Topic: Tsarskoye Selo
Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna of Russia and Prince Nicholas of Greece and Denmark on their wedding day in the Portrait Hall of the Catherine Palace. Photo by L. Gorodetsky, 1902. Photo © Tsarskoye Selo Palace Museum-Preserve.
A unique exhibition opens today at the Upper Bathhouse of the Catherine Park in cooperation with the ROSPHOTO State Museum & Exhibition Centre, which tells how photography came to Tsarskoye Selo, how the tsar’s court influenced a fashion for photography, and how the Romanov family helped boost the quality of daguerreotypes and photographs in Russia.
After the first pewter-plate photograph was taken by Joseph Nicephore Niepce in 1826 and then his partner Louis-Jacques-Mande Daguerre invented a photographic process using silver on copper plate in 1839, the daguerreotype came to Russia during the reign of Tsar Nicholas I and was called “writing with light”.
Photography became a favourite hobby of the Tsar’s family which, like any other, loved its life chronicled in pictures. The photographs of the “most august family” used for the press and postcards were taken by professionals, who wore awarded the title “Supplier to the Imperial Court and Photographer” after 8–10 years of flawless service.
During Alexander III’s reign, photography bloomed and competed with portrait painting. Tsar Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra, their children, Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna and Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich took photography lessons from professional “light-writers”. Particularly noteworthy in the current exhibit are a touching photograph of the little Tsarevich Alexei standing together with a guard near a snow-covered Alexander Palace and an album of photographs taken by Anna Vyrubova, Tsarina Alexandra’s lady-in-waiting and close friend.
In 1860 the architect Ippolito Monighetti built an addition to the Llama Pavilion in the Alexander Park, which was used by the Romanovs as a photography studio and laboratory. After the Tsar’s special permission of 1866, photographic ateliers opened in the town of Tsarskoye Selo: Mikhail Kozlovski’s on Konyushennaya St, the workshop of Wilhelm Lapré on Moskovskaya St, and the photographic studio “K.E. von Gann and Co” of Alexander Yagelsky on Shirokaya St.
Besides showing part of the museum’s exhaustive photographic collection, the exhibit gives visitors a chance to feel as if they are in a Tsarskoye Selo photographic studio of the past.
The Exhibition is open through September 30, 2012, from 11.00–19.00 (tickets until 18.00). Closed on Thursdays and Fridays. Admission for adults is 100 rubles.
© Tsarskoye Selo Palace Museum-Preserve. 20 June, 2012