The collection consists of six bottles containing scents, including those used by Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna and Nicholas II himself.

Though the fragrances have subtly altered over time, the top notes are still discernible.

Perfumes for princesses

It is said that the floral scents by the French firm Coty were used by the young grand princesses, with Anastasia favouring ‘La Violette Pourpre’ (‘Purple Violet’) and Olga ‘La Rose Jacqueminot’ (‘Tea Rose’), which is the one in the smallest glass bottle in the picture.

Another sibling, Tatiana, liked ‘Jasmin de Corse’ (‘Corsican Jasmine) which you can see in the half-full bottle pictured in the collection.

Tsarskoye Selo also received a perfume box of Princess Maria’s favourite fragrance 'Lilas Pourpre' (‘Purple lily’) as part of the donation.

Legend and lure of Coty

All the scents were made by Coty at the beginning of the 20th century.

Coty was founded in Paris in 1904 by 29-year-old François Coty, a visionary who set out to shake up a perfume industry which had seen little change in the 19th century.

He commissioned leading artists and manufacturers such as René Lalique and the Glassworks of Baccarat to design gorgeous bottles for the fragrances to present them in the most luxurious manner.

“One thing eluded me,” he confessed in 1934, the year of his death. “I never managed to capture the smell of honeysuckle.”

The collection

The bottles with perfume were bought at different times in antique shops or at auctions.

World Heritage site Tsarskoye Selo - meaning the Tsar's village - was formerly one of the imperial family's residences.