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

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Risaldar Jagat Singh, 12th Cavalry, and Ressaidar Man Singh, 21st Cavalry, by Philip de László, 1916

This double portrait seems to have been done for the artist's own pleasure, and was in his studio at his death.  From the De László Archive Trust's catalogue raisonné:

Risaldar Jagat Singh joined the Indian Army 26 February 1905 as a Jemadar (junior Indian officer) in the 12th Cavalry and was promoted to Ressaidar 11 April 1916 in the 18th King George's Own Lancers. He was subsequently promoted Risaldar 11 August 1918 when he is listed in the 12th Cavalry but still attached to the 18th. It is likely that he was acting at that rank in 1916 when the portrait was painted, or he inadvertently gave himself the wrong rank, when signing the artist’s Sitters’ Book.

Ressaidar Man Singh joined the Indian Army 1 March 1890 as a Sowar (a cavalry trooper). He was promoted to Jemadar 1 May 1910 in the 21st Prince Albert Victor's Own Cavalry before further promotion to Ressaidar 11 April 1916 in the 20th Deccan Horse. He seems not to be listed after 1917, though he is not listed among the dead in the Indian Army Lists. The sitter is also known to have been awarded the Indian Order of Merit 3rd Class, 3 November 1894 for his gallantry in the Warziristan Action at Wano, the north-west frontier of India.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Empress Eugénie in eighteenth-century costume, by Winterhalter, 1854

The Empress Eugénie had a great attachment to the aesthetics and royal artifacts of the eighteenth century French court and, especially, a fascination for Marie Antoinette.  She would frequently appear at costume balls wearing gowns based on or inspired by those to be seen in portraits of her tragic royal predecessor.  This theatrical image of Eugénie was painted only a year after she became empress, and is one of the lesser known of Winterhalter's paintings of her.

Below is a photograph of the Empress wearing the same costume as she wears in the painting.  Since this obviously isn't a portrait photograph, it's likely that it was taken for Winterhalter to use as a reference for details of the costume.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Jan Adam Kruseman

Jan Berends Wouters, 1826.
Antoinetta Margaretha Brasker (wife of above), 1826.

Jan Adam Kruseman (12 February 1804, Haarlem – 17 March 1862, Haarlem), nineteenth century portrait painter from the Northern Netherlands. He studied with François-Joseph Navez and Jacques-Louis David. He was a founder and director of the Amsterdam society Arti et Amicitiae, and taught at the Amsterdam Royal Academy of Art.

Jan Philips François van der Vinne, 1836.
Hendrina Eclasina Geertruida Vinju-Heije, 1834.
Catharina Elisabeth Rente Linsen, 1831.
Styrian Hunter, 1832.
Portrait of a Lady, 1829.
King William II of the Netherlands, 1840.
 Alida Christina Assink, 1833.

Monday, July 28, 2014


Portrait of Princesses Elena and Alexandra Kurakina, by Vladimir Lukitch Borovikovsky, 1802.
 Anna and Margaretta Peale, by James Peale, 1805.
The Three Youngest Daughters of George III, by John Singleton Copley, 1785.
Two Sisters, by Cornelis de Vos, circa 1615.
Portrait of the Maistre Sisters, by Baron Antoine Jean Gros, 1796.
The Three Robinson Sisters, by George Theodore Berthon, 1846.
Wilhelmine, Hereditary Princess of Orange-Nassau, her sister Auguste, future Electress
of Hesse-Kassel, and the latter's daughter Marie, by Friedrich Bury, circa 1808-1810.
Portrait of the Misses Mary and Emily McEuen, by Thomas Sully, after 1823.
A Double Portrait of the Fullerton Sisters, by Thomas Lawrence, circa 1825.
The Wyndham Sisters, by John Singer Sargent, 1899.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Prince Andrei Alexandrovich Romanov and his wife, photographed by Bassano, 10 August 1923

Prince Andrei Alexandrovich of Russia (12/24 January 1897, Saint Petersburg – 8 May 1981, Faversham), the second child and first son (of six) of Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich and Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna of Russia. As a child he and his siblings spent much time traveling with their parents. When he was old enough, he joined the Russian navy, where he served under his father. He later became a lieutenant in the Chevalier Guards. At the Revolution, he went with his siblings and parents to the Crimea; those of the Romanovs and other aristocratic families who were able to do so, sought refuge in the Crimea at that time. At first the Romanovs were left undisturbed, but later they were put under house arrest.

