The last Tsar's younger sister at home, looking very elegant and retiring; she was neither. Rather, she was kind, very down to earth, and a talented artist herself - the sale of her watercolors would later help sustain her immediate family in exile. Four years before this portrait was painted, she'd been pushed/stumbled into a marriage which was the great mistake of her life. (It was a marriage that would also remain unconsummated; her husband, Duke Peter of Oldenburg, was almost certainly homosexual.) Two years before this portrait was painted, she'd met the man who would be the great love of her life, Nikolai Kulikovsky, a fellow officer of her brother Grand Duke Michael and a commoner. She soon asked her husband for a divorce, but he refused. The couple would have to wait for thirteen years until, in the thick of World War I, with Olga nursing with the Red Cross in the Ukraine, her brother the Tsar finally agreed to annul Olga's marriage. On her wedding day in November of 1916, she took off her nurse's uniform, put on a simple gown and, surrounded by only her mother, a brother-in-law, four officers from the regiment, and two of her fellow nurses, she and Nikolai were married in Kiev. They would have two sons and were devoted to each other through all their years of exile in Denmark and, later, Canada. Kulikovsky died in 1958, Olga two years later.
Pyotr Ivanovich Neradovsky (1875 - 1962), Russian painter, graphic artist, art historian, and museum curator. He studied at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture under Korovin and Leonid Pasternak, and at the Academy of Arts under Repin. Becoming a member of the New Society of Artists in 1903, he was known for his fine pencil portraits of his contemporaries. From 1909, he worked as curator of the arts department of the Russian Museum, later becoming director of the department and, following that, a member of the Russian Museum Board. In the Twenties and early Thirties, he also worked at the State Hermitage, the Academy of Material Culture History, and the State Tretyakov Gallery. For several years, during the Thirties and again in the early Forties, he was imprisoned on false charges. (I don't know what those charges were; under the Stalin régime, many were imprisoned - or worse - based on trumped up charges.) Later he worked in the Zagorsk Museum.