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Thursday, 16 April 2015
Equestrian Portrait of Emperor Nicholas II by Finnish Painter Albert Edelfelt
Topic: Nicholas II

Equestrian Portrait of Emperor Nicholas II. Artist: Albert Edelfelt
Albert Gustaf Aristides Edelfelt was born on 21 July 1854 in Porvoo, Finland. He was the son of Carl Albert Edelfelt, an architect, and Alexandra Edelfelt (née Brandt). His parents were Swedish-speaking Finns. He began his formal studies of art in 1869 at the Drawing School of the Finnish Art Society, and continued as a student of Adolf von Becker (1871-1873). He studied history painting at the Antwerp Academy of Art (1873-1874) before becoming a pupil of Jean-Léon Gérôme at the Ecole Nationale des Beaux Arts in Paris (1874-1878). In Paris he shared a studio with the American, Julian Alden Weir, who introduced him to John Singer Sargent. Later he studied at Saint Petersburg (1881-1882). He married Baroness Ellan de la Chapelle in 1888, and they had one child.

In 1896 Edelfelt spent almost the whole of the spring in St. Petersburg, painting two portraits of Tsar Nicholas II. The above portrait of Nicholas II was painted by Edelfelt based on a series of sketches approved by the Emperor. Nicholas II invited the artist to Tsarskoye Selo and later to the Imperial stables in order to capture the horse for the portrait. The completed equestrian portrait of Emperor Nicholas II wearing the uniform of the Preobrazhensky  Regiment was later hung in the Finnish Senate at Helgingfors. Today, it can be seen in National Museum of Finland in Helsinki.

Edelfelt was one of the first Finnish artists to achieve international fame. He enjoyed considerable success in Paris and was one of the founders of the Realist art movement in Finland. He died on 18 August 1905. 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 16 April, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:42 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 19 April 2015 4:48 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 7 April 2015
Monument to Nicholas II to be Established at Livadia Next Month
Topic: Nicholas II

Emperor Nicholas II, 1868-1918
A new monument to Emperor Nicholas II will be established at Livadia next month thanks to the joint efforts of the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society (IOPS), the Revival of Cultural Heritage Foundation, Nicholas Berlyukovsky Monastery and the Council of Ministers of Crimea.

"Our foundation has decided to present Livadia Palace-Museum with a monument of Holy Passion-Bearer Tsar Nicholas II", - said Alexander Panin, deputy chairman of the Moscow regional branch of IOPS.

According to him, the opening of the monument to the Tsar Nicholas II will take place in Yalta on 18 May [O.S. 6 May] 2015, the birthday of the Emperor and the feast day of St. Job the Long-Suffering.

Negotiations and discussions for the project have been finalized, and the monument to the Emperor is ready to be shipped to the Crimea. The Fund is prepared to deliver a monument at its own expense to Yalta and donate it to the Livadia Palace-Museum under the auspices of IOPS. "This will truly be a major event. Thousands of visitors to this unique cultural reserve will be able to see the monument every day and offer their prayers, reflect and analyze what happened and what should not happen again, "- said Alexander Panin.

Livadia Palace was a favourite retreat of Tsar Nicholas II, and his family in the Crimea. On 12 December 1909, the Ministry of the Imperial Court and Appanages in St. Petersburg made the decision to demolish the old wooden Grand Palace - originally constructed in the 1860s by Monighetti - and erect a new stone palace. They engaged Nikolay Krasnov, Yalta's most fashionable architect, responsible for the grand ducal residences which dotted the Crimean coast, to prepare plans for a brand new imperial palace. Nicholas II’s diary indicates that the design was much discussed in the Imperial Family; it was decided that all four façades of the palace should look different. After 17 months of construction, the grand white limestone palace with 116 rooms was inaugurated on 11 September 1911. The small Church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, was preserved during re-construction. Grand Duchess Olga celebrated her 16th birthday at Livadia in November 1911. 

