European Demidoff Foundation / Европейский Демидовский фонд

Европейский Демидовский фонд был основан в Швейцарии 28 ноября 2022 года как независимая и отдельная организация-правопреемник Лондонского отделения Международного Демидовского Фонда.

The European Demidoff Foundation was founded in Switzerland on November 28, 2022 as an independent and separate successor organization of the London branch of the International Demidoff Foundation.

Союз потомков Демидовых, объединившихся для продвижения важного исторического, культурного и филантропического вклада нашей родословной.

  • Заявление о миссии: Продвигать историческое наследие поколений членов семьи Демидовых и их важный вклад в искусство, политику, культуру и филантропию. 
  • Структура членства:
    • Члены семьи будут состоять из прямых потомков Демидовых как по мужской, так и по женской линии.
    • Академические члены будут состоять из ученых, проводящих исследования для представления и/или публикации своих работ по историческому вкладу Демидовых.
    • Общие члены – это представители широкой общественности, которые заинтересованы в том, чтобы их информировали по вопросам, связанными с Демидовым.
  • План действий:
    • Поделиться со всеми уровнями членства предстоящим расписанием конференций, симпозиумов и других мероприятий, связанных с историческим наследием Демидовых.
    • Принимать непосредственное участие в презентациях, конференциях, симпозиумах и музейных выставках, связанных с историческим наследием Демидовых.
    • Обеспечить ознакомление членов клуба с недавно опубликованными качественными презентациями и публикациями по Демидовым.
    • Если возможно, принимать непосредственное участие в поддержке и публикации качественных книг и журнальных статей, посвященных Демидовым.
    • По возможности принимать непосредственное участие в поддержке сохранения и/или ремонта демидовских памятников и сооружений.
    • Заниматься сбором средств в поддержку инициатив, связанных с Демидовым, которые поддерживаются большинством членов семьи.
    • Заниматься изучением происхождения демидовских предметов по просьбе членов клуба, аукционных домов, музеев, художественных галерей и т.д.
    • Заниматься генеалогическими исследованиями, связанными с Демидовыми, по просьбе членов семьи.

Руководитель фонда: Alexandre Tissot Demidoff  / Александр Тиссо-Демидов, прямой потомок Павла Павловича Демидова, второго князя Сан-Донато. 

Alexandre Tissot Demidoff

Alexandre Tissot Demidoff

President of the EDF
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Kristiina Helmi Natalia Demidoff

Vice President of the EDF
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Париж 2022

Alexander Borovikov

Ambassador in the Board of Directors of the EDF
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Материалы, предоставленные Европейским Демидовским Фондом

Pietro Canonica Museum Room and Isola Bella

A return to the Pietro Canonica Museum Room at Piazza Marconi 16, in Stresa, Italy took place during the Easter holidays on Wednesday, 3 April 2024.  Joining us were extended Demidoff family members including, for the first time, Count Ignaz and Countess Robinia zu Toerring-Jettenbach.  It was an opportunity for Ignaz to view, for the first time, the plaster cast on display by Canonica of his grandmother, Princess Elizabeth of Greece and Denmark (1904-1955).  As mentioned, in a prior NewsLetter, finding this plaster cast, during the author’s first visit to the Canonica Room, initiated a worldwide search to determine the current whereabouts of the original marble busts of Princesses Elizabeth and her elder sister, Olga. The original marble busts were made by Canonica in 1910 while on his visit to Russia and displayed at the Vladimir Palace in St. Petersburg.  It is hoped, of course, that the originals exist to this day and proudly feature on display in a prestigious public or private museum.
The sisters were two of the three daughters of Prince Nicholas of Greece and Denmark (1872-1938) and Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna of Russia (1882-1957).  The eldest, Princess Olga, married Prince Paul of Yugoslavia, hence the Demidoff connection, given that Paul’s mother was Aurore Pavlovna Demidoff, Princess of San Donato (1873-1904), while his father was Prince Arsene Karageorgevitch (1859-1935).  Princess Elizabeth in 1934 married Carl Theodor, Count of Toerring-Jettenbach (1900-1967), while Princess Marina in 1934 married Prince George (later the Duke of Kent) at Westminster Abbey, London.
Further joining our group were extended Demidoff family members Count Luigi di Noghera and his wife, Countess Sonia, and Prince Roberto Troubetzkoy and his wife, Princess Giovanna.  We also were delighted to be joined by our friend from Lugano, Serafina, and family.
Our host at the Canonica Museum Room once again was Dr. Thea Tibiletti, the curator of the Canonica Space, who provided our guests a historical overview of Canonica’s works on display. Canonica’s ties to Stresa commenced in 1898 and lasted for seventeen years due to his close friendship with the Duchess of Genoa, the mother of Queen Margherita of Savoy.  It was this long-standing connection that led Canonica in 1953 to donate to the municipality of Stresa the many plaster casts and marble busts that are currently on display.
From Florence, we were joined by Professor Lucia Tonini, Lecturer in Russian Literature and Art, Pisa University. Professor Tonini  provided our group an inspired and entertaining presentation based on her latest publication, “Reflections of ‘Belle Epoque’ in the portraits of Maria Demidova Abamelek-Lazarev”. It was interesting to learn from Prof. Tonini that the passing of her husband, Prince Abamelek-Lazarev in 1916, marked the end of Princess Maria as an icon of the ‘Belle Epoque’ and the start of forty years of widowhood and eventual withdrawal from the outside world. It is Canonica’s marble bust of Princess Maria Abamelek-Lazarev, made in Rome in 1904, that is the undisputed masterpiece of the collection in Stresa.
Following the presentations, our group headed for lunch and then the short ferry ride to Isola Bella for a private viewing of the Borromeo Palace.  We were most grateful to Countess Robinia zu Toerring-Jettenbach for making this special visit possible.  It goes without saying that our group was enchanted to view the treasure chest of Baroque art on display, the lavish rooms where Napoleon and Jospehine stayed during their visit, as well as the six ‘whimsical’ rooms imitating natural grottos, not to mention the lush Italian-style garden with its free-roaming peacocks. 
In the end, this was a most rewarding cultural excursion that was enjoyed by all who attended.  It was especially wonderful to meet the new extended family members.  We also thank Professor Lucia Tonini for making the visit to Stresa from Florence and for her fascinating presentation on Princess Maria as ‘fashion icon’ of the ‘Belle Epoque’.  We also extend our heartfelt thanks to Dr. Thea Tibiletti for her informative presentation on Canonica and for her most kind and warm welcome.
Alexandre Tissot Demidoff

I Festival Internazionale D'Arte, "Ai Sette Colli'

A wonderful and highly enjoyable two-day festival in celebration of the arts and culture took place on 2nd and 3rd March in Genoa, Italy.  The first event took place on Saturday morning, 2 March, at the grand, ‘Circolo Unificato dell’Esercito di Genova‘, located in central Genoa.  This was organised by ‘Russkij Dom A. Čechov  (Piemonte)’ and led by Mrs. Daria Belokrylova-Beccaria, together with Mrs. Irina Kovalyova, President of ‘Lanterna di Genova‘, and Mrs. Larisa Smirnova, President of ‘Casa Russa Arti Erzia‘, amongst others.  The dignatories in attendance included Mrs. Maria Vedrinskaya, Consul General of the Russian Federation to Genoa, and Mrs. Dina Kotelnikova-Raimondi, Ambassador of Genoa Worldwide.
The large number of members of the Russian community who attended were entertained by poetry readings by local pupils, a presentation of Russian Folks Songs by the talented duo, Inessa Abakumova and Theodora Siberiani, and citations of Dante’s classic work by Davide Beccaria, to cite only a few of the presenters.  An exhibition of paintings by the talented artist, Mrs. Yelena Podboronova, was also on view for the pleasure of the audience members.
The writer presented the romantic love story between Maria Pavlovna Demidoff, Princess of San Donato (1877-1955) and Prince Semyon Abamelek-Lazarev (1857-1916).  This included images from private collections as well as unpublished diary entries.  Following the presentation, the Consul General shared her insight with the writer on the construction of the adjoining Russian Orthodox Church at Villa Abamelek-Lazarev as well as on the image used of the Villa in Rome. These recommendations were subsequently incorporated into the next day’s presentation.
The next event took place the following day on Sunday afternoon, at ‘L’Anima Russa‘.  This event was organised by the association, ‘L’Anima Russa‘ and ‘Casa Russa di Anton Čechov ‘ (Piemonte).  An enthusiastic crowd gathered to be entertained by an extended reading by Davide Beccaria of Dante’s classic poem, a singing performance by Mrs  Daria Belokrylova-Beccaria, and a presentation by Mrs. Irina Kovalyova of her latest collection of poetry, ‘Il Cielo di Zarigard‘.  The writer once more presented, but to a mostly new audience, the unexpected love story between Princess Maria Pavlovna Demidova and Prince Abamelek-Lazarev.  Following the series of cultural presentations, the guests were treated to a generous and delicious banquet of Russian delicacies. Given the resounding success of this first, two-day festival of the arts and culture in Genoa, it is clear that it will be followed by many more in the years to come! 
Alexandre Tissot Demidoff
Day One at Circolo Unificato dell'Esercito with Mrs. Maria Vedrinskaya, Consul General of the Russian Federation to Genova
Day One at Circolo Unificato dell'Esercito with Mrs. Maria Vedrinskaya, Consul General of the Russian Federation to Genova
ATD with, on left, Mrs. Irina Kovalyova, on right, Mrs. Daria Belokrylova-Beccaria
ATD with, on left, Mrs. Irina Kovalyova, on right, Mrs. Daria Belokrylova-Beccaria
Day Two at 'L'Anima Russa' with presenters and guests
Day Two at 'L'Anima Russa' with presenters and guests
ATD presenting at 'L'Anima Russa'
ATD presenting at 'L'Anima Russa'
ATD and Mrs. Larisa Smirnova, President 'Casa Russa Arti Erzia'
ATD and Mrs. Larisa Smirnova, President 'Casa Russa Arti Erzia'

Spazio Espositivo Canonica a Stresa, Italia

A visit took place Thursday morning, 22 February 2024, to the Spazio Espositivo Canonica in Stresa, Italy.  Joining me was Prince Roberto Troubetzkoy Hahn and his charming wife, Giovanna.  It was an opportunity to visit in person, and for the first time, the marble bust of Princess Maria Pavlovna Demidoff (1877-1955) by the famous sculptor, Pietro Canonica.  We were delighted to be joined by the mayor of the city of Stresa, Mrs. Marcella Severino, together with members of her talented team. We also received a scholarly overview on the artist and his works on display from the curator, Dr. Thea Tibiletti.  A visit to the nearby Ducal Palace also was organised for us where again we were provided a scholarly overview by the curator in residence.

The Spazio Espositivo Canonica, located within the Town Hall of Stresa, is the new site for Canonica’s works of art following an earlier and temporary display at the Palazzo dei Congressi.  The sculptures by Canonica have now been restored and proudly placed on display at this more suitable and permanent site.

