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Messages - Antonio_P.Caballer

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Tsarskoe Selo Palaces / Re: Catherine Palace, Tsarskoe Selo, today
« on: August 16, 2005, 01:45:48 PM »

Hi Antonio,

This book literally just came out last month. The lady who sold it to me at the AP told me that they only have the Russian version right now. It is a soft cover, about 35-37 pages long, with lots of illustrations, it is simliar to other books like this, liek the one for CP, but less thick. The text was written by Larisa Bardovskaya who is one of the directors at the TS State Museum.

Sooner or later this book will be translated I am sure (in fact I am going to ask them if I can do it for them), and the next time you come here you may be able to get it in English, and possibly some other languages too. But they move kind of slow, so it may be a few years!  ;)

Thanks so much for your kind response, Helen.

Have you noticed that the roof right above the Marble Hall has collapsed? I was so shocked when i saw it. It´s very easy to see when you approach the palace from the garden side. The ballaustrade is partially destroyed as well. So shameful. I cannot think of any other word to describe the present estate of the palace. And it will remain so as long as arbitrariness reigns in some of the russian museums.

Tsarskoe Selo Palaces / Re: Catherine Palace, Tsarskoe Selo, today
« on: August 15, 2005, 05:25:50 PM »

They have just came out with a new book with photos and text about the AP, it was literally published last month, but has not been translated into any other language but Russian yet. It looks very interesting.

Hi Helen! :)

Well, i´ve been so amazed with the above! It must have been published right after we left Petersburg, how unlucky!
Would you please tell us more about that new book??

Many thanks in advance!


The Cheneviere book is for sale, i suppose it´s been reprinted, at  You just search it using "russian furniture". It costs 75 dollars.

I suppose the one that is hard to find is the first ,1988, edition.(there´s a copy selling for 215 dollars).

I own the new edition and it´s just wonderful.

Well, i hope this is good news to anyone interested on that book :)


(...........) if all of this had been put into Countess von Kleinmichel's datcha on the Ostrov, a datcha which was sooooo Victorian and Germanic in design (another direct relative who datcha stll stands with many of the original furnishings inside, owned by a private individual now), (............).

Hi Alex P. :)

I´m a little confussed by the above. You mean the Kamenoostrovsky neo-gothic dacha of Countess Kleinmichel. The one painted a pistaccio green, isn´t it? I´ve tried to gather as much information on that particular house as possible, and as far as i know it had several uses after the revolution, and even was partitioned to form communal flats in the 1960s. Therefore i assumed the interior decoration was lost-destroyed. And you say it´s now privately owned?

Also, if Countess Kleinmichel was a relative of yours and so was Baroness Buxhoeveden(please correct me if i´m mistaken), then both ladies were related to each other, weren´t they? Would you please tell us more about that? I have several of the Ferrand´s volumes Noblesse Russe, and love to look at the different family trees and the connection between the noble families.

Thanks in advance! :)


Alexandra Feodorovna / Re: Alix & Ella & the Hessian Siblings
« on: August 10, 2005, 08:23:10 PM »
Another perspective:

Alix was awkward, extremely shy, lacked social grace, had more difficulty learning Russian than her sister, and was fundamentally unprepared for life in Russia as Tsarina.  She arrived, became a bride, and became Tsarina so quickly that there was no time to adjust before assuming her duties.  Her social interactions were so awkward that she was made fun of.

Her sister, on the other hand, was, by all accounts, perfect.  She was gorgeous and never looked out of place.  She was graceful, articulate, much admired, and charming.  She seemed to be able to everything well........and everyone loved her.  Everyone.  She could do not wrong.

If I was Alexandra, I would have harbored some resentment.  Perhaps it was subconscious at first, but even so, there would have come a time when it would have begun to come to the surface.  Given Alexandra's personality, that resentment had to have contributed to what happened next. If Ella began to try to coach or counsel her, or disagree with her in any waym no matter how loving, it could have been taken as an affront.

Can you see how, if Ella changed into a saintly, super-religious woman who swore off all of the luxuries that Alexandra had, this would have REALLY begun to be annoying.  Now, even Ella's religiosity is better than Alexandra's!  (in a manner of speaking, of course).   Why, not only do the nobles love her, but now the common people love her.  And Alexandra knew how the common people hated HER.......

Hi Finelly, :)

I think Alexandra could have hardly envied Ella in a concious way. Apart from her popularity, what did Ella have that her sister could envy? Alexandra had a husband to love and be loved in return, and her children.
Ella had little more than a huge empty palace. IMO, Ella was so alone and could only look for happiness and peace in her own inner life(maybe that´s the reason why she founded the Martha and Mary convent and tried to fill in her days helping the poor in Moscow).

