baise-Main (hand-kissing) Reception
On January 1st, the Empress would hold a baise-main (hand-kissing) reception in the Concert Hall in the Winter Palace. Ladies of the nobility, officials and others were presented to the Empress to kiss her hand.
I have read numerous diaries and memoirs describing the baise-main ceremonies, held on different dates in the Winter Palace, but have never seen photographs. It was a dream to have discovered rare photographs of a baise-main held in the Great Palace in the Kremlin in 1900.
On Monday, April 10th, 1900 Nicholas II wrote “… At 2:30 in the St. Andrew Hall, Alix gave her hand to all the Moscow ladies – the traditional custom called the baise-main …”
Photographs (below) of the Empress Alexandra’s baise-main in the St. Andrew Hall in Kremlin Palace on April 10th, 1900
On Thursday, March 31st, 1900 Nicholas II and Alexandra left the Winter Palace for Moscow to celebrate Easter on April 9th. Most days they would leave the Kremlin to spend the afternoon walking in the Alexander (Neskuchne) Palace gardens.
Photographs (below) of the entrance to the Alexander (Neskuchne) Palace in April 1900
On Saturday, April 8th, 1900 Nicholas wrote “… We went with the children to Uncle Sergei’s and Ella’s to color Easter eggs …”
Photographs (below) of the family arriving at Grand Duke Sergei’s residence on Tverskaya Ulitsa in April 1900
On Tuesday, April 11th, 1900 Nicholas wrote “… At 1 PM we went to the Nobles’ Assembly for a huge lunch given by the Moscow Nobility. The look of the hall with multiple round tables and an enormous long table in the centre of the room, set up with a countless assortment of dishes with swans, peacocks, marvelous old silver was strikingly effective …”
Photographs (below) of the Banquet on April 11th (note Nicholas II sat on the left, Alexandra on the right, and the swans)