Blog Posts Fashion History Imperial Russia Princess Alix of Hesse Romanovs Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna

A Pearl Earring and Imperial Russia – Royal Central

A Pearl Earring and Imperial Russia – Royal Central

Displayed as a part of the London Science Museum’s exhibition on the Russian Imperial Household, The Final Tsar: Blood and Revolution is a pearl earring. This terribly poignant object has its personal silent story to inform, in regards to the destiny of the Romanovs. Believed to have belonged to the Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna, this single pearl earring is symbolic of the items of the Tsarina’s private jewelry that adopted her – if certainly it’s hers – actually till the top.

We all know from Alexandra’s final diary for 1918, when the Russian Imperial Household have been held within the Ipatiev Home (‘of Special Purpose’) at Ekaterinburg, that: ‘The Commandant and his young assistant made us show all our jewels we had on and the younger one noted all down and then they were taken from us… (Buxhoeveden, The Life and Tragedy of Alexandra Feodorovna, 344). This was done, with the exception of the two bracelets which Alexandra had received years ago as Princess of Hesse from her uncle, Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, ‘which I cannot take off’ (Buxhoeveden, 344), every of the bracelets which the imperial youngsters had been given and Tsar Nicholas II’s engagement ring. In fact, we all know that Alexandra had despatched again by coded instruction to Tobolsk, the place the remainder of the imperial youngsters had remained – while Alexandra had continued to Ekaterinburg with the Tsar and one of many daughters, Grand Duchess Maria – that their jewels (referred to by the code phrase ‘medicines’) must be hidden, which the Grand Duchesses did by stitching them into wadding and then into double brassieres, the Empress’s jewels together with ‘brilliants, emeralds and amethysts’ (J. C. Trewin, The Home of Particular Objective, 130). Alexandra’s ultimate diary entry for three/16 July 1918, contained the sentence: ‘Olga and I arranged our medicines’ (Quoted in Bokhanov, 312). Alexandra’s pearl earrings, nevertheless, have been as a lot part of her common gown, as her valuables.

Alexandra had a specific attachment to pearls, which she beloved. In some ways, they chart her story, showing at essential moments, as on a allure bracelet, in her life’s full circle. She had worn a easy pearl necklace for her ‘coming out’ ball at Darmstadt, aged seventeen, as she is photographed sporting it within the picture made for the occasion. Alexandra’s engagement ring on her betrothal to Tsarevich Nicholas had been of pink pearl; Tsarevich Nicholas additionally made Alexandra the current of a necklace of pink pearls when he visited Queen Victoria throughout their blissful summer time of 1894 at Windsor (Elizabeth Jane Timms, The private jewelry of Alexandra Feodorovna, Royal Central, 2018). She acquired a powerful sautoir of pearls from her future father-in-law, Tsar Alexander III, hand-crafted by Faberge and value 250,000 roubles, undoubtedly probably the most fabulous of her engagement presents, from far-distant Russia (Alexander Bokhanov, The Romanovs, Love Energy and Tragedy, 72). She wears pearls in studio pictures product of her all through 1894, corresponding to these made by the photographer Mullins.

Pearls have been worn by Alexandra each privately and publicly, so characterize a really particular image of her twin life; she definitely recognized strongly with them. She was described on the day of her coronation in 1896 in a letter to Queen Victoria as being ‘remarkably handsome, with hair unadorned and a small string of pearls around her neck…’ (Quoted in Bokhanov, 96). Pearls had been worn by the Tsarina at her first ‘sortie’ (St Petersburg drawing room) the yr earlier than, on New Yr’s Day 1895, together with ‘magnificent’ diamonds (Buxhoeveden, pp. 53-54). Nor was her love of pearls merely confined to jewelry. She additionally loved them in her assortment of objets d’artwork, comparable to ‘small objects decorated with edelweiss in baroque pearls’, which she stored among the many cosy array of knick-knacks and personalia that crammed the tables in her personal rooms.

Tsarina Alexandra together with her son, the Tsarevich Alexei, who performs together with his mom’s ropes of pearls, ca 1913 (By Boasson and Eggler St. Petersburg Nevsky 24. [Public domain or Public domain], by way of Wikimedia Commons)

Her choice for pearls in jewelry is, nevertheless, putting. They function in numerous pictures of the Tsarina, such because the photograph made from her in 1897, displaying her with pearl earrings, while at her neck are two chokers and two rows of pearls, testifying to a big assortment and style. She had a specific love of ropes of pearls, which function within the official portrait pictures made from her in Russian courtroom gown in 1895 by Pasetti, for instance. These additionally function within the footage taken of the Tsarina at a sitting in 1906, displaying her sporting lengthy ropes of pearls. One in every of these photographs was favored a lot by her daughters, the 4 Grand Duchesses, that they caught it of their personal albums (Prince Michael of Greece, Nicholas and Alexandra, The Household Albums, 45). A later photograph exhibits the younger Tsarevich Alexei, enjoying together with his mom’s ropes of pearls. She unquestionably most popular pearls to some other jewels and the ropes of pearls often prolonged from her neck so far as her waist.

