Last Ball of Imperial Russia
The last Ball of Imperial Russia was on February 11, 1903 in the Winter Palace where the evening party took place, and on February 13 – a grand costume ball. It was the last ball of imperial Russia. Until now, this ball, named “The Ball of 1903”, the most famous festival in St. Petersburg during the reign of the Romanovs. The central event of the evening was a concert at the Hermitage Theatre with scenes from the opera by Modest Mussorgsky’s “Boris Godunov” (main role performed by Feodor Chaliapin and Nina Figner) from Minkus ballet “La Bayadere” and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” by Marius Petipa (with the assistance of Anna Pavlova) High quality photographs allow us to see fine details of folk costumes, clothes, hats, gloves and shoes. Thus identified the individual items and sets belonging to twelve participants of masquerade. In these suits, they appeared at a ball at the Sheremetev palace on 14th February, 1903.
Empress Alexandra Fedorovna. By order of Alexandra Fedorovna after the balls the best photographers of St. Petersburg – Boasson and Egler, Alexander Renz and Schroeder, Levitsky V.Yasvoin, D.Zdobnov and others – performed single portraits and group shots of participants of the ball.
These photographs were the basis for the publication of the album containing about two hundred images. Albums were distributed (for a high cost) for charity in the first place among guests of the ball.
Dinner was served in Spanish, Italian and Flemish halls of the Hermitage. After the dinner Their Majesties with the participants of the ball headed for the Pavilion Hall, where the evening ended with dancing.
Members of the royal family gathered in the Malachite Room, the rest – in the surrounding areas. At eleven o’clock in the evening all the participants started to dance in the Concert Hall, where on the gold-plated bars of the podium there was a court orchestra of Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich, in trumpeters costumes. Buffets were located in the Concert Hall and the Small dining tables with tea and wine – in the Malachite Room.
After dinner, guests and the hosts returned to the Concert Hall and danced till morning – waltzes, quadrilles and mazurkas, Russian dances. Cavaliers were young officers, ladies were in sundresses and kokoshniks – men in suits of archers, falconers and others.