Author Topic: Rare Color Photos of the AP Interiors from 1917 RETURN to the Palace!  (Read 61556 times)

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A rare and unique set of 48 Autochrome color photograph plates, taken by Alexander Zehest in 1914 of the interiors of the Alexander Palace, including both the Parade rooms and the personal rooms of the Imperial Family, have been returned to the Alexander Palace Museum.  The Autochrome process was a rare and difficult one, invented by the Lumiere Brothers of France in 1903 and marketed in Europe and the US starting in 1907.

The plates were at auction in Paris in June 2012.  A close friend of the work of the Alexander Palace Time Machine, Mr. Mike Pyles, contacted Bob Atchison, offering a most generous gift of $25,000 toward the purchase of the plates for the APTM websites.  Bob declined the gift personally, insisting that the plates go to the Alexander Palace Museum.  Mr. Pyles readily agreed.  Bob and Christine Martin immediately contacted the offices of Olga Taratynova, Director of the State Museum-Preserve "Tsarskoye Selo" and Dr. Iraida Kurtova Bott, Deputy Director.  The Museum staff were already aware of the impending sale of the plates.  With Mr. Pyles promised gift in hand of $25,000 toward their purchase, the Museum was able to secure the photographs, which ultimately sold for 53,000 Euros.

Dr. Bott wrote to Bob "The Autochrome plates by the photographer Alexander Zehest are an invaluable historical and iconographical material which is necessary for the restoration and revival of the Alexander Palace. The palace's restoration project has already been approved and preparation work has started. It is yet difficult to say when the restoration will be completed, but the facts that our museum regained control of the palace and that its revival has begun are the changes of great importance to us. On behalf of the directorate and all the employees of our museum, I would like to thank you and ask you to give our sincere words of gratitude to Mr Mike Pyles for his generous assistance and concern for the future of the Alexander Palace."

Mr. Pyles has been given membership in the "Society of Friends of the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Preserve", established in 2006 for those who have been "of profound assistance in all fields of our museum's work, including additions to our collections, which were severely damaged during WWII and the earlier sales of the 1920s-1930s."

Further, this donation has opened up discussions between the State Museum Staff and Bob Atchison, to work closely together to continue to provide education and access to information about the progress of the Museum's efforts to those interested world wide. You will be hearing more about this in the next few weeks.
« Last Edit: January 23, 2013, 01:45:33 PM by Forum Admin »

Offline Sarushka

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That is so completely fantastic.

Благодарю Вас, господин Pyles!
THE LOST CROWN: A Novel of Romanov Russia -- now in paperback!
"A dramatic, powerful narrative and a masterful grasp of life in this vanished world." ~Greg King

Offline EmmyLee

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This is wonderful news! I know it's still pretty early after their purchase, but do you have any idea what the Alexander Palace Museum will do with them? Will they be put on display?

Offline Tsarfan

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That is so completely fantastic.

Благодарю Вас, господин Pyles!

Довольный помогать, Sarah.

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This is wonderful news! I know it's still pretty early after their purchase, but do you have any idea what the Alexander Palace Museum will do with them? Will they be put on display?

It is unlikely that the plates themselves will be on display.  The nature of the autochrome process depends on potato starch (of all things) and they are sensitive to lengthy exposure to bright light.  The Palace Museum staff has assured Bob that digital images of the plates will be available to the public in the near future. 

We will of course keep everyone posted on this, as the new collaborations between Bob and the Palace continue to take shape and they work out details!

Offline blessOTMA

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Wonderful news! Thank you for posting!

"Give my love to all who remember me."

  Olga Nikolaevna

Offline primrose

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A most generous and thoughtful gesture, Mike. You shall be repaid in kind...
"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."

Winston Churchill

Offline Laura Mabee

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The Palace Museum staff has assured Bob that digital images of the plates will be available to the public in the near future. 
That is the best news I have heard all day. Thanks so much FA, Bob,  Mr. Pyles, and Ms. Martin for making this possible.

