Recreation of Furniture for the Mauve (Lilac) Boudoir in the Alexander Palace

This is the second article about the recreation of the Mauve (Lilac) Boudoir in the Alexander Palace. Click HERE to read the first article The history and restoration of the Mauve (Lilac) Boudoir in the Alexander Palace, published on 4th November 2020 – PG

NOTE: all photos © Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Reserve

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Empress Alexandra Feodorovna’s Mauve (Lilac) Boudoir was a favourite room for the Imperial family and their guests. It was in this room that the Empress, often together with Nicholas II came to relax, read books, played music, make handicrafts on the couch, and drank tea at a round table. In winter, the room was decorated with fragrant bouquets of white lilacs, grown in the imperial greenhouses at Tsarskoye Selo. The decoration of the Mauve Boudoir, which was part of the Empress’s private chambers, was completed in a short time, in just two and a half months in 1895.

According to documents and drawings, approved by the Empress herself, the F. Melzer & Co. in London, England produced a set of furniture, which consisted of a built-in sofa, built-in shelves and a set of two plateaus (jardinieres) for plants, etc.

PHOTOS: details depicting the current look of the recreated Mauve (Lilac) Boudoir

Sadly, almost all of the furniture items in this room were destroyed during the Great Patriotic War (1941-45). Employees of the Scientific Fund Department of the Museum-Reserve did a lot of research and preparatory work, discovered archival documents and photographs that were used for the recreation of the furniture for the Mauve Boudoir.

In photographs preserved in the Collection of the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum and in photographs from the albums of the historical collection of the Alexander Palace (now stored in the State Archives of the Russian Federation in Moscow), allowed experts to view individual pieces of furniture items in the Mauve Boudoir from different angles, thus making it possible to recreate exact copies of the structural elements and decoration details for the room.

The matter of painting panels, doors and cabinet furniture required a separate study. In the colour scheme of the panels, two shades were used, this can be seen in colour autochromes and is confirmed by archival details from the workshops. The recipe found in the archive, indicating the materials of painting and their proportional ratios, helped restorers to define a modern analogue and apply it when painting the furniture of the Mauve Boidoir in two tones, says Anna Tarkhanova, senior researcher at the Museum-Reserve, who took an active part in the work on the reconstruction of the interior.

PHOTOS: experts review historic photos and drawings for the
recreation of the furniture for the Mauve (Lilac) Drawing Room

The only original item to survive from the Empress’s study was a writing-table, which entered the collection of the museum-reserve in 1999, also helped in solving this issue. During the Great Patriotic War, the table had not been evacuated. It was found in a deplorable state after the war in the Alexander Park by the former curator of the Alexander Palace, Anatoly Mikhailovich Kuchumov (1912-1993). In 2018, restorers conducted test clearing of the paint layer of the table, determined the initial colour of its finish and, on the basis of this, made a decision on the colour scheme of the panels, built-in furniture and doors of the Mauve Boudoir. In 2020, the masters of the Tsarskoye Selo Amber Workshop restored the table and recreated the lost details, based on photographs and archival descriptions.

The work on the recreation of the upholstered and cabinet furniture of the Mauve Boudoir was also carried out by specialists from the Tsarskoye Selo Amber Workshop (director Boris Igdalov) in accordance with the design developed in 2019-2020 by the Studio 44 Architectural Bureau in St. Petersburg.

For the upholstery of the furniture set, fabrics, cords, fringes and tassels were recreated according to historical samples that are kept in the Tsarskoye Selo and Pavlovsk Museum-Reserves. When restoring fabrics, the technologists were guided by the design approved by the museum-reserve and the Renaissance workshops for the restoration of ancient monuments based on materials presented by the museum. The analysis of the fibers of the fabric, the type of threads, their colour and the style of weaving the fabric, as well as the fabrication itself, was carried out by specialists of the famous Italian firm RUBELLI. The trim items were made at the English company Tassel & Trim and the Polish company Re Kon Art. The process of ordering, manufacturing and delivery of these elements for the rooms’ decor was supervised by Janusz Szymanyak, director of the Renaissance Workshops for the Restoration of Antiquities.