In regards to how Canonica’s works of art reached Stresa, this was due to a period of seventeen years, starting in 1898, when the artist was a frequent visitor to Stresa due to his friendship with the Duchess of Genoa, mother of Queen Margherita of Savoia. Canonica would sculpt a number of bronze monuments for the town of Stresa over a period extending over thirty years. Due to these strong ties to the town, in 1953 the artist donated many plaster and marble works of art to the City of Stresa that are now proudly on display at the Spazio Canonica. 

In regards to the marble bust of Princess Maria Abamelek-Lazarev, it was made for the Princess in Rome, in 1904, and, as explained by the historian, Michail Talalay, it was the first of many works of art commissioned by members of the Russian aristocracy and royal family.  Princess Maria would return the sculpture to the artist following the passing of her husband Prince Abamelek-Lazarev in 1916. Another fascinating work of art that is on display is a delicate plaster cast of Princess Elizabeth of Greece and Denmark (1904-1955) that dates to the artist’s short two years in Russia from 1908 to 1910.

It was in 1908, while Canonica was in Paris, that he met Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovitch, President of the Russian Academy of Fine Arts (1847-1909), together with his wife, Maria Pavlovna.  The Grand Duke commissioned the artist to sculpt the bust of Maria Pavlovna together with an invitation to visit Russia. While in Russia, the Italian sculptor was introduced to members of the royal family where he made busts of Alexandra Feodorovna and her son the Tsesarevich Alexei. A bronze bust of Nicholas II, that is now in Buckingham Palace, was sent by the Emperor and Empress to their cousin, King George V for Christmas 1912, who wrote in acknowledgement ‘I thank you both a thousand times’.

In 1910 Canonica would also sculpt two marble busts of the grandchildren of Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovitch, Princess Olga of Greece and Denmark (1903–1997) and her younger sister, Princess Elizabeth of Greece and Denmark (1904-1955).  These marble busts were placed on display at the Grand Duke’s imposing and splendid, Vladimir Palace, situated on the waterfront of the south bank of the river Neva.

Unfortunately, the current whereabouts of the original marble busts of the two princesses is unknown.  Preliminary research uncovered that the originals are neither at the Hermitage nor at the Vladimir Palace.  However, what is interesting is that plaster casts of the two marble busts are on display at the Pietro Canonica Museum at Villa Borghese in Rome. These works of art reached Rome from the time in 1927 that the artist received a concession from the municipality to use the building, the Fortezzuola, as his home studio.  In return, the artist bequethed all the works collected at his residence to create a museum in his name.

However, a review of the images of the works of art at the Fortezzuola would suggest that the identity of each princess is incorrectly cited.  This position is supported by the evidence provided by Count Hans-Veit of Törring-Jettenbach, the son of Princess Elizabeth of Greece and Denmark.  In fact, at his residence, the Count is in possession of a similar plaster cast of the bust that is on display at the Spazio Canonica in Stresa.  On the back, the Count’s father wrote: “Elisabeth Gräfin zu Toerring, Prinzessin von Griechenland”.

Our group, that is now growing, look forward to returning to visit this delightful museum in Stresa in early April and armed with all this new insightful knowledge and information.  We do believe that other interesting discoveries will come to light in connection to Canonica’s close ties with Russia by the time of our return to Stresa in a few week’s time.

Photos from Left to Right:  1) Princess Maria Abamelek-Lazarev (1877-1955), 2) Princess Elizabeth of Greece on display Spazio Canonica in Stresa, 3) Princess Elizabeth of Greece in private collection of Count Hans Veit, 4) Pietro Canonica, 5) Plaster Casts of the misidentified Princesses of Greece and Denmark at the Pietro Canonica Museum in Rome.

Alexandre Tissot Demidoff

New Year's Concert 2024

For Christmas 2023, the European Demidoff Foundation were delighted to sponsor the journey from Genoa to Palermo for members of the choir of the Chiesa di San Giorgio to attend and perform at the following folklore festival:

It was at Chiesa di San Giorgio in Genoa where Padre Marian Selvini on 2 November 2023 had earlier officiated at the moving commemorative event for Aurora Pavlovna Demidoff.  The religious service involved the participation of Inessa Abakumova, the head of the church’s choir.

Inessa’s report on the trip to Palermo is presented below:

A musician’s life is filled with festivals, public events, and masterclasses, where one can perform to improve skills, enrich the repertoire, and to make new friends and useful acquaintances.

This New Year, with Teodora Siberiani, we had a desire to go to Sicily, to Palermo, to present our Russian traditional, Christmas carols, because for us, Orthodox Christians, Christmas is still ahead of us.  Unfortunately, we discovered that we lacked the necessary resources to make the journey from north to south.  In addition, Teodora is still a student at the conservatory.  However, to our good fortune we were helped by sponsors, friends of the Orthodox parish in Genoa, the European Demidoff Foundation. Thanks to the Foundation our trip was able to take place. Encouraged and inspired, we set off on our way.

Even the journey to Palermo was extraordinary: after sitting in the train carriage heading south, we boarded the ferry and sailed to Sicily.  Once we got there, we were immediately immersed in the holiday atmosphere.  We walked through the main streets of Palermo that was filled with songs and dancing. The people of Palermo were happy to see such a noisy invasion of musicians.  After all, there were more than 200 musicians from more than 25 countries who took part in the ‘Folkmarathon’!

More than 50 master classes were planned and took place at the European Youth Centre (EPYC) for the members of the ‘Folkmarathon’. Training sessions started at 10am and continued until late into the evening, seamlessly transitioning into scheduled and improvised concerts. Over the five days of the festival, there were Scandinavian, Kurdish, Polish dances, couple dances (Forrò), swing and salsa, polyphonic singing lessons, folk, medieval music lessons and voice practices.  A kitchen, with traditional Sicilian dishes, at affordable prices, was organised for the convenience of the folklorists.

We Russians had the honour of taking part in the New Year’s concert. We were the only two people representing Russia, so felt a great responsibility. The audience welcomed us very warmly, and we were delighted to add to the festivities with native Russian motifs performed by two sopranos. After all, are Christmas carols so common in Sicily?

It is definitely worth recalling the masterclasses that we attended individually and jointly.  Most memorable were the masterclasses of Scottish and Indian folk songs. We could not remain indifferent to the passionate Neapolitan songs sung by speakers of this dialect. These all were moving sessions that will remain in our hearts and will give us strength to strive for new achievements in the musical field.

We return home tired but satisfied. The rousing dance music to which we danced along the streets of Palermo and in the spacious halls of the EPYC still resound in our ears. The fairy-tale city disappears in the distance, where under the music the peoples of different countries merged in one dance, where ancient folk tunes were taken up by everyone: Germans, French, English, we, Russians and many, many others…..  Is it possible to have so many different dialects and languages to come together?

It turns out that it is possible: all together to sing one song and all together to dance one dance.
Thanks to folklore, thanks to Palermo, thanks to the organisers of this event and, of course, thanks to the European Demidoff Foundation, that made it possible for us to join this celebration of life.
Alexandre Tissot Demidoff

Anastasia Lopoukhine Art Exhibition Thursday, 30 November 2023

The European Demidoff Foundation (EDF) was delighted to be granted a ‘Private View’ the evening of Thursday, 30 November 2023 showcasing the works of art of Anastasia Lopoukhine.  As mentioned in the previous article, Anastasia is an extended Demidoff family member whom the EDF is proud to support.  Around thirty friends, members, and guests of the EDF attended the ‘Private View’ of Anastasia’s exhibition, ‘On Line’, that was held at Gallery Different in London and hosted by Randle White Fine Art.
Amongst our distinguished guests was the Chair of St. Gregory’s Foundation, Nicholas Kolarz, and Executive Secretary, Julia Ashmore.  Also attending was the founder of Prospero World, Sita Schutt, along with Trustee, Murray Shanks, and Senior Consultant, Elizabeth Chatalas Benoit.  
We also were delighted to be joined by Prince Nikita Lobanov-Rostovsky and his wife, June.  It was great to see in attendance, EDF academic member, Eugene Edelman and Princess Anna de la Tour de Vergne.  Also joining us was the charming Lady Sudeley (see her quote below).
From Aristocrazia Europea, who are based in Milan, we were joined by Contessa Giulia Farneti Merenda Salecchi and Lorenzo Maria Pacini.  From Zurich, we were delighted to see EDF member, Alina Toukallo, and her husband, Uei. Of course, we cannot fail to mention in attendance Anastasia’s mother, Irene Commeau, from Paris, who works closely with the International Demidoff Foundation with headquarters in Moscow.  Of course, I cannot name each guest, so do please accept my apologies for missing the names of so many other esteemed guests who were in attendance.
Lastly, I would like to thank ‘Ailsa Creative Cuisine’ of London who provided the excellent catering and service that was enjoyed by our guests.
In the end, I believe that the event was enjoyed by everyone who attended and who together celebrated the beautiful works of art on display by Anastasia Lopoukhine.  For me, it was most rewarding to receive the steady stream of complimentary messages such as the following:
 “… that was one of the best art exhibitions I have ever attended – a very interesting group of people, where one had a chance to talk to most of the guests in a friendly uncrowded atmosphere and also to look at the very original, professional and thought-provoking art on the walls.”
We now look forward to following, and with keen interest, this talented artist’s progress and career as it grows amongst knowledgeable art enthusiasts and collectors around the world.   Thank you to all who attended the special evening. 
Alexandre Tissot Demidoff

Demidoff Days (Genova, 1 and 2 November 2023)

