Topic: Vyrubova, Anna
A rare one day exhibition opened last week in the former home of Anna Vyrubova at Tsarskoye Selo. The Anna Vyrubova - A History in Photographs opened on July 17th at Vyrubova’s home which is situated at No. 4 Ulitsa Srednya, near both the Catherine and Alexander Palace’s.
The exhibition is a joint venture prepared by the Department of Culture, the Pushkin District Administration of St. Petersburg, the St. Petersburg SBD Chamber Choir, and the Yale University Library in New York City (USA).
Anna Vyrubova (1884-1964), was a lady-in-waiting, friend and confidante of the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna. Vyrubova purchased the house in 1907 and lived there up until 1917. It consisted of a dining room, a drawing room with an upright piano on which she played duets with the empress, and three bedrooms on the first floor. A telephone was installed in the Drawing Room with a direct line to the Alexander Palace nearby.
It was here at “Anna’s little cottage” that she received and entertained Emperor Nicholas II, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, their children, as well as Grigorii Rasputin.
Vyrubova describes her little abode in her memoirs, Memories of the Russian Court, published in 1923:
“. . . my little house in Tsarskoye Selo, its modest furnishings beautified by many gifts from the Empress. Among these gifts were some charming pictures and six exquisitely embroidered antique chairs. A silver-laden tea table helped to make the salon cozy, and I have many happy memories of intimate teas to which the Empress sent fruit and the Emperor the cherry brandy which he especially affected.
The little house, however, was far from being the luxurious palace in which I have often been pictured of living. As a matter of fact, it was frightfully cold in winter because the house had no stone foundation but rested on the frozen earth. Sometimes when the Emperor and Empress came to tea we sat with our feet on the sofa to keep warm. Once the Emperor jokingly told me that after a visit to my house he kept himself from freezing only by going directly to a hot bath.”
Anna Vyrubova’s former home as it looks today. It is situated at No. 4 Ulitsa Srednya, near both the Catherine and Alexander Palace’s.
Every day hundreds of visitors to Tsarskoye Selo walk past it not realizing the history behind the famous house with a Romanov legacy.
A former owner of Vyrubova’s house was Tepper de Ferguson (1768-1838), a composer and music teacher from the Tsarskoye Selo Lyceum. In the early 1800s, he taught music to Grand Duchesses Helena, Maria, Ekaterina, and Anna, the younger sisters of the Emperor Alexander I. In 1811-1812, he gave music lessons to Elizabeth Alexeievna (Louise of Baden), the Consort of Alexander I. Other notable guests included a young Alexander Pushkin, who along with his schoolmates attended musical evening parties at de Ferguson’s home.
Anna Vyrubova was an avid photographer, a hobby she shared with all the members of the last Russian Imperial family. She escaped to Finland in 1920, taking with her six Romanov family photo albums, containing hundreds of pictures taken between 1907 and 1915. The albums are indeed a truly remarkable survival. Today, they are held at the Beinecke Library, Yale University in the United States.
In recent years, the tiny lemon-yellow house on Ulitsa Srednya in Pushkin (Tsarskoye Selo) served as a wedding palace where the locals came to marry. Occasionally it hosts concerts, however, this is the first exhibition to my knowledge to be held in Anna Vyrubova’s former residence.
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 19 July, 2014