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Remarkable private pictures of the Russian royal family found in a remote Urals museum

By The Siberian Times reporter
08 May 2013

Tsar Nicholas II appears in a photograph to be teaching his daughter Grand Duchess Anastasia how to smoke.

A zoo on the Tzar's estate would be closed after the 1917 revolution, but on that day the ruler wrote in his diary: 'Took the elephant to our pond with Alexei today and had fun watching him bath'. Picture: Zlatoust City History Museum

Another picture taken by the emperor dated 1916 shows Tsarevich Alexei - heir to an autocratic throne that would be abolished the following year - posing on a tree in winter with his beloved pet spaniel Joy. 

These images of the Russian royal family, captured in photographs taken by the Tsar himself or his children, mostly date from the years of the First World War, and some very soon before the Romanov dynasty crumbled, to be rapidly replaced by Communism. 

Found in a vault in Zlatoust, the album shows the private moments of the royals as the storm clouds gather over a dynasty that had ruled for more than three centuries. 

The smoking picture shows the youngest princess Anastasia, then 15, evidently imbibing from a cigarette with every encouragement from the Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias. At the time there was not the same stigma attached to smoking and in fact a year earlier Anastasia had written to her father: 'I am sitting here with your old cigarette that you once gave me, and it is very tasty'.

She - like Alexei - would soon be central characters in the mystery of what became of the Romanov family. 

Remarkable private pictures of the Russian royal family

The smoking picture shows the youngest princess Anastasia, then 15, evidently imbibing from a cigarette with every encouragement from the Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias. Pictures: Zlatoust City History Museum

For decades there were claims that the pair had survived the 1918 shooting that took the lives of Russia's last royal ruler, his former empress Alexandra, and their other three children, Olga, Tatiana and Maria. 

In the event, DNA evidence gathered from bones found near Yekaterinburg gives credible evidence that both were indeed killed in the shooting at the Ipatiev House, where the family were held by Lenin's forces. Anastasia and her brother were, however, buried separately from the rest of the family. 

The images of Alexei show a surprisingly strong boy given that his haemophilia saw him portrayed as sickly.

Indeed it was his serious illness that led his mother to rely on debauched holy man Grigory Rasputin, a relationship that did much to undermine royal credibility as the country became embroiled in an ugly war and revolutionary fervour. 

Remarkable private pictures of the Russian royal family


Remarkable private pictures of the Russian royal family


Remarkable private pictures of the Russian royal family

These images of the Russian royal family, captured in photographs taken by the Tsar himself or his children, mostly date from the years of the First World War, and some very soon before the Romanov dynasty crumbled, to be rapidly replaced by Communism. Pictures: Zlatoust City History Museum

In one of the earlier pictures in the set, the four carefree Romanov princesses are seen in 1914 enjoying the royal yacht 'Standart' on the Black Sea. 

The same year at Peterhof, the Tsar is shown relaxing on rocks in a picture almost certainly taken by one of his children using a camera he had imported from Britain. And in another picture, the Tsar, Alexei and the boy's tutor are seen walking an elephant near their palace in Tsarskoye Selo.

A zoo on the estate would be closed after the 1917 revolution, but on this day the ruler wrote in his diary: 'Took the elephant to our pond with Alexei today and had fun watching him bath'.

With war breaking out in 1914, the heir is shown in a military game with his tutor's two smaller children. In 1916, as he commanded Russian forces in the First World War, the Tsar is seen playing with his son on the banks of the Dnieper River close to Mogilyov. Here - where the smoking picture was taken - Russian military headquarters was based during the war, and Nicholas insisted on having his family around him. 

Other pictures show the older princesses visiting wounded soldiers in military hospitals. 

Remarkable private pictures of the Russian royal family


Remarkable private pictures of the Russian royal family


Private pictures of Russian Royal family, Grand Duchess Tatiana

Remarkable private pictures of the Russian royal family


Remarkable private pictures of the Russian royal family

Top to bottom: Grand Duchess Olga and Tatiana, Grand Duchess Olga pictured looking through family album; Grand Duchess Tatiana; clockwise Grand Duchess Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia; Tsarina Alexandra Fyodorovna on board of Russian Royal Yacht. Pictures: Zlatoust City History Museum

The images have been released in a year which marks the 400th anniversary of the Romanov's coming to power in Russia. 

'The emperor was very fond of photography and passed his passion for it to his wife Alexandra and children,' said Milena Bratukhina, an historian at the Zlatoust Museum where the album was hidden in Soviet times.

It remains unclear how it got to Zlatoust.  One theory is that the album - which has 200-plus pictures, many never seen before - was taken from the royals by a revolutionary called Dmitry Chudinov, nicknamed Kassian, who was an escort when the exiled royals were brought westward from Tobolsk in Siberia to Yekaterinburg on their final move before they were shot. 

He was from Zlatoust and it is known that he appropriated some royal possessions. The album could have been among them.