Now, if Ella knew of Alexey´s illness and how Rasputin would really heal him, how couldn´t she understand why her sister needed him?

About being popular between the common russian people, i think Alexandra kept thinking to the very last day of her life that the russian people still loved the Tsar and his family.

Really Ella left behind her former luxurious lifestyle. Yet her study at the convent cannot be called ascetic.... :P

Alexandra Feodorovna / Re: Alix & Ella & the Hessian Siblings
« on: August 10, 2005, 06:47:48 PM »
Hi Bluetoria :)!

Thanks for your answer.

Of course, i did not tried by any way to judge Ella´s ulterior intentions when writting that letter. What i wanted to say is that i could understand if Alexandra were not contented with that endless list of apologies from her sister.




Dutchess Paley decorated house in other way.
I think, that from the point of view of the masses of those time, Paley's  house could be regarded as ideal nobility house at the beginning of 20th century.

Hi Hikaru :)

First of all, may i join everyone else in wanting to hear more of your experience and life in the palaces.

Now, about the Paley palace at Tsarskoe Selo, when you speak about the stylish rooms you surely mean the parade rooms of the ground floor, those intended to be seen by the guests. But then, they have as well their suite of private appartments in the upper floor. Those private quarters were decorated in a much less luxurious way,sort of english style, and were as a matter of fact described as lacking any artistic value during the brief period of time it was opened as a museum.

At the Alexander Palace, the Empress already had a wonderful suite of Parade Halls, full of works of art and antiques. She even had several pieces of furniture from the nearby Catherine palace, as the set of chairs from the Arabesque Hall, for example. The rooms she redecorated were never thought to be seen by the public in general, therefore she had no reason to create anything in the grand style for her PRIVATE use.
What was she supposed to do? To put her bed in the middle of the Portrait Hall?(just kidding :)

And another thing that keeps me puzzled today is the constant remark about the "stuffed parrot". I may have missed it, so please could anybody tell me where was the stuffed parrot placed in Alexandra´s rooms????

Muy estimado Don Antonio,

Thank you very much for your kind answer.

But before I go further, I wanted to share a personal experience with wrote, I think that your father was in the Division Azul.  My father had a high rank in Vlassov's army....and he actually survived the meltdown of the army and what followed.  There was much contact, I believe, between the two, and I can only wonder if they knew each other.

Next, in terms of the Turkish rooms, yes, there is a suite, I am sure of it, I have seen it.  It is a huge, huge palace.  And firstly, remember that the Princess and the Prince led distinctly different lives...and that I strongly believe that the Yussopovi converted to Orthodoxy centuries before as a businessmatter, I almost sure.  I often wondered if in private they were not secret Muslims.  I mean it sincererely.

Anyway, much of the Yussopovs wealth came from oilfields in Baku and that rather Muslim-predominated part of the East.  The Prince Yussopov, even though he inherited the name, controlled the family businesses.  He would receive endless Sheiks and others from those parts of Russia.  There was a separate Turkish entrance for them, a separate kitchen for them (they were "hallal") with their own customs, etc., etc.  There is a dining room, a Turkish boudoir or smoking room for lack of a better word, the Turkish baths, etc., so forth and so on.  There is a entire Turkish feel to a good part of the rooms that are not shown.  It's not something that Petersburg society knew much of in its time.  The Yussopovs were already rich but considered a little eccentric, to say the least.  After her first son was killed in that duel, the Mme never recovered and was at least prone to a nervous condition as the Empress.  And her husband and all of the soldier boys that he played with -- everyone knew.  I don't know why they criticize poor Felix so much, he was only the son of a father who already doing it.  And the Mme knew all of this, which is why in the Emigration, each lived where they lived, rather separate lives.  A totally dysfunctional value.

Anyway, yes, I agree, your observations on the dispositions of the rooms is very Louis XVI, with all of these "rincones" as you say in Spanish ("les petits coins") (na uglu).  And yes, the choice of colors. It looks so vivicatious to us but they all the follow the same pattern for the same rooms.

Anyway, enter into all of this the Empress, with her wishes to recreate a Knightsbridge-on-the-Neva.  Out with the Repnins.  Out with the Serovs.  Out with the Aubuissons.  Down with the Porcelaine de Sevre.  Down with the fine Ming Lacque de Chine.  And up with the wicker.  The chintz.  All of those Easter-like mauves. And then all of that heavy, heavy wooden English style furniture.

