Alexander Palace to Re-Open in Summer 2020

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Members of the media get their first look at the Moorish Bathroom of Nicholas II

At long last, the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Reserve have broken their long silence on the re-opening of the Alexander Palace. On 24th October 2019, a press tour of the Alexander Palace was held,  in which members of the media were given a first-hand look at the progress of the restoration of the former Imperial residence.

The Alexander Palace was closed to visitors in August 2015. Since that time, an army of craftsmen, artists, and other experts have been working diigently to recreate the historic interiors of the private apartments of  Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, who made the palace their permanent residence from 1905

After numerous delays, the first eight interiors located on the first floor in the eastern wing of the palace, are now expected to open by the summer of 2020. The renovations have so far cost some 2 billion roubles ($42.7 million). 

In 2011, specialists from the Studio 44 architectural studio, led by Nikita Yavein, developed a project for the reconstruction, restoration, technical re-equipment and adaptation of the Alexander Palace for museum use. According to the project, the palace will become a multi-functional museum complex, which will include: permanent exhibition halls, halls for temporary exhibitions, halls for scientific research and conferences, a library, a children’s center, and premises for administration. On the ground floor (basement) there will be a cafe, lobbies with ticket offices, a cloak room, a tour desk, a museum store, as well as technical and auxiliary rooms. 

Work on the reconstruction, installation and restoration work was carried out in the basement of the building (basement deepening, reinforcement and waterproofing of foundations), most of the general construction work was performed in the above ground part of the building, as well as work on the installation of external and internal engineering networks, equipment and automation systems. Strengthening the supporting structure of the building. These works were carried out between 2012-2016.

The first visitors to discover the new historic interiors, in which the bulk of the work has already been completed, include the Reception, Working Study, Valet ‘s Room, and the Moorish Bathroom of Nicholas II, as well as the Suite, the Pallisandar (Rosewood) Room, the Mauve (Lilac) Boudoir, and the Imperial Bedroom of Alexandra Feodorovna.

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Map of the eastern wing of the Alexander Palace

In an effort to recreate the historic interiors, restorers have relied on amateur photographs of the rooms taken by members of the Imperial family, from the Russian state archives, and the 1917 auto-chromes, which provide them with the original colours of the interior elements and decoration. In addition, fabrics have been recreated for the decoration of the rooms, from original samples stored in the Tsarskoye Selo and Pavlovsk State Museum-Reserves. These include chintz (waxed cotton fabric with printed patterns) in the Imperial Bedroom, silk in the Mauve (Lilac) Boudoir, rep weaves (cotton and silk fabric) in the Pallisander (Rosewood) Living Room.

During the restoration, original elements of the historical decoration of the interiors were preserved, including oak wall panels, coffered wooden plafonds, and ceramic tiles.

Work is being carried out at the expense of funds allocated by the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation; the museum’s own funds, as well as charitable donations (the Transsoyuz Charitable Fund allocated 17 million rubles for the restoration of the Marble (Mountain) Hall with a slide). Funds from the federal budget were allocated for general construction work between 2012-2017. Since 2016, the museum has been additionally investing money that it has earned from admission ticket sales to the nearby Catherine Palace. The final completion of work on the Alexander Palace is planned no earlier than 2022.

With the opening of the eight historic interiors, visitors will also have the opportunity to visit the Emperor’s New Study, as well as the rooms of the Library, Empress Alexandra’s Formal Reception Room, and the Maple Drawing Room, the latter of which will be recreated with a historical spatial solution (after the Great Patriotic War, this hall was divided into two), the mezzanine and plaster molding, built-in furniture have been recreated.

The personal apartments for Emperor Nicholas II (then Tsesarevich and Grand Duke Nicholas Alexandrovich) and his wife Alexandra Fedorovna were placed in the former “retinue” half of the Alexander Palace. Alterations began in 1894 under the leadership of Alexander Vidov and Alexander Bach. Then, after the death of Vidov, they were briefly led by Silvio Danini, who, in turn, was replaced by Roman Meltzer.

