L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Friday, May 6, 2016

Princess Yusupova by Winterhalter - twice

This portrait, painted in Paris in 1858, is of Princess Tatiana Alexandrovna Yusupova, née comtesse de Ribeaupierre (29 June 1828, Lucca, Italy - 14 January 1879, Crans-près-Céligny, Switzerland), the wife of Prince Nikolai Borisovich Yusupov (12 October 1827, Moscow - 31 July 1891, Baden-Baden), Marshal of the Imperial Court and patron of the arts. Princess Yusupova was the daughter of Comte Alexandre de Ribeaupierre and his wife Ekaterina Mikhailovna Potemkina, and was a lady-in-waiting to the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna - by 1858, the Dowager Empress - the consort of Nicholas I. The Princess and her husband had only one surviving child, Zinaida, born in 1861, who would in turn be the mother of Prince Felix Felixovich Yusupov, infamous as one of the assassins of Rasputin.


This second portrait, though usually credited to Winterhalter, looks decidedly to be a copy by another hand; certainly the rather crude "additions" were not painted by the artist. In this version, she wears the ribbon and cipher of the Empress on her left shoulder. She's also wearing the sash and insignia of the Bavarian Order of Theresa; I have no idea why. On her right shoulder, securing the sash, is a long pearl epaulette and, most interestingly, the Yusupov Lover's Knot tiara has been added to the portrait.

The tiara is one of several of identical or nearly identical design owned or once owned by several European royal or princely families. Besides the Yusupov example, among others there were versions in Bavaria and Saxony. But the "Cambridge Lover's Knot" tiara, made in 1818 and which had passed to the Grand Duchess Augusta of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, the aunt of Great Britain's Queen Mary, was the most influential: in 1913-14 Queen Mary had a replica made of her aunt's tiara. Still in the Royal Collection, the row of upstanding pearls long since removed, the tiara was famously worn by Diana, Princess of Wales during her marriage. (And has been worn at least once by her daughter-in-law, the present Duchess of Cambridge.) The Yusupov tiara hasn't fared so well. Hidden by Prince Felix Yusupov at the time of the Revolution, it was discovered by the Bolsheviks and soon after dismantled along with the other Yusupov jewels, its stones dispersed and/or sold.

Bolshevik "jewelers" dismantling pieces that had belonged to the Yusupov family, along with jewels that had been the personal property of
the Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna, sister of the Tsar and mother-in-law of Felix Yusupov. In this rarefied heap are included works by
Cartier, Chaumet, Bolin, and others. (There may be the confiscated property of other individuals here, as well.)
The Lover's Knot tiara, some of its pearls already removed.

Lastly, instead of the generalized landscape, this version includes a view of the family's estate, Arkhangelskoe. 


  1. Thank you for this Winterhalter post.
    So I went to Houston last Saturday to see the rather small Winterhalter exhibition, only 4 rooms.
    Nonetheless, I was excited as a young child to see his paintings again, some I had never seen before. We were not allowed to take pictures. Unlike the Paris exhibition, there was no real insight on the artist, just a chronology of his life. Each room/part was devoted to a monarchy/time period. First, the July Monarchy, with Louis Philippe and his family, also Winterhalter's first patron, Sophie de Bade. Second room, devoted to Queen Victoria, third room to Empress Eugénie and Napoleon III, another one devoted to black and white dresses. I had a blast. Drove especially from Austin to see it. The catalog is really a must and I hope I will be in France when the exhibition comes to Compiègne. Wish you could see one of them.
    The best as always

    1. Thank you - so - much for the reportage! I am indeed... envious...! : )