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
Sunday, September 11, 2016
The bewildered bridegroom - Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich and Audrey Emery, Biarritz, 21 November 1926
Conspirator in the murder of Rasputin, lover of Coco Chanel, Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich was fairly the archetype of the polished and penniless aristocratic Russian emigré. Born and raised in the bosom of Romanov luxury, accustomed to fast society in pre-war St. Petersburg, by the time he'd made his way - post-war, post-revolution - to Paris, he was almost thirty and had little going for him beyond impeccable tailoring and a flawless pedigree. He found work as a champagne salesman, but devoted more enthusiasm to a string of relationships with many of the most fascinating women of his day. Eventually, rather than continuing in the champagne business or, worse, ending up a "professional guest", he did what other attractive and charming ci-devants of the male persuasion sometimes did: he married a rich American. He made a morganatic union with Audrey Emery, the Cincinnati-born daughter of a real-estate millionaire; the bride was given the courtesy title Princess Romanovskaya-Ilyinskaya. (They had one child together, Paul - named after his father - and divorced in 1937.) There's no reason to assume the Grand Duke married more out of expediency than for love, but in these photographs posed for the press on their wedding day, it may be too tempting to ponder the stunned expression on the groom's face.
Stephen O'Donnell, painter and singer/performer. A mid-career fine artist, I have been showing professionally since 1995. Married to author and graphic designer Gigi Little, with whom I occasionally perform a mother and daughter singing act, Madeleine and Penny Prévert.