L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Ella plays dress-up - the Grand Duchess Elisaveta Feodorovna in period costume

Portrait by François Flameng, painted at Ilinskoe, the country estate of the Grand Duchess and her husband, 1894.

From almost the beginning of civilization, royalty and the aristocracy have loved to don "fancy dress" and throw a ball, pose in tableaux vivants, or indulge in amateur theatricals; they've had the time and budgets to support such pretty frivolity. The Romanovs were no different. The Grand Duchess Elisaveta Feodorovna - wife of Grand Duke Sergei, uncle of the last tsar; sister of the last tsaritsa; granddaughter of Queen Victoria - was considered the most beautiful and best-dressed member of the family. Ella, as she was know to her intimates, was of an "artistic bent", and it should come as no surprise that she was often the star of the family theatricals - and easily the most lovely.

 As is obvious by comparison with the other images, the sleeves in the portrait have been enlarged to better reflect the styles of the 1890s.
I don't know the occasion for which this lovely Empire style gown was created.
Ella with her nephew-by-marriage, the future Nicholas II - also her future brother-in-law - in a performance of "Eugene Onegin", 1890.
The Grand Duchess was Tatiana to Nicholas' Onegin.
I think she is particularly beautiful here. And the costume is exactly right and perfectly suited to her.
She had performed with the Tsarevich before, in 1886; supposedly this was a portrayal of "Hamlet"...?
The costumes seem a highly unlikely choice for "Hamlet".
With her husband, Grand Duke Sergei, dressed for quite the most famous Romanov costume ball, the Winter Palace "Boyar Ball" of 1903.
As a seventeenth-century boyarina, many of her personal jewels have been sewn onto her costume.


  1. Interesting to see photos of Nicholas II so young. And his coloring in these brings out his resemblance to his parents, particularly his mother. The Grand Duchess herself ended so tragically murdered by the Bolsheviks in 1918. She was cannonized as a saint in by the Russian Othodox Church.

    Her Empire costume in the portrait puts me in mind of those "Regency" costume paintings so popular with some late 19th Century English and American painters. With all the technological change in the mid 19th Century, the early days of the 1800s must have had a very romantic, simplistic appeal to later generations.

    1. Interesting what you say about the late nineteenth century nostalgia for the Regency/Empire period. And François Flameng, the very fashionable painter of her portrait here, was equally as well known for just those sort of costume paintings you mention. : )