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The main corridor in the eastern wing of the Alexander Palace

Reception of Nicholas II

From 1905, the Alexander Palace became the main imperial residence, and therefore the epicenter of the state, and the layout of the working premises strictly followed the court ceremonial. Officials who arrived for an audience with the tsar, arrived in the Reception Hall, where the adjutants were constantly on duty. The room was decorated by the company of the Meltzer brothers in 1899. The walls are surrounded by high massive oak panels with shelves; an oak coffered ceiling and a fireplace of dark green marble in an oak casing with a pyramidal finish in the corner of the interior complete its decoration. The reception has largely been preserved, the finish of which was completed after the German occupation of 1941-1944.

Work in the Reception Room of Nicholas II : restoration of oak panels, parquet, fireplace, ceiling and fabric, manufacturing of a built-in sofa.

The Working Study of Nicholas II

Decorated in the years 1896-1897, it was here that the emperor received his ministers daily, listened to reports, and reviewed documents. The decoration and furniture of the Study – panels, built-in wardrobes, as well as a desk and chairs – were made of walnut wood. Here was the personal library of Nicholas II , which totaled about 700 volumes of military, historical literature, books on state affairs, fiction and periodicals. The interior was destroyed during the Nazi occupation.

Work in the office of Nicholas II : recreation of curtains, fireplace, panels, walnut furniture, carpet.

Moorish Bathroom of Nicholas II

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Tsarskoye Selo Director Olga Taratynova discusses the tiles in the Moorish Bathroom © Fontanka.ru

Decorated in the Moorish style, the emperor’s bathroom was designed with a swimming pool with a capacity of more than a thousand buckets of water. The pool was filled with water of the right temperature in a few minutes. From the corridor, the pool was separated by an openwork partition made of maple, from which a ceiling was also made. On the site in front of the pool was a fireplace, tiled with oriental ornaments. The pool and the design of the bathroom were carried out according to the project and under the guidance of the architect and engineer Rochefort. In the apartments of Nicholas II, the Moorish was the only room for relaxation. The interior was lost during the Great Patriotic War.

Works in the Moorish restroom: during the cleaning of the room under the floor, fragments of the original ceramics were discovered, which allowed restorers to more fully and accurately recreate the pattern and determine the color of the tiles. Recreated: fireplace, pool, partition, fabrics, carpet.

Pallisander (Rosewood) Living Room

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Rosewood or Pallisander Living Room © Press Service of the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum

This interior was designed by Roman Meltzer in 1896-1897. The architect chose rosewood as the main finishing material – an expensive wood, which was imported from abroad. High wall panels with a shelf, framing of a fireplace installed in a corner and furniture were made of rosewood. In the first years of their life in the palace, Nicholas II and Alexandra Fedorovna often spent time in this room, which also became a favourite place for breakfast and dinner of the Imperial family.

Works in the Rosewood living room : fabric patterns of walls, drapes, panels and a rosewood fireplace decorated with fabric inserts and facets with special facets were recreated according to historical samples .

Mauve (Lilac) Boudoir

Over the two decades of Alexandra Fedorovna’s life in Russia, the Mauve or Lilac Boudoir – her favorite room in the Alexander Palace, created by Roman Meltzer – has never been redesigned, despite the change in artistic fashion at the turn of the century. To decorate the interior, silk – mauve with a pattern of interwoven vertical threads – was ordered from the Parisian company Charles Bourget. The wood panels at the bottom of the walls and the furniture designed by Meltzer in imitation of the Rococo style were painted in two colors resembling ivory. Many furnishings, a corner sofa, half cabinets are built-in and connected with wall panels. Here the emperor and the empress with their children often drank coffee after breakfast, gathered for evening tea, and it was in this room where Alexandra Feodorovna spent many hours working and reading.

