Following the success H.R.H. The Princess Sophie enjoyed during her exhibitions during the summers of 2011 and 2012 at the Chateau de Tronjoly, Her Royal Highness will be showing again. This new exhibition will run the entire month of March and will concentrate on the Breton landscapes in the style that her clients have become familiar with and from which Princess Sophie has gained much success. This is the first Exhibition of the year that The Princess will be having, but not the last. Her Royal Highness has started a busy year and is pursuing several projects, one of which is a second exhibition for 2013 running the months of May and June.
Queen Marie of Romania is well known for her multiple artistic qualities, ranging from writing, furniture design to theatre. She also indulged in architectural pursuits, especially in matters of interior design (see her remarkable creations at Pelishor Castle in the Transylvanian Alps for example) or gardening, ideas which she condensed in an interesting essay published in the 1920s, entitled “My Dream-Houses“. Somehow less known is a peculiar tree house structure, illustrated in the old post-card above, built following Marie’s detailed specifications, which she used for recreation in the years when was a crown princess of the Romanian Kingdom. It was known as “Princess’ Nest”, located on the property of the grand Pelesh Royal Castle in Sinaia. Bellow is the finest description of this phantasy house, which I so far found in my research, by Maude Parkinson, an expert gardener from England who worked for many years in the service of the Romanian Royal House:
In the neighbouring forest Princess Marie, as she then was, had a “Crusoe” constructed. I understand that she adopted the idea from a celebrated arboreal restaurant in the Forest Fontainebleau, which is named after the castaway of Juan Fernandez.
A strong wooden platform was constructed amongst the trees at a considerable height from the ground, and upon this was built a house consisting of two rooms, a kitchen, and a salon.
The kitchen is fitted up with everything necessary for cooking simple dishes or preparing tea. The salon is very prettily furnished, and books in plenty, drawing and painting materials, etc., are always to be found there.
The Queen only takes her special friends to visit her “Crusoe” and a very charming retreat it is. The windows and open door command a most beautiful view. Access to the “Crusoe” is gained by means of a ladder with wide steps, which is let down when required. When the visitors are safely up, they remain there shut in three sides by foliage and cut off from communication with the world bellow save by telegraph, for a wire connects it with the palace. Nothing disturbs the perfect calm and quiet at such a height, and many pleasant hours have been spent by her Royal Highness and a chosen few in that little nest. Nest is indeed the word, for that is the meaning of the Roumanian name “cuib” by which the retreat is generally known.
Maude Parkinson, “Twenty years in Roumania”, London 1921
The Great Royal Jubilee Exhibition of 1906 has been a momentous event for the culture and economy of the young Kingdom of Romania. It has also marked, through the elaborate and high quality Neo-Romanian design of many of its pavilions, the onset of the mature phase of this style. The exhibition’s chief edifice was the Palace of the Arts, presented in the images bellow, which was envisaged as a gathering place of what was considered the finest products of the Romanian people throughout its history. That was also the central message of the event, publicised as as a dual celebration of, on the one hand, King Carol I’s forty years of glorious reign, which saw the gaining on the battlefield of the country’s independence from the Ottoman Empire, the subsequent Europeanisation process and the phenomenal growth of its economy, and also, on the other hand, marking 1,800 years since in 106 CE the Roman Empire under Emperor Trajan conquered the ancient kingdom of Dacia located where in modern times the state of Romania emerged, a historical milestone that ignited the formation of the Romanian people and language. The 1906 exhibition was thus imbued with an intense and picturesque patriotic sentiment typical of the La Belle Époque period that had powerful reverberations throughout the whole of the Romanian speaking world, which at that moment included large swathes of territory under the sovereignty of other states, such as Transylvania in the Austrian-Hungarian Empire or Bessarabia, then a province of Russia.
The Palace of the Arts is shown in all its glory in this colour poster published in the monthly magazine “Vulturul” (“The Eagle”, a reference to the country’s coat of arms). The issue date is Sunday 2 July 1906 (in the Julian calendar, in official use then in the country). It presents the official opening ceremony of the exhibition in the presence of the Royal Family and a welcoming public, which took place on 6 June (it closed on 23 November that year).
The Palace of the Arts was in a way the Romanian response to the tradition of iconic exhibition buildings inaugurated by the Crystal Palace in London half a century before, epitomizing the ambitious aspirations of that young Balkan nation. It contained a large glazed roof over a central structure embellished with Neo-Romanian style elements and ornaments and also references to the classical architecture, considered then as the purest form of architecture. Its designers were the architects Victor Stefanescu and Stefan Burcus, the contractor being the engineer Robert Effingham Grant, a Romanian of British origins.
The central figures of this poster were the royal couple, King Carol I, an excellent administrator, brought up and trained in the military industrial complex of the mid-c19th Germany, and his wife, Queen Elizabeth, an internationally renown writer, known after her nom de plume as Carmen Sylva. They are presented receiving the homage of the population and in two prominent medallions flanking the image of the palace.
The monarch has been the supervisor of the exhibition works, a role in a way similar to that of Prince Albert for the London event of 1851, while the general manager was Constantin Istrati, an accomplished scientist.
The Royal Family is present at the opening, King Carol I (second from right), Queen Elizabeth next to his left, while the Crown Prince Ferndinand and Crown Princess Marie are at his right. The children of the princely couple are in front, from left to right: Princess Elizabeth, Princess Marie, Prince Carol and on the right the little Prince Nicolas. A peasant woman graciously offers them a bunch of flowers.
