Sunday, 24 May 2020

Lost Portrait of Queen Victoria’s Granddaughters, the Princesses of Coburg

The four daughters of Alfred Duke of Edinburgh and Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna were painted c1893 by the German artist Friedrich August von Kaulbach (below).

Princesses Beatrice (Infanta of Spain), Marie (Queen of Romania), Alexandra (Princess of Hohenlohe-Langenburg) and Victoria Melita (Duchess of Hesse-Darmstadt and Grand Duchess of Russia)
After their marriage in 1874 and as heir to the duchy, Alfred and Maria lived both in England and the Edinburgh Palais in Coburg. After the death of the duke in 1900 Grand Duchess Maria remained in Coburg until her death in 1920.

A painting of the four daughters hung in the Drawing Room of the Palais although unknown if it was the lost Kaulbach portrait. Where is it now?

Photograph (below) of the Edinburgh Palais in Coburg


  1. Grand Duchess Maria did not remain in Coburg until her death. After Affie's death, she divided her time between Schloss Rosenau, the Edinburgh Palace, and Schloss Friedenstein -- and winters at Chateau Fabron in Nice. Her situation in Coburg after the war started became difficult so she retired to Tegernsee, but after an incident where she was harassed for her Russian heritage, Maria went to Switzerland. She died in Zurich in 1920. It also should be noted that until her death, she received her annual Civil list allowance, which was based on the marital treaty between the UK and Russia - and as Russia was an ally, she did not lose her allowance unlike a British princess by birth, the Dowager Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.

  2. Joanna, the painting is not lost. It is in the possession of the Prince of Leiningen, who is a descendant of Victoria Melita. This is mentioned in the book, Ena y Bee en defensa de una amistad (In defense of their friendship). It states that the portrait is in Amorbach (and this was confirmed to me today.)

  3. Thank you very much Marlene for the fascinating information on the location of the painting. Is it on view in the Amorbach palace museum or privately in the family's own palace?

    I had read that Grand Duchess Maria was concerned about her income in March 1917, whether she negotiated with Golovin or another official. But after October during research of negotiations between Grand Duchess Olga and government, I remember a reference that payments to Grand Duchess Maria were stopped by Lunacharsky or the official who took over the Ministry of the Imperial Court when it closed down in January 1918.