Works in the Mauve (Lilac) Boudoir: according to historical patterns, fabric upholstery of walls, curtains, built-in furniture, carpet, wood panels, fireplace, picturesque frieze were recreated.

Imperial Bedroom

In 1873, mother of Alexandra Fedorovna, Princess Alice stayed here, who travelled to Russia for the wedding of her brother, the Duke of Edinburgh, and Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna. The bedroom was arranged in this room without significant alterations. The architect tightened the walls and the partition with the English chinet ( Charles Hindley ) chosen by Alexandra Fedorovna .

Work in the Bedroom : recreated alcove, fabric upholstery, curtains, carpet.

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Detail of the Maple Drawing Room © Anastasia and Denis Smirnov

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The New Study of Nicholas II © Press Service of the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum

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Staircase in the New Study of Nicholas II © Anastasia and Denis Smirnov

Other rooms which are also being restored include the New Study of Nicholas II, in which the balcony connecting it to the Maple Room will be reconstructed, the Marble or Mountain, which once housed a great slide, taking up half of the room, as well as the Small and Large Libraries.

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Marble or Mountain Hall © Fontanka.ru

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Marble or Mountain Hall © Fontanka.ru

REFERENCE

The Alexander Palace was constructed in 1792 by order of the Empress Catherine II, for her beloved grandson, Grand Duke Alexander Pavlovich (future Emperor Alexander ) and Grand Duchess Elizabeth Alekseevna. The creator of the project is the Italian architect Giacomo Quarenghi. From 1905, the palace became the permanent residence of Emperor Nicholas II, who was born here in 1868. The last 12 years of the reign of the Russian emperor and his family were spent here, It was from here that the Imperial family were sent into exile to Tobolsk on 1st August 1917.

In 1918, the Alexander Palace was opened to visitors as a state museum. Later, the NKVD (People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs) used the west wing as a rest home, and the orphanage was located on the second floor of the east wing, in the former rooms of the children of Nicholas II .

During the fascist occupation of the city of Pushkin, the German headquarters and the Gestapo were located here, in the cellars there was a prison. The square in front of the palace was turned into a cemetery for SS soldiers.

After the war, the palace was mothballed and in 1946 transferred to the USSR Academy of Sciences to store the collections of the Institute of Russian Literature. The building was being prepared for a large-scale exhibition dedicated to the 150th anniversary of A.S. Pushkin. In this regard, in 1947-1951, restoration work began in the building, during which it was planned to restore the preserved interiors of Quarenghi and surviving fragments of decoration. During the work, many elements of the Maple and Rosewood living rooms, as well as the Moorish restroom, were destroyed. In 1951, the Alexander Palace was transferred to the Naval Department, and the palace collection, which was part of the evacuated items in the Central repository of museum funds of suburban palaces-museums, was received at the Pavlovsk Palace Museum.

The palace was transferred to the jurisdiction of the Tsarskoye Selo Museum-Reserve in October 2009, and in June 2010, during the celebration of the 300th anniversary of Tsarskoye Selo, three State Halls were opened after restoration.

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The Alexander Palace remains surrounded by a fence

Source: Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Reserve. Translated from Russian  by Paul Gilbert

© Paul Gilbert. 31 October 2019

 

 

When Holy Russia’s Bells Were Silenced

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A young boy inspects one of the bells felled by the Bolsheviks

Prior to the 1917 Revolution, more than 1 million bronze bells rang in churches, cathedrals and monasteries throughout the Russian Empire.

After the October Revolution of 1917, church bells were especially despised by the new Bolshevik order. Bell ringing went against the party’s anti-religious campaign, and by the beginning of the 1930s all church bells had been silenced. Under Soviet law, all church buildings, as well as bells, were placed at the disposal of the Local Councils, which “based on state and public needs, used them at their own discretion.” In 1933, at a secret meeting of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee, a plan for the procurement of bell bronze was initiated. Each republic and region received a quarterly quota for their respective procurement of bell bronze. Within a few years, in a well organized campaign, nearly everything which represented Orthodox Russia was destroyed.

