In pictures: The Romanovs in colour

The deaths of the Romanovs – Russia’s last royal family – at the hands of Bolshevik guards in July 1918 brought an end to a dynasty that had ruled Russia for more than 300 years. A century on, a project to commemorate the family’s execution has collected together thousands of Romanov family photographs…

Nicholas, Tatiana, Olga and Anastasia in Livadia, Crimea in 1913. (Photo courtesy of Romanov100)

Below, a number of family portraits from the Romanov100 project are shown, having been ‘coloured in’ by the youngest Romanov daughter, Anastasia…

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The Russian Revolution of 1917, which brought the Bolsheviks to power and created the world’s first Marxist state, forced the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II, and by July 1918 the family was imprisoned in a house in the city of Ekaterinburg. In the early hours of 17 July 1918, the family — Tsar Nicholas II, his empress and their five children — and their staff were marched down into a cellar by their Bolshevik guards, and shot and bayonetted to death.

Striking workers carry banners through the streets of Petrograd (St Petersburg) at the start of the February Revolution that brought the fall of the Russian monarchy the next month. (Getty Images)

Anastasia, the youngest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna, has long been mythologised. Persistent rumours of her escape from the massacre circulated for many years after her death (fuelled by individuals including Anna Anderson, who in the 1920s became famous for her claim to be the tsar’s youngest daughter), though have since been disproven. The photographs below, taken from the private collections of the Romanov family and resurfaced by the Romanov100 project, show the young Anastasia’s enjoyment in painting over black and white photographs with watercolours.

Ahead of the 100th anniversary, History Extra spoke to Helen Rappaport, author of The Race to Save the Romanovs: The Truth Behind the Secret Plans to Rescue Russia’s Imperial Family, and contributor to the Romanov100 project. “For many years after their death, particularly during the Soviet Union, those in power attempted to systematically destroy any remnants of imperialism. Yet remembrance of the event lives on with a growing public interest,” she explained. “The #Romanovs100 Twitter project has honoured the family in an extraordinary way, opening up the personal photographic archives of the Romanovs and depicting the final years of their extraordinary lives through social media. This project has permitted this period of history to be accessible and exciting, while venerating such a tremendous loss.”

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View more photos and find out more about the project, a collaboration between the Russian State Archive (GARF) and RT, at Romanovs100.com


Tsar Nicholas II with three of his daughters: Tatiana, Olga and Anastasia, in Livadia, Crimea in 1913. (Photo courtesy of Romanovs100)
Tsar Nicholas II with three of his daughters: Tatiana, Olga and Anastasia, photographed in Livadia, Crimea, in 1913. (Photo courtesy of Romanovs100)
Anastasia and Nicholas. (Photo courtesy of Romanov100 project)
Anastasia and her father Nicholas. (Photo courtesy of Romanovs100 project)
Anastasia in Livadia, Crimea, in 1913. (Photo courtesy of Romanov100 project)
Anastasia in Livadia, Crimea, in 1913. (Photo courtesy of Romanovs100 project)
The four daughters of Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna: Maria, Olga, Tatiana and Anastasia, photographed in Tsarskoe Selo, Russia, in 1913. (Photo courtesy of Romanovs100 project)
The four daughters of Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna: Maria, Olga, Tatiana and Anastasia, photographed in Tsarskoe Selo, Russia, in 1913. (Photo courtesy of Romanovs100 project)
(L to R) Grand Duchesses Maria, Olga and Tatiana, photographed at Peterhof, near Saint Petersburg, summer 1907. (Photo courtesy of Romanov100 project)
(L to R) Grand Duchesses Maria, Olga and Tatiana, photographed at Peterhof, near Saint Petersburg, summer 1907. (Photo courtesy of Romanovs100 project)
As part of the Romanovs100 project, digital colourist Marina Amaral added colour to 100-year-old photographs from the private archives of the family. The original image shows Queen Victoria and her extended family, while the image below shows Amaral's work in adding colour to the photograph. (Photos courtesy of Romanovs100 project)
As part of the Romanovs100 project, digital colourist Marina Amaral added colour to 100-year-old photographs from the private archives of the family. The original image above shows Queen Victoria and her extended family, while the image below is the result of Amaral’s work adding colour to the photograph. (Photos courtesy of Romanovs100 project)
Digital colourist Marina Amaral has added colour to this photograph of Queen Victoria and her extended family, as part of the Romanovs100 project. (Photos courtesy of Romanovs100 project)