During this time, Andrei began a relationship with Elisabetta Fabrizievna Ruffo di Sant' Antimo* (26 December/January 8 1886, Snamenskoe – 29 October 1940, Hampton Court), a young divorcée. She was a daughter of the Duke of Sasso-Ruffo and Princess Natalia Alexandrovna Mescherskaya (herself a descendant of the Stroganov family). Andrei had met Elisabetta - called Elsa within the family - in Saint Petersburg in 1916. She was eleven years the prince's senior, with a daughter from her first marriage, and his family was not at first supportive of their relationship. But after Elisabetta became pregnant they consented to the union, and the pair was married on June 12th, 1918. In December of that year they, along with Andrei's father, were able to leave Russia - the rest of the family would leave four months later - and the couple spent the first few years of exile in France. They would have three children together, and later move to England to live with the prince's mother, Grand Duchess Xenia, at a "grace and favour" residence provided by the British royal family, first at Frogmore and later at Hampton Court. In 1940, Elisabetta, ill with cancer, died of injuries sustained in an air raid.

Two years later, Andrei married again; he and his second wife, Nadine McDougall (5 June 1908, Lynsted – 6 June 2000, Faversham), had a daughter together. In 1949 they moved to Provender House in Faversham, Kent, which was owned by his wife's family. The prince took to the life of a country squire, and live quietly until his death at the age of eighty-four.


* I've been unable to find a definitive answer as to the surname of Andrei's first wife.  Ruffo-Sasso, Sasso-Ruffo, Ruffo di Sant' Antimo, Ruffo dei Principi di Sant' Antimo, Ruffo dei Principi di Sant' Antimo Sasso... or Ruffo.  After all the many, many sources I've checked, I still can only hazard a guess.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The comte and comtesse de Vergennes, portraits in Turkish dress by Antoine de Favray, 1766

Charles Gravier, comte de Vergennes (20 December 1717, Dijon – 13 February 1787, Versailles), French statesman and diplomat.

Vergennes rose through the ranks of the diplomatic service, including positions in Portugal and Germany, before receiving the important post of French Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire in 1755. During his time there - which included the period of the Seven Year's War - he oversaw complex negotiations between the two countries, but was recalled in 1768. The reason for his dismissal was most likely because of the tensions between himself and the duc de Choiseul, Foreign Minister to Louis XV, and also because he had contracted a marriage without the King's permission. But later, after assisting a pro-French faction in Sweden to take power, he returned home to France and was promoted to Foreign Minister by the new king.

He served in that capacity from the accession of Louis XVI in 1774, most notably during the American War of Independence. Vergennes hoped that by giving French aid to the American rebels, he would be able to weaken Great Britain's dominance on the international stage. (In spite of helping to secure American independence, France achieved little material gain from the war, while the huge costs incurred nearly bankrupted the French treasury. And both philosophically and financially, the American Revolution was a direct cause of what occurred in France in 1789 and beyond.) When told of the death of Vergennes, two years before the Revolution, Louis XVI broke down in tears, describing Vergennes as "the only friend I could count on, the one minister who never deceived me."

Anne "Annette" Viviers, comtesse de Vergennes (28 January 1730, Constantinople – 1798), widow of a doctor, François Testa, who had died in 1754.  When she quietly married Vergennes in 1767, they had been living together for some time and already had two sons born out of wedlock, the elder six years old.  The comte had not asked the King's permission - something his position required - which no doubt the King would have refused, all things considered, not least the fact that the bride was a commoner and of unequal rank to her husband.