The closure of more than 20 specialized bell factories led to the loss of skills in this ancient craft, and the professional knowledge, handed down by many generations of Russian foundry workers, was lost. The bell manufacturers in the city of Valdai, worked longer than others, but by 1930, they ceased to exist.

Until now, no one can say even approximately how many bells have been destroyed over the past century. Some of them were lost when churches were demolished, some were destroyed intentionally, while others destroyed “for the needs of industrialization.” Even the bells cast by glorified masters for some of Russia’s oldest and most famous Orthodox places of worship did not escape this fate. They included the Ivan the Great Bell Tower (Moscow), Christ the Saviour (Moscow), and St. Isaac’s Cathedrals (Leningrad); the Solovetsky, Valaam, Simonov, Savvino-Storozhevsky monasteries; along with thousands of chapels, churches, cathedrals, and monasteries throughout the former Russian Empire. In 1929, a 1,200-pound bell was removed from the Kostroma Assumption Cathedral. In 1931, many bells of the Savior-Euthymius, Rizopolozhensky, Pokrovsky monasteries of Suzdal were sent for remelting. There were no bells left in Moscow.

The story of the destruction of the famous bells (19 bells with a total weight of 8,165 pounds) of the Trinity-Sergius Lavra was particularly tragic – they were handed over to the Rudmetalltorg (the Metal Scrap Trust in Moscow). In his diary about the events in the Trinity-Sergius Lavra, the writer M. Prishvin wrote: “I witnessed the death … the majestic bells of the Godunov era were felled – it was like a spectacle of public execution.”

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The spoils of revolution and Soviet dogma

Most church bells were destroyed. A small number of bells, which were of artistic value, were registered with the People’s Commissariat of Education, which disposed of them based on “state needs.” Other bells seized were sent to large construction sites of Volkhovstroy and Dneprostroy for technical needs, such as the manufacture of boilers for dining rooms! The Moscow authorities found one peculiar use of some of the Moscow bells in 1932. Bronze high reliefs cast from 100 tons of church bells were used for the construction of the Lenin Library.

To eliminate the most valuable bells, it was decided to sell them abroad. “The most appropriate way to eliminate our unique bells is to export them abroad and sell them there on a par with other luxury goods …”, wrote the ideological atheist Gidulyanov.

The bells of the Danilov Monastery were sold to Harvard University in the United States, while the unique bells of the Sretensky Monastery were sold to England. A large number of bells went to private collections.

The gateway 30-meter bell tower of the Church of Simeon Stolpnik in Moscow, was demolished on the eve of World War II, fearing it as a possible landmark for enemy air raids. Holy Russia was silenced, depriving it of a single ringing bell.

© Paul Gilbert. 30 October 2019

‘The Holy Tsar in Crimea’ – vintage newsreels from Livadia, 1902-1914

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In 2018, a DVD entitled ‘Святой Царь в Крыму (Ливадия, 1902-1914)’ / Tr. ‘The Holy Tsar in Russia. Livadia, 1902-1914)’ was issued in Russia. The release of the DVD was timed to the 100th anniversary of the death of Emperor Nicholas II, on 17th July 1918.

The 36-minute DVD is a compilation of 24 newsreels, all filmed at Livadia, the Imperial estate and residence of the last Tsar and his family. All 24 newsreels are accompanied by pre-revolutionary marches and waltzes.

We see vintage newsreel footage of Emperor Nicholas II, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, and their five children, set against the backdrop of the old wooden palaces in Livadia, and after 1911, set against the backdrop of Nikolai Krasnov’s elegant white Crimea granite palace Neo-Renaissance-style, which has survived to this day.

The vintage newsreels feature a variety of events at Livadia, including the celebration of the birthday of Empress Alexandra Fedorovna and Holy Easter, White Flower Day, parades and receptions. They are surrounded by officers, Court officials, and members of their extended family, including the Grand Dukes and Grand Duchesses, Count Frederiks, Anna Vyrubova, among many others.

