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
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.
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 )