PHOTO: colour autochrome of the Mauve (Lilac) Boudoir, taken in 1917

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The Mauve Boudoir is one of 15 interiors situated in the eastern wing of the palace, scheduled to open in 2021. Among the other interiors are the New Study of Nicholas II, Moorish Bathroom of Nicholas II, Working Study of Nicholas II, Reception Room of Nicholas II, Pallisander (Rosewood) Living Room, Mauve (Lilac) Boudoir, Alexandra’s Corner Reception Room, the Imperial Bedroom, among others.

In the future, the Alexander Palace will become a memorial museum of the Romanov family – from Catherine the Great to Nicholas II, showcasing the private, domestic life of the Russian monarchs who used the palace as an official residence. The eastern wing of the palace will be known as the Museum of the Russian Imperial Family. The multi-museum complex, which includes the Western wing is scheduled for completion no earlier than 2024.

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Dear Reader: If you enjoy all my updates on the restoration of the Alexander Palace, then please help support my research by making a donation in US or Canadian dollars – donations can be made by GoFundMe, PayPal, credit card, personal check or money order. Click HERE to make a donation or click HERE to buy one of my Nicholas II calendars – the net proceeds help fund my work. Thank you for your consideration – PG

© Paul Gilbert. 9 December 2020

 

The History and Restoration of the Working Study of Nicholas II in the Alexander Palace

PHOTO: view of the Working Study of Nicholas II, as it looked in 1917

The Working Study of Emperor Nicholas II was decorated in 1896-1897, by Roman Meltzer (1860-1943) and furniture master Karl Grinberg. Grinberg was invited to repair the existing furniture from the mid-1870s. He had previously performed work on the decoration of the apartments of the daughter of Emperor Alexander II (1818-1881) Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna (1853-1920) and her husband the Alfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (Duke of Edinburgh, 1844-1900).

The interior was decorated in the English style, with the upper walls painted a dark red and walnut panels on the bottom. The furniture was also made of walnut and upholstered in green morocco leather. One side of the room was occupied by a large ottoman (a copy of the one in the study of Emperor Alexander III), upholstered with a Persian carpet, as well as an L-shaped writing desk. Above it, a lamp was attached to a special rod, which easily rose and fell to the desired height. Next to the table was an Italian Savonarola armchair, decorated with carvings and upholstered in brown leather.

As the name implies, this business-style room was intended for work – here the Emperor read papers, including numerous correspondence, received foreign ministers and dignitaries and listened to reports.

PHOTOS: views of the Working Study of Nicholas II, as it looked in 1917


The interior was decorated with vases, mantel clocks, jubilee and souvenir glasses, miniature watercolours and photographs of the Imperial family and their relatives. Since Nicholas II loved to smoke, the Study was also filled with objects for smoking – pipes, cigarette cases, lighters, and ashtrays.

The Working Study featured special built-in cupboards with shelves which held about one thousand books from the Emperor’s library. Among these were biographies and memoirs, Russian and military history, as well as politics and religion, as well as albums, magazines, manuscripts and brochures.

Between 1918-1930s, the Study along with the other private apartments of the Imperial family was part of the museum, created by the Bolsheviks, unfortunately, it was completely lost during the Great Patriotic War (1941-45).

PHOTO: the current look of the recreated Working Study of Nicholas II

The recreated interior features wood paneling, built-in furniture and a carpet. The curtains were restored according to the samples preserved in the museum’s funds. Thanks to the pieces of tiles found in the pool of the Emperor’s Moorish Bathroom, it was possible to accurately restore the finish of the fireplace. The recreation of items of furniture will include an ottoman, a desk with a a lamp, and armchairs. Paintings and mantel clocks preserved in the funds of the Pavlovsk Museum-Reserve will be returned to the Alexander Palace to decorate the study.

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The Working Study of Nicholas II is one of 15 interiors situated in the eastern wing of the palace, scheduled to open in 2021. Among the other interiors are the New Study of Nicholas II, Moorish Bathroom of Nicholas II, Reception Room of Nicholas II, Pallisander (Rosewood) Living Room, Mauve (Lilac) Boudoir, Maple Drawing Room, Alexandra’s Corner Reception Room, the Imperial Bedroom, among others.

In the future, the Alexander Palace will become a memorial museum of the Romanov family – from Catherine the Great to Nicholas II, showcasing the private, domestic life of the Russian monarchs who used the palace as an official residence. The eastern wing of the palace will be known as the Museum of the Russian Imperial Family. The multi-museum complex, which includes the Western wing is scheduled for completion no earlier than 2024.

