Colour Photos of the Yelagin Palace
Before World War II

Photo: © UC Santa Cruz Special Collections

The photographs in this collection are from the UC Santa Cruz Special Collections. © 2011. All rights reserved.

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Photo: © UC Santa Cruz Special Collections

The Yelagin Palace is situated on the Yelagin Island in the Neva River, near St. Petersburg. It was constructed between 1818-1822 by Italian architect Carlo Rossi. The summer palace was designed for Alexander I's mother, the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna, who declared that she was too old to make daily trips to such distant Imperial residences at Pavlovsk and Gatchina. Alexander I bought the estate from Yelagin's heirs and asked Rossi to redesign the original Palladian villa, built during the reign of Empress Catherine II. Once completed, the interiors of the palace were decorated in the Neoclassical style by Giovanni Battista Scotti, Vasily Demuth-Malinovsky, and Stepan Pimenov.

After Maria Feodorovna's death, the palace remained empty for long periods of time. Nicholas II leased it to his prime ministers such as Sergei Witte, Pyotr Stolypin, and Ivan Goremykin. The Bolsheviks turned the palace compound into "a museum to the old way of life". During the Siege of Leningrad, the palace was damaged by a shell and burnt to the ground. It was rebuilt in the 1950s and currently houses a museum.

The photos in this article were taken in 1931, by the American traveller and photographer, Branson DeCou, who later colourized the slides himself. They are part of the Special Collections of the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Photo: © UC Santa Cruz Special Collections

Photo: © UC Santa Cruz Special Collections

Photo: © UC Santa Cruz Special Collections

Photo: © UC Santa Cruz Special Collections

Photo: © UC Santa Cruz Special Collections

Photo: © UC Santa Cruz Special Collections

Photo: © UC Santa Cruz Special Collections

Source & Copyright: UC Santa Cruz Special Collections
Edited by Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia
19 November, 2011