Dear Alex. P.,

Thanks to you, i never imagined you had knowledge of spanish language! It´s indeed my very pleasure to discuss russian interiorism and architecture. :)

I´m sorry to say that it was not my father but my grand father who belonged to the Blue Division. I never knew him as he died many years before i was born. For some reason, my grand mother burned all his letters, including those from the time he spent in Russia, so i have only his photographs, and a wooden russian style cane, incogruosly decorated with a view of a russian church beneath the nazi eagle and swastika.

Felix pere´s affair with the soldiers i found out very recently, and would have never expected such a thing from  him. I mean he was so "hard" to his son, and to think of Zenaide...


Yes, thank you for pointing out that Alexandra Feodorovna destroyed the classical interiors of the some rooms of the Winter Palace and turned them into Brighton-on-the-Baltic with the worst of all possible tastes.  The Court and the Nobility found her tastes "roturiers" (a word they actually used) and the people, hearing of these stories of the "Nemka" trashing great Russian art, were not amused. And she did not prefer intellectual French comedy but rather "comedie legere", nothing that would have ever been perfomed at the "Comedie Francaise", but rather in some musichall.  Hausfrau culture, there is no other way to say, except it was English middle-class hausfrau culture.


Hi again :)

Well, i think we should differenciate between Alexandra´s redecoration works carried out in the Winter Palace, and the Alexander Palace.

When Alexandra´s redecorated the private rooms at the Winter palace, i think she, being in the first stage of her role as an Empress, tried somehow(and was guided on that by her sister Ella) to follow the lines of what she was supposed to do and chose several historic styles for those rooms: Russian Empire, Louis XVi and even an "odd" form of Rococo in her corner Drawing room. Yet, as the architect himself complained, her ascetic tastes would always made him unable to properly design the room, which instead of any stucco moulding essential to the rococo style, had its walls just covered with golden yellow fabric.

And she really distroyed several wonderful interiors to create her and Nicholas´rooms. Right now came to my mind the Pompeyan Dinning room(now the White Dinning room) and the lovely corner winter garden of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna "the first". They were among the worst losses caused by the young couple redecoration works at this palace.

Yet, as i see it, if they had to choose rooms for themselves in the part of the palace that was commonly used by the reigning Tsars and imperial family, they had to destroy some rooms. And, well, if they had to, i thank God they chose that corner of the building instead of the suite of Empress Maria Alexandrovna, as i think that would have been an even greater loss...
The Winter palace was huge, but the major part of the piano nobile was already occupied by the parade halls and many other interiors that were virtually "untouchable", so they had not that much of possibilities...

Now, as far as the Alexander Palace is concerned, the only destruction of consequence they are responsible of is that of the Concert hall, which is regrettable indeed. However, there´s now a matter of different criteria, for, in my opinion, the art nouveau interiors that Alexandra created, especially the Maple Hall, resulted in quite a valuable addition to the Russian architectural heritage.
I´m far from slighting Quarengi´s work(which in that particular room had been somehow altered through the years), but if i must select between both interiors i would not hesitate to select the Maple room, which was quite "unique" in Russia and one of the most beautiful art nouvea interiors ever existed.

Best regards,



Antonio, there are at least three, if I recall.

First, there is the little known Turkish Entrance which faces away from the street, where Prince Yussopov, pere, used to receive his guests.

Additionally, there were the well-known Turkish baths, plus one other Turkish room, I believe, a small dining room a la turque.  Since a I used the word "suite", indeed, there are three rooms here, and thus a suite.

As for the "melange" of everything, you are quite accurate.  Perhaps I would call the style "un style a la Louis XVI", or "du Grand Louis XVI", since indeed, it was positche as you mention, but it retained all of the lines, colors, form, room disposition of Louis XVI.  The places of the "fauteuils" and the "tabourets" were Louis XVI rather than Louis XV.  The choice of colors, etc.

I look forward to your comments.  And yes, the Etruscan Room of the Sheremetiev Palace, but Antonio, I was referring in particular to the classicism of the Sheremetiev dvoretz at Octakino.  Have you seen it?



Hello Alex.P  :)

I´m quite puzzled about the Turkish rooms of the Yusupov Palace. I only recall, in Felix pere´s rooms, the Moorish room that faced the back courtyard(in former times it has, if memory serves me right, an adjoying winter garden). It´s the room with the Onix fireplace and a fountain in the centre. And yet, this is not in the Turkish style. So i would love if you would have more information about the Dinning room a la turque, or any photograph, since i have not seen the "whole" palace, only those rooms that are commonly toured, plus Felix and Irina´s latest interiors.

