Eight objects of the eighteenth-nineteenth centuries have been added to the Tsarskoe Selo museum collections thanks to our successful bidding at Monaco’s Hermitage Fine Art auction recently.
The acquisitions include three engraved prints, a miniature, two books, a porcelain plate, and a letter by Emperor Alexander II of Russia (see left, click to enlarge).
Truly remarkable is a 49-year-old Alexander’s letter to a 21-year-old Catherine Dolgorukova (later his morganatic wife), handwritten in French and Russian on 24-25 (O.S. 12-13) March 1868 and showing the Emperor’s personal signature. He writes, ‘Ah! How I was drawn to you as I saw you walk on the boulevard and then turn left along the Admiralty right outside my windows . . . Although I have to return to my business, my mind is with you and in you, ma douce Katya. So goodbye, tight hugs, yours for ever.'
Related to Dolgorukova, when she was given the title of Princess Yurievskaya, is the porcelain plate from a set with her and Princes Yurievskys’ coat of arms (see right, click to enlarge).
One print of 1789, showing Catherine IIs’ paramour Prince Grigory Potemkin, is a creation by the British mezzotint engraver James Walker made after the painting by Johann Lampi Sr. (below leftmost, click to enlarge).
The other engraving of 1809 depicts Empress Elizabeth Alexeievna, the wife of Alexander I (below 2nd from left, click to enlarge). It was done by Charles Turner after the portrait by Jean-Laurent Mosnier and comes from the collection of Lt. General Yury Trubetskoy, Commander of the Imperial Convoy.
The third engraving is a rare one, made after Louis de Saint-Aubin’s original in Milan after the 1807 Treaties of Tilsit. It shows Emperor Alexander I and Empress Elizabeth Alexeievna holding hands near a goddess Flora statue (below 2nd from right, click to enlarge).
The acquired miniature is a portrait of Nicholas I’s wife Alexandra Feodorovna (above rightmost, click to enlarge) by an unknown artist of the nineteenth century, made after Carl Timoleon von Neff’s original that used to be on display in the Alexander Palace (now at the Pavlovsk Museum).
The two books with the stamps of the Tsarskoe Selo Imperial Library are the locally printed Sovereign Emperor Alexander I on Valaam Island in August 1819 (below left, click to enlarge) and Victor Hugo’s Hernani ou l'Honneur castillan (Paris, 1830), supposedly coming from Nicholas I’s personal collection (below right, click to enlarge).