THE ALEXANDER PALACE
||| THE ROMANOVS
||| REIGN OF NICHOLAS II
||| PALACES & RESIDENCES
||| ROYAL RUSSIA NEWS
||| ROYAL RUSSIA VIDEOS |||
||| VISIT OUR ROMANOV BOOKSHOP ||| ROMANOV & RUSSIAN LINKS |||
||| RETURN TO ROYAL RUSSIA - DIRECTORY ||| RETURN TO WELCOME TO ROYAL RUSSIA |||
The Berlin Royal Porcelain Manufacture, 1824:
In 1840 the vase was presented to the Russian court by Friedrich Wilhelm III, father of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, wife of Nicholas I, and accomodated in the Alexander Palace since 1843. A bouquet made of bronze serves as candlesticks, which changed the purpose of the item, was manufactured in St. Petersburg in the middle of the 19th century at the factory of F. Shopen.
In the days of the last owners of the Palace, the vase-candelabrum was in the Oval Hall, which was in the center of the suite of state rooms created by G. Quarenghi at the end of the 18th century and which have remained unchanged for two hundred years. At the beginning of the 20th century, Nicholas II used this room for the reception of different delegations, and on Sundays the family and their close friends were served breakfast here.
In the Oval Hall, the family of Nicholas II spent their last restless night in the Palace, and early in the morning in August 1917, they left through the doors leading to the park, the Alexander Palace for the last time.
Cossacks of the Ataman Regiment
Artist: E. Deteil (1842-1912)
On the canvas displayed in the Empress’s room, the painter depicted the Cossacks returning at sunset to the barracks in Krasnoe Selo (the Red Village), a traditional place for the army camps in summer and the grounds were manoeuvres for the guard and army regiments were held. In the suburbs of the capital, the Cossacks practiced in the fields, woods and hills, and in the evening came back to the camps. This scene is portrayed on the canvas: the horses tired from the exercises move slowly, and the horseman sing their favourite songs: Talking With a Soul Mate, Late at Night From a Wood, and You, Vanka, Come in Vain.
Seal of Emperor Nicholas II
Peterhof Lapidary Works, 1900s
In the afternoon, Nicholas II usually worked in a small cozy study called the Working or Old Cabinet (this was before the new State Cabinet was built). The desk in this study was full of family photographs and various writing utensils. Among them were a miniature seal in the form of the Hat of Monomakh, a box of long matches, blue and red pencils used by Nicholas II for writing resolutions, ashtrays, pipes, dominoes, pen wipers, and writing pads. Almost all these things were related to some memorable event and were given as presents by his children and other members of the family, or presented by the troop units, etc.
One of the seals of the Emperor had the initials NA, which represented a monogram of Nicholas Alexandrovich as a Grand Duke, known from the ex-libris of the Grand Duke in the books from the library in the Alexander Palace.
Uniform (collar, cuirass, helmet) of the Chief of the Prussian Royal 6th Cuirassiers’
The cuirassier dress-coat belonging to Nicholas II was stored in the Alexander Palace together with other tunics and clothes in a special Garderobe – a small room located next to the Emperor’s Restroom. The wardrobe of Nicholas II numbered several hundred military uniforms and civil clothes. Among them were: surtouts, dress-coats of the guard and army regiments, a greatcoat, a deer fur coat worn for hunting, a Caucasian overcoat, fur coats, shirts and underwear manufactured in the atelier of Nordenstrem in the capital, footwear manufactured and supplied to the imperial household by Veis from St. Petersburg and Sitnov in Moscow, and a hussar pelisse and a dolman worn by Nicholas II for his wedding which took place on November 14, 1894 in the church of the Winter Palace.
Cuirassier Officer’s Broadsword (right)
The heir-tsesarevich was the owner of the officer’s sabre, presented to him by officers of the 13th Alexander Hussar Regiment of Her Majesty Empress Alexandra Feodorovna in 1907, and owner of the Cossack’s sabre, that was presented to him by officers of the 1st Orenburg Cossack Regiment of His Imperial Highness Heir Tsesarevich in 1914.