The imperial family spent the autumns of 1911 and 1913 and the springs of 1912 and 1914 in the palace, but did not return after the outbreak of the First World War. Nicholas II was forced to abdicate in March 1917. He asked the Provisional Government to allow him and his family to continue to live in Livadia as private individuals, but this was refused. The family were instead, exiled to Tobolsk, and later Ekaterinburg, where they were all murdered in the early morning hours of July 17, 1918. 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 07 April, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 5:02 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 8 April 2015 8:07 AM EDT
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Wednesday, 25 March 2015
Restoration of Tsar Nicholas II Fresco in Serbian Monastery Church
Topic: Nicholas II

Fresco of Tsar Nicholas II in the Church of St. Sava of the Zica Monastery in Kraljevo, Serbia
The Zica Monastery in Kraljevo, Serbia (192 km south of Belgrade) has begun emergency restoration work to preserve the frescoes in the Church of St. Sava, damaged during an earthquake which hit the region in 2010. Among the frescoes is one of Tsar Nicholas II. 

The Church of Saint Sava has never been open to the public. For years, many believers wondered if the church might harbour some hidden secrets known only to the clergy. In some respects they were correct. In 1945, the State Security Service ordered the church to hide the fresco of Tsar Nicholas II, and those of other Russian saints for fear of destruction by Communist authorities.
"The nuns cleverly disguised the frescoes by covering them with portrait paper, which they then painted blue to resemble bare walls. The frescoes remained hidden for decades up until about three years ago, when they were rediscovered," said Dusan Jovanovic from the Office for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of Kraljevo.

Only one nun Dorothea, one of the oldest at the monastery is a living witness to the postwar period, and witnessed the fresco’s concealment. "The fresco could not be seen. It was impossible to even speak of it’s existence. It was covered with blue wrapping paper and forgotten as if it did not exist," said the nun Dorothea.
The church was built in 1935 on the orders of Bishop Nikolaj Velimirovic. The frescoes painted by the Russian Baron Nikolai Meyendorff, while the iconostasis was the work of the Russian artist Ivan Melnikov. 

The preservation of the church will be conducted in three stages. The Ministry of Culture has provided funds for the first stage of the work. The restoration of the floor and basement of the church is now complete, restorers are now working on the protection of the frescoes, an area exceeding 300 square meters. Art restorer Bojan Nikolic said that urgent repair is required to the frescoes, which had been damaged by leaks, and then the 2010 earthquake. The frescoes will be protected from further deterioration, and a special commission will decide how to restore the missing fragments from many of the frescoes.

After seven decades, the fresco of Tsar Nicholas II will once again shine in full splendour and glory. The church will open to the faithful, and his image, along with those of other Orthodox saints will once again be seen by the public, including many Russians, who have recently settled in Kraljevo. 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 25 March, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 2:04 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 25 March 2015 2:13 AM EDT
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Monday, 23 March 2015
Researching Emperor Nicholas II in Moscow
Topic: Nicholas II

Back in January, I made an announcement regarding my forthcoming book, Nicholas II: The Rehabilitation of Russia's Last Tsar, which is due to be published next year. To date I have written more than 100 pages of text and collected more than 40 photographs - many of them taken during my visits to Russia over the past 20 years, plus additional photographs from private collections.
During my recent visit to Moscow, I was fortunate to gather additional material: documents, photographs and books (including a copy of the richly illustrated book pictured above) which will greatly assist me with my research. In addition, I was able to visit various museums in and around Moscow that offered further historical facts and information on the life and reign of the last tsar, including the Cathedral of the Assumption (also known as the Dormition or Uspensky Sobor) in the Kremlin, the Armoury Museum, the State Historical Museum and the Center for the Study of the White Movement at Podolsk.
I visited numerous sites to photograph and study the history of the monuments to Nicholas II erected in and around Moscow. These included the monuments to the Tsar Martyr at Mytischi and Podolsk, both situated in the suburbs. Among those visited within Moscow were the monuments at the Novospassky Monastery and the Frunze Embankment. Each of these four monuments depict lifesize creations of Nicholas II, each a masterpiece in their own right.
During my visit to Podolsk, I was met by Mikhail Blinov, an historian who specializes in the Russian White Guard, military history of World War I, the Russian Civil War, among other topics. He invited me to visit the museum, one which I did not know existed! The museum consists of three floors, covering numerous topics: Emperor Nicholas II, monarchy, 1905 and 1917 Revolutions, White Movement, Cossacks, Russian Civil War, Bolshevism, among others. I was quite overwhelmed by the collection. At the end of the tour, I was invited to sign the museum's guestbook.
Mikhail Blinov is particularly knowledgeable about the life and reign of Emperor Nicholas II. It was interesting to speak with him, and learn about the last tsar from the perspective of a Russian historian, whose views differ considerably from the negative image created by Western historians and biographers.   
Just to reiterate, Nicholas II: The Rehabilitation of Russia's Last Tsar explores the public's perception of Emperor Nicholas II since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. It will focus primarily on Russia’s attitude towards the life and reign of their last tsar, one which has changed dramatically during the last quarter century.