On behalf of the directors of the European Demidoff Foundation (EDF), I would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to Michail Talalay for organising two commemorative events on 1 and 2 November 2023 in Genova in memory of the 150th birth of Aurora Pavlovna Demidoff, Princess of San Donato.  
On each day, the president of the EDF presented the story of his great-grandmother, Aurora Pavlovna Demidoff (1873-1904).  The presentations included material found in the archives in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Estonia, together with a number of images from private collections. In other words, the actual story of this romantic tragedy is little known by the general public.
The presentation on the first day of 1 November took place at the ‘Casa Russa Arti Erzia‘ in Genoa. Special thanks are extended to our hosts, Irina Kovalyova, president of the ‘Lanterna di Genova‘, her daughter, Daria, together with Larisa Smirnova, president of the ‘Casa Russa Arti Erzia‘.  
For the event, Irina Kovalyova wrote a moving poem about Aurora Pavlovna that was read to the audience.  As part of the evening’s events, the audience also were treated to a musical performance by the talented pianist and composer, Pier Francesco Gaviglio Rouby. It was also a pleasure to meet, for the first time, Princesses Elena and Marta Troubetzkaya, who are family relations. The Serbian poet and translator, Vera Horvat, also participated and read her inspired poems in Serbian, while the vice-president of the cultural association, Russkij Dom Di Anton Čechov, offered the audience an excerpt from Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’.
On the following day of 2 November, a lunch was organised at Antica Osteria di Vico Palla, a trattoria, that was not easy to find, but that served delicious Ligurian specialties.  Our guests included Professor Dr. Vitaliy Zherdev, from L’Universita degli Studi di Urbino, Inessa Abakumova, a Classical Music Singer, Dott.ssa Joulia Aprelova, and Padre Marian Selvini of the Chiesa di San Giorgio, amongst other distinguished guests.  It was most moving to meet for the first time, my relations, Prince Roberto Troubetzkoy Hahn and his charming wife, Giovanna, the parents of Princesses Elena and Marta Troubetzkaya.  It goes without saying that it was a delicious and leisurely lunch enjoyed by all those who attended.
In the evening, a second presentation was given to a mostly different audience on ‘Aurora Pavlovna Demidoff: Unfortunate in Love?’.  The presentation was given at Chiesa di San Giorgio that was hosted by Padre Marian Selvini.  Following the presentation, Padre Marian Selvini presided over a Russian religious service in memory of Aurora Pavlovna with the assistance of Inessa Abakumova.  It was a most moving service and a fitting and solemn end to a wonderful two days in Genova.
Alexandre Tissot Demidoff
Award to Michail Talalay, the organiser of the two day event in Genova
Award to Michail Talalay, the organiser of the two day event in Genova
Group photo at the Chiesa di San Giorgio with padre Marion Selvini leading the religious service
Group photo at the Chiesa di San Giorgio with padre Marion Selvini leading the religious service
Irina Kovalyova, Alexandre, and Larisa Smirnova
Irina Kovalyova, Alexandre, and Larisa Smirnova
Alexandre, Princess Marta Troubetzkaya, and Prince Roberto Troubetzkoy Hahn
Alexandre, Princess Marta Troubetzkaya, and Prince Roberto Troubetzkoy Hahn
Anastasia Lopoukhine is a member of the Demidoff family, her grandmother’s father being Georgiy Vasiliyevich Demidov. Anastasia’s ancestral grandfather was Carl Andreas Koefoed (1855-1948), originally from Denmark, but who lived in Russia for fifty years, and who was instrumental in driving agricultural reform in Russia with Count Sergei Witte (1849-1915) and Pyotr Stolypin (1862-1911).  It was Koefoed’s daughter, Nina Andreyevna (1888-1975), who married Georgiy Vasiliyevich Demidov.
Anastasia is an Artist who lives and works in New York City. Since graduating from her MFA in 2021 she has participated in nine group shows, and three solo shows in London, Paris, Venice, and New York. We are pleased to announce that Anastasia is having her fourth solo show, titled “On Line” in London on the week of the 27th of November. “On Line” is hosted by Randle White Fine Art at Gallery Different, 14 Percy Street, London W1T 1DR.
A true polyglot, Lopoukhine was born Parisian, to French and Russian parents, and educated in the UK with her graduate studies at the New York Academy of Art.
This is an extract from the frontispiece of the catalog, written by Randle White.:
‘I was lucky enough, this spring, to be introduced by my godson to his old friend, Anastasia Lopoukhine. 
What followed was a series of trans-Atlantic telephone conversations. These were cemented in our first chat, by discovering we had a mutual adulation of the Austrian artist, Egon Schiele. Particularly his drawing of hands. “Those hands”, Anastasia exclaimed.
Like car journeys, where eye contact between driver and passenger is rare, telephone conversations have a more fluid texture, based on the flow of the word  rather than the image of the other. Curiously, this provided more clarity when choosing the works for the show.
I was immediately excited by Anastasia’s drawings. Even though some pieces touch upon darker themes, her work is always full of life and humour. 
I soon discovered that Anastasia had chosen to become a draftswoman for many reasons, one of which is practical. Living in two countries and schooling in a third, the portability of light drawing materials allowed Anastasia to always have her tools at hand and never have an excuse not to make art. 
In an interview for a US publication, Anastasia opens up about her process. Be it, pen, ink, charcoal, or collage, she starts each drawing by writing a story.  “Once long ago, I asked a taxi driver about what the worst thing about his job was. I expected him to complain about the long hours or mechanical problems. Waiting to stop at a red light before answering, he said, ‘The worst thing about my job is that I never hear the end of the story. People get into my taxi halfway through their conversation and leave without finishing it off.’ I often think about that taxi driver and how it is the fragments of a story that inspire me the most. I want my work to feel open-ended, like a snapshot of a much bigger tale, a springboard for one’s imagination to go on an unexpected ride.”
Anastasia begins to sketch the image and considers what textures and patterns she will use for each section. Once she feels that the composition has a compelling flow, she switches on an audiobook or podcast and tries not to interfere with the instinctive movements of her hand.  When she loses track of time, she knows the drawing is working.
Talking about the charcoal series “You Are Welcome,” Anastasia opened up about her process: “Vasily Kandinsky used to paint while listening to the music of Arnold Schoenberg. The idea that sound and its symbolism could somehow prompt, permeate, and enrich visual art inspired my “You Are Welcome” project last year. Instead of music, I made recordings of chatter, laughter, and clinking glasses emanating from New York restaurants and gallery openings that I would later listen to as I worked. Letting myself draw freely allowed the exploration of how personal memories intertwined with the events I had recorded.”
In these non-visual conversations, we also discussed the problems of bringing large works from the States to show in Europe, so the three expanded works were born.
Truly wonderful and they are definitely “the snapshot to a bigger tale”.

Her work is fresh, upbeat, and witty, so it is my pleasure to be allowed to put on this show for such a young, unique, and truly international artist.’ 

There will be a private view for members, friends, and guests of the European Demidoff Foundation on the evening of the 30th of November 2023 from 18:00 to 21:00 at Gallery Different, 14 Percy Street, London W1T 1DR. Our guests will be served drinks and canapés. The directors of the European Demidoff Foundation look forward to enjoying together with you this wonderful solo show in London by Anastasia Lopoukhine. Please do RSVP no later than by 15 November to since places are limited.

Small icons of Demidoff’s iconostasis in the Florentine church: Hypotheses on the Origin

Prof. Dr. Vitaliy Zherdev
L’Università degli Studi di Urbino Carlo Bo
Kharkiv State Academy of Design and Arts

The heritage of a short, yet brilliant, residence of the Demidoffs in Florence can be traced even today. A unique carved wooden decoration in the Russian Church of Nativity and St. Nicholas Thaumaturgus in Florence is also a part of the Demidoffs’ heritage. It is not only the massive carved gates to the upper temple that immediately draw the attention of the visitors, but the main part of the masterpiece by Italian woodcarvers in the lower temple. A marvelous iconostasis and icon-cases of full height icons of the apostles, utensils, and a large number of icons were given to the Florentine parish in 1879 from the former Demidoff family chapel. 
In the iconostasis, carved at Barbetti’s workshop at the commission of Prince Anatoly Nikolaevich Demidoff (1812 – 1870) and currently housed in the lower chapel of St. Nicholas Thaumaturgus, special attention is drawn to a gallery of small icons in the style of the 17th century. The icons are painted on a smooth golden background with marginal engravings imitating cloisonné enamel. Scattered patches of color represented by the clothes of holy patriarchs and royalty are rich with golden details, the curves are stylized in the icon-painting tradition. Some faces are painted quite realistically, combining iconic features with light-and-shade three-dimensional effects. The icon gallery counts twenty-seven images.
Some of them were integrated into the iconostasis along with the academic paintings by V. Vasilyev. In the second tier of the iconostasis one can see the icons of St. Abanoub (Onuphrius) the Great (presumably, the patron of the family of Antufyievs’ (Demidoffs), St. Mary Magdalene, St. Queen Alexandra and St. Hyacinth the Martyr (probably a dedication to Akinfiy Demidoff, the founder of the mining industry in the Urals and Siberia). On the right of the iconostasis: St. apostles Paul and Peter (fig.1, 2), St. Anatolius, patriarch of Constantinople (fig. 3). On the left: St. metropolitan Alexius, St. Gregory Nazianzus, and St. Elisabeth. There were also carved twin icon-cases in the Demidoff chapel, which were later altered to serve as doors (according to point 4 of the report on the temple building № 61 of 11 (24), 12 (25), 13 (26) 1901) 1 and placed onto the northern and southern service rooms of the upper church narthex.
The following icons were installed into the said doors / icon-cases. The northern ones: St. Catherine of Alexandria in the cartouche above the door leaf, St. Evangelists Matthew and Mark in the upper part of the leaf, St. Prince Alexander Nevsky, St. Emperor Constantine in the lower part, with St. Princes Vladimir and Olga equal-to-apostles on the back. The southern doors: St. Anatolius, patriarch of Constantinople in the cartouche, St. Evangelists Luke and John the Apostle in the upper part of the leaf, St. Andrew of Crete and St. Dmitry of Rostov in the lower part. On the back: St. Sergius of Radonezh and St. Anna the Prophetess. Also, three smaller icons are installed above the icon-cases of apostles Thomas, Matthew and Bartholomew in the lower temple.
As there is still no reliable information on the origin of the small icons, we can talk about the following hypotheses that require further documental and stylistic analysis. The first hypothesis to be discussed, despite it being somewhat “extravagant”, is as follows:
Since the distinctive icon-painting schools of Yaroslavl, Palekh, Mstera, etc. still existed in the 19th century, Prince Anatole Demidoff’s order could have been completed by the masters of these schools. However, the small icons from the Demidoff chapel are also very close in style to later examples of Nevyansk icon-painting. The fact that by the mid-19th century the distinctive icon-painting oriented to ancient examples still existed among Old Believers, who had once concentrated in the Ural properties of the Demidoffs, also counts in favour of the idea that the entire gallery of the small “Demidoff ” icons was made by the Nevyansk masters.
It is in the Urals, where the Russian mining industry takes its origin and where the adepts of the old order and the keepers of the old faith had fled from Peter’s reforms, that the original school of icon-painting began to develop. The town of Nevyansk that grew around the Demidoffs’ iron mill became central to the Old Believers community in the Urals.  It was Akinfiy Demidoff who built an Old Believers’ monastery in the outskirts of Nevyansk at his own expense.2 The Demidoffs invited masters from Tula and Olonets factories where Old Belief flourished, they established close contacts with Old Believers’ circles from Kerzhenets and Vygovsky hermitage, and provided work to fugitive schismatics without interfering into their religious practices. According to the census of 1747, the Old Believers constituted almost half of the population of the Demidoffs’ towns-factories.3 This gave a start to the distinctive Nevyansk icon painting school, which enjoyed its best days during the peak of economic and industrial development of the region from the mid-18th until the mid-19th century.
The concept of “Nevyansk icon” is somewhat conventional and cannot be tied to one city, yet Nevyansk masters carried out orders throughout the region, and thus their style spread up to the Southern Ural. Nevyansk school relies on the traditions of the 17th century icon painting, which became a protograph for all of the later iconography, and tends to resemble Yaroslavl, Rostov and Kostroma iconography.  The Nevyansk Icon is characterized by refinement and elegance of poses, fine modelling of faces, detailing and abundance of graphic decor.4 But the Old Believer milieu gradually absorbed both the influence of the official church and the external secular influence, which affected the style of the late Nevyansk icon painting, — the “archaic” features began to disappear and the realistic approach became more and more apparent. The icons from St. Nicholas Church in the village of Bynghi near Nevyansk are a vivid example of this. The church itself was built in 1789–1797 in a mixed style of the fading Baroque and Classicism. The icons that were created around the same period are nevertheless mostly made by Nevyansk masters in the spirit of the 17th century. The sophistication of the painting manner, the “refinement” of certain images (for example, the archangels on the deacon’s doors of the central iconostasis, the icons from the iconostasis of the southern chapel) are stylistically close to the images from the Demidoff Chapel.
As the wealth of the Old Believer merchants and industrialists increased, the Nevyansk icon began to evolve towards decorative art, becoming an item of luxury to embody the wealth of the Ural descendants and gold miners.5 Therefore, ordering from the Nevyansk icon painters a gallery of icons of saints, some of which bear the names of the founders of the Demidoff dynasty, becomes a very symbolic and independent gesture. Indeed, the Nevyansk factories were owned by the Demidoffs for a relatively short time — from 1702 to 1769 — and were sold by P. A. Demidoff — the grandson of Nikita Demidovich Antufiev — to the industrialist S. Y. Yakovlev (Sobakin).
However, by ordering icons from the masters of the Nevyansk school, Prince Anatole Demidoff could stress his connection with the former Ural patrimony that originated from the great founder of the dynasty. Besides that, the Nevyansk icon becoming more and more of a luxury item, it put emphasis on the customer’s high status as one of the richest people in Europe. The order being made by none other than Prince Anatole Nikolayevich is indicated by the fact that the gallery of small icons contains two images of St. Anatolius, the patriarch of Constantinople. Most likely, the time of this order coincided with the creation of the iconostasis and full-length images of the evangelists.