The irregular circumstances of their union would cause much future difficulty in his diplomatic career.  The unapproved marriage was used as an excuse for his recall from Turkey, she was not allowed to accompany her husband on his subsequent post to Stockholm, and she was snubbed and rejected at Versailles.  Still, it was a love match, and he was ever after devoted to his wife and their children.


Chevalier Antoine de Favray (8 September 1706, Bagnolet – 9 February 1798, Malta), French painter. In the 1730s, he was a private student of Jean-François de Troy II, then director of the Académie de France in Rome, but by 1744, de Favray had left Rome for Malta, where he remained for much of the rest of his career. He is best known for his genre scenes and portraits of personalities prominent in Malta and in the Ottoman Empire.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Madame Errázuriz, by Romaine Brooks, 1908-1910

Eugenia Huici de Errázuriz (15 September 1860, Calera, Chile – 1951, Santiago de Chile, Chile), wealthy and beautiful Chilean-born patroness and style leader during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, mainly resident in Paris and the south of France. She was a supporter of Modernism and helped pave the way for the modernist minimalist aesthetic that would later be taken up in fashion and interior design. Her circle of friends and protégés included Diaghilev, Stravinsky, Cocteau, Fauré, Jean-Michel Frank, Cecil Beaton, and Picasso. And her portrait was painted by all the great artists of her day. Late in life she became a Franciscan lay nun - with a plain black habit designed by Chanel. She died at ninety-one, hit by a car while crossing the street.


Romaine Brooks (1 May 1874, Rome – 7 December 1970, Nice), born Beatrice Romaine Goddard, American painter who specialized in portraits, usually with a very subdued palette dominated by the color gray. (The above painting is an early work and an exception.) She eschewed the current trends and was more influenced stylistically by the Symbolist movement of the late nineteenth century. She painted many of the interesting personalities of her day, especially those in artistic and lesbian circles, and is best remembered for her images of women in masculine or androgynous attire. An interesting figure in her own right, fictional portraits of her are present in novels by Radclyffe Hall, Compton Mackenzie, and Djuna Barnes. Mainly resident in Paris before World War II, she made very little work after 1925.

The product of an unhappy and unstable childhood, she inherited a fortune at her mother's death in 1902, which allowed her a good degree of personal and artistic freedom. The next year, she married a homosexual friend, John Ellingham Brooks, most likely because, as a married woman, she would have still more freedom of action; they separated after a year. Her most important - though quite stormy - relationship was with the ex-patriot American writer Natalie Barney, which lasted more than fifty years. Increasingly reclusive and paranoid in her later years, she died at the age of ninety-six.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Matchless, by Gustav Muss-Arnolt, 1890

Gustav Muss-Arnolt (1858 - 9 February 1927), German American painter of sporting and gun dogs. He also painted various other canine breeds, as well as waterfowl, game, and other animal subjects including horses. He spent most of his professional life in New York City and Tuckahoe, New York. Little is known of his professional training.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Presumed portrait of the duc de Choiseul and two companions, by Jacques Wilbaut, circa 1775

Étienne-François, comte de Stainville, duc de Choiseul (28 June 1719, Nancy – 8 May 1785, Paris), French military officer, diplomat and statesman. Between 1758 and 1761, and again from 1766 to 1770, he was Foreign Minister of France. He was successful in his early military career and, in 1750, he married Louise Honorine Crozat, who brought to the marriage her share of the huge fortune of her grandfather Antoine Crozat. She proved a devoted wife, though he would be notoriously unfaithful. His rise to power was in part evinced through the friendship and patronage of Louis XV's mistress, the marquise de Pompadour. During his tenure, he had a profound influence on France's global strategy in his direction of French foreign and military policy; after the king, he was the most powerful man in France.