Nicholas II wore this armoury during the parades and fetes as a general and admiral of European armies and navies, and the heir-Tsesarevich Alexei Nikolaevich – as the chief of Russian regiments.
Marie-Antoinette and Her Children
Tapestry from a painting by M.L.E. Vigee-Lebrun
In the spring of 1902, the French president, E. Loubet visited Russia and brought as a present for the Russian Empress a tapestry made from a painting Marie-Antoinette and Her Children by Vigee-Lebrun. The tapestry was hung in the Corner Living Room of the Alexander Palace opposite the bureau at which Alexandra Feodorovna used to work. There was also a bronze statuette of a woman holding a branch of myrtle, the embodiment of France, presented to Nicholas II by the city of Paris.
K. Isenberg (1859-1911)
St. Petersburg, 1908-1911
A high-relief composition on a huge cross is mounted on a grey granite rock with a fragment of the ship and depicts the most tragic moment when the sailors open the Kingston valves and a hatch. On the backside of the monument there is a detailed description of the sailors’ feat.
The monument was opened on May 10, 1911 at the place where Kamennoostovsky Prospect began and can be seen there to this day. Emperor Nicholas II was present at the formal opening ceremony.
A model of the Steregushchy monument made of gesso was placed in the State (New) Cabinet of the Emperor, and a bronze casting was exhibited in the Drawing Room in the right wing. It was accompanied by other personal armoury of Nicholas II and his son.
Books from the Library of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna
At leisure, Nicholas enjoyed reading to Alix and the children. Books have always been a welcome gift in the household. Family members presented books to each other on different occasions and that can be seen in autographs and inscriptions in different volumes. For instance, the title page of Omar Khayyam’s Poetry (Khayyam Omar. Rubayat. London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1912) bears an inscription in pencil: “For my darling Alix, Xmas 1912, fr. Nicky”. The volume of English Sacred Poetry (London, George Routledge & Sons, 1877) bears an inscription by Queen Victoria: “Alix fr. Grandmama, Xmas”. The collection of lithographs, entitled Heavenly Dew (London, not dated) is inscribed by Princess Maud, daughter of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra: “For dearful Alicky for her confirmation, March 1888, from her mail-loving cousin, Maudy”.
Uniform of the Grand Duchess Tatiana Nikolaevna,
St. Petersburg, the workshop of A. Kitayev, 1911
The people who were familiar with the Imperial family, remembered Grand Duchess Tatiana Nikolaevna as an enchanting and a mature person “with a completely set character – direct, pure and honest”. She liked order and had a very developed sense of duty. It was Tatiana who looked after her mother when she was unwell, was in charge of the family daily routines, took care of Alexei Nikolaevich. She was quick-minded, liked homemaking and was very close to the Empress. As Alexandra Feodorovna’s valet, Alexei Andreevich Volkov recollected, “they were two friends”.
It is known that the Empress chose and ordered dresses for her daughters herself in order not to spoil them. The only liberty in her daughters’ clothes allowed by Alexandra Feodorovna were dress-coats with skirts matching the uniforms of the regiments of whom they were the chiefs of. “The Grand Duchesses were very proud of their dress-coats and regiments named after them”, wrote Lili Dehn. “They were always present at the parades dressed in uniforms of their regiments, which they would do with great pleasure”.