Alexandra’s dressing room was subsequent to her well-known Mauve Boudoir on the Alexander Palace, the imperial couple’s personal residence at Tsarskoe Selo, outdoors St Petersburg, and this room contained trays on which her jewels have been set out. Alexandra most popular to put on pearls together with her night robes, usually worn at her throat, with diamonds in her hair (Robert Okay Massie, Nicholas and Alexandra, 119). When Lili Dehn was introduced to the Tsarina at Tsarskoe Selo in 1907, she recalled: ‘The Empress was dressed entirely in white with a thin white veil draped around her hat… I remember that her pearls were magnificent.’ (Quoted in Massie, 119).

On this, Alexandra shared the tastes of her English grandmother, Queen Victoria, as one among her favorite granddaughters. We instantly recognise pearls within the portraits of Queen Victoria, notably the 1875 portrait of the Queen by the portraitist Heinrich von Angeli – which the Queen described as ‘absurdly like’ – which exhibits Queen Victoria in black, though the deepest mourning of the 1860s has barely relaxed and is now marginally relieved by white lace trimmings, her widow’s cap and the massive white handkerchiefs she typically took round together with her. This portrait exhibits the Queen with pearl earrings and a double row of pearls at her throat.

Alexandra’s purported pearl earring was not among the many objects discovered at Ekaterinburg, which have been extensively catalogued by Nicolas Sokolov, who had been charged as Investigating Justice of the Peace for Instances of Particular Significance of the Omsk Tribunal, to assist with the enquiry into the destiny of the Imperial Household. This listing detailed an enormous quantity of things, which have been discovered both partially burned on the Ipatiev Home or in its outbuildings, or as looted imperial booty within the houses of these troopers at Ekaterinburg who had guarded the Tsar and his household. The record represents solely a small proportion of what the Russian Imperial Household owned in exile. Objects which had initially been on the Alexander Palace later discovered their approach again to the museum collections. Many artefacts have been solely rediscovered when the Bolsheviks re-took Ekaterinburg from the Whites.

I’ve checked the listing towards the French version of Sokolov’s investigation into the homicide of the Russian Imperial Household, in search of any point out of pearls, or the opposite ‘matching’ pearl earring. The stoves on the Ipatiev Home apparently additionally contained three buttons of wooden and nacre [mother of pearl]. I can discover no corresponding pearl earring in Sokolov’s listing.

Throughout his investigation, Sokolov was aided by the Englishman Charles Sydney Gibbes, who had been first a tutor to the Grand Duchesses and then to the younger Tsarevich, in addition to Pierre Gilliard, who had been French tutor to the imperial youngsters. Gibbes later ended up taking his assortment of relics midway around the globe till they ultimately discovered a short lived residence in the home he bought in East Oxford, on Marston Road. Gibbes mentions this pearl earring in a diary entry he made for 28 February 1919 [N.S.], during which he describes his having referred to as on Basic Dieterichs [one of the principal aides of Admiral Kolchak, who had become Supreme Ruler of the White Russian government in Siberia, established at Omsk] as a part of which Common Dieterichs talked about having ‘over 1000 articles that had belonged to the Imperial Family… He showed me many photographs of the things including the diamonds (two) and pearl earring and small Maltese cross with emeralds’ (Quoted in J. C. Trewin, 121).

Alexandra had written her final diary entry at 10.30pm, on July three/16 1918: ‘Played bezique with N. [Nicholas]. 10 ½ to bed – 15 degrees of heat.’ (Quoted in Buxhoeveden, 345). When the Commandant of the Ipatiev Home, Yakov Yurovsky, woke the Imperial Household at midnight, to inform them that the Czechs and White Military have been approaching Ekaterinburg, because of which the Regional Soviet would wish to maneuver them, Alexandra received dressed, as did the remainder of the Imperial Household. Alexandra wore an overcoat (J. C. Trewin, 112). Alexandra’s maid, Anna Demidova, carried two pillows, one in every of which she positioned behind Alexandra’s again, as she sat on the chair within the cellar of the Ipatiev Home. Sewn inside the opposite feather pillow was a field which contained jewels (Massie, 491). Shortly afterwards, the Imperial Household have been executed, along with their trustworthy retainers, Dr Botkin, the valet Trupp, the prepare dinner Kharitonov and the maid Demidova.

Some ninety three burned objects have been found within the stoves of the Ipatiev Home and 4 objects amongst the stoves and garbage on the Home of Popov. The private results of the Imperial Household which have been discovered within the Ipatiev Home after their homicide have been photographed. Two of those unique negatives present the icons of the Imperial Household – numbering fifty seven – and toys belonging previously to Tsarevich Alexei. Some 100 and forty objects have been discovered within the cesspit of the Ipatiev Home.

