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Bedazzling Jewelry at the Romanov 1903 Costume Ball


One of the most tragic royal stories has to be that of the ill-fated Romanovs of Russia. The last of their line perished in 1918 in a cellar of a house in Yekaterinburg. Their story still intrigues many to this day. A new book, The Romanov Royal Martyrs is out. This family biography is "Based strictly on primary sources, the book offers previously unpublished texts in English." 

The book's beautiful colorized photographs of the Royal Family and their court were done by Russian artist,  Olga Shirnina who graciously allowed me to share in this post.  Her work brought this family and their court to life.




The last picture of the entire extended Royal family was taken at a bedazzling costume ball in 1903 - 14 years before the fall of the Romanov dynasty.

It was held in the Winter Palace in St Petersburg with the participants dressed in 17th century costumes designed by artist, Sergey Solomko. The women were dressed in gemstone embellished gowns and kokoshniks (headdresses) while the men were in long tunics and fur hats.

The Royal couple dressed as one of the 17th century Tsars and his consort. Tsarina Alexandra's brocade gown and crown were studded with gemstones all chosen by the court jeweler, Faberge.  The modern day estimate for this outfit runs into millions.

This event was held in sumptuous surroundings at a time when many Russians were impoverished and repressed. 

Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich, the Tsar's brother-in-law called it the last spectacular ball in the history of the empire.  He noted " ...  a new and hostile Russia glared through the large windows of the palace ... while we danced, the workers were striking and the clouds in the Far East were hanging dangerously low."

The Tsar was ultimately not up to the task of governing his vast Empire nor was able to bring about much needed change. He was eventually forced to abdicate in 1917.  Whether or not the family could have been saved - particularly by the Tsar's cousin, King George V of Great Britain, is still a matter of historical debate.

Tsar Nicholas II

Tsarina Alexandra
Princess Olga Orlova
Baronness Emma Freedericksz

Princess Kudasheva

Princess Galizine
La Comtesse Karlow


H/T My Modern Met  and The Vintage News

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8 comments:

  1. I watched the story of their last days that Netflix put out this year. It was riveting and horrifying that they slaughtered the entire family. Still...his reign really emphasized the term 'tone-deaf'.

    The gowns, the jewels, the dripping pearls are to die for! (Oops - I guess the pun really applies here).

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  2. The story of the Romanovs has always been one of fascination for me. Their way of life, their politics, their jewels, and finally their demise are all a significant part of world history. I must admit that their jewels are exquisite, but I do wonder what could have been done with what they were worth to help the people of Russia.

    And talking of jewels, one of my favorite parts of the Smithsonian is the hall of Minerals and Gems. I make certain that I visit it everytime I happen to be in DC. I even attended a cocktail party in it after hours. What a treat!!

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    1. I haven't yet seen the Smithsonian's amazing collection. I hope to do so one day!

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  3. We were lucky enough to have a Jewels of the Romanovs exhibit come to one of my local art museums. Not only were the jewels exquisite, but they had many beautiful religious icons too.

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    1. You and I may have seen the same touring exhibition - I saw it in Montreal a few years ago. Yes, I remember the beautiful religious icons too.

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