Catherine II as Grand Duchess (c. 1761)
by Pietro Rotari
Gerhard von Kügelgen - Porträt der Prinzessin Charlotte von Preußen, später als Alexandra Fjodorowna Kaiserin von Russland (ca. 1817)
In 1917 demonstrations marking International Women’s Day in Saint Petersburg on the last Sunday in February (which fell on 8 March on the Gregorian calendar) initiated the February Revolution. (c) wiki
These color photographs were all taken in the Russian Empire between 1909 and 1918.
Sergei Prokudin-Gorskii was a Russian photographer born in 1863. After studying chemistry with Mendeleev and later with Adolf Miethe, Gorskii started developing his own techniques and processes of color photography, giving it a quality that impresses even today.
In 1909, he convinced the Tsar Nicolas II to send him on a trip across the Russian Empire to document its impressive diversity. It was a 10-year project, during which Gorskii took over 10,000 pictures.
The diversity of the people, and the shockingly modern colors of their portraits, make them impossible to forget. They are our contemporaries, now that they stopped hiding between the unfocused black-and-whiteness.
They are almost too present. [via]
Sophia Alekseyevna, Regent of Russia
Sophia was born September 27th, 1657, the daughter of Alexis I (Alexis Mikhailovich), and Maria Miloslavskaya.
After her brother, Tsar Feodor III, died when he was only twenty-one, there was uncertainty as to who would take control of Russia. Feodor had no living children, their brother Ivan was handicapped, and their half-brother, Peter (Peter the Great), was only ten years old. Ultimately, the crown was passed to Peter, with his mother, Natalya Naryshkina, serving as regent.
However, the infantry regiments (the streltsy), rose up against the Naryshkin faction, (and incredibly interesting story, but for a different post), and it was demanded that Ivan (Ivan V) and Peter be joint rulers, and Sophia emerged the dominant force in government.
She was first woman in modern Russian history to play such a strong role in politics, and while not especially innovative or groundbreaking, and by no means the ideal ruler, she was an effective one, especially with regards to foreign policy. Under her control, Russia began the first European state to sign an equal trade treaty with China, the Treaty of Eternal Peace with Poland was made (resulting in Russian territorial gains, and increased involvement with Western Europe), and there were some modest domestic developments, including the creation of the first institute of higher learning in Russia, and the creation of looser detention policies for runaway peasants.
However, she was unable to hold onto her power, as Peter grew up and took command of the country. She was forced into a convent after a failed coup d’etat.
Daughters of Paul l of Russia in 1796
by Elisabeth Vigee Lebrun
Grand Duchesses Anastasia and Maria preparing for a game of tennis
The tsar with a buck he has killed on a hunt
Grand Duchess Anastasia with a Polish peasant girl during a game of tennis
Grand Duchesses Tatiana and Olga, Alexandra Feodorovna, Grand Duchess Maria, the Tsar and Grand Duchess Anastasia on the steps of the hunting lodge.
It absolutely amazes me that they had the strength to put on a brave face for so long when the family and the dynasty were so clearly in crisis! It must have been especially difficult for the girls, who adored their brother so much.
As morbid as it sounds, I have often wondered what would have happened if Alexei had died from his attack at Spala in 1912. Grand Duke Michael would have obviously become heir again. But I do wonder whether Alix would have interfered so much in politics during the war if there had been no son to pass the throne to. She often reminds Nicholas in her letters that he must “leave a good legacy for Baby,” etc. Perhaps Rasputin would have fallen out of favor, being unable to save Alexei after all. I believe that the public would have been extremely sympathetic if the tsarevich had died in 1912 and that the image of the Imperial family would have been bolstered by the inevitable dismissal of Rasputin. Of course it would have been awful for everyone if Alexei had died in 1912, but it is interesting to speculate how history may have played out differently.
Two newly discovered captivity photos!
Nicholas at Tsarskoe Selo :1917
Nicholas and Alexandra on the balcony in Tobolsk: September 1917
Lower Dasha, Peterhof.