The other hypothesis is more probable. Since V. V. Vasilyev’s training as an artist began in the workshop of M. S. Peshekhonov 6, he certainly knew the basics of icon painting. This is evidenced by the icon of the Mother of God “Joy of All Who Sorrow” painted by Vasilyev in 1891, now in the collection of Yaroslavl Art Museum.7 This is an exact copy of an earlier icon with an interesting history, yet it shows that the artist possessed excellent technique and knowledge of the style.  In 1858, Vasilyev received the title of Academician “in Byzantine style painting”, so it is interesting that the inscription — most likely made by the customer — on the back of the icon stated: “… the icon … was made by the icon-painting art of the artist of the Academy of Byzantine painting Vasily Vasilyev…” .8 By employing Vasilyev, the customer got in touch with a certain painting community, to which belonged the Peshekhonovs — by the way, a well-known Old Believer family. In 1856, the son of the workshop founder, V. M. Peshekhonov, was granted the title of Icon Painter of the Court of His Imperial Majesty.9 

The high rank could be achieved through executing works for the court for at least eight to ten years — in person by the one claiming the title and, of course, at an a exceptional level. The icons made by the Peshekhonov workshop were known, in addition to the virtuosity of the execution, for their high cost. But ordering the icons from Peshekhonov was also a matter of prestige, which could have been Anatole Nikolayevich Demidoff’s motivation.

The Peshekhonov icon is characterized by its emphasis on the use of gold: golden backgrounds, golden ornaments, spaces superimposed by gold. Gold embossing was used, particularly, the framing (margins) was minted, the paint put on certain parts of the frame imitated the cloisonne enamel. Clothes were painted over gold, which allowed “scraping” to form various patterns on the fabric. Then, the diverging pattern was used to imitate the texture of rich embroidery. Face (lic’noe pis’mo) and dress (dolic’noe pis’mo) painting was performed by a multi-layer technique of tempera painting or mixed technique, in which oil and egg media were applied layer by layer.  It is of note that V. Vasilyev also used the techniques of Peshekhonov’s style, in particular, rich engravings on nimbi and details.

Both of the hypotheses outline the avenues for future research and attribution of the small icons from the gallery of the Demidoff Chapel.
1 Levitskii, Vladimir. “Zhurnal sooruzheniia russkoi pravoslavnoi tserkvi vo Florentsii. 1897–1912. Prilozhenie 1”. In Talalai, Mikhail. Russkaia tserkovnaia zhizn’ i khramostroitel’stvo v Italii, 193–287. St. Petersburg: Kolo, 2011. (In Russian)
2 Shkerin, Vladimir. “Zakrytie staroobriadcheskikh chasoven v Nizhne-Tagil’skom zavodskom okruge v 30–40-e gody XIX veka”. In Religiia i tserkov’ v Sibiri, edited by A. Chernyshov, 94–102. Tiumen’: MI “RUTRA”, 1995, iss. 8. (In Russian)
3 Ebid. P. 94.
4 Golynets, Galina, ed. Nev’ianskaia ikona. Al’bom. Ekaterinburg: Ural’skii universitet, 1997. (In Russian)
5 Gramolin, A. “Nev’ianskaia ikonopis’”. Nauka i zhizn’, no. 8 (1998). Accessed April 23, 2018. https:// (In Russian)
6 Khristianstvo v iskusstve, sm. Vasil’ev Vasilii Vasil’evich (1829–1894). Accessed June 08, 2018. http:// (In Russian)
7 Kuznetsova, Ol’ga, and Aleksei Fedorchuk, comp. Pokhvala Bogomateri. Ikony Iaroslavlia XIII–XX ve- kov iz sobraniia Iaroslavskogo Khudozhestvennogo muzeia. Katalog vystavki. Moscow: Severnyi Palomnik, 2003. P. 73-75. (In Russian)
8 Ibid. P. 75.
9 Belik, Zhanna. “Ikonopisets Dvora Ego Imperatorskogo Velichestva”. Russkoe iskusstvo, no. 3 (2006). Accessed June 17, 2018. (In Russian)

Maria Pavlovna commemorative event IN FLORENCE

The directors of the European Demidoff Foundation were delighted to host a visit for our Russian friends in Florence during the week of 17 July 2023. During their time in Florence, they participated at the Maria Pavlovna commemorative event that took place at Villa Demidoff on Wednesday, 19 July at 10:30AM. Officiating at the Russian religious service was Archpriest George Blatinsky who was joined by the choral group of the Russian Orthodox Church of Florence. It was a solemn and moving religious service.
In addition to the religious service, other events were also organised for our friends. These commenced on Wednesday evening, 19 July, with a ‘Welcome Aperitivo’ that was followed by a dinner of Tuscan specialties that extended late into the evening. The next day’s activities started with the Maria Pavlovna commemorative service that was followed by a ‘group lunch’ hosted by EDF director, Alexander Borovikov, at the Zocchi restaurant at Pratolino that overlooks the Demidoff park.  
In the evening, the group returned to central Florence to listen to musical performances while enjoying delicious Georgian dishes. In advance of the musical entertainment, the audience received an informative and comprehensive overview from Polina Yurievna Mazurik on the important historical research that can be found on the website, the “Century of Aurora’. The audience was then entertained by Vladislav Dmitrievich Feldman, a highly accomplished singer, who presented to the audience a small number of moving ballads. This then was followed by the highly talented, Duo Lalimberti, who provided an enchanting musical performance of Russian and Georgian songs that, again, extended late into the night. 
The next day, the group first visited the Uffizi and then La Accademia Gallery. In the afternoon, we were kindly provided a tour of the recently restored ‘Church of the Nativity of Christ and St. Nicholas the Wonderworker’, the first Russian Orthodox church constructed in Italy. Its internal religious decorations were donated by Paul and Elena Demidoff, 2nd Prince of San Donato and are the original decorations that Anatole Nikolaievich Demidoff, 1st Prince of San Donato presented at his Russian Orthodox Chapel at Villa di San Donato. It was moving to admire the five brilliant small domes, shaped as onions, sitting atop the Church, together with the series of tall figures of Demidoff-related Orthodox Saints and icons richly painted in the byzantine style. It goes without saying that the quality of the restoration work is outstanding and we are eternally grateful to all who contributed. We understand that the next challenge is the restoriation of the external grounds and garden of the Church.
On Saturday morning, a small group visited The Modern Art Gallery at Palazzo Pitti. On the second floor, in Room 4, can be found, ‘The Demidoff in Florence and the art of the Restoration’. The contents of this room are Demidoff-related paintings and sculptures that were earlier generously donated by Prince Paul of Yugoslavia. Among the most stunning items on display are the paintings of Princess Mathilde Bonaparte by Ary Scheffer from 1844 and the imposing portrait of Anatole Demidoff on horseback by Karl Briullov from around 1828. 
In the end, this was a most moving and enjoyable visit to Florence for our many guests. Its main purpose was to pay homage to the cherished memory of Princess Maria Pavlovna Demidoff. However, the series of events further included a cultural tour of the various Demidoff-related sights in Florence together with musical entertainment. The directors of the European Demidoff Foundation were delighted to make this trip possible for our many friends and do look forward to hosting future events in Europe connected to our ancestral Demidoff family.


By EDF Academic Member Eugene Edelman


The discovery of art, which over the centuries was looted in times of war and revolution; or following the art-object’s disappearance from view due to misplacement, negligence, or arrogance by people or simply a change in fashion… is the subject of this essay.
Art discoveries do not happen accidentally; and on the road to them, one must learn, study, read, research, observe, develop taste and philosophy – train oneself at it like an olympian before competition – all in all, be ready when a discovery emerges… Maintain discipline, focus, and not let anyone divert you from this task.
Eugene Edelman
Hollywood, 2023

On the Road to Count Demidoff

I was always fascinated by the role of destiny in the lives of people but also that of their art-possessions. More than the “patina” of age, or their incomparable craftsmanship, for me, the allure of an antique lies in its mysterious past life. Who made it? For whom? Why did the art-object separate from the owner? Especially watching a classic movie, the set-designs and decoration intrigued me… I often wondered about the objects whose authenticity it depends on to bring veracity to the story told… Are they Silent Stars in their own right?

The mystique of an “object of art” ending up in a movie is an extraordinary fact because before its new role it had proper artistic and historical importance. When placed in the fantasy of a movie it looses the original “pedigree”, for possible fame… thanks to great Hollywood personalities of the past who have demanded their movie-sets be made of original antiques. It is summarised in a statement by one great Hollywood personality,  Eric Von Stroheim : “the camera could not lie…”.


With the help of movie-historian Marc Wanamaker, our research indeed revealed that Hollywood studios began purchasing original art, for their props in the movies, as early as the beginning of the twentieth century. Thus – and it was a privilege to see many ‘old’ Hollywood-made movies – if I spotted an interesting object, Marc would identify for my further research, their date and production company.


Once, I was surprised to see in the set-design of an obscure 1949 movie, “Rusty Saves A Life” by Columbia Pictures, the sculpture of “Minin and Pozharsky” (appearing as a clock) closely modelled after a prominent and powerful monument in the famous Red Square in Moscow. [1.See enclosed]

The subject of the monument and clock depicts the Russian patriots Kuzma Minin and Prince Pozharsky who lead the Nizhni Novgorod volunteers against the Polish invaders in 1612. “Minin and Pozharsky”’s  monument was the first ever to have been erected in Russia, and incarnates two distinct events in the history of the country. [2.See enclosed]

It was commissioned in 1804 by the residents of Nizhny Novgorod to celebrate the foundation of the Romanov dynasty as the first Tsars of a centralised Russia, after Moscow was liberated from the occupying Polish troups by Nizhny Novgorod volunteer-leaders of the Russian militia, Kuzma Minin and Prince Pozharsky, in 1612… The competition was won by the sculptor Ivan P. Martos (1754-1835) in 1808. It was installed also as a memorial to the victory over Napoleon in the Russian patriotic war of 1812, two centuries later.

