An exhibition of photographs depicting the life of Emperor Nicholas II and his family, from the collection of Pierre Gilliard, opened 17th March at the Karl Bulla Fund for Historical Photography, situated at No. 54 Nevsky Prospekt in St. Petersburg.
The one day exposition was timed to coincide with the release of the Russian translation of Gilliard’s book Трагическая судьба Николая II и его семьи (The Tragic Fate of Nicholas II and His Family), published in 1929 in Paris by Payot.
From 1905 Swiss citizen Pierre Gilliard (1879-1962) taught the French language to the children of Nicholas II. From 1913 he was appointed tutor to the Heir Tsesarevich Alexei Nikolaevich. Gilliard accompanied the Imperial Family into exile to Tobolsk, but upon arrival in Ekaterinburg he was separated from the family. Gilliard was a keen photographer, and returned to Switzerland with a large number of photographs. In exile he wrote his memoirs of his life in Russia and his impressions of the daily life of Nicholas II and his family.
Today, Gilliard’s archives are stored in the Lausanne Museum of Photography, including 384 black and white photos. More than 70 photos from Pierre Gilliard’s archive, most of which never been exhibited in Russia are presented in the exhibition.
“In essence, this is the return of the memory of Pierre Gilliard, who, by the will of fate, witnessed one of the most tragic events in the history of Russia,” said the President of the Karla Bulla Foundation for Historical Photography Valentine Elbek.
He added that the photo exhibition will open at Livadia Palace in Yalta in May 2020, to coincide with the international scientific conference Russia. The Romanovs. More than a dozen photographs brought from Gilliard’s collection depict the Imperial Family during their visits to Livadia.
It is interesting to note that the idea of publishing a photo album based on Pierre Gilliard’s collection is being worked out. “Our partners in Lausanne expressed a desire to host our exhibition, which will probably be shown in various European capitals,” added Valentin Elbek.
The St. Petersburg exhibition was implemented in partnership with the Ludwig Nobel Foundation. The Tsarskoye Selo Museum Reserve has shown interest in this initiative, where Gilliard’s working room is being restored in the Alexander Palace, and his heirs donated part of his belongings to the museum as a gift.
© Paul Gilbert. 20 March 2020