© Royal Collection Trust | Licence: All Rights Reserved
© Royal Collection Trust | Licence: All Rights Reserved

The Bal Polonais at the Winter Palace, St Petersburg, 23 January 1874 signed and dated 1876

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From the Collection


A watercolour showing the Bal Polonais taking place in St George’s Hall, or the throne room of the Winter Palace. The formal polonaise dance was led by the Emperor, with as his partner, the bride, the Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna. The Empress was led by the groom, the Duke of Edinburgh. Behind them, the Prince of Wales is seen leading his sister, the German Crown Princess. Her husband, the German Crown Prince, leads the Princess of Wales. Signed and dated.

Following the two wedding ceremonies for the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh on 23 January 1874, the first, Orthodox, in the Palace Cathedral, and the second, an Anglican service in the Alexander Hall, the celebrations continued, with a banquet for 700 guests. Lord Augustus Loftus (1817–1904), British ambassador, wrote to Lord Granville, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in London:

Nothing can exceed the splendour of this Banquet. The display of magnificent jewels, the brilliancy of the uniforms, the mass of ornamental gold and silver plate the beauty of the varied Sevres china added to the vocal talents of the Patti, the Albani, Nicolini who executed the most lovely airs during dinner gave a charm and perfection to a scene which for its unrivalled beauty is almost indescribable. After the dinner a Bal Polonaise was given at the Palace at which I am told three thousand persons were present. No one but the Imperial Family and the foreign ambassadors danced the Polonaise and the only exception was that of Viscount Sydney [the Lord Chamberlain] who with myself was specially invited to dance the Polonaise with the Imperial Bride. (The National Archives, FO 83/834.)

Text adapted from Russia, Royalty & the Romanovs, London, 2018

Alternate title: 'The Bal Polonaise at the Winter Palace, St Petersburg, 23 January 1874'

Descriptive Medium: 'Pencil, watercolour and bodycolour', 'bodycolour, pencil', 'watercolour painting'

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© Royal Collection Trust

From the Watercolour World


The Winter Palace, St Petersburg, Russia