Totally agree about the disposition of furniture being Louis XVI. I think they used to dispose the fauteils, screens and palms to create several spaces into the same room. The Louis XV would have never, in my opinion, tried to achieve any intimacy of that kind. And many times the decorative elements do resemble more the Louis XVI than the XV. Yet, when i see the enfilade of parade halls of the Novo Mikhailovsky palace, i cannot help but considereing them a sort of cross between rococo revival and Beaux arts style.
Also agree with you about the election of colors. Instead of the oftenly seen greyish hues, as far as trying to reproduce a Louis XVI interior goes, they used a wider range of colors. People use to forget that back in Marie Antoinette´s times, they would use pale greens and pinks and blues and so forth.

In the Vladimir palace, for instance, i find the Study of Grand Duchess Vladimir was pretty much the Louis XVI style. Especially so in prerevolutionary photographs, as today the room is full of art nouveau furniture, so foreign to the architectural decor of the room.

And i see my mistake about the Sheremetiev Palace :). Of course i love Ostankino. I like the Italian and Egyptian pavillions even more than the central palace itself.

Best regards,



The "dvoriantzvo" favored Louis XVI, not even Louis XV, not Regence, not Belle-Epoque.  As someone pointed out on these postings, indeed there was a clash of styles here.  The Dowager Empress was also very, very Louis XVI.  Remember, the various palaces of the Emperor and Empress ACTUALLY contained pieces of furniture that belonged directly to Marie-Antoinette.  In any case, Petersburg society was "frozen" into the Louis XVI mode, even as their taste in clothes evolved, their taste in interior design did not.  I am sure that all readers know that the only true exception to this was the main Yussopov dvoretz which actually contained an entire series of Turkish-style rooms, a Turkish bath, and I often wonder if it did not even contain a secret little mosque.


Well, to be really acurate, the Yusupov Palace did not contain entire series of Turkish style rooms, but only one. And it was not in the Turkish style, but in Moorish style, taking the Alhambra palace as a reference.

And the Yusupov Palace is not the only aristocratic palace in Petersburg having a moorish style room, as you can see such rooms in the Nikolay Nikolaevich Palace, the Vladimir Palace, the Stieglitz mansion(later the palace of Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich), the Von Derviz mansion and Polovtsov residence on Bolshaya Morskaya, for example.

Much more exceptional and unique, as far as i know, would be the Etruscan Study of the Sheremetiev Palace.

They would use the Louis XVI style, but i´ve seen an equal amount of Rococo, Russian empire, Beaux Arts, and all the possible "Neos" available. Even when they tried the Louis XVI style, quite oftenly it was conceived in such a "grand" manner that it ended looking much more like the Rococo. Louis XVI style was never intended nor fitted the Russian frequently huge scale. Marie Antoinette´s Petits Appartements at Versailles are a good example of that.

Alexandra Feodorovna / Re: Alix & Ella & the Hessian Siblings
« on: August 09, 2005, 10:15:18 PM »

I've found one of the letters which I mentioned. It is from April 1909 & Ella is responding to all Nicky's arguments (..... )
Poor Ella...she ends with endless humble apologies:
"I will be so grateful for your advice & remarks.  Forgive me, both of you. I know and feel alas that I worry you & perhaps you don't quite understand me, pleaseforgive and be patients with me, forgive my mistakes, forgive my living differently than you would have wished, forgive me that I can't often come and see you because of my duties here. Simply with your good hearts forgive, and with your large Christian souls pray for me and my work."
There are several other similar letters.  

Hello Bluetoria, :)

Well, IMHO this endless list of apologies from Ella cannot really be any proof of her humility. I mean we would need to be able to look into her soul to be sure of her feelings when she wrote those words. The recipient of the letter, especially in strained circumstances, could take it in a sarcastic way: "forgive my being so perfect and so loved by everybody", and just think Ella was playing the victim.

Hope you understand what i mean....

Ella was such a complex character.

It must be due to my bad english, but i didn´t intend to discuss if the style chosen by Alexandra was or not elegant, but only tried to point out the contradiction of people criticizing it and then just employing the same designer...

Hi Michael G. :)

Well, i said i couldn´t understand why they were criticized not because i thought they were beyond any critic, but because the people that criticized them were asking the same designer to decorate their own rooms. Isn´t that contradictory at best?

To this day i cannot understand much of the court criticism against Alexandra´s style of decor.
Well, it was Meltzer who mainly designed and furnished most of their rooms at the different palaces, and after all, Meltzer was asked to decorate rooms for many other members of the russian court, including the grand dukes. Ella´s big library is a good example of that, but even at the Vladimir palace we can see Vladimir´s own study furnished by meltzer in art nouveau style. And these are only a couple of examples....

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