The Library of Emperor Nicholas II in the Winter Palace, designed by the architect Alexander Krasovsky in the late 19th century, once constituted a part of the private apartments of the last Russian Emperor Nicholas II. English Gothic motifs were widely used in the décor of this interior. The walnut coffers of the ceiling are adorned with four-petal rosettes. The main decorative elements of the library are bookcases arranged along the walls of the room and of the gallery reached by a staircase. This peculiar interior with its panels of stamped gilt leather, massive mantelpiece and high windows with openwork sashes evokes a romantic atmosphere of the Middle Ages. The library has survived to this day and is on permanent display at the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg.
Sadly, most of the original book collection is no longer present at the museum. In the early 1930s, 2,600 volumes from the book collections of the Romanov family were purchased by the United States Library of Congress through a New York book dealer. Variously called the Winter Palace Collection, the Tsar’s Library, and (more accurately) the Russian Imperial Collection, these elaborately bound volumes have been assigned, for the most part, to the Library of Congress Rare Book and Special Collections Division. The collection includes eighteenth- and nineteenth-century documents, biographies, works of literature, and military, social, and administrative histories, and reflects the reading interests of the imperial family and the types of publications they received as gifts. Books in English, French, and German are well represented, although the majority of the publications are in Russian. The volumes carry the bookplates of Alexander III, his wife Maria Fedorovna, Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra Fedorovna, their son Aleksei Nikolaevich, and other family members.