Thursday, 29 November 2018

Record Books of Visitors to the Alexander Palace 1907-1908


The Winter Palace Commandant was responsible for the protection of the imperial family. Archival documents reveal that after the death of Nicholas I in 1855 access to the palace was lax until 1866 when stringent security measures were adopted. The methods were followed when Nicholas II and Alexandra moved permanently to the Alexander Palace in 1905.

Aerial view (below) of the Alexander Palace [note the entrances] and the Kitchen Building on Dvortsovaya Ul. on the left
 

Photograph (below) of Their Majesties Own Entrance to the Alexander Palace

At each of the entrances guards maintained detailed records of all visitors to the palace. The pages were divided into columns: arrived/departed, rank/surname, whom/where, name of assistant accompanying guest, if guest stayed overnight and if guest searched. Ninety-five percent of visitors were searched except for example the architect Meltzer or Fabergé. Most were servants, suppliers, painters, etc. who entered through the Kitchen tunnel. The first visitor was at 5:30 am with the delivery of bread from the bakery for Their Majesties Own Buffet.

Architect Danini’s Drawing c1897 (below) of the Tunnel between the Kitchen Building and basement in the Alexander Palace


Excerpts from the Record Book November 13th 1907 to March 18th 1908:

  • November 13 - 50 people  – Elizaveta Sidorova went to rooms of Grand Duchess Elizabeth from 4:30 pm to 10:15 – was searched

  • November 14 - 24 people – Meltzer at Their Majesties from 10:45 am to 11:55

  • November 15 - 60 people – dressmaker Petrova to lady-in-waiting Orbeliani from 9:50 am to 5:40 pm

  • December 31 – 85 people – Nun Vorobyov who went to children’s floor to nurse Vishnyakova from 2:40 pm to 10:55 pm – the last visitor brought a telegram ‘To Their Majesties and Their Highnesses” at ten minutes after midnight

  • January 1 – gardener Moknev from the Tauride greenhouses brought fresh flowers to Their Majesties from 8:00 am to 11:10 – the Emperor was congratulated by his nurse Legonkov from 8:55 am to 10:15 who received traditional New Year’s gift of money from Nicholas II

  • January 26 – dressmaker Mme Brezak and assistant to children’s floor from 3:45 pm to 4:40 and again on March 15th from 9:45 am to 12:02 – Mme Brezak was searched

During August and September 1908 while the imperial family was in Peterhof, another book records the daily arrival of painters, plasterers and plumbers who were renovating the rooms of the palace. From August 16th workers began laying electrical cables. On August 31st painters were finishing Alexandra’s dressing room.  In early September carpenters and varnishers were in the children’s rooms and on September 10th in the English Suite.

Monday, 26 November 2018

Prince Albert’s Private Secretary

On June 18th 1859 Dr. Ernst Becker, private secretary to Prince Albert, sent a telegram to Carl Ruland at his home on the Hesengasse in Frankfurt. ‘It is very desirable that you come at once telegraph the hour of your arrival to Buckingham Palace. Dr. Becker. Windsorcastle.’

Photograph c1859 (below) of Dr. Ernst Becker and Carl Ruland
 
Copy (below) of Dr. Becker’s Telegram June 18th 1859
 
Dr. Becker had proposed the twenty-five year old Carl Ruland as his successor. Ruland was at that time a teacher of German and French at the Frankfurt Musterschule. He took over the duties as private secretary and the German library in the royal collections at the end of 1859. Two days after the death of Prince Albert on December 14th 1861 Ruland wrote to his parents that ‘for the time being I shall go into the service of the queen in a very confident way’. He remained in England for the next six years.

In 1869 Grand Duke Karl Alexander of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, the son of Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna, appointed Carl Ruland director of the Grand Ducal Art Collections in Weimar. He was considered an excellent art connoisseur and accomplished museum man.
 
Photograph c1870s (below) of the Grand Ducal Museum in Weimar
 
Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Germany was looking for a successor for the seventy-year old director Heinrich Hotho of the Kupferstichkabinett [Museum of Prints & Drawings] in Berlin. In the fall of 1871 he assigned the Prussian diplomat Karl von Normann with the task of approaching Carl Ruland to offer the post of director. On January 22nd 1872 Normann wrote to Ruland confirming the discussions ‘a few months ago we agreed that His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince would make a personal attempt to influence the Grand Duke to free you from the obligations which bind you in Weimar and to win you over to Berlin’. But Ruland declined the offer. On February 9th 1872 Grand Duke Karl Alexander thanked his director for the ‘rejection of the honorable and advantageous call made to him from Berlin’.

Photograph c1890s (below) of the Altes Museum in Berlin which held the Kupferstichkabinett

Two years later on January 2nd 1874 Karl von Normann again approached Ruland on behalf of the Crown Prince after the death of Hotho with another offer. But in the meantime Ruland had married on November 20th 1873 the Weimar court actress Marie Schulz and a son was born later in 1874. He remained in Weimar and in 1886 was the first director of the Goethe National Museum.

Photograph c1899 (below) of the Goethe House in Weimar celebrating the 150 anniversary of the birth of Johann Wolfgang Goethe


 

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Dowry for Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna


The January 1805 issue of The Journal of Luxury and Fashions published by Friedrich Bertuch and distributed throughout Europe featured a detailed list of Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna’s dowry. The grand duchess had married the hereditary Prince Karl Friedrich of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach in the Winter Palace on August 3rd 1804.

