Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Yusupov Palace & Grigori Rasputin

(Yusupov Palace in Saint Petersburg, Russia)

I was tuned in to Turner Classic Movies over the weekend and saw part of the 1971 movie Nicholas and Alexandra. The film's subject matter covered one of my favorite historical subjects, Tsarist Russia, so I was captured by the movie instantly. When it covered the topic of Rasputin and his murder, I was especially attentive because I was fortunate enough to visit the Yusupov Palace on the Moika river in St. Petersburg; the scene of the historic killing. There, I saw the exhibit in Prince Yusupov's former apartments in the palace's basement that depicts how the rooms looked the night Grigori Rasputin was assassinated. Rasputin was a peasant monk from a small village in Siberia who befriended the Tsaritsa Alexandra because of her belief that he was a gifted healer. The exhibit has furniture, paintings, objets, family photographs of the Romanovs, Yusupovs and other decorative items from the era. The movie brought back the excitement of my visit so I pulled out my book on the palace and the famous Yusupov family to share some information that I learned from the trip.
The family can trace its descent from the ancient Tartar khans who ruled the plains centuries ago. In the 16th Century, Khan Yussuf formed an alliance with Ivan the Terrible and that was the first link with the Russian royal family. Over time, they converted from the Muslim church to the Orthodox church and changed their name to Yusupov. Along the way, they were made princes of Russia by the Romanovs. In 1916, the Yusupov's were increasingly alarmed at the deteriorating popularity of the Tsar and believed Rasputin's influence over the Tsarina Alexandra was harmful and causing the royal couple to ignore their responsibilities. Prince Felix Yusopov and Archduke Dmitri Pavlovitch Romanov invited Rasputin to the Yusupov palace on December 16, 1916. There, they fed him wine and cakes laced with poison. According to legend, the poison did not do the trick so they shot him, beat him and threw him into the frozen Neva River. The killing did not save the royal family, but it may have saved both the lives of Prince Yusupov and the Archduke because they were both exiled from St. Petersburg before the revolution and eventually escaped Russia. In fact Archduke Dmitri Pavlovitch Romanov went on to have an affair with Coco Chanel in 1921 and introduced her to the perfumers in Grasse, France which led to the famous Chanel No 5 fragrance.

A glimpse inside the
Yusupov Palace

Palace Theatre

This is the Yusupov family's private theatre located in the palace.

The theater has been herald as one the world's most impressive theaters with its gilded gold ornaments throughout the theater.

The ceiling up close is just unbelievable. The Yusupov's had the theater designed to impress the Tsar of Russia and also other kings and queens of Europe that visited Saint Petersburg.

Palace Staircase

One of the fabulous staircases in the palace with a grand chandelier.

The Red Room
Interior decoration 1830's -architect A. Mikhailov

This room is known as the Golden, or Imperial Drawing Room because of its collection of portraits of the ruling monarch on the central wall of the room.

The parquetry floors consist of various types of tropical wood which were laid around the 1830's. The walls covered in crimson colored silk.

The Green Room

The color scheme of the Green room is emphasized by the fireplace mantel made of Ural
malachite in the Russian mosaic technique. Installed by the architect I. Monigetty in 1860.

The Blue Room

The Louis XVI style furniture pieces were acquired around the 1840's.

(The wonderful palace interior photos courtesy of world traveler Galen R. Frysinger at galenfrysinger.com )


Paris Atelier said...

Bonjour Dear Julio!
I hope you had a wonderful Halloween with Dan & Little Daniel.

This post is magnificent! It is just amazing how people have lived over time. The palace is beyond words and I'm in love with that gorgeous soft Green on the walls! So pretty. You have inspired me to read up on Russian Royalty!

I hope all is well and my best to your beautiful family!!!

Linda Q said...

Hello Julio,
Missed your blog so had to pop in.
You always have such great posts, thanks just reading me perked me up, been a rough day with my health issues!!
Oh I agree, love that era and the history of the Russian Royals. I have a photo of the two youngest princesses (sp?) with their dolls in my doll room. I collect old photos of children with their dolls. Of course one is the famous Anastasia. Amazing, the spaces they lived in, wow. I have always wanted to see Russia, not sure why but it interests me.

Hope this finds you all well and enjoying the beginning of the holiday season!!
Hugs, Linda Q

columnist said...

Nicholas & Alexandra was one of the movies I enjoyed greatly too in my younger years, (based on Nicholas Massie's book of the same name), and the story of the Rasputin murder by Yussupov was indeed extraordinary, (in their inability to kill him instantaneously - far from it). I think it's more understandable now why there was a revolution, and an overthrow of the monarchy and aristocracy. From today's standpoint their wealth was obscene compared to the poverty that most of the inhabitants of the Russias endured.

Tristan Robin Blakeman said...

What a marvelous post!!! All those pictures are just magnificent - and I am totally lusting for a malachite fireplace now! I have seen photos of the theatre before - but I didn't know where it was.

Nicholas and Alexandra is a favorite rainy Sunday afternoon film of mine. Love snuggling in with a hot rum toddy and spending three hours with the royalty.

Thanks for a post that has inspired me to do a little more background research on my own!

ArchitectDesign™ said...

When i was a child, I was obsessed with russian royalty (later moved on to french!). I think I was in awe of their totally over the top palaces -still am. I really need to get to Russia!!!

xinex said...

This brings back precious memories, Julio. We went to St. Petersburg 2 years ago. I saw this building from the outside. What an interesting story. The staircase looks very similar to Catherine's palace we visited there.....Christine

Susan (Between Naps on the Porch) said...

Hi Julio...Wow...what an amazing palace! I'm so in awe of your knowledge of the history of this time period! History has never been one of my strengths...but so enjoyed reading your post! Beautiful pics!
P.S. You really do have the best posts! Thanks for putting so much heart into them!