Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna (Russian, born Denmark, 1847–1928)
Gelatin silver prints; photomechanical reproductions
Each 11 5/8 x 16 5/8 x 2 1/4 in. (29.5 x 24.2 x 4.7 cm)
Gift of Prince and Princess Alexander Romanoff, 1996 (1996.438ab)
This is one of two unique albums, bound in antelope leather, assembled by the dowager empress Maria Feodorovna, mother of Nicholas II, the last czar of Russia. The dowager empress took up photography with her sister, Queen Alexandra of England, in the late 1880s, just after the invention of the hand-held Kodak camera. The albums contain views of the imperial palaces at Kiev and in the Crimea, country excursions to vast estates near Kiev owned by members of the court, formal gatherings, and military reviews, as well as more intimate glimpses of the private lives of the imperial family and their circle in the year before the Russian Revolution. In the photographs on these two pages, she lovingly recorded palace interiors, a family wedding, casual winter scenes, and an elaborate child's sled designed like a helicopter, conveying a lighthearted mood that belies the momentous political and cultural changes just ahead.