Rare 1917 Photographs (Autochromes) from the Alexander Palace
A rare and unique set of 48 Autochrome color photograph plates, taken by Alexander Zehest in 1917 of the interiors of the Alexander Palace, including both the Parade rooms and the personal rooms of the Imperial Family, have been returned to the Alexander Palace Museum. The Autochrome process was a rare and difficult one, invented by the Lumiere Brothers of France in 1903 and marketed in Europe and the US starting in 1907.
The autochromes, 140 in total, were made in 1917 by the military photographer Andrei Zeest, who was invited by the art historian George Loukomski, Head of Tsarskoye Selo Inventory Commission.
The Alexander Palace interiors were photographed in August-September, soon after the Tsar’s family left for exile. Now that a comprehensive restoration of the palace approaches, the detail-rich autochromes become one of the most important resources for the museum workers, restorers and historians. Particularly noteworthy are the views of the Playroom of Tsarevich Alexei, previously unavailable, and Alexandra Fiodorovna’s greenery-decorated Maple Study or Drawing-Room and the Palisander Reception Room with a vase holding a Hortensia put there by the Tsarina herself.
The plates were at auction in Paris in June 2012. A close friend of the work of the Alexander Palace Time Machine, Mr. Mike Pyles, contacted Bob Atchison, offering a most generous gift of $25,000 toward the purchase of the plates for the APTM websites. Bob declined the gift personally, insisting that the plates go to the Alexander Palace Museum. Mr. Pyles readily agreed. The Museum staff were already aware of the impending sale of the plates. With Mr. Pyles promised gift in hand of $25,000 toward their purchase, the Museum was able to secure the photographs, which ultimately sold for 53,000 Euros!! (about $70 000 American dollars!)
(via Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Preserve)
These incredible and rare photographs are currently being restored, and due to be released, digitally, on the APTM site sometime in the next month!!
*I will never, nor have I ever owned these photographs, these were taken directly from the APTM Forum and I am citing in full the incredible generosity and passion for those who are saving these incredible historic pieces from the most spectacular period in history.*