Monday, 22 July 2019

Sales of Fabergé & Other Objects from Grand Duchess Xenia’s Palace in the 1920s

Emperor Alexander III purchased Princess Vorontsova’s palace on the Moika River for his daughter Grand Duchess Xenia’s marriage to Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich in 1894. During the reconstruction by architects Nikolai Sultanov and Count Nicholas de Rochefort from 1895 to 1897, Xenia and her family lived on the 1st floor of the Winter Palace.

Photographs (below) of Grand Duchess Xenia’s Palace

After the revolution the Xenia palace was transferred to the Baltic Naval Committee. The possessions and furnishings of the grand ducal couple were placed in locked rooms. On March 16th 1918 the committee demanded the use of the Concert Hall and Billiard Room. The Art Commission headed by Chairman G. Yatmanov decided to transport the stored objects to their warehouse in the Winter Palace located in the former apartment of the Marshal of the Imperial Court Count Paul Benckendorff. A full descriptive inventory was completed at that time. Commission staff had handed directly to Yatmanov the silver toilet set that had belonged to Xenia’s great-grandmother Empress Alexandra Feodorovna.

In July 1918 the Commission was re-organized in the Novo-Mikhailovsky Palace. From July 15th to October 5th a total of 1,574 items of ‘non-museum value’ packed in sixty-eight boxes were taken there from the Winter Palace. A new register of the collection was compiled for the auction sales but they ‘did not record information on the origin of the items’. Later in 1927 eighteen stone pieces were given to various museums.

Photographs (below) of Grand Duchess Xenia and family

The original inventory completed in 1918 reveals descriptions of the stone objects that were sold without provenances during the auction sales of the 1920s:

776       Different animal figurines from multi-colored stones by Fabergé in wooden boxes

780       Condor bird figurine of light rock crystal

790       Eight parrots by Fabergé in wooden box

791       Three golden cages with birds and a Fabergé calendar with precious stones

925       Desktop clock trimmed with jasper and silver with a handle by Fabergé

930       Marble stand for pocket watches by Fabergé

998       Thermometer of Ural green stone with red enamel and gold in Louis XVI style by Fabergé in a box

1023     Gold paper knife by Fabergé in a plush case

1147     Jasper vase signed by Orlando Aristido Roma 1900

Archivist specialists at GARF are preparing for publication Grand Duchess Xenia’s diaries in forty-nine notebooks from 1884 to 1919.

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