Offline Joanna

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An article on the history of these autochromes - Coutau-Begarie's may be from the collection of Lukomskii that was taken out of Russia c1918 - fascinating part is that there were 843 black and white photos and 83 color slides.
 3 autochromes in the collection of the Tsarskoe Selo Museum State Preserve:
http://www.taday.ru/data/2012/07/16/1233914172/Palisandrovaja_gostinaja.jpg
http://www.taday.ru/data/2012/07/16/1233914174/Klenovaja_gostinaja.jpg
http://www.taday.ru/data/2012/07/16/1233914168/Anfilada_AD.jpg

Transliteral of article:
The museum-reserve "Tsarskoye Selo" contains a unique color transparencies on glass, made in 1917 - one of the first color images have appeared in the art of photography. The story of this collection is very interesting, as well as no less valuable information on the time and purpose of its manufacture.

After the February Revolution, in the period of incarceration of the royal family of the Tsarskoye Selo, the Commissariat of the Republic of properties, replacing the Ministry of Court, a commission for receiving and recording equipment of the Tsarskoye Selo Palace Administration in November 1917 renamed the Kunsthistorisches. The Commission, headed by George K. Lukomski, was to describe works of art and to organize their security.

Four hours after the departure of the family of Nicholas II, Lukomski, as Chairman of the receipt and accounting of property of the Tsarskoye Selo palace management took the Alexander Palace. At the same time, realizing the value of commemorative items, trusted him, he filed a petition to the Commissioner of the Provisional Government of the former Ministry of Court and paying Golovin: "For better cataloging of inventory that has artistic value, it would seem desirable to photograph all of the most valuable items in the palaces, as well as securing for posterity and science of order and type of arrangement of furniture in 1917, that is, at the time of the end of the Russian monarchy "[2].

For this purpose, was invited by the former stables, Colonel Andrei Zeest photographer, who agreed to perform the proposed work on the condition that he would be given ready-made material. Zeest by this time was already elderly, have poor health, and could not "endure for a photographic apparatus and equipment for shooting." June 3, 1917 Lukomski addressed to the Commissioner of the Commission of the Provisional Government to the Baron, BL Steinheil with a request for the provision of a retired officer, stables, AA Zeestu "the crew of the Stables Office of the Provisional Government", as this right was denied due to retirement. The request was granted.

Materials for the work, which included color pictures of interiors, decorative arts and paintings in the Catherine and Alexander Palaces, made of glass, put the Petrograd branch of the photographic firm «I. Steffen and K ', which existed from 1882, which was located on the streets of Kazan, 5. Through this same firm was acquired and the necessary chemicals for the developer has already captured images.

According to the notice to the Zeesta on May 25, 1917, the party was received at the Autochrome plates of different sizes from 4.5 x 10.7 cm to 18 x 24 cm It is also noted that the records had long been on the road and return overdue but when held against them experience, were "still quite suitable for consumption." Photographer for prescribing plates measuring 9 x 12 cm

Already on October 11, in the explanatory note accompanying the bills paid, Lukomski his signature certified that all necessary for the Commission in the amount of color images of 140 pieces and are made in the Office. For work performed Zeestu photographer was paid 500 rubles, according to the contract.

Contemporaries recognized that the work undertaken by the Commission, as well as directly GK Lukomski, was of great importance in protecting the palace from its full looting and preserve priceless art treasures: in contrast to the Great Palace, Tsarskoye Selo, where the imperial apartments were removed from the later things in the Alexander Palace, nothing has changed. The Commission insisted on the creation of a museum in the private apartments of the family of Nicholas II, despite the fact that the Bolsheviks, headed by Lunacharsky is not recognizing their historical value, asserted that "there can be none of those historical objects, which touched any of the family of the last Emperor "[3]. At the insistence of the Commission had decided to retain the authentic decoration of these rooms.

Later, the most important things in an artistic sense of the Alexander Palace, including those made by Faberge, along with other collections of suburban palaces were sent to Moscow, and some of the values passed to the chambers of the Winter Palace and the State Depository. Correspondence and telegrams of the Emperor Nicholas II, were sent to the State Archives. Things from the Children's half were moved to the Catherine Palace of child care centers or handed over to Tsarskoye Selo, in connection with the proposed placement on the second floor of the Alexander Palace children's colonies.

