The Alexander Palace - Tsarskoye Selo
and Lower Dacha - Peterhof
Colour Photographs from 1931
by Branson DeCou

The Alexander Palace as it looked in 1931
Photo: Branson DeCou. Courtesy: University of California.

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THE ALEXANDER PALACE & LOWER DACHA
COLOUR PHOTOGRAPHS OF BY BERNARD DECOU

In 1971 the Library of the University of California received the photo legacy of photographer and travelogue lecturer Branson DeCou from his heirs. Between 1921 and 1941 DeCou traveled all over the world, and took about 8 thousand glass slides, not only on the historical monuments but also on the everyday life of the cities he visited. He then regularly held presentations with projected slides in various cities across the United States. The library has recently started the digitization of the hand-coloured slides.

DeCouís photo series of Russia were taken in 1931, and include Moscow, and St. Petersburg and vicinity. His collection of the former imperial residences at Tsarskoe Selo and Peterhof include some 30 photographs, and are particularly valuable, because exactly ten years after DeCouís visit, on 17 September 1941 the German army invaded the Catherine Palace, whose equipment they partly destroyed and partly took away. On DeCouís pictures, however, we can see the pre-occupation conditions. It was on the basis of such photos that the reconstruction of the palaces started some years later after the recapture by Soviet troops.

DeCou also made a series on the Alexander Palace at Tsarskoye Selo, seen below. This palace was built by Catherine II, follower of Neoclassicism with Giacomo Quarenghi in 1792 for her grandson, the future Czar Alexander I. In the 19th century this became the preferred residence for the Russian tsars instead of the Catherine Palace, including Nicholas II who lived here with his family from 1904 until their arrest in 1917. DeCou still saw intact the interiors designed in 1902 by the architect Roman Meltser, which were also destroyed in the Second World War.

Included in the collection below are several photographs from the interiors of the Lower Dacha Palace at Peterhof. There are no doubt many more to this collection.

It is important to note that these photographs have not been colourized by modern-day methods, these images are made from DeCou's original hand-coloured slides.

PAUL GILBERT
Founder & Web-Site Administrator, Royal Russia

NOTE: For more information, photographs, and videos of the restorations of the Alexander Palace, please refer to the list of news articles located at the bottom of this page.


The Alexander Palace exterior and entrance from the park (1931)
Photo: Branson DeCou. Courtesy: University of California.

The Alexander Palace rear exterior from the park (1931)
Photo: Branson DeCou. Courtesy: University of California.

The Alexander Palace east wing exterior which housed the private apartments of Nicholas II and his family (1931)
Photo: Branson DeCou. Courtesy: University of California.

The Alexander Palace, interior of the Empress Alexandra's dressing room (1931)
Photo: Branson DeCou. Courtesy: University of California.

The Alexander Palace, interior of the imperial bed room (1931)
Photo: Branson DeCou. Courtesy: University of California.

The Alexander Palace, interior of the Maple Room (1931)
Photo: Branson DeCou. Courtesy: University of California.

The Lower Dacha at Peterhof, interior of the dining room (1931)
Photo: Branson DeCou. Courtesy: University of California.

The Lower Dacha at Peterhof, interior of the New Study (1931)
Photo: Branson DeCou. Courtesy: University of California.

The Lower Dacha at Peterhof, the study of Emperor Nicholas II (1931)
Photo: Branson DeCou. Courtesy: University of California.