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Dear Reader: If you enjoy all my updates on the restoration of the Alexander Palace, then please help support my research by making a donation in US or Canadian dollars – donations can be made by GoFundMe, PayPal, credit card, personal check or money order. Click HERE to make a donation or click HERE to buy one of my Nicholas II calendars – the net proceeds help fund my work. Thank you for your consideration – PG

© Paul Gilbert. 25 November 2020

THOSE WHO SERVED THE TSAR: Prince Vladimir Nikolayevich Orlov (1868-1927)

PHOTO: Prince Vladimir Nikolayevich Orlov. 1892

This is the first in a series of biographical essays about the men who served Emperor Nicholas II between 1894 to 1917, researched primarily from Russian sources by Independent Researcher Paul Gilbert

Prince Vladimir Nikolayevich Orlov was born in Brussels, Belgium on 13th January 1869 (O.S. 31st December 1868). He was one of two sons born to Prince Nikolai Alekseevich Orlov (1827-1885) and Princess Ekaterina Nikolaevna Trubetskaya (1840-1875). Vladimir had one brother Prince Alexei Nikolaevich Orlov (1867-1916),

Vladimir’s father served as adjutant general, cavalry general, and diplomat in Brussels, Paris and Berlin, as well as a military writer. His great grandfather was Count Fyodor Grigorievich Orlov (1741-1796), who along with his brothers Counts Alexis and Grigory Orlov, took part in a coup which placed Catherine the Great on the Russian throne in 1762.

In 1887 Vladimir entered the junior special class of the Corps of Pages in St. Petersburg, from which he graduated in 1889 as a cornet in the Life Guards Horse Regiment. He held numerous distinguished ranks during his life, including Lieutenant (1893), Staff Captain (1899), Captain (1901), Colonel (1904), Major-General (1909, enrolled in the suite), and Lieutenant-General (1915).

In 1900 Orlov participated in the Summer Olympics held in Paris, competing in equestrian sports: the four-in-hand competition which is a carriage driven by four horses, with the reins arranged so that one driver can control all four horses. Very little is known of the 1900 event, which had at least 28 carriages entered. The title was won by Belgian Georges Nagelmackers.

PHOTO: Emperor Nicholas II and Prince Vladimir Orlov

On 7th January 1901, he was appointed Assistant Chief, and he received his first post as Adjutant, thanks to the patronage of the Minister of the Imperial Court Baron Vladimir Borisovich Fredericks (1838-1927). It was on this date, that he entered the close circle of the emperor and empress. The prince recalls in his diary as follows: “Wjile on duty, I often dined and had breakfast with the sovereign; at first it was very difficult for me, because I was terribly shy, but then little by little it began to pass”.

Orlov, who bore the nickname “Fat Orlov,” was an exceedingly rich man. He was a highly cultivated man, sarcastic, with a dry humour, and enjoyed great social prestige. He was “a witty and charming man with a great knowledge of the world, he was a typical representative of aristocratic culture and, in addition to his native language [Russian], he spoke English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Serbian.”

For many years he was one of the most trusted people of Nicholas II. With no thought whatever for his personal career, he was devoted to the Tsar and to the cause of the Russian monarchy, devoted in the highest sense in which the word can be used.

Prince Vladimir Nikolayevich Orlov also served as one of Nicholas II’s closest advisors, and on 26th August 1906, he was appointed Chief of the Military Campaign Chancellery of His Imperial Majesty. a position he held until 1915. As the head of the military cabinet, Orlov was a keen technologist interested in military applications of the motor car. 

PHOTO: Orlov dressed as a 17th falconer for the
1903 Costume Ball in the Winter Palace

Prince Orlov married twice. His first wife Princess Olga Konstantinovna Beloselskaya-Belozerskaya (1872-1923), goddaughter of Princess E.P. Trubetskoy and Count P.P. Shuvalov, maid of honour, daughter of Prince K.E.Beloselsky-Belozersky and N. D. Skobeleva. In society, she was known as the first fashionista and the most elegant woman in St. Petersburg. In her salon, playing cards and dancing reigned. In 1917, their son Nikolai (1896-1961) married Princess of the Imperial Blood Nadezhda Petrovna (1898-1988), they had two daughters.

