Twilight of the Romanovs: A Photographic Odyssey Across Imperial Russia

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The fascination with Russia’s Romanov dynasty — that of its last czars — has never decreased.The new book, “Twilight of the Romanovs: A Photographic Odyssey Across Imperial Russia” by historians Philipp Blom and Veronica Buckley features the vast panorama of the Russian empire, before and at the time of the Bolshevik Revolution , in a collection of never seen before photos.

The arresting photos, some of the best in color, were taken from 1855 to 1918. That’s right, color — not shades created by hand-tinting. Most of these vibrant shots were taken by Sergei Prokudin-Gorsky, who documented the Russian empire in color between 1905 and 1915 in a project that had been funded by Czar Nicholas II, while a few others come from a family album that belonged to the playwright and novelist Leonid Andreyev. 

A note in “Twilight of the Romanovs” describes the method: “Many of the original color photographs…were taken with an early camera that used three lenses with color filters to register the red, yellow and blue spectrums sequentially on a photographic plate, with a fourth lens capturing the image in black and white. These four images were then superimposed and projected as a single picture.” 

– source wwd.com

The book cover, with a photo of grand duchesses Tatiana and Olga and lady-in-waiting Anna Vyrubova, in the Gulf of Finland.Photo by Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University

The book cover, with a photo of grand duchesses Tatiana and Olga and lady-in-waiting Anna Vyrubova, in the Gulf of Finland.
Photo by Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University

The actress Vera Komissarzhevskaya in 1900.Photo by Carl Bulla/Imagno/Austrain Archives, Vienna

The actress Vera Komissarzhevskaya in 1900.
Photo by Carl Bulla/Imagno/Austrain Archives, Vienna

Tsar Nicholas and Alexandra II on the royal yacht Standard, 1912.Photo by An album belonging to Anna Vyrubov/Libaray of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.

Tsar Nicholas and Alexandra II on the royal yacht Standard, 1912.
Photo by An album belonging to Anna Vyrubov/Libaray of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.

Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarevich AlexeiPhoto by Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, CT

Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarevich Alexei
Photo by Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, CT

A dacha on the water at Materiki, near Vologda, from the album “Views Along the Mariinsk Canal and River System.”Photo by Sergei Prokudin-Gorsky/Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Washington D.C.

A dacha on the water at Materiki, near Vologda, from the album “Views Along the Mariinsk Canal and River System.”
Photo by Sergei Prokudin-Gorsky/Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Washington D.C.

A lunch party in the summer house of dramatist and fiction writer Leonid Andreyev (center back in white suit) in Vammelsuu (Serovo), Gulf of Finland, 1912.Photo by Andreyev Family Album/Leeds University

A lunch party in the summer house of dramatist and fiction writer Leonid Andreyev (center back in white suit) in Vammelsuu (Serovo), Gulf of Finland, 1912.
Photo by Andreyev Family Album/Leeds University

Summer idyll, from the album “Different Views and Studies of the Russian Empire.”Photo by Sergei Prokudin-Gorsky/Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Washington D.C.

Summer idyll, from the album “Different Views and Studies of the Russian Empire.”
Photo by Sergei Prokudin-Gorsky/Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Washington D.C.

Vadim, writer Leonid Andreyev’s son, in 1912.Photo by Andreyev Family Album/Leeds University

Vadim, writer Leonid Andreyev’s son, in 1912.
Photo by Andreyev Family Album/Leeds University

Farm girls carrying berries at Kirillov on the northern Dvina Canal.Photo by Sergei Prokudin-Gorsky/Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Washington D.C.

Farm girls carrying berries at Kirillov on the northern Dvina Canal.
Photo by Sergei Prokudin-Gorsky/Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Washington D.C.

Young woman in elaborate traditional dress in front of a Kazakh yurt in Central Asia, shot between 1905-1915, from the album “Views of Central Asia.”Photo by Sergei Prokudin-Gorsky/Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Washington D.C.

Young woman in elaborate traditional dress in front of a Kazakh yurt in Central Asia, shot between 1905-1915, from the album “Views of Central Asia.”
Photo by Sergei Prokudin-Gorsky/Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Washington D.C.

"Uzbek

Alim Khan, the last emir of Bukhara, now part of Uzbekistan, in 1911.Photo by Sergei Prokudin-Gorsky/Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Washington D.C.

Alim Khan, the last emir of Bukhara, now part of Uzbekistan, in 1911.
Photo by Sergei Prokudin-Gorsky/Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Washington D.C.

A Jewish water carrier in Vilnius, 1900.Photo by Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C, Carpenter Collection

A Jewish water carrier in Vilnius, 1900.
Photo by Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C, Carpenter Collection

A postcard image of the Ironworks in Ural, 1910.Photo by Imagno/Austrian Archives, Vienna

A postcard image of the Ironworks in Ural, 1910.
Photo by Imagno/Austrian Archives, Vienna

St. Petersburg crowds outside the office of the newspaper The New Times, reading the war reports, 1915.Photo by Carl Bulla/Imagno/Ullsteinbild

St. Petersburg crowds outside the office of the newspaper The New Times, reading the war reports, 1915.
Photo by Carl Bulla/Imagno/Ullsteinbild

Nizhny Novgorod, the Fair Bridge, now the Kanavinski Bridge, over the Oka, c. 1890 to 1900.Photo by Imagno/Austrian Archives, Vienna

Nizhny Novgorod, the Fair Bridge, now the Kanavinski Bridge, over the Oka, c. 1890 to 1900.
Photo by Imagno/Austrian Archives, Vienna

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4 comments

  1. Romanovfollower

    Love to have this book! Anna Vyrubova was not a lady-in-waiting to the Empress, she was a close, personal confidante, and the second photo is of Nicholas and his mother, Maria Feoderovna.

  2. I love this family! I visited St Petersburg anb Moscow two years ago and I fell in love with the Tsar’s fabulous estates… <3!!! And Ermitage of course.
    Stay tuned, I'll write about that.
    Bye, Mchan

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