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, July 31, 2020

Bright day and gentle twilight - two images of Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna, Queen of Württemberg

Portrait by Franz Xaver Winterhalter, 1856.

Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna of Russia (11 September 1822, St. Petersburg – 30 October 1892, Friedrichshafen, Württemberg), third child and second daughter of Tsar Nicholas I, sister of Tsar Alexander II, and later Queen consort of Württemberg. Raised within a close family of seven brothers and sisters, she grew up to be attractive, intelligent and cultured - she spoke several languages, and was fond of music and painting - and was considered one of the most eligible princesses in Europe. She eventually married Karl, Crown Prince of Württemberg - the royal houses of Romanov and Württemberg had intermarried several times before - and the lavish wedding was held at Peterhof on 13 July 1846, with the couple returning to Württemberg two months later. The marriage seems to have been congenial, but they would have no children, probably because of Karl's homosexuality; the crown prince and later king would become the object of scandal several times due to his affairs with various men. In 1863, a year before the couple ascended the throne, they adopted the nine-year old younger daughter of Olga's bother Grand Duke Konstantin Nikolaevich. Grand Duchess Vera Konstantinovna was a very troubled child, prone to violent fits of anger, and her parents had eventually been quite unable to manage her. But in spite of the difficulties, Olga was fully committed to the care of her niece, and for Vera, her aunt eventually assumed the place of her mother. The next several years were very difficult, but with the royal couple's perseverance, Vera grew into a cultured and intellectual - and stable, if unusual - adult, married and had children of her own. As crown princess and queen, Olga dedicated her public and private life to social causes. She was especially interested in the education of girls, also supporting wounded veterans and the handicapped. Various charitable organizations and hospitals were opened in her name. She was also keenly interested in agriculture and the natural sciences, and was an amateur mineralogist and collector. Karl died in 1891, after forty-five years of marriage, and she died a year later at the age of seventy.

Stuttgart, circa 1892. A widow, in the last year of her life, said to be accompanied here by her sixteen-year old adoptive granddaughters, Duchesses Olga and Elsa.
The twins, Olga and Elsa - if this is indeed them - were the daughters of Grand Duchess Vera Konstantinovna and her husband Duke Eugen of Württemberg.

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