Described by a contemporary as, "a wonderful mixture of selfishness and charm and recklessness and exquisite taste", in his private life, Choiseul lived extravagantly, amassing, among other things, an outstanding collection of paintings. But in 1770, general anger over his expulsion of the Jesuits three years before, and his haste to involve France in a dispute between England and Spain, caused the war-weary Louis XV to demand his dismissal and order the duke's retirement to his estate at Chanteloup. Choiseul was disappointed that, at the accession of Louis XVI in 1774, he was not recalled to his former position.  He was allowed to return to Paris, though, and he died there eleven years later, leaving huge debts, which his faithful wife scrupulously paid.

In this triple portrait, Choiseul - on the left - is shown in exile at Chanteloup with his mistress Louise-Julie-Constance de Rohan, comtesse de Brionne, and the Abbé Barthélemy, the curator of the king's collection of antiquities and a close friend and adviser to both the duke and the duchess, his wife.


Jacques Wilbaut (28 March 1729, Château-Porcien - 18 June 1816, Château-Porcien), French painter. In his youth he trained with his uncle, the decorative painter Nicolas Wilbaut. On his uncle's recommendation he was accepted into the Académie Royale in Paris in 1750; he studied there for two years, then worked with his uncle until the latter's death in 1763. Wilbaut mostly painted religious subjects, sometimes landscapes and historically themed works, but his portraits are usually considered his best work.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Portrait d’enfant dans un intérieur, by Louise-Adéone Drolling, circa 1830s

This is such a charming little painting, only sixteen by twelve and a half inches.  The muted color, the quality of light - maybe morning, maybe afternoon - and its lengthened shadows.  The slightly bored aspect of the child - despite the cropped hair, probably a girl - who holds a long cord that is attached to some sort of object lying on the floor.  The richly plumed hat tossed onto the chair; left there by the lady of the house?  And then the cat, sitting on the heavy base of the console table and gazing into the mirror.  At its own reflection or, most likely, back out at us, the way a cat will.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich

Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich of Russia (11 May 1857, Tsarskoe Selo – 17 February 1905, Moscow), seventh child and fifth son of Emperor Alexander II of Russia and his wife Marie of Hesse-Darmstadt. Inseparable from his younger brother Paul as a child, Serge - as he was usually called withing the family - was shy, studious, and withdrawn; under the influence of his mother, he became very religious. Though destined for a military career, Serge always had a passion for the Arts, painting well, himself, and even playing flute in an amateur orchestra. He became fluent in several languages and later came to know many of Russia's greatest writers - including Tolstoy and Dostoevsky - personally.

Serge (on the right) with his brother Paul.
Serge and Paul.

As an adult, the grand duke stood more than six feet tall, with a very straight and slim figure - he was also known to wear a corset under his uniform, "in the Prussian style" - had short-cropped fair hair and a neatly trimmed beard, and pale green eyes. Though handsome, intelligent, well read and refined, his great reserve, his self-consciousness, and his disapproving rigidity made him an unattractive personality, totally lacking the easy charm that the Romanov grand dukes were famous for. Always unpopular with the public, even his extended family was strongly divided in their opinion of him; many of his relatives criticized him harshly, but there were those who would remember him warmly. One of the many rumors that surrounded him, during his lifetime and after his death, was that he was homosexual, inclinations he suppressed because of his strong religious beliefs.

In 1881, his father was assassinated and his elder brother came to the throne as Alexander III. The next year his brother appointed Serge Commander of the 1st Battalion Preobrazhensky Life Guard Regiment, with whom he would have a long association. In 1884, he married Princess Elisabeth of Hesse-Darmstadt, his first cousin once removed. The marriage came as a shock to many; she was considered one of royal Europe's most beautiful and eligible princesses, and few - including her grandmother Queen Victoria - understood her choice.

Portrait of the couple taken at the time of their engagement.
"Ella" as she was called in the family, 1887.
(It should be remembered that, at that time, people rarely smiled in posed photographs.)