Interested in the fate of a unique collection of autochrome. From the materials fund Manuscripts Museum "Tsarskoye Selo" is well known that in November 1918, upon acceptance by the former Minister is the Chairman of Art and Historical Commission, GK Lukomski, revealed that eight hundred forty-three shot with black and white negatives and eighty-three color slides were transferred to them Book Publishing "kopeck" to play in a private edition. Pictures intended to withdraw from publishing houses and transfer to storage Detskoselsky Property Management Art of the Northern District. It could not be implemented because it is known that Lukomski emigrated from the country and took them with him.

Part of a collection of colored autochrome is now in the museum-reserve "Tsarskoye Selo" and involves himself forty two images. Thirty of them in 1968 were purchased by the museum from the heirs of Colonel AA Photographer Zeesta and twelve - in 1958, donated the palace of the British tourist, a member of the Oxford Union G. Barratt. This suggests that the plates, donated, were among the exported Lukomskii as it is known that the latter end of his life living abroad.

In June of 2012 at an auction Olivier Coutau Bėgarie museum acquired another 48 autochrome with the views of Big Tsarskoye Selo, and that is especially valuable, Alexander Palace, probably also from the number of exported GK Lukomskii.

The preserved part of the collection gives an indication not only of high artistic level of work performed. Autochrome interiors with views of the palaces of Tsarskoe Selo, in the first place, Alexander, and memorial items, fills them, are a unique material that allows to see the documentary precision and recreate the life and experiences of the last emperor of the family for generations.

Original article:
http://www.taday.ru/text/1706952.html

Joanna

Offline historyfan

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This is fabulous news!

Offline EmmyLee

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Re: Rare Color Photos of the AP Interiors from 1914 RETURN to the Palace!
« Reply #10 on: July 24, 2012, 10:29:34 PM »
Thank you for passing on the article to us, Joanna, especially for the autochromes that came with it!

Offline blessOTMA

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Re: Rare Color Photos of the AP Interiors from 1914 RETURN to the Palace!
« Reply #11 on: July 24, 2012, 11:38:32 PM »
I feel like a time machine has been invented! wow!

"Give my love to all who remember me."

  Olga Nikolaevna

Offline Jen_94

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Re: Rare Color Photos of the AP Interiors from 1914 RETURN to the Palace!
« Reply #12 on: July 26, 2012, 06:49:48 AM »
Thanks for posting this article! Wonderful news!

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Re: Rare Color Photos of the AP Interiors from 1914 RETURN to the Palace!
« Reply #13 on: July 26, 2012, 09:59:34 AM »
Here is a better translation, done by our good friend Graham Schmidt:

Four hours after the departure of Nicholas II's family, Lukomsky, as the representative of the commission for the [receiving] and cataloguing the property of the Tsarksoye Tselo Administration, assumed control over Alexandrinsky Dvorets. Simultaneously grasping the value of the artifacts entrusted to him, he filed a petition with the Commissioner of the Provisional Government of the former Ministry of Court and Payment, F. A. Golovin: “In order to best catalogue the inventory, possessing artistic significance, it would seem desirable to photograph all of the most valuable items in the palaces, and also to secure for posterity and sceince the order and arrangement of furniture in 1917, that is, at the time of the end of the Russian monarchy.”
For this purpose, a former stable master and photographer, Colonel Andrei Zeest, who agreed to undertake the proposed work on the condition that he would be given ready-made material (recording – V.P.). At the time, Zeest was of advanced age, poor health, and could not “carry with him a camera or photographic equipment, necessary for shooting.” On June 3, 1917, Lukomsky appealed to the head of the Provisional Government's Plenipotentiary Commission, Baron B. L. Shteingel, with a request for the assignation to the retired cavalry Colonel, A. A. Zeest “a carriage from the cavalry office of the provisional government”, as he'd been denied this right due to his retirement. The request was approved.

Materials for the work, which included color images of interiors, decorative artwork, and paintings in the Catherine and Alexander Palaces, developed on glass, were provided by the Petrograd branch of the photographic firm “I. Steffen and Co.”. Founded in 1882, the firm was located on Kazan Street, #5. Through this same firm, chemicals were also acquired for developing older prints.

