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Russia’s largest collection of Grand Duke Dmitri memorabilia, 29.01.2013

Tsarskoye Selo now holds Russia’s largest collection of belongings of Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich donated to the Museum by Prince Michael Romanoff Ilyinsky, Dmitri’s grandson.

Michael Romanoff Ilyinsky is a great-grandson of Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich of Russia (who was born at Tsarskoye Selo). His grandfather Dmitri Pavlovich (1891–1942) was a grandson to Alexander II and a cousin to Nicholas II. Michael lives in the U.S.A. and keeps a large family archive which includes the library, photographs and personal belongings of his grandfather. He became one of the first members of the Tsarskoye Selo Friends Society when it was founded in 2006. For the past years, Michael has donated to our museum a Fabergé photograph frame (right), opera glasses (left), silver shot cups, a cigarette case and other objects that belonged to Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich.

His latest generous donations include books from Dmitri’s library, such as a 1983 edition of Alexander Pushkin’s novel in verse Eugene Onegin (Gautier Publishers, Moscow), boasting a great number of engraved illustrations and Dmitri’s bookplate, which is very rare in Russia; the No.2 on it shows how precious the book was to its holder. Another valuable addition is Tsarskoye Selo during the Reign of Empress Elizabeth Petrovna, the famous book of 1910 by Alexandre N. Benois (left). This edition has a typographically printed No.10 on the title page, which proves it was one of the first 10 copies published for the Imperial family members.

Besides those unique books, our collection has received A Book of Notes for 1878 with engravings by the F.A. Brockhaus firm; a ten-volumed Armorial of the Russian Empire (gold-edged); the Paris-published memoirs of Olga Paley and the reminiscences of Dmitri’s sister, Maria; a watercolour portrait of the mounted young Dmitri (right); an album of Dmitri’s photographs from 1941 and lots of other pictures reflecting various moments of his life in emigration.

According to Dr. Iraida K. Bott, Tsarskoye Selo’s Deputy Director for Science and Education, ‘The photos show Dmitri was still fond of sports and active pastime in his latter years. He liked yachts and golf, as well as hunting and dogs. Some shots have him together with celebrities like Feodor Chaliapin, or surrounded by elegant and interesting people in Paris, London, Monte Carlo and Davos, having la dolce vita, a full-fledged life of a private individual – the life he had dreamt of, as he wrote once in his journal. Of the materials we have got, particularly noteworthy is an album of newspaper clips Dmitri gathered for years, picking the information interesting to him, including that on the Soviet Russia. It’s what we have yet to study and analyze, which will probably help us know and understand Dmitri better, for there’s nothing we know of his life in the 1920s–1940s’.

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