Topic: Tsarskoye Selo
The Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Preserve has received a precious present in the form of a collection of favorite perfumes owned by Russia’s last tsar, Nicholas II, and the members of his family.
The aromatic donation was made by Zinaida Volodina-Pessoa, president of the Canada-based Svetoch Slavic Culture Association. Volodina-Pessoa acquired the imperial perfumes at auctions and in antique shops in different locations.
“Indeed, the aromatic substances in these bottles have changed but it is possible to establish the base notes of each perfume’s composition,” said Irina Nacharova, a spokeswoman for Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Preserve.
The collection consists of six bottles of perfume that are intimately linked to the family of Nicholas II. One perfume, a bottle of “White Rose,” is associated with empress Alexandra Feodorovna. “White Rose,” by the renowned Atkinson brand that was founded in London in 1799 and is currently based in Italy, was her favorite fragrance.
The daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra preferred floral scents, especially those from the famous French house of Coty. A graceful Rene Lalique bottle from the donation contains a dark aromatic substance — Grand Duchess Anastasia’s most beloved perfume, “La Violette Pourpre.”
A small pyramid-shaped glass bottle contains another Coty creation, “La Rose Jacqueminot,” a favorite of Grand Duchess Olga. Perhaps predictably, Grand Duchess Tatyana was another of the Romanov family members devoted to the creations of Coty. Volodina-Pessoa has found a half-full bottle of Tatyana’s preferred fragrance, “Jasmin de Corse,” and added the item to the collection. Grand Duchess Maria preferred “Lilas Pourpre,” also produced by Coty.
According to Volodina-Pessoa, all of the bottles were produced at the beginning of the 20th century.
The collection of imperial perfumes will become part of a new exhibition that is currently being arranged by the museum. The display will mark the 400th anniversary of the establishment of the House of Romanov and is expected to open to the public by the beginning of the summer.
Additionally, Zinaida Volodina-Pessoa has provided Tsarskoye Selo with valuable information in helping the museum to locate and purchase from a private collector in Canada a perfume bottle that is graced with the monogram of Nicholas II. Experts say it is likely that this bottle is unique and was owned by the tsar. The perfume bottle is made of glass and decorated with silver, gold and diamonds. It contains a fragrance produced by the award-winning soap and perfume manufacturer Rallet & Co., which was established in St. Petersburg in 1843 by Frenchman Alphonse Rallet.
Rallet & Co. catered directly to the Romanov family and the Russian court.
Volodina-Pessoa accompanied the gift of perfumes with a silver photograph frame made in England at the end of the 19th century and original photographs, dating from the 1860s.The images feature the mother, uncle and grandmother of empress Alexandra Fyodorovna — Princess Alice, then-Prince of Wales King Edward VII and Queen Victoria, respectively.
“Volodina-Pessoa also presented the museum with a copy of a score with a Christmas song that lists Nicholas II as the author,” Nacharova said. “Our curators will examine these relics.”
© St. Petersburg Times and Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 05 March, 2013