Sunday, September 29, 2013

Nothing Exceeds like Excess

What can you do that doesn't pale by comparison after you leave the Hermitage? The next day we drove an hour outside St. Petersburg to Tsarskoye Selo or Pushkin. The luxurious Catherine Palace, another tsarist wonder, was built by Peter 1st for his wife Catherine 1st then rebuilt later for their daughter Empress Elizabeth. Few people were visiting and we congratulated ourselves once again on choosing the off season for our visit. 

We donned our elfin shoe covers and set off once again to gasp and gape. 

What a court Elizabeth presided over! She is reputed to have owned 10 - 15,000 dresses and several thousand pairs of shoes. She makes Imelda Marcos look like an amateur. Known to never wear the same dress twice, she would change outfits several times a day and have the dresses stamped so there was never a repeat. I detest trying on clothes so I cannot imagine someone choosing to get dressed over and over again in this kind of gear. I suppose she went through doorways sideways and stood up a lot. She loved champagne and lots of french wine which means frequent trips to the loo...I'm sure it took several people to hold up all that dress and train while she tinkled. They never washed these clothes nor did they wash themselves so I opine that under the gold brocade and jewels, there was a lot of ickiness. 

The fashion shenanigans weren't confined to the fairer sex at court. Men at court were known to wear diamond buttons, own jeweled snuff boxes, and adorn their servants in uniforms made of gold. 

Women carried tiny jeweled boxes in which they stashed their beauty spots. The spots were used to signal a woman's intentions...if she wore one glued in the middle of her forehead, that meant something. If she wore it near the corner of the mouth, perhaps the spot was signaling a lover that the coast was clear. 

Elizabeth’s extravagance was displayed in the food she served.  A thousand bottles of French champagnes and wines might be served at an event and she loved to have pineapple at all of her receptions, despite the difficulty of procuring the fruit. Thanks to Elizabeth’s incredible extravagance and consumption of exotica she ended up greatly benefiting the country’s infrastructure. The need for shipping goods all over the place necessitated modernization of the postal system and roads in order to fulfill the Empress’s many needs. 


  1. Gorgeous place. Would love to see it some day. What was that big vase made of that had the bird on top. It's really over the top. But everything else is quite gorgeous.

  2. All I can say is WOW!
    I'd like to paint that towered rooftop. It would also make a great Zentangle.

  3. "Few people were visiting"? When I was there (september 2009) it was so crowded I hardly could see my own shoes... Love the photos. The amber room was impressive I remember.