The last costume ball of the empire: unique photographs of the royal family and nobility
The last costume ball of the empire: unique photographs of the royal family and nobility
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The last costume ball of the Russian empire

For one of the anniversaries of the reign of the Romanov dynasty, an unusual ball was organized in the Winter Palace. All those invited had to observe the dress code - to come to the holiday in the clothes of the pre-Petrine era. In our review, there are unique photos that capture the participants of this bright event.

Monarchs in 17th century clothing

On February 13, 1903, a grandiose event took place in the Winter Palace - a costume ball. The occasion was the next anniversary of the reign of the Romanov dynasty.

Nicholas II in the clothes of Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich

And although the date was not round, preparations for it took several months and the best specialists were involved in organizing this event - costume designers, artists, jewelers, set designers, singers, dancers, choreographers.

Princess Beloselskaya-Belozerskaya dressed as a 17th century boyar Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich in 17th century princely attire

There were about four hundred guests in total, and they were all the nobility of the Russian Empire. The invitees were supposed to arrive at the masquerade in the costumes of pre-Petrine Russia. This is quite consistent with the fashion trends of that time, because the artists of the nascent Art Nouveau era drew inspiration from both history and folklore.

Maria Nikolaevna Voeikova in a 17th century hawthorn costume

Large-scale historical and archival research was carried out, consultants from among historians and art historians took part in the creation of outfits for the royal couple and courtiers.

Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna in 17th century princely attire Countess Alexandra Tolstaya in 17th century hawthorn dress

According to contemporaries, the ball was not just "a magnificent spectacle, but an integral work of art." At the request of the Empress, the participants were photographed by the best photographers of St. Petersburg, and a year later, by order of the Imperial Court, a gift "Album of the Costume Ball in the Winter Palace" was released, containing 21 heliogravures and 174 phototypes. Thanks to these photographs and several costumes preserved in museums, we can judge the beauty and luxury of this ball.

Princess Obolenskaya in a 17th century hawthorn costume Princess Elena Kochubei dressed as a noble lady of the 17th century

After the end of the masquerade, a "Russian boom" began in St. Petersburg. The interest in national traditions "covered" the high society. This was the last event of such a scale and breadth in the Russian Empire - a year later, in the same February days, there was already a war with Japan (1904-1905).

Baroness Emma Fredericks in a 17th century hawthorn costume

No less interesting are the photographs in which Nicholas II in Paris… This time was called the "honeymoon" of Franco-Russian relations.

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