The last time the family of Nicholas II visited in Livadia, was in the spring of 1914. They were due to return in the autumn, however, the outbreak of the First World War on 1st August put an end to this visit. 

‘The Holy Tsar in Russia. Livadia, 1902-1914)’ – Part I (duration 18 minutes

‘The Holy Tsar in Russia. Livadia, 1902-1914)’ – Part II (duration 18 minutes

© Paul Gilbert. 27 October 2019

NEW Richly Illustrated Pictorials on the Romanovs, their Palaces and Jewels

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I am pleased to offer three NEW titles on the Romanov’s, their palaces and their jewels, from my online bookshop. Please note that a portion from the sale of each book goes towards my work, which includes the translation of articles and news from Russian archival and media sources, as well research to help clear the name of Russia’s much slandered tsar Nicholas II. Thank you for your support!

Russia. Art, Royalty and the Romanovs
by Caroline de Guitaut & Stephen Patterson

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The catalogue to the exhibition held in the Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, London (2018), and Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh Scotland (2019)

Imported from UK. Large Hard Cover Edition. 496 pages. More than 400 Colour photographs! 

The Splendor of St. Petersburg. Art & Life in Late Imperial Palaces of Russia
by Thiery Morel & Elizaveta Renne

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An unprecedented tour of the most stunning and architecturally significant palatial homes of Russia’s nobility, many not previously photographed and inaccessible to visitors.

Imported from UK. Large Hard Cover Edition. 304 pages. 100s of Colour and Black & White photographs!

JEWELS! The Glitter of the Russian Court
by A. Bijl

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The catalogue to the exhibition currently running at the Hermitage Amsterdam (2019).

Imported from the Netherlands. Large Soft Cover Edition. 240 pages. More than 500 Colour photographs!

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© Paul Gilbert. 25 October 2019

Livadia Hosts Nicholas II Conference, 20-22 October 2019

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Earlier this week, Livadia Palace was the venue for the international conference ‘Crimea and the Fate of the Romanov Dynasty. The Beginning and End of the Reign of Emperor Nicholas II.’

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Grand Duke George Mikhailovich seated under a portrait of Emperor Nicholas II

The conference was attended by leading Russian historians, publicists, archivists and writers. Several descendants of the Romanov dynasty were also present, including Grand Duke George Mikhailovich.

The objective of the conference was to discuss the truth about the Tsar’s family and the and the achievements that Russia made during the reign of Nicholas II.

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Grand Duke George Mikhailovich in the Working Study of Nicholas II

The international conference was timed to the 125th anniversary of the accession to Orthodoxy of Princess Alix of Hesse-Darmstadt – the future Empress Alexandra Feodorovna and the 100th anniversary of the escape of members of the Russian Imperial House from Crimea.

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Grand Duke George Mikhailovich seated at the desk of Nicholas II in the Tsar’s Working Study

In addition, this year marks 125 years since the death of Emperor Alexander III in Livadia. Crimea played a crucial role in the fate of the Romanovs, who played an important role in the development of the peninsula.

© Paul Gilbert. 24 October 2019

Imperial Railway Pavilions During the Reign of Nicholas II

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Nicholas II (center) arrives on the Imperial Train at the Imperial Pavilion in Tsarskoye Selo

During the reign of Russia’s last Emperor, three railway pavilions were constructed solely for the use of the Tsar and the Imperial Train: St. Petersburg, Tsarskoye Selo and Moscow.

All three Imperial Railway Pavilions have survived to this day.

Imperial Railway Pavilion: St. Petersburg

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The Imperial Pavilion was constructed at the Vitebsk Station in 1900-1901, by the Russian architect S. A. Brzhozovsky. It had a separate track, in which the Imperial Train could transport the Emperor and his family to Tsarskoye Selo. The line was also used by his ministers, who travelled from the Imperial capital to Tsarskoye Selo, to have an audience with the Emperor, when he was in residence in the Alexander Palace.