The subject of the monument’s relief on the pedestal remains (as on the clock’s pedestal) – of the Russian people who gave away their possessions in an effort to save the country from invaders. The two young men on the left side depict the sons of the sculptor, Ivan Martos.

It appeared that the Hollywood studio effectively owned a reduction of Martos’ sculpture (discreetly incorporating a clock)!

The research into this apparent Minin and Pozarhsky clock lead me to Russia, Tsarskoe Selo (Catherine Palace) museum’s inventory, where an identical example, attributed to Thomire, is recorded “in patinated bronze and on a sienna-marble base”. Their information states that it was purchased by the Russian Government in 1821 for the apartments of Alexandre I designed by architect V.P. Stasov (1769-1848), and executed after a larger clock (their clock being a reduction in size) in gilt bronze on a malachite base made in around 1818-20 and signed by the best bronzier in Paris, Pierre-Philippe Thomire (1751-1843), on the order of Count Nicolas Demidoff. It also states several other examples were made.

Noteworthy, the Minin and Pozarhsky clock model was being reproduced in Russia since a law of 1822 strictly prohibited the import of any bronze objects from Europe to Russia: there is a record of a bronze manufacturer and merchant by the name “Alexandre Guirin” who, in 1829 exhibited a copy, by his own hand yet stamped “Thomire”, at the Manafakturny Exhibition in St. Petersburg.

… Could the Minin and Pozarhsky sculpture-clock seen in several Hollywood movies, belong to this production?


I was acquainted from historical knowledge with the great collector and philanthropist, Count Nicolas Demidoff (1773-1828), who ordered the Minin and Pozarhsky clock. He had supported the Patriotic War of 1812 by financing an entire regiment against the invading French troops of Napoleon, and lead this regiment in the Battle of Borodino. The family owned significant mining interests in the Urals after completely reorganising the production of firearms in Russia. The founder of the Demidoff fortune, Nikita Demidoff (1665-1725), was born from a family of blacksmiths and the family ennobled by Peter The Great for their  important role in arms’ manufacturing.

His grandson, the Count Nicolas, became member of the Imperial Guards, “Aide-de-camp” to Count Potemkin in 1789, and participated in two campaigns against the Turks before becoming Chamberlain to Catherine The Great in 1794. By 1802 Count Nicolas was residing in Paris. He returned to Russia in 1812 because of Napoleon’s invasion but after Napoleon’s fall at Waterloo on June 18th 1815, he made Paris his home. Prior to this he donated his collection of paintings (which remarkably survived the burning of Moscow in 1812) to the city’s University. Following his wife’s death in 1818 (Elizaveta Stroganoff’s father was Minister of Arts in St. Petersburg) Count Nicolas left Paris for Rome, and Florence. In 1824 he was appointed Russian Minister to the Tuscan Court, and given the title of “Count of San Donato” by Leopold II, Duke of Tuscany. He purchased a marshy area near the Church of San Donato in Polverosa, shortly before he died in 1828, where he begun to build the lavish “Villa San Donato”.

Count Nicolas’ eldest son, Paolo (1798-1840), inherited San Donato but sent its contents to adorn his residence on Bolshaia Morscaia Street, in St. Petersburg. The extensive art collection contained five hundred masterpieces alone… and many sculptures and decorative arts…. Upon Paolo’s death in 1840, Count Nicolas’ younger son, Anatole (1812-1870), brought the collection back to San Donato.


Obsessed with the Bonaparte family, Anatole was assembling an extensive body of napoleonic art in honour of the man who had invaded Russia, even going so far as marrying Princess Mathilda Bonaparte (1820-1904), the daughter of Napoleon’s brother, Jérôme! [3.See enclosed]

Princess Mathilda was originally to marry Louis-Napoleon — son of Louis Bonaparte and Hortense (Napoleon’s brother and Josephine’s daughter), and future “Napoleon III”; but as a Bonaparte, the prospect of returning back to France for Mathilde would be nil since the family lived in exile, and Louis-Napoleon was imprisoned in Ham. The engagement to him was cancelled. A marriage to the Russian and wealthy Anatole Demidoff was appealing to Mathilde because her great aunt, through her mother Catherine of Würthenberg, was married to Tsar Paul of Russia and as such was mother to the “Liberator of Europe”, Tsar Alexandre I (Mathilde’s cousin): as a wife to Count Anatole Demidoff “Prince of San Donato”, she, and her father Jérôme Bonaparte, could finally make their way back to France!

It seemed important to me to follow the episodes in the life of his youngest son and heir, Anatole, who had bought a villa on the Island of Elba and turned it into a museum of Napoleon’s relics! Anatole insisted on keeping as a mistress the Duchess of Dino… As Mathilde confronted her during a ball, at San Donato in 1845, Anatole slapped his wife on both cheeks. Mathilde fled to St. Petersburg the next day, where Tsar Nicolas I disgraced Demidoff forbidding him to live within a hundred miles from her, which he followed up with terms of separation in 1846. Husband and wife never met again.

After the Bonaparte family and Mathilde were allowed to return to France, Count Anatole’s devotion to Napoleon and the Bonapartes continued in the hope to touch his wife’s heart and he moved to France permanently.


In his endeavour to improve and update the San Donato fine-arts’ collection which he inherited from his father and brother, Anatole sold some artwork as early as 1839; privately, or at auction in 1851… 1863… 1868… In 1870 he pre-arranged for fourteen rooms to be “removed” from San Donato and sold while on his deathbed.

San Donato was finally stripped from its treasures in an ultimate and legendary “Demidoff sale”… in 1880.[4.See enclosed]. And appeared… in the March 15th 1880’s auction catalogue, by Charles Pillet, introducing the contents of “Palais de San Donato (…) Objets d’Art” : “Un groupe de deux figures représentant “Minin et Pozarhsky” héros Russes… et garni de malachite” – lot n° 1533, page 354. The lot is also illustrated with an engraving : it’s the clock in gilt bronze on a malachite base by Thomire!!! [4 bis.See enclosed].

This item was not placed in previous sales. It remained in Count Nicolas Demidoff’s collection as a personal symbol of his patriotism, until Paul (1839-1885), son of Paolo, dispersed all of Anatole’s Napoleonic collection in 1880.

It must have been considered too important, or indeed too close to Count Nicolas Demidoff’s heart to dispose of before the 1880 final sale.

Disregarding the existence of other copies (Ermitage, Peterhof, Paris/London auctions), extensive research into the whereabouts of the first and only Minin and Pozarhsky clock of gilt bronze and malachite by Thomire produced remarkable results: Count Nicolas who was considered the inventor of “Russian mosaic”, commissioned the clock to Thomire, and had it veneered in malachite from his Ural mines at Mednorudianskoe.

The clock is first documented in an engraving of 1820s, where it stands on a mantelpiece in Count Demidofff’s Study… [5.See enclosed]. The clock was first delivered to his house in Paris in around 1818-20, before following him to Rome, Florence and San Donato.

The clock was purchased by New-York based Messrs Sypher & Co from the March 15th 1880 sale of the Palace of San Donato, and exhibited in their showrooms, as the New-York Times article of October 1st 1880 reports: “A huge clock with candelabras to match, of bronze and malachite” [6.See enclosed] (The said company later became French & Co, frequented by the wealthiest American collectors of the time).

This newly discovered information concluded: the clock is in America…!

Armed with this knowledge, it was the time to approach the Hollywood movie companies…It was understood that Columbia Pictures and Warner Brothers Studio had merged their prop departments… An appointment was made to find out if their inventory included the Minin and Pozarhsky clock featured in the movies…

It was easy to find the clock in the props department of the studio. The malachite base had been stored separately… And the two were finally reunited!

With close examination, a Sypher & Co label was found attached inside the malachite base, and the bronzes were stamped with capital “D” (for Demidoff), and “THOMIRE A PARIS” !!! After all, it was Count Nicolas Demidoff’s Minin and Pozarhsky Clock… But now, also engraved with the famous Columbia Pictures inventory number: “107-6169” [7.See enclosed]

It was… one of Hollywood’s earliest art and antiques’ purchases at the time when the studios believed “the camera couldn’t lie”!

Because of low interest in historical dramas, most of Hollywood’s prop-departments of antiques were sold… The clock was purchased, and remains in a private collection.


1.  Still-photo from Columbia’s movie “Rusty saves A Life” 1949 – Courtesy Bison Archives
2.  Ivan Martos: Sculpture of Minin & Pozarhsky on Red Square, Moscow, 1818
3.  Jean-Baptiste Fortune de Fournier: Interior of the Ballroom at San Donato, 1841 – Courtesy Palazzo Pitti.
4. & 4 Bis M. Carles Pillet: Sale Catalogue “Palais de San Donato”, in: L’Objet D’Art, March 15 1880; p. 354 n°1553 – engraving of Minin & Poszarhsky’s clock.
5.  V.B. Semyonov: Malachite, Sverdlovsk, 1987
6.  “From the San Donato Sale”, in: The New-York Times, October 1880 – copyright The New-York Times
7.  Pierre Philippe Thomire: Count Nicolas Demidoff’s Minin & Poszarhsky Clock, ca. 1818-20 – Private Collection


Aurora Pavlonva Demidoff, Princess of San Donato: Unfortunate in Love

The event to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the birth of Aurora Pavlovna Demidoff, Princess of San Donato (1873-1904) took place on Thursday, 30 March 2023 in Turin, Italy. The event was organised by Michail Talalay and Alexandre Tissot Demidoff. Alexandre is a direct descendant of Aurora Pavlovna as is Count Luigi di Noghera, who also joined us in Turin, together with his charming wife, Sonia.

The series of events commenced in the late morning with a tour of Villa Bria that Aurora had purchased towards the end of 1896. Villa Bria is located in Gassino, Torinese, so on the outskirts of the city of Turin. Villa Bria, in fact, is an imposing palace with its many interior ceilings decorated with colourful frescos. The main entrance leads to the ‘Halls of the Foundations’ where one finds two mirroring stairways. The stairs lead to the main residence, which consists of three floors above ground. At the back of the Villa is a chapel consecrated to Saint Carlo Borromeo as well as two long, side galleries that run parallel to create an intimate and highly-refined courtyard. Its expansive grounds include a fountain and stone statues representing the four seasons. Villa Bria is situated on a plateau and surrounded by the rising, soft, rolling hills of the region. It is not difficult to imagine that the venue must have enchanted Aurora given its many similarities to the surroundings of Villa Demidoff in Tuscany where she grew up.

We were fortunate that our guide for the tour of Villa Bria was the mayor of Gassino Torinese, Paolo Cugini. The other members of the municipality of Gassino Torinese, who genorously supported our group and attended the series of commemorative events, were Rosetta Maria Tropea, the vice mayor, and Carlo Bosco, the historian.

Following our tour, our group returned to Turin to enjoy a leisurely lunch at Restaurant Birilli where we were served regional Piedmontese specialties. Following lunch, our group crossed the street to Chiesa Ortodossa russa di San Massimo, where Father Ambrogio Cassinasco, and members of his congregation, warmly welcomed us and where the presentation on the ‘Life of Aurora’ then took place.

