Wednesday, August 4, 2021



As I was pondering what to post, Graham’s latest email arrived with some interesting pics and background to a 1903 costume bash thrown by the Russian Romanovs. The link Graham provided to the story on History Daily headed the article “The Winter Ball of 1903: This Obscenely Opulent Costume Party Will be the Last Hurrah for Imperialist Russia.”

Below is Graham’s post . . . 

Hi Mr O,

In 1903, the Romanovs, Russia’s last and longest-reigning royal family, held a lavish costume ball. It was to be their final blowout, and perhaps also the “last great royal ball” in Europe.

The party took place at the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, 14 years before Tsar Nicholas II’s abdication, on the 290th anniversary of Romanov rule. The Tsar invited 390 guests and the ball ranged over two days of festivities, with elaborate 17th-century boyar costumes, including “38 original royal items of the 17th century from the armoury in Moscow.”

The event was documented by the leading photographers of the time and those archives have been colourised by Russian Translator and amateur colourist Olga Shirnina, also known as Klimbim.

Group photograph


Mr G

Thanks Graham.

Some additional pics

Tsar Nicholas 11

The Tsar’s wife Empress Alexandra Feodorovna Romanov.

Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovitch.

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 jeweller, Faberge. The modern day estimate for this outfit is 10 million euros. The event was held in sumptuous surroundings at a time when many Russians were impoverished and repressed.

Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovitch (pictured above) recalled the occasion as "the last spectacular ball in the history of the empire ... [but] 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."

Mikhailovich, brother-in-law of Czar Nicholas, fled to Crimea with his family after the Russian Revolution; they were rescued by the British battleship HMS Marlborough in 1919.

Tsar Nicholas and his family were unable to escape. After months of imprisonment, the entire family met their end in the basement of a house in Ekaterinburg on July 17, 1918. The Russian Imperial Romanov family (Emperor Nicholas II, his wife Empress Alexandra and their five children: Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, and Alexei) were shot and bayoneted to death by Bolshevik revolutionaries.

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