Illustration in the Journal’s January 1805 issue (below) of the Throne Bed for Grand Duchess Maria’s new home in the Weimar Palace
 

The bed was designed by Andrei Voronikhin, the architect of the Rose Pavilion in Pavlovsk. Empress Maria Feodorovna ordered the drapery and cover of sky-blue velvet from the manufacturer Van der Borcht & Kint in Brussels. Archival documents note that Voronikhin also had made richly carved and gilded furniture for the bedchamber that was missing in the journal’s article: two tables, two sofas, eight chairs, two tabourets [stool see above] and fireplace screen.

Photograph (below) of the Throne Bed exhibited in the Weimar Palace today


Aerials (below) of the Palace in Weimar
 


Emperor Alexander I had ordered in 1803 a wedding carriage to be constructed for his sister (below) along with four others for her Weimar stables. The dowry had been sent ahead overland and by ship in August. Maria Pavlovna and Karl Friedrich left Saint Petersburg on October 7th 1804, arriving in Weimar on Friday November 9th.

Photograph (below) of the Wedding Carriage
 

Friedrich Preller Painting c1849 (below) of Maria Pavlovna's Arrival at the Palace in Weimar on November 9th 1804


Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Prince Albert’s Stepmother’s Last Will Beneficiary

Princess Marie of Wurttemberg at the age of thirty-three married her uncle Duke Ernest of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha on December 23rd 1832. She was his second wife and the stepmother of princes Ernest and Albert.

Aerial (below) of Schloss Friedenstein in Gotha

Her father Prince Alexander of Wurttemberg, the brother of Empress Maria Feodorovna, had married in 1798 Antoinette of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, the sister of Ernest. During the reign of Emperor Alexander I, the family lived in the Winter Palace. Evenings the three friends Empress Elizabeth, her sister Amelie of Baden and Antoinette would meet together in the empress’ rooms on the 2nd floor of the palace. In December 1809 Elizabeth and Amelie prepared Christmas gifts for Antoinette’s children. ‘For Marie at ten years her mama asked for objects to engage her interest’. The empress also gave her a pair of ‘small loop earrings with a big diamond and a little pearl’.

Photograph c1858 (below) of Schloss Friedenstein [Duke Ernest II’s Album, Coburg Archives]
 
During a visit to his daughter in 1833, Prince Alexander died unexpectedly on July 4th in Schloss Friedenstein and was buried in the Gotha ducal vault with his wife who had passed away in 1824 in Saint Petersburg.

On June 14th 1840 Empress Alexandra and her daughter Grand Duchess Olga arrived in Gotha at the Zum Mohren Inn. Duchess Marie wrote in her diary that her old friend Alexandra ‘toured Gotha, the new theatre and admired from a distance the Inselberg. She thinks Gotha prettier than Weimar’. The next morning Marie went with the empress to Eisenach for breakfast.

Photograph c1858 (below) of Gotha from Schloss Friedenstein with Prince Ernst of Wurttemberg’s Palais in the lower right [Duke Ernest II’s Album, Coburg Archives]
 
Photograph c1858 (below) of the Theatre in Gotha [Duke Ernest II’s Album, Coburg Archives]
 
Dowager Duchess Marie, widowed in 1844, finalized her Last Will on November 20th 1851. She appointed her cousin Emperor Nicholas I as the executor and declared Empress Alexandra as her sole heir.

On September 24th 1860 the Dowager Duchess Marie died in Schloss Friedenstein. She left a fortune of 119,828 rubles and jewels worth 100,000 guilders. Emperor Nicholas I had died in 1855 and with the death of Empress Alexandra six weeks after Marie, Emperor Alexander II rejected the acceptance of the inheritance in favor of Marie’s brothers, Alexander and Ernest of Wurttemberg.

Photograph c1858 (below) of Prince Ernest of Wurttemberg’s Palais in Gotha [Duke Ernest II’s Album, Coburg Archives]

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Informal Photographs from the Albums of Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich

Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich had married Natalie Brasova on October 16th 1912 in Vienna without his brother Nicholas II’s permission.  With her daughter from a previous marriage and their one-year-old son George, they lived in various places in Europe and in the fall of September 1913 rented Knebworth near London. When war started in 1914 they were allowed to return to the grand duke’s house in Gatchina near St. Petersburg.

Photographs (below) of Grand Duke Mikhail’s House in Gatchina, Grand Duke Dmitry and Gatchina Palace

 



 
Photographs (below) of the family at Knebworth and on vacation


 
 
Photograph (below) of the Church in Vienna where the couple were married

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Watercolors of the Yusupov Dacha in Tsarskoe Selo


The artist Vasily Sadovnikov completed an album of watercolors for Princess Zinaida Yusupov of her summer dacha in Tsarskoe Selo in 1872. The dacha is located on the main road from the Catherine Palace to Pavlovsk Palace and built in the late 1850s for Zinaida, the grandmother of Felix Yusupov.

Photograph (below) of the Yusupov Dacha and Plan by the architect I. Monigetti c1856
 


Watercolors (below) of the facades of the Yusupov Dacha
 




Watercolors (below) of the Large Drawing Room, Chinese and Rotunda Salons and the Dining Room