A appreciable variety of gadgets have been recovered from the previous guards of their houses, when searches have been carried out by the investigators Nametkin and Sergeev between July and August 1918. A guard, one P. Lylov, of the Ural Regional Soviet, owned gold crosses which had been taken from the our bodies within the cellar on the Ipatiev Home (Galina Komelova and Alia Barkovets, Nicholas and Alexandra, pp. 382-383). Lylov had amongst different gadgets, a bodice and a camisole, each of which had mom of pearl buttons and a gold wedding ceremony ring, “1894” – in all probability belonging to both the Tsar or Tsarina – a great distance from the Danish painter Laurits Regner Tuxen’s shimmering portrait of the marriage of Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna, accomplished in 1895.

The investigation recovered a coronary heart breaking assortment of objects on the 4 Brothers Pit within the woods, a number of miles from Lake Isetsk, the place Sokolov’s enquiry tried to piece collectively what had occurred on the night time of 16/17 July 1918, whither the our bodies of the imperial household and their retainers had been introduced. Close to the stays of an enormous bonfire, a cross with inexperienced stones had been found. This was the emerald, pectoral Maltese cross which had belonged to Tsarina Alexandra and had been given to her by the Dowager Empress Marie Feodorovna (Massie, 494). It’s maybe poignant to recall, that Alexandra had visited Malta as Princess of Hesse in 1890.

This might have been found amidst the scattered objects resembling hooks and eyes, belt buckles, rings and different jewelry which was merely left on the opening of the 4 Brothers Mine, maybe as a Bolshevik ruse to divert the White enquiry from the precise grave website within the forest, found a lot later. The writer Peter Kurth for one, means that the “evidence” collected on the mineshaft mysteriously solely appeared as soon as Sokolov’s investigation was beneath approach (Peter Kurth, The Misplaced World of Nicholas and Alexandra, 202). Nametkin found a mineshaft referred to as Ganin’s Pit – some 320 metres from the Isetsky Mine – the place he discovered burnt objects and valuables, together with the severed finger which Sokolov prompt had belonged to Alexandra, a declare based mostly on no proof however as an alternative on his personal photographic comparisons and as a result of it was judged to be finely manicured, because the Tsarina’s had been.

Sokolov’s sifting yielded gadgets of jewelry, which he laid out on tarpaulins. These jewels apparently included emeralds, rubies, sapphires, diamonds, pearls, topazes and almandines (J. C. Trewin, 130). Alexandra Tegleva, the previous nurse to the imperial youngsters, who had married the tutor, Pierre Gilliard, was of those that had accompanied the Imperial Household to Tobolsk and continued on to Ekaterinburg, however had been advised to return to Tyumen (J. C. Trewin, 126). Tegleva later recalled how these jewels had been hidden: ‘They [the Grand Duchesses] carried many pearls on their bodies, under the blouses… I remember a large pearl necklace and a brooch…’ (Quoted in J. C. Trewin, pp. 130-131).

Amongst the lots of of objects ‘recovered’ by Sokolov on the mine was a platinum, pearl and gold earring, believed to be Alexandra’s. The Englishman Gibbes added a private word to this: ‘These were her favourite earrings and she wore them often’ (Ibid, 130). This pearl earring was stated to have been from a pair which Alexandra frequently wore (Massie, 494).

This single pearl earring – whether it is Alexandra’s – survived the investigation. It’s at present displayed within the London Science Museum’s exhibition, as being from ‘before 1918’. A number of the crates containing ‘evidence’ which have been faraway from Russia, discovered their solution to the sister of Tsar Nicholas II, Grand Duchess Xenia, who was dwelling in British exile. The Grand Duchess lived each at Frogmore Cottage in Windsor Nice Park and at Wilderness Home, Hampton Courtroom. The Grand Duchess divided these things between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Holy Trinity Monastery of the ROCOR in Jordanville, New York. The pearl earring was lent to the London exhibition from Jordanville, as was the diamond and enamel pectoral cross, which had as soon as belonged to the Tsarina.

For Gibbes a minimum of, the earring had belonged to Alexandra. Pearls had in fact, been worn by the 4 Grand Duchesses each as earrings and necklaces, one thing to which pictures manufactured from them extensively attest. The truth that the earring was believed to be Alexandra’s in any respect, is in itself essential. Symbolic of her love of pearls, it’s maybe applicable that this single pearl earring, definitely related to the Russian Imperial Household, was discovered as a part of the investigation regarding their destiny.

The pearl earring had come a great distance from Russia.

©Elizabeth Jane Timms, 2018

The Final Tsar: Blood and Revolution runs on the Science Museum in London from 21 September 2018 till 24 March 2019.