Traffic on the Imperial branch of the railway was opened in 1902.

The lobby of the Imperial Pavilion was crowned with a glass dome, providing natural light. The right side of the pavilion was reserved for the Imperial chambers with a luxurious hall and lavatories, and the left side consisted of a hall for the retinue of Their Imperial Majesties and premises for administration. The platform and track was covered with a special canopy.

Imperial Railway Pavilion: Tsarskoye Selo

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The original Imperial Pavilion was constructed of wood in 1895, however, it was destroyed by fire on 25th January 1911. A new stone pavilion designed by architect V.A. Pokrovsky, was constructed in the same Neo-Russian style as the buildings of the nearby Feodorovsky Gorodok. It was here that the Emperor greeted many foreign dignitaries. A special road was laid from the station to the Alexander Palace.

The richly decorated interiors were stylized as chambers with heavy stone vaults. The rich decoration of the facades and interiors corresponded to the grand presentation of the station, being an example of a synthesis of architecture, monumental painting and decorative art, which successfully combined the forms of ancient Russian architecture of the 17th century. with construction technologies and materials characteristic of the modern era.

The imperial chambers of the station were painted by the artist M. I. Kurilko, reflecting the chambers of the beloved suburban palace of Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich.

In 1918, the station was renamed the Uritsky Pavilion, and was closed in the middle of the 20th century. The pavilion was badly damaged during the Great Patriotic War (1941-45). Sadly, it remains in a terrible state of disrepair. It has been mothballed, waiting for an investor.

Imperial Railway Pavilion: Moscow

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The Imperial Railway Pavilion, also known as the Tsar’s Pavilion Building, was constructed in 1896 by the architect G.V. Voinevich.

The pavilion was designed specifically to receive the Imperial Train, carrying Emperor Nicholas II to Moscow for his Coronation in May 1896. It was built of beautiful facing bricks and decorated with Tarutino stone, crowned with a domed roof and a tower with a spire. The interior decoration and furniture were magnificent.

The plans, however, were changed – the coronation train from St. Petersburg arrived at the Brest Station (now Belorussky). Later, the Imperial Trains carrying the Emperor and his family still made stops at this station.

© Paul Gilbert. 23 October 2019

Paul Gilbert: “Yekaterinburg is my favorite Russian city”

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Paul Gilbert at the monument to Nicholas II, Ganina Yama

Last week, Russian journalist Olga Koshkina asked me for an interview, the article of which was published in the October 22nd 2019 issue of ‘Oblastnaya Gazeta,’ a daily newspaper published in Ekaterinburg.

Oblastnaya Gazeta’ is the official publication of state authorities of the Sverdlovsk Region, the founders of whom are the Governor and the Legislative Assembly of the Sverdlovsk Region.

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Paul Gilbert at the Church on the Blood during Tsars Days 2018’in Ekaterinburg

Koshkina’s article ‘Пол Гилберт: «Екатеринбург – мой любимый российский город»’ – ‘Paul Gilbert: “Ekaterinburg – My Favourite Russian City,” describes my love of the Ural city, my interest in the Romanov dynasty, my efforts to clear the name of Nicholas II, and the ‘Imperial Route’ project.

NOTE: this article is only in Russian. If you use Google Translate, you can still get the gist of the article in English

© Paul Gilbert. 22 October 2019

The Fates of the Russian Imperial Yachts ‘Standart’ and ‘Polar Star’

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Photograph by Gunnar Lönnqvist from the collection of the Helsinki City Museum

A rare photograph of the two former Imperial Yachts, ‘Polar Star / Полярная звезда’¹ (left) and ‘Standart / Штандарт’¹ (right) together in dry-dock in Helsingors (Helsinki) in early April, 1918.

With the outbreak of World War I, both yachts were placed in dry-dock. They left Helsingfors for Kronstadt, only days before the Germans attacked. The fates of both the ‘Standart’ and the ‘Polar Star’ are equally sad.