We commenced by reading to our many guests the various messages received. These included greetings from the ‘Executive of the International Demidoff Foundation’, the ‘Director of the Tula Regional Museum’, and the president of ‘l’Associazione culturale Russkij Mir’, among others. A presentation on the ‘Life of Aurora’ then followed that made use of many rarely seen images of Aurora, her family, and extended family members. Kindly lending some of their proprietary images for the presentation were Bernard Loman, who shared images of his various photographs of Aurora, and Count Luigi di Noghera, who shared a photo of the Noghera children as well as of a painting of Aurora.

The presentation was in large based on the content of original manuscripts found in state, national archives in St. Petersburg, Moscow, and Florence. Based on these primary sources, a series of little-known critical events in Aurora’s short, turbulent, and controversial adult life was able to be assembled and presented to the audience. Unfortunately, it was due to a skin puncture to her leg from a rose bush, that turned infectious, that caused Aurora to die, far too young, aged only 30, on 15 June 1904, and at Villa Bria.

Following the presentation on ‘Aurora’s Life’, Father Ambrogio Cassinasco led our group in a solemn, religious service in honour of Aurora.

I do believe that everyone who attended agrees with me that this was a most moving and successful commemorative event marking the 150th anniversary of the birth of Aurora Pavlovna Demidoff.

By Alexandre Tissot Demidoff

Fundraising Event in London 21 February 2021

The European Demidoff Foundation engaged with the directors of the St. Gregory’s Foundation, over a number of months, to mount a fundraising event that took place in London the evening of Tuesday, 21 February 2023 and in the presence of HRH Prince Michael Kent. The president of the European Demidoff Foundation has been a consistent and long-standing supporter of St. Gregory’s Foundation dating back over ten years.

This was an exclusive event for thirty-five esteemed guests held at the historic Lord Byron’s Chambers, Albany, Piccadily, that was originally completed in 1776. During the course of the evening presentations were given by HRH Prince Michael of Kent, Nicholas Kolarz, Chair of St. Gregory’s, and Damon de Laszlo, our host at Albany. It was Damon de Laszlo who kindly and generously made the venue available to us as well as providing our guests a tour of the collection of family portraits and landscapes that he inherited from his talented grandfather, a world-renowned artist. Our guests further were served sparkling wine and other wines from the Royal Tokaji range of wines in Hungary where Damon de Laszlo is the principal shareholder.

Our guests included a delegation of five from the Aristocrazia Europea who, for the most part traveled from Milan, and who were led by Countess Giulia Farneti Merende Salecchi. The other members of the delegation were Count Pietro Veniamin Andrejevich Stramezzi, Prince Viktor Mansur Timur Askar, and Avv. Giancarlo Parrini. Due to last-minute travel challenges, we were unable, unfortunately, to be joined by the Vice President of the Aristocrazia Europea, Countess Mandilosani Lali Panchulidze Aznauri, who was sorely missed. Other guests further included Sita Schutt, together with other members of the leadership team of the London-based charity, Prospero World, in addition to our many other distinguished and esteemed guests.  

As a result of generous donations brought forward by our guests, the evening raised in excess of £7,000 for St. Gregrory’s. The monies will be used in support of St. Gregory’s partner charity, Sunflower, who are based in St. Petersburg, and who engage to support orphanage-leavers. The highly talented and dedicated team at Sunflower provide life-affirming services to teenagers who are required to leave the orphanage once aged sixteen. In practical terms, these services help reduce the risk of dangerous behaviour and provides a transition towards independent and purposeful living. For those orphanage-leavers who are parents, it involves teaching them such vital skills as how to properly care and bond with their young children.   

St. Gregory’s remain one of the few charities in the United Kingdom who support the most disadvantaged in Russia and Georgia as it has done during the last thirty-two years ago. Many of the beneficiaries of St. Gregory’s support have been forced to work as volunteers in order to maintain programmes to the children, young adults, and families in their care. The principle focus now is to maintain as many of these projects as possible and certainly not to let any one of them lapse. The most vulnerable should not have to suffer more.

Our guests were each individually thanked by HRH Prince Michael of Kent for their keen interest, sympathy, and understanding in supporting those in need in Russia and Georgia. The director of St. Gregory’s, Tania Tolstoy Illingworth, together with her co-directors, join me, and my co-directors at the European Demidoff Foundation, in extending our heartfelt thanks and best wishes to all those who participated in making this a most successful and enjoyable fundraising event.

By Alexandre Tissot Demidoff

Рассказ Алины Тукалло "Ex Libris"

Алина Тукалло – журналистка. Она занимается архивами семьи и записывает биографии близких людей и необычные сюжеты. Ее предки финские шведы Прокопе (Procope) оказались родственниками Авроры Шернваль (по брату ее отца), поэтому предлагаем вашему вниманию рассказ Алины «Ex Libris». 

Моя прабабушка по папе — крестная дочь Александра II. Об этом я знала с детства, как и то, что «царское» наше происхождение — не для улицы, говорить о нем можно только дома. Страха не было: все-таки не тридцатые, когда из-за благородной родословной сослали в лагеря всех мужчин семьи (по папиной ветке — абсолютно всех), но оставалась определенная этика. Поскольку я родилась в стране, где в выпотрошенных соборах устраивали музеи атеизма, где дети клялись в верности великому Ленину и стягивали узлом на шее галстуки цвета крови, я смутно понимала, что значит – крест и крестная, но четко, что такое дочь. И как-то так складывалось в моем детском сознании, что моя прабабушка – ну, если не дочь царя, то хотя бы очень близка к этому.

Тощим малорослым ребенком я носила с собой эту тайну в школу, в снег и в дождь, через мрачные петербургские дворы к улице Скороходова, а оттуда — к улице Мира, которая совсем не соответствовала названию: из-за ракетного училища и расположенных там казарм по пути мне встречались сплошные фуражки и шинели. Носила ее туда и обратно при Брежневе, при Черненко, при Андропове (или в какой-то другой последовательности), и, должна признаться, тайна меня окрыляла и наделяла чувством исключительности, особости — думаю, оно есть у каждого ребенка. А потом разрешили думать вслух, иметь родственников в капстранах (мы имели и шведов в кап-, и поляков в соц-), задаваться вопросами о своих корнях, получать ответы на вопросы о своих корнях, учредили Дворянское собрание (где я как-то переводила князю Голицыну), и вся дворянская тема из табуированной оказалась не только на слуху, но даже модной. Вот так умерла моя тайна, моя легенда, уступив место истории, которая, надо отдать ей должное, тоже довольно любопытна.

Лёля, папина бабушка по матери, появилась на свет через год после того, как с Русско-турецкой войны, оставляя за собой поля, устланные мертвецами, вернулся ее отец Герман Прокопе. Точнее, тот самоотверженный и хладнокровный офицер, которому суждено будет стать ее отцом. Лейб-гвардии Финляндский полк — а финский швед Герман, как и его братья Виктор и Яльмар, служил именно в нем — на исходе лета причалил из Константинополя в Николаев по морю, а оттуда, после торжественного парада в присутствии императора, по железной дороге отправился до Царского Села. И вот через год мытарств, стоптанных до крови сапог, эпидемий тифа и дизентерии, лютых морозов и снежных буранов на горных перевалах полк возвращался в свой солдатский дом — казарму. У Триумфальных ворот на Московском шоссе будущий Александр III с супругой Марией Федоровной украсили их знамена лавровыми венками, у Новодевичьего монастыря игумен благословил иконой. Конечно, за ними тянулась толпа, все как положено: кричали «ура» и в воздух чепчики бросали. На Большой Морской для приема героев соорудили арку из цветов, гирлянд и флагов. Духовенство Исакия отслужило молебен. Их путь к Английской набережной устлан цветами. И все же никто не принимал этот элитный полк, своего рода личную армию императора, с таким размахом, как родной Васильевский. Фасады домов увешаны коврами и флагами, реи и мачты судов — любопытными. В окнах, на балконах, на крышах — везде народ. Крестятся, обнимаются. Многих гвардейцев обыватели Васильевского знают в лицо. Их сосед купец и пароходовладелец Николай Михайлович Григорьев еще во время кампании пожертвовал тысячу рублей солдатам полка — на обувь, табак, чай и сахар.

В общем, полковник Герман Прокопе, как и многие его товарищи — из тех, кто уцелел в балканской мясорубке, — вернулся из похода героем. К Рождеству раздают медали, кресты, нагрудные знаки, среди наиболее почетных наград — золотое, георгиевское оружие. Герман получает золотую саблю с надписью «За храбрость» на эфесе. Это не георгиевская ленточка на зеркале заднего вида, она отработана, отстреляна, отбита под басурманскими пулями. Но самая главная награда за все лишения, то, ради чего стоило возвращаться, — молодая жена Анна Николаевна. Может, ее любовь и хранила его весь год похода, как молитва, как талисман. Накануне войны, прогуливаясь по Большому проспекту вышеупомянутого острова, недалеко от казарм полка, он влюбился в барышню, проходящую с гувернанткой по тому же маршруту в те же часы. Ей — девятнадцать, ему — тридцать пять. Почти как Лев Толстой и Софья Андреевна. Ее отец — тот самый благотворитель и пароходовладелец Григорьев, мать — красавица-гречанка. Герман сделал Анне Николаевне предложение, и они венчались незадолго до мобилизации полка.

Когда после возвращения из похода, летом 1879 года, у четы Прокопе рождается девочка — Лёля, в крещении Елена, — ее крестным становится Александр II. Император Всероссийский, царь Польский и великий князь Финляндский (это один человек, а не три) прислал младенцу на крестины свой серебряный барельеф на темном бархате в большой овальной серебряной раме. Когда девочка выросла в умницу, отличницу и изящную, как фарфоровая статуэтка, барышню, ее дядя Виктор Прокопе, в свое время генерал в свите Е. И. В. (Его Императорского Величества), предложил представить ее императрице, чтобы сделать из нее фрейлину. Отец сказал: пока жив, не допущу. Не хотел, чтобы дочь стала куклой в придворных играх. Сама барышня мечтала стать врачом, а стала мамой. Необыкновенно заботливой и самоотверженной — таким был Герман для своих солдат, которого они любили, как отца. Лиля родилась первой из пяти детей Елены Германовны Котюховой, урожденной Прокопе.

* * *

Первым браком Лиля, папина мама, была замужем за известным генеалогом, историком и искусствоведом Юрием Борисовичем Шмаровым. Кроме всех перечисленных достоинств, он обладал и двумя другими: уникальным собранием дворянских портретов и раритетных книг. Но эпоха коллекционеров-промышленников и коллекционеров-аристократов канула в лету — доход Юрия Борисовича немногим отличался от жалованья обыкновенного советского гражданина. Да и не мог отличаться, по определению соцстроя. Чтобы приютить у себя, к примеру, Франсуа Жерара, придворного художника Наполеона, приходилось крутиться, изворачиваться, продавать, менять, подбирать, спасать. Шмаров знал всех — и скупщиков, и продавщиц арбатских антикварных, и архивистов, и реставраторов, и музейщиков, и библиофилов. И все знали его.