According to Zeest's notice of May 25, 1917, sets of autochrome plates were received, and measured from 4.5 x 10.7 cm, to 18 x 24 cm. It is also noted that the plates spent considerable time in transit and arrived long overdue, but after …. were still “quite suitable for use.” For his work, the photographer selected plates measuring 9 x 12 cm.

On October 11th, in an explanatory note accompanying the bill of payment, Lukomsky's signature affirmed that all 140 color photos ordered by the commission had been received and were located at Kantselyariye. For his work, the photographer received 500 rubles, in accordance with his contract.

Contemporaries attested that the work carried out by the commission, and directly by Lukomsky, held enormous meaning for the protection of the palace against being completely pillaged, and the security of priceless artistic masterworks. As distinct from the Great Tsarskoye Selo palace, where lesser items were removed from the imperial chambers, at Alexandrinsky palace, nothing has changed. The commission insisted on the creation of a museum in the spare rooms of the family of the Emperor Nicholas II, despite the fact that the Bolsheviks, under the leadership of Lunacharsky, declining to recognize any historical value [in the past?], affirmed that “none of the objects in any way associated with the family of the final Emperor can be considered historical.” At the insistence of the commission, it was decided to preserve these rooms in their original condition.

Later, the most artistically renowned objects from the Aleksandrinsky palace, including those produced by the Faberge Company, along with collections from other suburban palaces were sent to Moscow, but several treasures were transferred to storerooms in the Winter palace and Gokhran [abbreviation – Governmental Security or Governmental protection, some kind of institution]. Letters and telegrams from Emperor Nicholas II were sent to the state archives. Children's items were transferred to the Catherine palace or handed over to the [children's institute of Tsarskoye Selo?], in connection with the development of a children's colony on the second story of Tsarskoye Selo.

The subsequent fate of this autochrome collection holds considerable interest. From a stock of manuscripts in the Tsarskoye Selo museum we know that in November of 1918, by approval of the then-former Minister of the Artistic-Historical Commission, Lukomsky, it emerged that eight hundred forty black and white negatives and eighty-three color negatives were transferred by him to the “Kopeck” publishing house for the development of a private edition. The pictures were to be withdrawn from the publisher and transferred to storage in the Children's (Detskoselskoye) administration for Historical Possessions of the Republic (northern region). This never came to pass since, as is well known, Lukomsky emigrated from the country and took them along with him.

A part of the collection of color autochrome plates are at present located in the Tsarskoye Selo Museum, and include forty-two images. In 1968, thirty of these were acquired by the museum from the descendants of Colonel Zeest, and in 1958, twelve were donated to the palace by an English tourist: Oxford Club member G. Barrat. This suggests that the donated slides included those which were carried off by Lukomsky since, as is know, he lived the final days of his life abroad.

In June of 2012 at an auction by the Olivier Coutau Begarie  the Museum acquired forty-eight more autochrome plates with views of the Bolshoi Tsarskoselskoye and – particularly valuable – of Aleksandrinsky palace, most likely from the same set that was transported / carried off by Lukomsky.

That part of the collection which has been preserved permits one to ascertain not only the high artistic quality of the photographs. The autochrome plates with views of the Tsarskoye Selo's interiors, primarily of the Aleksandrinsky palace, and commemorative objects therein, serves as unique material, permitting one to see with documentary precision and to reconstruct the life and surroundings of the last emperor for future generations.

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Re: Rare Color Photos of the AP Interiors from 1914 RETURN to the Palace!
« Reply #14 on: August 02, 2012, 02:30:52 PM »
Udate!

The Tsarskoye Selo State Museum encountered an unexpected, substantial, increase in the cost of Autochrome plates, due to unforeseen VAT, export duties and the like.  Mike Pyles has contacted the Museum and is currently in discussions on the exact terms of another gift from him, of an additional $30,000, in order to address these expenses and get the plates into the Museum's hands as soon as possible.

Further, the Museum directors and staff have approved the preliminary designs for "The Friends of the Alexander Palace Museum Society", with the website to be built by Bob Atchison and Pallasart, and with Bob running "The Friends", along with some long standing supporters of the Museum.  Continuing discussion is ongoing between the Tsarskoye Museum directors and Bob for a new collaborative effort, working closely together.