‘STANDART’

The Imperial Yacht ‘Standart’ was built by order of Emperor Alexander III, and constructed at the Danish shipyard of Burmeister & Wain,² beginning in 1893. She was launched on 21 March 1895 and came into service early September 1896. It later served Emperor Nicholas II and his family.

In 1917, the ‘Standart’ was seized by Revolutionary sailors, and took part first in the February and then in the October Revolution.

The ‘Standart’ was then stripped down and pressed into naval service. It was renamed three times: ‘18 Marta’ (‘18 March,’ from 1918-1936), and later ‘Marti’ (in honour of André Marty, from 1936-1948), and ‘Oka’ (from 1948-1963). She was scrapped at Tallinn, Estonia, in 1963.

‘POLAR STAR’

The Imperial Yacht ‘Polar Star’ was built by order of Emperor Alexander III at the Baltic Shipyard on 20 May 1888. She was launched on 19 May 19 1890, and came into service in March 1891. It later served the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna, who used it annually to sail to Denmark and England.

During the First World War, the yacht was docked in Petrograd, and in early June 1917 moved to Helsingfors. In 1920, the ‘Polar Star’ was mothballed.

In the early 1930s, the former Imperial Yacht was converted into a floating submarine base for the Soviet Navy. Numerous changes were made to the yacht’s exterior, but the interior decoration of many rooms were preserved. On 20 August 1936, the naval flag of the USSR was hoisted on the yacht.

In 1954 it was converted back into a floating ship, in 1961 as a target ship for testing anti-ship missiles. In November 1961, the ‘Polar Star’ was sunk in the Gulf of Riga, after being hit during a naval exercise. The final fate of the former Imperial Yacht remains unknown, although according to some reports, it was scrapped in the early 1970s.

© Paul Gilbert. 21 October 2019

NOTES

¹ The Imperial Yachts ‘Polar Star / Полярная звезда’ (left) and ‘Standart / Штандарт’ are easily distinguished by their funnels and the double-headed eagle figurehead, located on the bow of each vessel.

The two funnels of the ‘Standart / Штандарт’ are placed wider apart, whereas those of ‘Polar Star / Полярная звезда’ are closer together. The magnificent carved double-headed figurehead of the ‘Standart / Штандарт’ is much more elaborate than that of the ‘Polar Star / Полярная звезда’.

² Burmeister & Wain remain in business to this day, The blueprints for the Imperial Yacht ‘Standart’ have been preserved in the archives, a copy of which is also in the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, England. 

Unique Photo of the Old Wooden Grand Palace, Livadia

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Nicholas II and Alexandra Feodorovna, Grand Palace, Livadia. Autumn 1909

This vintage photo depicts Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna at Livadia in the early 20th century. It is set against the old wooden Grand Palace, built in 1861 for Emperor Alexander II and his family, by the architect Ippolit Antonovich Monighetti (1819-1878).

The Church of the Exaltation of the Cross (also by Monighetti) and bell tower can be seen to the right. A gallery connected the church to the palace. The church was small, because it was designed only for the imperial family, and was used by three respective emperors: Alexander II, Alexander III and Nicholas II.

It is known that the Imperial family arrived in Livadia with their children on 5th September 1909. It was during this visit, starting from 27th October, that Nicholas II and Alexandra Feodorovna met with the architect Nikolai Petrovich Krasnov (1864-1939) on numerous occasions, to discuss in detail the design of their new white palace, and the decoration of its halls and other rooms. The August couple approved the design on 12th December, just 4 days before leaving Livadia for St. Petersburg.

The old wooden Grand Palace was demolished in 1910, to make way for a new Italian Neo-Renaissance style stone palace, which would serve as the residence of Nicholas II and his family during their visits to Crimea. The Imperial family visited their new white palace in the fall of 1911 and 1913 and in the spring of 1912 and 1914.

© Paul Gilbert. 20 October 2019