Однажды Юрий Борисович, памятуя о военной династии Прокопе, предках Лили, то ли купил, то ли выменял антикварную книгу — «Историю Лейб-гвардии Финляндского полка», точнее третью часть пятитомного труда, которую он торжественно передал моему папе, Саше Тукалло. Конец пятидесятых, страну уже взорвал XX съезд, контузило правдой о Большом терроре, оттепель перешла в наступление. Саша узнал и о своих корнях, и о пятьдесят восьмой статье как расплате его близких за происхождение. Когда весной 1933-го пришли арестовывать Шмарова, блюстители порядка страшно обрадовались, обнаружив на каминной полке фотокарточки, принадлежавшие его жене Лиле, — портреты ее деда Германа Прокопе и его брата Виктора. Двух царских генералов со всеми регалиями изъяли из интерьера и, сварганив групповое дело, тут же повязали двух братьев Лили и мужа ее сестры, а Шмарова объявили главарем группировки. Приходилось, как преступникам, заметать следы и избавляться от улик. Серебряный барельеф венценосного крестного, брошенный среди груды мусора и отходов, отживал свой век на помойке. Родные любимые лица на групповых портретах плотно штриховали ручкой или вырезали острым лезвием маникюрных ножниц. Что-то жгли в печках, что-то отбиралось при арестах и, значит, тоже сжигалось — кострами.

Так получилось, что портрет Германа Прокопе вернулся в семью вместе с «Историей Лейб-гвардии Финляндского полка». Саша тут же нашел его и, не смутившись ни почтенным возрастом книги, ни ее ценностью, ловко вырезал прадеда и, пересняв, тонкими полосками почти прозрачной папиросной бумаги вклеил обратно. Овладеть «Историей полка» было для него как верующему — прикоснуться к Евангелию. Он зачитывался сюжетами о Русско-турецкой войне: об изнурительной осаде Плевны, занятой пятидесятитысячной армией блестящего полководца Осман-паши, и о битве при Горном Дубняке, заставившей турков в конце концов сдаться. Пиррова победа. Накануне злополучного сражения, в котором вышла из строя треть офицеров Финляндского полка, царь-освободитель обращался к своим гвардейцам: «Дай бог, чтобы больше из вас вернулось. Каждый из вас мне дорог». А после, просматривая списки погибших — многих он знал лично, — плакал.

Саша читал про подвиг командовавшего первым батальоном бесстрашного полковника Яльмара Прокопе, любимца полка. Троих братьев — все трое полковники одного полка, на одной войне — называли, как императоров, по номерам: Прокопе I, Прокопе II и Прокопе III. При Горном Дубняке штурмом брали редут – укрепление турков, сооруженное на возвышении. На всем плато перед ним не было ни кусточка, ни камушка, чтоб укрыться. Редут напоминал устроившегося на высоком ложе огнедышащего дракона, изрыгавшего из пасти дым и свинцовые пули, — они скашивали солдат рядами. Когда Яльмар заметил, что окопы перед левым флангом его батальона свободны от турок, он занял их, взяв с собой для этого несколько десятков добровольцев, самых отважных. А потом, видимо, разгоряченный удачей, решил захватить окопы перед редутом и собрал для этого добрую сотню добровольцев. За несколько минут свинец уложил почти всех, Яльмара смертельно ранил. Хоронили, чтоб мягче было, подстилая солому, а пальто заменяло крышку гроба. В Болгарии у Горного Дубняка ему и его погибшим товарищам поставили памятник — слабое, на мой взгляд, утешение, и все же.

Саша читал о переходе армией Балкан, уже зимних, где бороться приходилось не столько с неприятелем, сколько со стихией. Нижнее белье и фуфайки совершенно истлели, изорвались в лохмотья. После дождей или оттепелей озябшие финляндцы рассыпАли по полу палаток горячую золу с непотухшими углями, ложились на них и, бывало, прожигали бока и спины шинелей. Промокшие в грязи сапоги (кому повезло их иметь) сушились у костров прямо на ногах, от жара садились, жали ногу, трескались, подошвы отваливались. Саша с упоением читал о месячном стоянии полка на горе, позже названной в их честь Финляндской, и о битве при Филиппополе (Пловдиве), после которой остатки турецкой армии бежали в горы, и очень скоро был подписан мир, и война завершилась победой России. Именно за это сражение Герман получил золотую саблю. Тогда пришлось идти вброд через речку Марицу. «По реке шел лед; мороз, сковавший берега, не мог прервать ее быстрое течение. Вода была выше пояса и чрезвычайно холодна. Полковник Прокопе, находясь с вьюками и обозами при полку, неожиданно оказался под выстрелами неприятеля, обстреливавшего переправу», — читал Саша. Но тут Юрий Борисович Шмаров попросил отдать книгу. Может, подвернулась удачная сделка, может, просто забыл, но, попав к дядя Юре, она больше не вернулась. Вот какое поражение.

Совсем недавно, узнав, как папе когда-то была дорога эта вещь, я погуглила и заказала репринтное издание «Истории полка» с доставкой на дом — на нашу дачу в Ленобласти, в оккупированной в Зимнюю войну Финляндии. И когда, рванув картон, я вытащила ее, новенькую, нетронутую, с запахом сырости типографской краски, напомнившим осенний лес, и стала листать, то не поверила своим глазам. Как будто с книгой уже кто-то общался, в одной из первых глав в пробеле между строчками я обнаружила неровную, начерченную от руки линию: «Прапорщик Герм. Прокопе». Книжные пометы могут многое рассказать об их авторе, но, к моему сожалению, как я ни искала, больше не нашла ни одной. Зато когда, судорожно перелистывая страницы, дошла до портрета предка, слегка повернувшего голову влево и оттого смотревшего как бы мимо меня, все сомнения рассеялись. Приклеенные полоски из кальки, обрамлявшие его благородное лицо, окончательно и бесповоротно убедили меня: я держала в руках ту самую «Историю Лейб-гвардии Финляндского полка», которой когда-то владел юный и страшно увлеченный военными подвигами Саша Тукалло. Она вернулась к нему через шесть десятков лет. Ну, не сама, конечно, а ее клон. Вот такая победа.

* * *

Петербург, 1905 год. Уже летит первая осенняя листва. Движение от Матвеевской церкви на Петроградской до Смоленского кладбища на Васильевском острове перекрыто. На пушечном лафете — так принято провожать полных генералов — везут гроб, а за ним, одетые в парадный мундир, с надписью «За Филиппополь» на киверах, смиренно шагают гвардейцы Финляндского полка. Очевидцы говорили, что похороны эти были необыкновенно торжественные. Кроме живых цветов, на могилу генерала от инфантерии Германа Оскара Прокопе подносили венки из серебряных листьев. Один листочек, на память, мне подарила Лиля, моя бабушка, когда я пошла в первый класс.

Дорога в восьмидесятую школу вела по улице Скороходова, и если бы я не сворачивала, как послушная девочка, к Мира, а прошла дальше, до тупика, то уперлась бы в дома, выходящие на Матвеевский садик. Когда-то тут стояла церковь, где отпевали моего деда, а потом – на войне с Богом и со своим народом – взорвали. Похоронили ее прямо на месте, сгрудив обломки святыни по центру. С годами эта могила заросла травой, ее занесло снегом, и в детстве мы катались с нее, как с горки. Бродя по улицам памяти, как по разбитым тротуарам Петроградской, я возвращаюсь мыслью к этому холмику, к моим близким и к себе той, которой уже нет на свете, хрупкой и уязвимой, промечтавшей о чем-то десять лет по дороге в школу и обратно. И обратно.

Elim Pavlovich Demidov, 3rd Prince of San Donato

By EDF Academic Member in Spain, Antonio Perez Caballero

Elim Pavlovich Demidov, 3rd Prince of San Donato (1868-1943), was the only son of Princess Maria Meshcherskaya and Pavel Pavlovich Demidov, 2nd Prince of San Donato. Due to his mother passing away tragically only two days after his birth, the Prince grew extremely close to the Finnish legendary beauty, Aurora Karamzina, his paternal grandmother. The exquisite lady brought him up and showered a consistent stream of love on her grandson. The ancient lineage and proximity to Aurora had the inevitable result: Elim was effortlessly dashing, tall, and every inch an Russian Aristocrat. Everything in his person spoke of centuries of refinement. In 1890, he graduated with a silver medal from the Alexander Imperial Lyceum, becoming a ‘Kamer Junger’ at Court and passing then to work in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Five years earlier, aged only 18, his father had died, leaving also as issue from his second marriage with Princess Elena Petrovna Trubetskaya, six half-sisters and brothers.
As 3rd Prince of San Donato, he was the principal beneficiary of an immeasurable fortune. Today it is difficult to understand the magnitude of the inheritance that comprised vast tracts of land, mining and metallurgical industries, palaces and jewels, that would have dazzled the Kings of England. Elim was truly a king in his own realm. Newspapers abroad, speculating about the richest man on earth, wrote “the wealth of Elim Demidov is beyond calculation”.
In 1894, he was appointed chief-of-staff of the embassy in London, and in 1897 he became second secretary of the Russian embassy in Great Britain with the rank of court counselor.  In 1902, Elim Demidov was appointed to the post of first secretary of the embassy in Madrid, and in 1903, the same role, but in Copenhagen.  This was a very important assignment, if we recall the close family ties of the Dowager Empress with the Danish royal family.  During the years 1905 to 1908, Elim was the first secretary of the embassy in Vienna where his close relations, Anatole Demidoff, 1st Prince of San Donato (1813-1870), earlier had served with distinction during the time of the Crimean War.
Upon reaching the age of majority, his younger half-brothers began to receive a yearly income in the amount of about 750,000 rubles for their share in the property, but they constantly demanded (and received) more than this amount. At the beginning of Elim’s diplomatic career, so from 1890 to1895, he often was “out of the state”, so failed to tend to his regular duties that led his supervisors to provide poor marks concerning the quality of his work. In 1893, E.P.  Demidov married the daughter of the adjutant general, Minister of the Imperial Court, Count Illarion Ivanovich Vorontsov-Dashkov, Countess Sofia Illarionova (1870-1953). 
The Foreign Minister V. N. Lamsdorf wrote, “This little boy, a very rich son-in-law of the Minister of the Court, takes his official duties lightly, setting a demoralising example for his colleagues”.
With the dawn of the new century, the Sovereign Emperor, Nicholas II chose Prince Elim as Russian Ambassador to Greece, simply the best Russian representation that he could have imagined. On the eve of the First World War, Elim Pavlovich Demidov, 3rd Prince of San Donato, was promoted to the rank of ‘Real Councilor of State’, and served as an extraordinary envoy and plenipotentiary minister in Athens under Constantine I, King of Greece (1868-1923).  For his important contribution, Elim was awarded the Orders of St. Anna, 2nd class, St. Vladimir, 4th class, as well as foreign awards that included the service medals of Spain, the Emirate of Bukhara, Denmark, Turkey, Austria-Hungary, Great Britain, and France.
Elim also was the recipient of one-half of the inheritance of his great-uncle, through the Meshcherskys and adoptive father who, since 1885, was the Industrialist, Yuri Stepanovich Nechaev-Maltsev, who had passed away in 1913. The inheritance positioned Elim Pavlovich as the last owner of the famous residence in 30 Sergueevskaya Street.
The history of the plot is long and complex and starts in the 1840s with Prince L. V. Kochubey. He employed the fashionable architect Garald A. Bosse and Roman I. Kuzmin to create a Renaissance Palazzo that was constructed entirely in Padust stone so creating something out of Florence, with its imposing truly massive facade, rusticated, and with the regal ‘bel etage’ marked by powerful arches subdivided into two windows by the use of slender columns.
When approaching this mansion, we might even consider it to be two plots, for regardless of the cost, the mansion had on the left an enormous winter garden all along the street occupying the space of many other neighbouring large residences. Preserved miraculously until this day the sight of the glass house in such a privileged spot is still breathtaking.
It was at the start of the 1880s that Nechaev-Maltsev became the proprietor, just when he had been nominated ‘Conseiller d’Etat Imperial’. Enthused with his new rank, he endeavoured to create a palace fit to receive the Imperial Family. He was very much involved in the restoration and revival of its interiors. The architect Rezanov recommended was Leonty Benois for the big task ahead. Netchaev-Maltsev studied every single detail, including ventilation and noted once “During the dance [the temperature] did not drop below 15 and did not exceed 16 after the mazurka”. An apartment for his great nephew had been also disposed on the right wing overlooking the parade courtyard and united to Nechaev-Maltsev by a common library.
Benois followed the desires of his master, who desired a ballroom decorated with as many mirrors as possible in golden frames, he wished also in the corridors and other rooms, the same gold and mirrors scheme, though Benois respected most of the elegant and delicate work of G. Bosse, while rearranging and ordering painted ceilings in several halls and plafonds. The interiors revolved around a central imperial staircase leading to a grand hall, to the right of which we find the Ballroom and Dinning Hall (overlooking the parade courtyard from the left wing), and beyond the Ballroom, the Winter Garden, which, the owner complained about the ‘tall’ palm trees that forced him to raise the ceiling twice in those years costing him 20.000 rubles ( a huge amount in the 1890s). By1886, everything was ready and the newly decorated palace was filled with treasures, antiques, paintings and priceless pieces of art and furniture.
Inherited in 1913, the Demidov couple had little time to enjoy the sumptuous residence that Elim had been bequeathed. In 1917 Elim Pavlovich left his post and, living in Athens, remained honorary attaché of Yugoslavia in Greece.  In retirement, Demidov studied the history of Russian literature, wrote sketches about Pushkin and Turgenev in French, and published a book of his French poetry in Paris. Elim died in 1943 in Athens and is buried in the parish of the Russian Orthodox Church.