My project will cover the following topics:
- burial of Nicholas II at the Peter and Paul Cathedral in July 1998

- canonization of the Nicholas II by the Moscow Patriarchate in 2000
- rehabilitation of Nicholas II by the Russian government in 2008

- the Russian Orthodox Church's position on the Ekaterinburg remains

- Russia's perception of Nicholas II in post-Soviet Russia

In addition, an introductory chapter will lay the foundation for the title of the book. It will explain why the rehabilitation of Russia's last tsar by the Russian Supreme Court in 2008 was so important. Many people argue that rehabilitation was unncessary as Nicholas II had committed no crime. This is true, however, rehabilitation by a Russian Court clears his name from all the malicious lies and untruths perpetrated by the Bolsheviks and enemies of the monarchy. For some, it brings closure and corrects one of the darkest pages in 20th century Russian hisory.
A special chapter will be devoted to the more than two dozen monuments, busts and memorial plaques to Nicholas II that have been erected in Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. This chapter will includes photographs and the history of each memorial.
Please note this book is still a work in progress, I will continue to make updates on Royal Russia in the coming months. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all those who responded to my January appeal for their comments and any additional information on the topics covered in this book. I received more than 200 e-mails, letters and telephone calls. Thanks to all for your support and encouragement of this important historical project.
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 23 March, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 1:41 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 24 March 2015 1:20 AM EDT
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Sunday, 22 March 2015
Remains of Last Russian Emperor and Family May be Exhumed Amid Doubts Over Their Authenticity
Topic: Nicholas II

The remains of Emperor Nicholas II and members of his family were interred in Saint Catherine's Chapel
of Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg on July 17, 1998
Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the March 19, 2015 edition of The Daily Mail. The author Will Stewart, owns the copyright of the work presented below. Corrections to the original text have been made by Paul Gilbert.

There is growing pressure on the Russian government to exhume the remains of Russia's last Imperial family amid doubts expressed by the Russian Orthodox Church as to their authenticity. The remains of Emperor Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra and daughters Olga, Tatiana and Anastasia, were interred in Saint Catherine Chapel of the Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral in July 1998 - the remains of Grand Duchess Maria and son Alexei have yet to be buried. Their bones lie almost forgotten in cardboard boxes stashed in the Russian state archive with Putin's government refusing to order a burial in the face of objections from the church.
Click on the link below to read the full article and view the colour photographs:
Remains of Last Russian Emperor and Family May be Exhumed Amid Doubts Over Their Authenticity 
© Will Stewart / The Daily Mail. 22 March, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 4:05 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 22 March 2015 4:30 AM EDT
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Saturday, 21 March 2015
Proposal to Exhume Remains of Nicholas II and Family
Topic: Nicholas II

"All doubts about the authenticity of Emperor Nicholas II's family relics should be eliminated," said Sergey Mironenko, the director of the Russian State Archive (GARF) in Moscow.  

