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Messages - BobAtchison

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The Alexander Palace / Re: Exterior Fixtures, elements
« on: April 18, 2009, 12:53:56 AM »
The railing behind the palace dates from Quarenghi's time, but the terrace had to be rebuilt and reset.  This area of the place had problems with an underground stream and it caused cracks in the foundations and vaults of the semi-circular hall during construction.  You can see the railing still has lots of damage from WWII that was not repaired in the mid 90's.  I have great pictures of the front railings and light fixtures from the 20's and you can see that they were painted light blue.  The pictures show the guard station up close as well.  Alexandra's balcony was painted the same color.  The railings of the balcony can we seen at the Hermitage and at the Belvedere Palace, they seen to have been 'stock' from the ironworks of the time.

I have never seen pictures of the balcony after the war.  I don't know if the Germans stripped if for scrap and sent it off to Germany, or it was so badly damaged that there was no way to save it after the war or (this is the most likely) the balcony was pulled down on purpose after the war to eliminate something that was too clsoely associated with Alexandra.  We know that many of the rooms - including the Maple Room survived the war only to be destroyed by the Soviets.

Throughout the palace - inside and out - there were many remains of heating systems, window mechanisms, electricity, when I was there in the early 90's.  A few years later most of this had been swept away.  I hope documenting photographs were taken before this destruction took place.  As I have send before in the 90's the museum authorities did not want to restore the rooms of Nicholas and Alexandra and there were plans to destroy the New Study and Nicholas's Reception room.  The intent was to restore the palace to the time of Nicholas I.  Thank God - and I mean THANK GOD - the museum authorities did not have the money to do this.  There was a great dislike of Nicholas and Alexandra then - even hostility towards them.  Interest in them was considered a foreign 'obsession' and a sign of lack of culture in Tsarskoe Selo.  Certainly this has changed but the damage done deliberately and through neglect is there.

As I have written elsewhere what was done to the roof on the Imperial Wing when it was replaced was barbaric and completely unnecessary. The money was given for a proper replacement and what was done was a hack job that destroyed evidence from all periods of the palace dating back to the original construction.

Imperial Transportation / Re: Was Rasputin ever aboard the Standart
« on: February 19, 2009, 09:49:46 AM »
Isn't that the Nizhni Dvoretz?

The Alexander Palace / Re: Family Portrait
« on: February 19, 2009, 09:48:17 AM »
These rooms were closed down by the Soviet government in the 1920's.  Some things were moved downstairs - mostly icons and smaller personal items.  Some of the furniture remained behind and was used in the recreation rooms that were used by the CHEKA here. Some of the furniture was dispersed to local party offices and the homes of party officials.  Other things were sold in Gostinny Dvor to the public, shipped abroad for sale or sold in state antique stores to foreigners.  I don't know what happened to the painting of Alice from upstairs.  I will look and see if Kuchumov marked in his notes to me where it went.  As you all know the picture of Alice from the downstairs went to Pavlovsk and is still there.

The Alexander Palace / Re: Alix's bathroom
« on: September 07, 2008, 12:06:20 PM »
There were a couple of night alarm buttons.  They only went off accidently twice.  This proved the system worked.

Few realize how the Imperial family was isolated by their security.  It was a huge 24-7 operation - well hidden, but it was complete.

The Alexander Palace / Re: The Nazi's
« on: September 07, 2008, 12:01:59 PM »
There are many pieces in the USA that were stolen from the place.  Here's an example - John Atzbach, a dealer in Washington, has a bronze statue from the Pallisander Room stolen by the Germans from the palace.

It was sold in New York by one of the two big auction houses in the 70's or 80's.  It reappeared in the 90's and I arranged for a man who supported the Alexander Palace to buy it, with the promise he would have it returned to the palace on his death.  Unfortunately, he sold it without telling me and now Atzbach has it.  It is stolen so it should go back.

The Alexander Palace / Re: Alexandra's mezzanine nook...
« on: September 07, 2008, 11:56:46 AM »
I don't know.... good question...

The cast ones from Nicholas's time had iron (it looks like iron) rods in them.  This caused them to split and crack when water penetrated them.

The Alexander Palace / Re: Alix's bathroom
« on: September 06, 2008, 12:07:31 PM »
At night the guards withdrew to the vestibule at the front door of the imperial wing - there were at least six of them.  This was just one of 14 guard installations at night.  The glass doors were closed.  They were armed.  There was an alarm system.