They spent their honeymoon in Ilinskoe, Sergei’s large country estate forty miles west of Moscow on the left bank of the Moskva River; in the future they would spend most summers at Ilinskoe.  Though their marriage would remain childless, the couple was devoted to each other.  And in 1891, after the sudden death of Serge's young sister-in-law, the two infant children of his brother, Grand Duke Paul, began to spend much time with Serge and Elisabeth; eventually they were made their guardians.

His niece and nephew, Grand Duchess Maria
Pavlovna and Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich.
At Ilinskoe.  Serge and Maria are in the foreground, Dmitri is on Ella's lap.
In 1916, of course, Dmitri, along with Prince Felix Yusupov, would plot the murder of Rasputin.
Serge and his niece and nephew, 1899.
With Ella and the children at Ilinskoe.

That same year Elisabeth, who had retained her Lutheran religion after her marriage, made a sincere conversion to the Orthodox faith, a decision that was very gratifying to her devout husband.  Also in 1891, Serge's brother the Tsar appointed him Governor General of Moscow; his tenure would prove very controversial. Contemporary opinion and history is divided on his true feelings and motivations in all that occurred during his command of Moscow but, like the Tsar, he was a strongly nationalist, hard-line conservative, politically, and was ultimately responsible for his actions. The most infamous examples of the management - or mismanagement - of his rule were the horrific expulsion of Moscow's twenty thousand Jews at the beginning of his rule, and the disaster that occurred in 1896 at Khodynka Field, on the outskirts of Moscow, during the festivities for the coronation of Tsar Nicholas II, when a stampede began on the unstable ground, and thirteen hundred people were killed and twice as many injured. (He had been appointed, additionally, as Commander of the Moscow military district in 1896, by his nephew, the new tsar.) After the latter, many - including some in his own family - called for his dismissal, but the young Tsar vacillated and ultimately left Serge in command.

Serge, 1892.
Serge and Ella dressed for the famous Winter Palace Boyar Ball of 1903.  From the commemorative album.
The dates on the Fabergé frame commemorate his tenure as Governor General of Moscow.

At the beginning of 1905, in the midst of the Russo-Japanese War, internal revolutionary disturbances, and disagreements with the Tsar and the Tsar's advisers, Serge resigned the governorship, while remaining Commander of the Moscow military district. After his resignation, and with increasing disturbances in the city, Serge, his wife, and their two wards moved into the Nicholas Palace, within the protective walls of the Kremlin. Knowing he was a target for revolutionaries, Serge took every precaution to ensure the safety of himself and his family, rarely leaving home, and insisting that when he did, others not travel in his carriage. Still, with his deep religious beliefs, he held a stubbornly fatalist view of his own mortality; if an assassin succeeded or did not succeed, it was all the will of God.

In Darmstadt, 1903.

On the afternoon of February 17, 1905, after lunching with his wife, the Grand Duke drove out from the Kremlin to finish up some business at the Governor General's mansion. As his carriage passed through Nikolsky Gate, Ivan Kalyayev, a member of the Socialist-Revolutionary Party, stepped forward and from only four feet away, threw a nitroglycerin bomb directly into Sergei's lap. The carriage was instantly obliterated and Serge was literally blown to bits. (The coachman was severely wounded and died three day later, while the assassin, also wounded, recovered, was convicted and hanged.) At the bomb's detonation, the ground shook and the windows of the Nicholas Palace rattled violently. Grand Duchess Elisabeth, certainly having a stunned understanding of what had occurred, rushed from the palace, and while calmly giving instructions, she knelt in the bloody show and gathered up the scraps of what had been her husband.

Understandably traumatized by Serge's death, Ella found solace in, and was more and more absorbed by, her adopted Orthodox faith. Living increasingly retired from the world, she later gave away her possessions and founded a convent for nursing sisters, of which she was the abbess. She, herself, was murdered in 1918, during the Russian Revolution.

In his study at Ilinskoe, by Kirill Vikentevich Lemokh (7/19 June 1841, Moscow - 24 February/9 March 1910, St. Petersburg), 1886.