His second wife Countess Elizaveta Alexandrovna Luders-Weimarn (1883-1969).

It was Prince Orlov who seems to have integrated automobiles into the life of the Imperial Family. In 1904 he drove his own Delaunay-Belleville to the Alexander Palace at Tsarskoye Selo Then, as described by court official Alexander Mosolov (1854-1939), “Orlov placed his automobile at the Tsar’s disposal, and driving excursions became an almost daily diversion… After that, he never relinquished his role as chauffeur”.

“We never had a single accident on any of our excursions; of course, I was always extremely careful. I didn’t consider it appropriate for a subject to crush his Tsar,” said Orlov.

In the autumn of 1905 Nicholas himself decided to acquire some automobiles. “I can no longer impinge upon Orlov’s good will. Buy two or three cars, but let Orlov choose them. He knows better than any professional”.

As the Emperor’s collection of automobiles grew, the construction of Imperial Garages begun at Tsarskoye Selo, Peterhof, St. Petersburg (Winter Palace) and Livadia. On 18th February 1907, a fleet administration, with Prince Orlov at its head, was officially established within the Ministry of the Imperial Court.

Prince Orlov encouraged the Imperial Family’s interest in automobiles in every way he could. It was he who arranged for Tsesarevich Alexis to be presented with a small, two-seater Bébé Peugeot, which measured 2445 x 1140 mm. This little car had debuted at the Paris Auto Show in 1904.

The automobile trips became more frequent, which helped to bring Vladimir Nikolaevich closer to Nicholas II. They had long conversations, the emperor took an interest in the opinion of the prince. From that moment on, the family’s attitude toward the prince changed significantly. He became especially close. The Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna affectionately called him “Vladi”.

PHOTO: Orlov chauffeuring Nicholas II and Alexandra Feodorovna
in a Delaunnay-Belleville, 1905

Subsequently, the role of chauffer was transferred to 25-year-old Adolphe Kégresse (1879-1943), a Frenchman with impeccable references specially assigned to this position by Orlov himself. This was done, and Orlov was entrusted with the organization of the Imperial Garage at Tsarskoye Selo.

Like many who served the Emperor, Orlov held a negative view on Rasputin. On 19th August 1915, after an unsuccessful attempt to discredit Rasputin in a newspaper, both he and Vladimir Dzhunkovsky (1865-1938), First Deputy Interior Minister, were discharged from their posts.

Upon learning of Orlov’s dismissal, the Empress Dowager Maria Feodorovna wrote to Grand Duke Andrei Vladimirovich: “This was not done by my dear boy. He is too kind to do such a thing. He loved both of them [Orlov and Dzhunkovsky] very much. No, this is her [Alexandra Feodorovna] doing. She alone is responsible.”

On 25th August 1915, Orlov was banished by the Tsar in 1915 to the Caucasus, where he served under the Viceroy Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich (1856-1929).

On 16th November 1915, Orlov was appointed assistant of civil affairs of the Viceroy in the Caucasus. On 31st March 1917, he was dismissed from service due to illness with a uniform and a pension.

PHOTO: Chateau Belfontaine in Samois-sur-Seine, where Orlov lived in exile

After the October Revolution of 1917, Orlov lived at Tchair, the Crimean estate of Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich. He followed members of the Imperial family into exile, settling in France, where he lived until the end of his days. Prince Vladimir Nikolayevich Orlov died on 29th August 1927 at his estate Chateau Belfontaine, situated near Paris. He was buried in the Samois-sur-Seine cemetery, Seine-et-Marne, Ile-de-France, France.

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Dear Reader: It is always a pleasure for me to present new articles based on my own research from Russian archival sources, as well as offering first English translations of new works from Russian media sources on my Nicholas II blog and Facebook pages. Many of these articles and topics seldom (if ever) attract the attention of the Western media. Please note that I personally translate the articles, and complement them further with additional materials, photographs, videos and links.

If you found this article interesting, then please help support my research by making a donation in US or Canadian dollars to my project The Truth About Nicholas II – please note that donations can be made by GoFundMe, PayPal, credit card, personal check or money order, or click HERE to buy one of my Nicholas II calendars – the net proceeds help fund my work. Thank you for your consideration – PG

© Paul Gilbert. 1 December 2020