"We have to listen to church officials and exhume the relics buried in Sts Peter and Paul Cathedral and to do it in presence of church representatives and then it should be sealed up by church seals, and the Church should say whom of experts it confides in," Mironenko said on air The Eternity and Time program at the Spas TV channel. 

As to disclosed relics of Nicholas II's children Alexey and Maria, the archive director says he "is categorically against burying the relics without participation of the Russian Orthodox Church." 

He also promised to publish in the Internet all the materials referring to the case on disclosure of the tsar and his family relics. "The Russian State Archive has its own website and there we will post all the documents discovered during the research," Mironenko said. 

Head of the Synodal Department for Church and Society Relations Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin on air the program said that the relics of the tsar and his family in Sts Peter and Paul Cathedral are covered with plates, which can be easily removed, though "it is always bad to disturb the remains." According to him, their burial was forced.

"I remember rather tough pressure from Mr. Nemtsov and his office, but we won't say any bad things about recently killed person," the priest said. 

The House of Romanov admits the possibility of exhuming the family remains in order to stop discussions about their authenticity. 

"If the state considers it necessary, the Russian Imperial House won't stand against further research on the question," the House advocate German Lukianov told Interfax on Wednesday. 

A grave with nine bodies was found on Staraya Koptyakovskaya Road near Yekaterinburg in July 1991. The remains were identified as those of Emperor Nicholas II, his 46-year-old wife Alexandra Fyodorovna, their daughters Olga, 22, Tatyana, 21, and Anastasia, 17, and their servants Yevgeny Botkin, 53, Anna Demidova, 40, Aloizy Trupp, 62, and Ivan Kharitonov, 48.

The remains of two more people were discovered during archaeological excavation works 70 kilometers south of the first grave on July 26, 2007. The remains have still not been buried, but numerous expert analyses indicate that the remains were most likely those of Tsesarevich Alexey and his sister Maria.

The Investigative Committee said in January 2011 that it had completed an investigation into the death of Nicholas II, his family members and entourage and closed the criminal case.

The Russian Orthodox Church has still not recognized the remains interred in Peter and Paul Cathedral as those of Nicholas II and his family members and entourage, claiming that it was not convinced by the proof of their authenticity that was presented.

© Interfax. March 21, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 4:36 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 21 March 2015 4:42 AM EDT
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Monday, 2 March 2015
The Reforms of Nicholas II and the Last Hurrah of the Imperial Uniform
Topic: Nicholas II

Tsar Nicholas II wearing the uniform of a Russian soldier
Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the March 2, 2015 edition of Russia Beyond the Headlines. The author Alexander Vershinin, owns the copyright of the work presented below.

The last years of the 19th century saw Russian military dress becoming increasingly austere. But when Russia’s last tsar, Nicholas II, came to the throne, he decided that the uniforms were lacking in glamor and needed the incorporation of elements that reflected Russia’s past military glory.

During his 1881-1894 reign, Tsar Alexander III extended his taste for simplicity to his army too. Fancy braiding and plumes were stripped from the uniforms of soldiers and officers, and resplendent Guards outfits and other extravagant regular-issue items were consigned to the past.

Not for long, however. Alexander’s son Nicholas II, the last Russian Emperor, shared the passion of many of his predecessors for war games, parades and flashy uniforms, and began reviving some traditions.

Nicholas II regarded ceremonial uniform elements as an integral part of military life – and all the better if they bore reminders of past glories. Shortly after he took the throne in 1894, the new tsar initiated a reform of cavalry uniforms. The new outfits resembled those worn by the Russian troops who took Paris in 1814, with close-fitting, double-breasted jackets and colored trimming on the collar and cuffs. And in place of the simple leather sword belt introduced by Alexander III, the braided ceremonial galloon made a comeback.

However, in 1904 the landmark decision was also taken to develop khaki uniforms for soldiers and officers. In the meantime, the plain white army uniforms and caps of the previous reign were retained, with disastrous results: When the Tsar’s forces went into battle in the 1904-05 Russo-Japanese they made conspicuous targets for the enemy gunners. So much so that soldiers took to dying their own uniforms to reduce their visibility.