The poster also presents in some detail the public participating at the ceremony, Bucharest people and visitors in a relaxed attitude, proud of their country’s achievements embodied in that great exhibition.
I like the presence of persons wearing peasant costumes, as is the group on the left hand side of the image above, who were probably proper peasants and also higher class individuals, including aristocrats, representing a patriotic fashion introduced and promoted by Queen Elizabeth and Crown Princess Marie, who incidentally were of foreign extraction, the first a German and the second of British and Russian origins, at the local royal balls and other major functions.
In 1923 the Miliary Museum of Romania was established within the Palace of the Arts building, functioning until the late 1930s when the building caught fire and later, in 1943, demolished with the intention to erect a more modern museum edifcice. Those plans never came to fruition because of the war and the Stalinist takeover of 1947. However, a grandiose communist heroes mausoleum, which is now probably the most beautiful architectural structure of the communist era, was been built there in the late 1950s.
I would like to express here my thanks to architect Madalin Ghigeanu, who kindly provided this poster, part of his ample collection, for publication.
Bellow is the article in the British monthly magazine “Majesty” published in their October 2011 issue, authored by Diana and the undersigned with the occasion of the celebration of King Michael of Romania‘s 90th birthday on 25 October last year.
Romania tomorrow, 10 May 2011, celebrates 130 years since the coronation of King Carol I and Queen Elizabeth as the first sovereigns of the Kingdom of Romania, an event which marked the inauguration of the most prosperous period in the country’s history, an era when a majority of its historic architecture edifices were built. That epoch of great achievements and organic development was cut short by the communist takeover of December 1947, which gave way to a long and catastrophic decline from which the country has not yet recovered.
H.R.H. The Princess Sophie of Romania is the fourth daughter of King Michael of Romania. She goes by “Sophie de Roumanie” professionally. Princess Sophie studied Fine Arts at the University of North Carolina, Asheville, and Graphic Design and Photography at the Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington, D.C.
After several years of working and exhibiting her art successfully on both sides of the Atlantic, Princess Sophie’s life changed radically in 1989 with the fall of communism in Romania.
She committed herself to assisting the people of Romania, especially the children, in their struggle to emerge from decades of tyranny.
Princess Sophie’s first book, a collection of stories for children was published in Romania in 1995, (Copilul Soarelui – Editura Dali) and she donated all the proceeds to the Princess Margarita of Romania Foundation of which she was Vice-President.
Over the years, Princess Sophie has dedicated herself to refining her photography. She currently lives in France with her daughter where she pursues her craft full time. Princess Sophie sells her art online, through private commissions and exhibitions.
An uplifting bilingual English and French book. Delightful in its simplicity. The perfect combination of inspirational words and gentle close-up photographs of the flowers around us. So often we are in such a rush in life that we do not take the time we need to stand and stare, to ponder our direction. A breath of fresh air in our eternal hurry to get through each day.
In « Along The Flowers’ Way » we have the perfect inspirational book for that special gift, or to place in a corner of your home where a page can be turned in a quiet moment, giving your day that special uplift. The nod, the smile that makes life worthwhile.
Further titles in this series are forthcoming.
H.R.H The Princess Sophie of Romania, who goes by “Sophie de Roumanie” professionally, is deeply passionate and committed to her craft. Whether it is a photograph of the dawn shrouded in a foggy mist or the quiet expression on a cat’s face, Sophie’s photographs are magical and enchanting, and they touch the hearts of those who view them.
Nature is a treasure trove of wonderment. Most people don’t take the time to stop and see all the beauty in nature that surrounds us. Yet through Princess Sophie’s photographs, we have the privilege to see the intriguing, elusive and mysterious beauty that nature holds. Her Royal Highness hopes that through her photographs we will be reminded of just how precious nature is.
“When Nature Calls” is an exclusive collection of some of Princess Sophie’s photographs taken over the last 3 years, along with complementary quotes introducing each section of the book.
For further information on these books and on the Princess’ exhibition, please visit her blog:
From the royal historian Diana Mandache- a new book soon to be printed in Sweden and distributed in many West European countries and on the North American continent- it contains the correspondence between Marie Alexandrovna, Grand Duchess of Russia, Duchess of Edinburgh and of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and her daughter Marie, the Crown Princess of Romania.
… noua mea carte ‘Dearest Missy’ per aspera… … Read More
I would like to invite you to listen to HM King Michael of Romania’s radio message to the nation, broadcast 14 years ago by Radio Free Europe, shortly before he was allowed to return to Romania by officially regaining the country’s citizenship, abusively withdrawn by the communist regime nearly five decades before, on 2 February 1948. It is a highly emotional instance to listen to such a remarkable personality that has suffered with such a high d … Read More
An inclusive descritpion, in Romanian, by the historian Diana Mandache (Fotescu), written in 1992, of the White Hall from Cotroceni Royal Palace in Bucharest. The hall is known today as Cerchez Hall after the architect who re-designed it in the 1920s. The great reception room became a source of inspiration for architects who applied its design principles to their inter-war Neo-Romanian style projects.
I endeavor through this daily series of daily articles to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of European architectural history and heritage.
If you plan acquiring a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in sourcing the property, specialist research, planning permissions, restoration project management, etc. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contactpage of this weblog.