Thursday, 14 November 2019

Rare Interior Photographs of the Rococo Palace in Peterhof – Part II

The small rococo palace in Peterhof was reconstructed for Alexander II and Empress Maria Alexandrovna in 1843. There were two drawing rooms, a dining room, Alexander’s study, bathroom and dressing room on the 1st floor (photographs c1930s below).

Entrance Hall with door to the Dining Room
Main Staircase

Blue Drawing Room

Yellow Drawing Room

Dining Room

Alexander’s Study
L. Premazzi’s Watercolor c1850s of Alexander’s Study

Alexander’s Bathroom
Alexander’s Dressing Room

Alexander’s Staircase to the 2nd Floor
Link to Part I with interior photographs of the 2nd floor in the Rococo Palace:


Friday, 8 November 2019

Rare Interior Photographs of the Rococo Palace in Peterhof - Part I

The architect Andrei Stakenschneider reconstructed a 1700’s manor house into a small rococo palace for Alexander II and Maria Feodorovna in 1843. Until now the only views of the interior were watercolors by Premazzi and Hau. The following photographs were taken in the 1930s when the palace was a museum.

Photographs of the 2nd floor – Bedroom

L. Premazzi’s Watercolor c1850s of the Bedroom

Empress Maria’s Bathroom

L. Premazzi’s Watercolor c1852 of the Bathroom

2nd Floor Staircase Landing with Door to Drawing Room

Empress Maria’s Drawing Room

L. Premazzi’s Watercolor c1854 of the Drawing Room

Empress Maria’s Study [note in the 3rd  photograph a secret door to Alexander’s stairs]

Empress Maria’s Library [note in the 2nd photograph a secret door to Alexander’s stairs]

E. Hau’s Watercolor c1850s of the Library

Photograph and Floor Plan of the Rococo Palace

Link to previous post on the history of the palace:

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Emperor Nicholas II’s struggle to adopt the Gregorian Calendar in 1899

The clocks changed on Sunday here in Canada. Many are exasperated with the lack of action to end ‘spring forward, fall back’ time issue. Nicholas II encountered a similar impasse in 1899 when he tried to synchronize the calendar with Europe. The Orthodox Julian calendar in the 19th century was twelve days behind the Gregorian calendar.

Photographs (below) of Nicholas II’s Study on the 2nd floor of the Winter Palace [note the door to the balcony in 3rd photo]

On Friday December 17th 1899 Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich and his wife were invited to dinner with Nicholas and Alexandra in the Alexander Palace. The grand duke noted in his diary that ‘when they sat down Her Majesty was summoned from the table to the nursery where little Tatiana was ill. Soon she returned. The emperor spoke about my commission for the transition to the Gregorian calendar. He said he was very eager for this to happen but was afraid of the insurmountable obstacles’.

Photographs (below) of Nicholas II’s Study in the Lower Dacha, Peterhof

Two weeks later on Saturday January 1st 1900 Nicholas wrote that ‘during lunch [in the Malachite Hall of the Winter Palace] as generally everywhere they were arguing to which century did the year 1900 belong. In my opinion this is an idle question since it is clear that it consists of the last year of the 19th century’.

Monday, 28 October 2019

Prince Albert’s & Princess Irina’s Experiments with Hair Remedies

Two hundred years ago Prince Albert was born in Schloss Rosenau. It had been disappointing to read that his diaries and Queen Victoria’s journals were burned by their daughter Princess Beatrice but many documents remain in various archives that reveal fascinating details.

Franz Winterhalter’s Portrait c1842 (below) of Prince Albert [Royal Collection]

While studying at Bonn University with his brother Ernst in 1837, Albert wrote to their former tutor Johann Florschutz about his worry over baldness at the age of eighteen.

‘In order to save my hair from coming out entirely I have embarked on a radical treatment at the hands of Herr Smakur, who rubs my head every evening with a very greasy oil. He promises the best results.’

On August 7th 1844 the day after the birth of Prince Alfred, Albert had his head shaved and started to wear a wig.

Daguerreotypes c1842 and 1848 (below) of Prince Albert [Royal Collection]

The following century Empress Maria Feodorovna noted in her diary on Monday January 11th 1916 that ‘at three Andrusha and Feodor [grandsons] came. They said yesterday Irina lay down the whole day in bed. She was poisoned by a hair-strengthening product.

Photographs (below) of Princess Irina with her mother Grand Duchess Xenia and in 1913

Two weeks later on Monday January 16th the empress visited her daughter Xenia writing that 'it was very damp and cold at her place. I am always freezing there!'

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Rare Photographs of the Interior of Nicholas II’s Wardrobe in the Winter Palace

During reconstruction on the 2nd floor of the Winter Palace for Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra in 1895, the architect Krasovsky built a mezzanine above the valet (180) and passage (179) rooms for Nicholas’ wardrobe with two entrances. The photograph of the Gothic Library (178) shows the upper gallery with the door (below the X) to the emperor’s wardrobe.

Link to the plan of the 2nd floor of the Winter Palace –

The other entrance was a spiral staircase that led from the valet’s room (180) to the wardrobe above. It was dismantled in the 1930s.

A similar staircase in Gatchina Palace (below) was recently reconstructed in Emperor Nicholas I’s former rooms.

The ash cabinets and central table with cupboards in the photographs today (below) of Nicholas II’s wardrobe  were manufactured by the Meltzer firm in 1895.