In 1907, the entire army was kitted out in khaki uniforms, and a peaked cap was finally adopted as the principal headgear. Wide fatigues that tucked into boots completely replaced tight britches, and only cavalrymen retained their gray britches with colored piping. The officers’ white tunic and shirt were replaced by drab uniforms with breast pockets and metal buttons, while soldiers were issued with tunics with pockets but sewn with buttons made of compressed leather.

The army was also issued with new dress uniforms for ceremonial occasions. Soldiers wore double-breasted jackets with colored piping, officers’ regiment numbers were embroidered in gold on their jackets, and generals wore a special decoration in the form of oak leaves.

In a bid to boost morale in the recently defeated forces, a number of more distinctive uniform elements harked back to Russia’s glorious military past.

Some units were issued with the long-forgotten shako cylindrical hat, modeled on those worn by Russian soldiers in 1812. The Grenadier Regiment received an 18th century-style gold braid aiguillette on the right shoulder bearing the monogram of Catherine II. Officers’ silver sash belts resembled those worn under the revered military commander Alexander Suvorov in the 18th century.

But the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 gave the Russian soldier no occasion to savor the new dress uniform, which was stored away since it had no application at the front.

Officers had to wear the soldier’s uniform, while all bright or shiny elements like buttons and stars on the shoulder straps were painted in drab colors to make them invisible to the enemy.

The braided sword belt was replaced with a leather one that crossed at the back and attached to a belt fitted with a revolver holster and a sheath for an edged weapon. The ranks also began to wear a tunic modeled on that worn by the allied British Army.

Material shortages also brought changes in uniform design. Troops on the Caucasian front were allowed to wear the traditional cherkeska homespun gray cloth jacket, while leather shortages led to the broad replacement of long boots with short boots and puttees.

But such was the confidence that Russian troops would again parade through the defeated enemy capitals of Berlin and Vienna that special dress outfits were made in advance.

In another echo of past eras, the tall budenovka felt hat was specially modeled on the ancient Russian warrior’s helmet for celebrations marking the anniversary of the Romanov dynasty. A long greatcoat sewn with a vertical array of straps also evoked the past archer’s caftan, and was meant to symbolize the triumph of the Slavic spirit over the perennial German enemy.

The war dragged on beyond all expectations, however, and ultimately led to the 1917 Revolution. The newly designed uniform was inherited by the Red Army, and in the years to come came to symbolize Soviet might.

© Alexander Vershinin / Russia Beyond the Headlines. 02 March, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 4:12 PM EST
Updated: Monday, 2 March 2015 4:16 PM EST
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Sunday, 1 March 2015
Last Survivor Who Followed Tsar Nicholas II into Exile Dies
Topic: Nicholas II

Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the February 20, 2015 edition of The Somerset County Gazette, who own the copyright of the work presented below Corrections to the text have been made by Paul Gilbert.
Magdalina Roberts, the last survivor of those who followed Tsar Nicholas II and Imperial family of Russia into exile at Tobolsk, in Siberia, died at Wrantage, Somerset, England aged 97.

Mrs Roberts, nee Kipasto, was named after the St Petersburg casualty hospital St Magdalina, where she was born on June 29, 1917, because her mother had been queuing for bread nearby and was too far from the nursing home that had been booked for her birth.

It was after the February Revolution and Russia was in chaos.

Her maternal grandfather, Alexei Andreevich Volkov, was Valet de Chambre to the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna and accompanied the Imperial family into exile.

Three months later Magda was taken with her grandmother, mother, brother and sister to Tobolsk, a journey of several days by train and river steamer, where they stayed in rooms and later at the Ivanovski Monastry.

After the Bolshevik Revolution of October 1917, her grandfather Volkov was taken prisoner in May 1918, and jailed in Ekaterinburg, along with the four Grand Duchesses and remaining staff.