The Alexander Palace / Re: Alexandra's mezzanine nook...
« on: September 06, 2008, 10:17:09 AM »
More on the marble colums of the New Study... There were 5 in one set and 3 in another.  They were ordered from Nassauische Marmorwerke , a marble working firm located in Nassau Villmar on der Lahn in Germany.  The pillars were ordered through the Anton Ohlert, a company with operations in germany and Russia.

There were quarries at Villmar, but I was told the marble was from quarries in Austria.  The factory began work in the 1800's and I believe it is still in business.  in 1900 the company was famous for its production of speciality shapes and a huge variety of stones.  Through their equipment and the skill of their workers they produced many marble pieces in Art Nouveau style.  Meltzer ordered from them because they had a fast turn-around time and guaranteed safe delivery.  The columns cost over 3,000 marks, but I am not sure of the exact cost because the receipts here are hard to understand.

Anton Ohlert was a Russian merchant who was born in Russia in 1840 to a family of German origin. he arranged for the sale of Russian commodities like fur and timber for transport to Germany.  His Berlin ofice was opened in 1871. Ohlert was the exclusive representive of Singer in Russia and he built and operated the first Singer factory in Russia in the city of Podolsk.  He sold the firm in 1900 to the Ulrich family, who still run the company today in Germany.  The company halted its operations in Russia during WWI and ended them altogetehr during the revolution.  Later in the 1920's the company entered into deals with the young Soviet Government.


The Alexander Palace / Re: Alexander Palace interiors
« on: September 05, 2008, 06:02:02 PM »
I was lucky to see Alix's rooms in the early 90's before they were 'cleaned up' .  You could see lots of things in the walls and floors where things had been.  There were original latches on windows and hooks on walls, places were you could see where wiring had been and the heating system.  There were even remains of the system that was used to communicate with the servants.  I think all of that is gone now.  The bathroom and dressing room had been ripped out long before.  There was nothing left there.  The Tuxen ceiling painting looks so out of place!

They ripped out walls and put new doors in, tore up everything.  I am sure nothing was recorded.  Thank God they didn't get a chance to rip out the New Study - it was next on the list!  I have only looked in the door of the Maple Room for 10 seconds - it was a long time ago.  All this just breaks my heart.

Someone earlier mentioned about the ballastrade.  They were originally carved from wood.  During the reign of Nicholas II many of these were replaced by cast ones.  There used to be original wood ones up there and many of the ones from Nicholas's time.  I was told that some of them in 1992 were 200 years old.  I have no idea what the situation is now up there.

The Alexander Palace / Re: Maple Room
« on: September 05, 2008, 05:46:24 PM »
This weekend I promise I will put all the pages from the catalog up on the web. There are no sale prices.  I have asked Mark at ALVR and he says they have no records from this period.

The Alexander Palace / Re: Alix's bathroom
« on: September 05, 2008, 05:44:03 PM »
Michael, the other problem was that the floors were wood - it was built as a summer palace, not for winter.  You could hear everything going on.  There was music, crashing trays, children laughing.  They palace was very quiet so these sounds were more noticeable when they happened.

The Alexander Palace / Re: Was this room in the Alexander Palace?
« on: September 05, 2008, 05:41:04 PM »
There were stained glass Tiffany transoms above the door of the Maple Room and the New Study that led into the corridor.  There was opalised glass in the cornice of the Maple Room (really, if people could see the Maple Room as it was they would see what a marvel it was) and panels around the mirror on the balcony that were backlit.  The Maple Room balcony also had inset panels of crystal or stained glass.

The Mauve Room a plate glass window that were unique in the palace and also a huge arched greenhouse like window, that I think had lightly colored panels, but I am not sure.

There were colored glass panels in other rooms - much like you would see at the Kottage.  I should go through and check.

The Alexander Palace / Re: Alexandra's mezzanine nook...
« on: September 05, 2008, 05:33:18 PM »
I am not sure were the Tiffany lamps went.  I'll have to check and see if Kuchumov marked where are today.  Things from the Maple Room and the New Study went to various places after the war.  Kuchumov tried to keep everything at Pavlovsk without success.  After the war they would not have had much interest in Tiffany or Art Nouveau art glass. I think the Art glass light fixtures from under the balcony in the Maple Room are at the Hermitage.

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