The Icon Vera (Faith),Nadezhda ( Hope),Lyubov ( Love) and Their Mother Sophia
Vologda (?), 1900s
The icon depicting St. Martyr sisters Vera, Nadezhda, Lyubov and their mother Sophia were executed by pagans for the Christian faith in Rome in 137, was presented to the heir to the Russian throne, Tsesarevich Alexei Nikolaevich by a resident of the Vologda region. On the backside of the board the following text is burned: “To glorify the birthday of our dear heir to the throne, Tsesarevich and Grand Duke Alexei Nikolaevich , given on 30 July, 1904 by a peasant woman who will pray to God and ask Him to give him all creature comforts and salvation and good health for many years to be. 1908, from a loyal subject of the monarchy, Nadezhda Shestakova from the village of Mazovka, the Chuchkovsky district of the Totminsk area of the Vologda region”.
The icon hung in the heir’s bedroom until 1917. Religion played a significant role in his upbringing and education. In the tsesarevich’s bedroom alone there were over 50 icons presented to him my his sisters and relatives.
Christening Clothes of the Tsesarevich Alexis Nikolaevich
St. Petersburg, 1904
The baby boy was christened in the church of the Grand Palace in Peterhof on August 11, 1904. “A memorable day of our dearest son’s christening”, wrote Nicholas II in his diary. “The morning was sunny and warm. Before 9.30 am in front of our house along the sea road there stood gilded carriages and platoons of the Guards, the Hussars and the Cossack chieftains. At five minutes to 10 the procession started . . . The christening began at 11 o’clock. Learned later that little Alexei was perfectly calm. [ . . . ] Mama and Uncle Alexei were sponsors”.
The ceremony was opulent and magnificent. The State Carriage, in which Alexei was carried was driven by eight horses in pairs, the cortege was also impressive. Numerous grand relatives and guests arrived for the christening.
According to tradition, on the christening day the signs of the orders of Andrei Pervozvany, Alexander Nevsky, the White Eagle, Anna and Stanislav were carried into the church on a gold plate and set on a the tsaesarevich.
Upon the completion of the christening ceremony, again 301 cannon shots were fired and the bells of all the churches in Peterhof and the capital rang. A formal breakfast for 396 persons was served in the Grand Palace.
At night, St. Petersburg, Moscow and Peterhof were decorated with illuminations.
Uniform of Tsesarevich Alexis Nikolaevich
On July 30, 1904 Emperor Nicholas II reported to the commander-in-chief of the Manchurian army Lieutenant-General Kurapatkin: “Today our Lord gave to Her Majesty and me a son, Alexei. I am happy to report to you about the grace of God to Russia and to us. I appoint the new-born Heir-Tsesarevich Alexei as colonel-in-chief of the 12the East-Siberian Rifle Regiment in order to share our joy with the various troops of the acting army.
Tsarskoe Selo Red Service
St. Petersburg, Imperial Porcelain Factory, 1900s
The Red Tsarskoe Selo Service was the last state service manufactured by the Imperial Porcelain Factory.
There was no special dining room in the Alexander Palace: “the sovereign did not like to dine in one special room, and the dining table was lain in the room which was chosen for dinner on a particular evening”. On week days, dinner was usually served in the Empress’s Pallisander Room and formal dinners were given in the Oval Hall.
Easter Eggs With the Monograms of Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna
St. Petersburg, Imperial Porcelain Factory, 1900s
The last Easter spent by the Imperial family in the Alexander Palace, while under house arrest was on April 2, 1917. Nicholas II, who had already abdicated, recorded in his diary: “a joyful day of Christ’s Resurrection. Before breakfast exchanged traditional kisses with all the staff. And Alix presented them with china eggs saved from the old stock. All in all, there were 135 people.
At the bottom of each egg was the Empress’s cipher AФ and a Red Cross which signified that since 1899 Alexandra Feodorovna was a patron of the Tsarskoe Selo Committee of the Red Cross Community where she worked as a nurse between 1914 and 1917.
For the last Easter celebrations the Empress, with the help of her daughters, put on the Easter eggs, the red crosses – symbols of Mercy.
“They all are like one person in their souls” (from the letter of A.F. to J.A. Den. Tobolsk, March 2/15 1918)
© The State Museum - Tsarskoye Selo ~ © ГМЗ ~ Царское Село