The Tsar and his family were murdered on July 17 and a week later Volkov was removed to a forest outside of Perm, where he then escaped from the Bolsheviks.

He spent the next three months living rough in Siberia before rejoining his family in Tobolsk and travelling east to Manchuria, where they lived for three years, then joining Magda’s father in Estonia.

In 1940 the Soviet Union occupied Estonia and in June 1941, as the Germans invaded, Magda's mother was arrested and sentenced to seven years’ labour in the Vyatka Gulag, Siberia.

In 1944 to escape the advancing Red Army, Magda moved to Latvia, then Salzwedel, in Germany, then in 1945 to Peine, in the British Occupation Zone.

There she met Major Leonard Roberts MC, of the Somerset Light Infantry, coming with him to England in 1948 ahead of their wedding at Wolverhampton.

After convalescing from TB, she joined her husband in the Cameroons and Nigeria, where he eventually became the Acting Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Defence.

During this time, at an official reception attended by Leonid Brezhev of the Soviet Union, Magda scornfully told him thought of Soviet rule in Estonia.

Magda, who died on February 14, lived in Cheshire and London before moving to Somerset in 1989. Major Roberts died in 2005.

She is survived by her children Nina and Guy and grandchildren Thurstan, Sarah and Clare. 
© Somerset County Gazette. 01 March, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 4:06 AM EST
Updated: Monday, 2 March 2015 4:41 PM EST
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Thursday, 19 February 2015
Nicholas II Memorial to be Established at Livadia
Topic: Nicholas II

Natalia Poklonskaya seated at her desk, which is highlighted by a portrait of Emperor Nicholas II  
A memorial dedicated to Emperor Nicholas II and his family, will be constructed at Livadia Palace, in the Crimea. Crimean prosecutor Natalia Poklonskaya will pay for the construction of the memorial from her own personal funds. The announcement was made on Thursday, February 19th, by the Crimean Minister of Culture of Crimea, Arina Novoselskaya.

Poklonskaya is a proud patron of the Livadia Palace-Museum, the former Imperial residence of Emperor Nicholas II from 1911-1917. In October 2014, she presented Livadia Palace-Museum with more than 80 photographs of Emperor Nicholas II and his family. She holds great personal respect for Russia’s last tsar, and even keeps a framed portrait of Nicholas II on her desk. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin appointed Natalia Poklonskaya Prosecutor of the Republic of Crimea on May 2, 2014. After the reunification of the Crimea to Russia in July 2014, Poklonskaya was presented the Imperial Order of St. Anastasia by the Head of the Russian Imperial House, HIH Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna.
For more information on Natalia Poklonskaya, please refer to the following articles: 
Crimean Prosecutor Delivers 80 Photos of Nicholas II to Livadia Exhibit
Poklonskaya Replaces Putin Photo with Nicholas II
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 19 February, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:44 AM EST
Updated: Friday, 27 February 2015 8:21 AM EST
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Tuesday, 10 February 2015
Notebook of Tsar Nicholas II with Sketches of Jewellery Items
Topic: Nicholas II

Between 1889 and 1913 Nicholas II, Grand Duke, Tsesarevich and Emperor of Russia, painted his jewellery in a small album as a private record of his collection. His watercolours - some of which were created by jewellers such as Fabergé and Cartier - give a realistic picture of what the tsar was wearing as jewellery.

The jewel album of Tsar Nicholas II was re-discovered in the 1990s in the archives of the Moscow Kremlin Museum. It consisted of 82 pages and a total of 305 watercolour drawings of his personal collection of men's jewellery.

In 1997, the publishing firm Ermitage issued a facsimile of the album, entitled The Jewel Album of Nicholas II and a Collection Private Photographs of the Russian Imperial Family.

For more information on this rare and exquisite record of Romanov jewels, please refer to the following link:

Notebook of Tsar Nicholas II with Sketches of Jewellery Items 

+ 10 Photographs & Illustrations

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 10 February, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 4:58 PM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 10 February 2015 6:01 PM EST
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