Remarkable private pictures of the Russian royal family


Remarkable private pictures of the Russian royal family


Remarkable private pictures of the Russian royal family


Private pictures from Russian Royal family album, Tsar Nikolai II

Comments (33)

Finally a clear photo of Anastasia's left ear that clearly proves that she was NOT Anna Anderson.
Chat Noir, Los Angeles
06/08/2014 08:32
3
2
300 years of Romanovs, and the result is an IMPERIAL FOOL who wipes out not only his a dynasty, but the entire EMPIRE and delivers it to the savages.
chris, USA
27/07/2014 21:38
0
2
Personal gift from the Dowager Empress stranded at outbreak of World War I comes up for sale at Tennants Auction House 28/3/14. Intriguing story behind the circumstances of the Empress meeting Mrs Watt a likewise stranded American in Copenhagen and her kind souvenir of a Russian Silver and Enamel cigarette case. The Empress was to return to Russia, revolution and the murder of her son and grandchildren.
Kevin Davis, Leeds Uk
27/03/2014 03:54
1
0
Fascinating photographs -many thanks for publisihig thise pics. A small point I am picky about - the correct adjective for the Romanovs is "imperial" , never "royal". There is a huge difference. Simllarly Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia are titled "Grand Duchess" - never "Princess" , which in Russia refers to another tier of nobility altogether.
Nicholas II was an autocrat and doubtless responsible for many atrocities but he should have been brought to a proper public trial. Wartime does not excuse barbarity and the manner in which he and his entire family were covertly murdered can NEVER be excused.
Dee Hinson, Canada
08/12/2013 04:10
8
1
I am looking for information about my family from Russia. We had an aunt that passed away telling stories for our ancestors in Russia. And how they escaped to the USA. They were supposed to be murdered. I dont know where to start. Any information would be great. Im not sure on everything but I know
Feibig is my grandmother's maiden name. Im curious to where are family really is from.
Jody, USA
19/11/2013 12:34
2
4
i do believe in recarnation but is is like wise for most people to be unthought of when sharing information like that yasmine
Stellie Bakers, United states
26/08/2013 06:18
1
2
Remarkable find and I don't think I seen many photographs of the Grand Duchesses photographed in profile. The quality of the photos is amazing!

It looks like in the photo of Alexis may be showing the late effects of hemophilia on his left leg which may date that post the infamous Spala attack where his left leg was drawn up to his chest.
Jeffrey Smith, Chapel Hill
31/07/2013 07:33
10
0
Although these photographs are sweet do not think for a moment that this tyrant deserved anything more than he got. It is a tragic footnote of history that his family had to die along with him. There is a very real danger in waxing romantically about well dressed (by other people) aristocrats. Russia is full of new aristocrats whose ignorance of the past will not serve them.
Mikhail, Canada
29/07/2013 10:19
2
23
Its good to see tsar and his family,
thank you
Dragan, novi sad/Serbia
11/07/2013 02:51
9
0
We now have so democratic monarchy. King for us Put In, and the Parliament are his friends. In this country, nothing will change in the next 50 years. Corruption and theft for many is the norm. Must change not one generation before something will change.
Entrepreneurs who opened their businesses do not receive any support from the state, and immediately start to pay taxes, pay to rent the commercial space, contributions to the pension Fund to pay for obtaining sanitary certificates, approval of fire safety, and much more. All this requires money-money-money. The state, led by the King, deeply to spit on everyone but themselves.
Long as there is oil - will sell, and divert money abroad, oil is over - we will sell gas to end - in the matter of the forest, and when there is nothing left to start renting land to other countries. As China now. Chinese come, poison the earth fertilizers, receive a huge harvests and leave. This is despite the fact that our once mighty agriculture, intends to destroy.
Thank you Put In, thanks for all.
Russian, Rusion Federation
09/06/2013 19:43
7
0
• What Russia needs now is return to a Democratic Monarchy like Spain or England. Would had been good that a descendent of the Czar by any of his daughters be alive and reclaim authority from Pres. Putin. For sure, the traditionalists Russians and the mass of free spirit people of the country will stand with such person into take control of the land. Still after had read much research about Princess Anastasia I am not convinced that she was killed. Those late discoveries and forensic test to the remains of bodies, supposedly attached to her and brother, by medical and anthropologies under the scope of the government which remained inclined (at the time) to communism did not convinced me. I think had not credibility in many other circles out of Russia.
,
25/05/2013 22:40
4
2
• What Russia needs now is return to a Democratic Monarchy like Spain or England. Would had been good that a descendent of the Czar by any of his daughters be alive and reclaim authority from Pres. Putin. For sure, the traditionalists Russians and the mass of free spirit people of the country will stand with such person into take control of the land. Still after had read much research about Princess Anastasia I am not convinced that she was killed. Those late discoveries and forensic test to the remains of bodies, supposedly attached to her and brother, by medical and anthropologies under the scope of the government which remained inclined (at the time) to communism did not convinced me. I think had not credibility in many other circles out of Russia.
Peter C. Allende, Ft. Worth,Texas
25/05/2013 22:39
6
2
I have just this week finished reading Robert Massie's book on Nicholas and Alexandra.I was sorry there were not more photos included.¨I hope that this new offering of the family's photo album will indeed be published.What a great historical find! 05/ 23/2013
Emalie M. Ortega, Mazatlan,Sinaloa, Mexico
24/05/2013 15:43
10
0
They would have provided more beautiful future to Russia, which Sztalint gave,.
Erik Raft, Hungary, Veszprém
22/05/2013 00:49
15
1
I really enjoyed seeing these very rare photos of Czar Nicolas II and his family. My grand-uncle, Prince Pyotr Dmitrievich Sviatopolk-Mirski, worked closely with the Czar.

Princess Maria Sviatopolk-Mirski
Stratford-London E15/UK
Princess Maria Sviatopolk-Mirski, London (Stratford) / UK
13/05/2013 09:34
10
1

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