The First Malachite Hall in Russia: The Pavel Nicholaevich Demidov Mansion on Bolshaya Morskaya

By EDF Academic Member in Spain, Antonio Perez Caballero

“QUAND on veut décrire la vie où l’on s’amuse, au fond, semble-t-il aux autres, la vie des fous : mais c’est la vie des gens qui ont la liberté du monde entier ;  la liberté du grand luxe, ou, étant vraiment heureux, on peut se moquer de tout.  Bref, de mon point de vue, c’est ce que représente vraiment le mot “liberté”

From the memoirs of Nadine Wonlar-Larsky, née Nabokova, “The Russia That I Loved”, who spent her happiest days in Russia in the Nabokov mansion located next to the Demidov mansion.

In a city renowned by the otherworldly luxury of her private residences and architectural sophistication, the palace on number 43 of the Bolshaya Morskaya truly stands out for the Italianate early baroque stone and marble facade. One of the most prestigious addresses in the capital, the quiet residential street boasted the Fabergé atelier and residence and, neighbouring it, we would find the mansions of Polovtsov, Nabokov and, directly across the Moika Canal, the Yusupov. To stand out in that street was not easy but the house is certainly impressive and, in style, rather unique, quite like a Roman Palazzo transported from Northen Venice stone-by-stone.

The porte cochère in the center was on both sides presided by couples of beautifully sculpted atlas and caryatids, with small sources of water falling into marble bowls from seashells. Later the northern winter weather made it impossible to maintain the water pieces and they were left as decoration. The powerful figures support a wide balcony, also in marble, with the central french window crowned by the coat of arms of the family. The man behind the design was none other than August de Montferrand, the architect responsible, amongst many other buildings, the nearby St. Isaac Cathedral and the Lobanov-Rostovsky enormous palace that organised esthetically that entire area of the city center.

The choice was only natural, not only because of his talent, but also because the Montferrand family had worked already for the Demidovs, as agents for Nicholas Nikitich (1773-1828), father of Pavel Nicholaevich (1798-1840). So much so that they attended the very wedding ceremony of Pavel Nicholaevich with one of the most beautiful ladies of the Imperial Court, demoiselle d’honneur of the Empress and daughter of the Viborg governor, the celebrated, Aurora Sjernval von Wallen. On the 14th of February 1836, in anticipation of the wedding, Pavel Nicholaevich bought the mansion and barely eleven days later he added the neighbouring number 45 house. Money most positively was not a problem. Other noble families like the Yusupovs or Stroganovs have been known for their enormous wealth, but the Demidovs had nothing to envy those neighbours. Famous for their prospecting in their many Ural mines, owners of immense country states, palaces and buildings all over Russia, their wealth was literally endless. But the Demidovs did not only use their wealth for their own pleasure, as did so many other aristocrats, they also were philanthropists who spent huge sums on the improvement of the life of the many ordinary Russian people. From schools to hospitals to annual prizes to enable students to travel around Europe for months and, of course, to launch their professional careers, and once more under the generous patronage of the Demidovs.

Amongst the designers that created the sumptuous interiors of Paul’s mansion was Garald Andreevich Bosse (1812-1894), expert in the charming rococo revival of the period and A. Viggi, celebrated by his exquisite paintings on faux marbre in several palaces. The plot of land, though by no means small, was nonetheless densely built around two courts, the first larger one and the second narrower one, destined to be the servant quarters. It had to be so, to accommodate the immense Parade Halls that the family would need to entertain in the scale that befitted their status. And truly they made the most of the mansion, a wide stately hall of white marble and an imperial staircase led visitors to the most famous hall in the house: The Malachite Hall. In Louis XV style, the long gallery occupied the central five windows of the facade’s bel stage. The room boasted pairs of columns at each side of the central mantelpiece, all of which were done in malachite. This was unheard of and the first time such precious stones were used in such architectural elements. This would later become the model for Montferrand’s iconostasis in St. Isaac Cathedral and, most universally renowned, the Malachite Hall in the Winter Palace. The Banqueting Hall, opposite the Parade Court, was no less impressive, done in an elegant Empire Style, a thick carpet covered the marquetry parquets, while the ceiling, rich in ornamental painting, had impressive vaults framing classical semicircular windows reflected onto the looking glasses and upper walled windows, certainly another regal hall. The Drawing room, with niches and columns at each end, followed the scale and luxury of the previous rooms, rare woods enriching the floor while, throughout the entire mansion, the Demidovs made use of their own Ural mines as the source of the marble and other precious minerals. It simply was the most opulent mansion of the street, which is quite a lot to say.

The only heir of Pavel Nicholaevich and Aurora Karlovna, Pavel Pavlovich Demidov (1839-1885), leased the mansion in 1864 for nine years and for 10.000 rubles in each of the years to the Italian Embassy. Rumour had it that he gambled considerably, to the point of needing to sell the mansion in 1875. The years and the owner passed and the second encounter with the Italian Embassy came when the mansion was bought by the Italian state in 1911. This would eventually prove to have catastrophic consequences for the building. At the beginning of the First World War, the edifice stood empty, until the time of 1924, when the government, now under Mussolini, resumed diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union. As part of this process, Italy recovered possession of the mansion where it remained as the Italian embassy until 1957. It then became an Italian consulate office after Moscow was declared the capital of the new Soviet Union. As soon as 1925, the consulate received orders to transport to Italy everything that had of “some value” in the mansion. The report of the Consular General to the Soviet authorities, who were granting them a free plot of land in Moscow, was as follows: Italian embassy in Leningrad. “Sent: 4 columns, 4 corner pilasters, 12 ordinary pilasters. Marble fireplace with malachite and bronze trim and black marble base.” The list is dated 13 June 1925 and is signed by the Royal Consulate General.

The truth is even worse as they did not stop with dismembering and transporting the malachite and structural elements of the decoration, but also the precious marquetry floors, sconces and literally everything that could pulled off the walls, so stucco decoration, etc. In the end, the result was a wanton destruction of a monument of the highest significance. Of course the Glavnauka branch of the then Leningrad city asked for the prohibition of this kind of export and asked the People’s Commissariat to prevent the shameful exploitation but to no avail. Whatever the motive and whomever was ultimately responsible the contents were shipped out of Russia through the Crimea. Ironically, during the shipping process everything was irretrievably lost or destroyed. A sad, ghastly end for such a magnificent mansion, the first malachite hall in the world, a symbol of the Demidov Dynasty with its unlimited riches, and a masterpiece of the interior decoration in Russian history. Sadly, though, in those interwar years between 1918 and 1941 there would be thousands of such sales and thousands of “lost” pieces of the country’s artistic heritage never to be seen again.

Anatole Demidov: Voyage to Southern Russia in 1837

Anatole Nikolaievitch Demidov was born in Moscow in 1813. This followed the family’s return to Russia following Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812. On their return, Anatole’s father, Nicholas, pledged to Tsar Alexander I, the creation of two militias that Nicholas would personally finance and lead against the French invaders. From his earliest days, Anatole was raised as a patriot of Russia and servant of the Tsar.

Nonetheless, in regards to his personality, Anatole was more French than Russian. He was educated primarily in Paris. He spoke several European languages but little Russian. He based himself primarily in Paris, and later at Villa di San Donato, that is located near Florence. He would visit Russia but on instruction from a member of the court of the Tsar.

In 1830, on reaching eighteen years of age, Anatole, decided to make his mark on the world, but in Paris. He had only recently come into his immense inheritance on the passing of his father in 1828. A close friend and mentor was Count Charles de Mornay, a highly cultured man, who was a confidant to the King of the French, Louis Philippe, the ruler of France from 1830 to 1848. During one of his visits to Charles’s apartment, Anatole found himself in the company of the French painter, Eugene Delacroix. Delacroix captured the two ‘dandies’ in conversation and exhibited the painting at the Salon in Paris in 1833. The painting served as a ‘calling card’ for Anatole that effectively ‘opened the door’ to the highest ranks of Parisian society.

Nonetheless, Anatole’s impressive success in Paris was not universally applauded. In Russia, Tsar Nicholas I was not impressed.

Tsar Nicholas I assumed the throne in 1825 and was not positively disposed towards Anatole. He was not happy with Anatole’s decision to settle permanently in Europe. Although Anatole’s industrial business was in Russia, sizeable dividends were regularly taken for reinvestment in Europe in support of Anatole’s lavish lifestyle.

It is believed that Anatole’s Voyage to Southern Russia in 1837 was based on two principle motives. The first was economic. The outcome of the voyage would benefit overall Russian industry as well as Anatole’s industrial empire. The objective was to locate and develop new sources of energy to promote the growth of heavy industry. The second was to secure the favour of the Tsar. Anatole dedicated the entire voyage to the Tsar and personally financed the entire cost of the voyage approximating 500,000 french francs. In turn, Anatole expected to enter into the ‘good graces’ of the Tsar and to receive recognition in the form of a ‘lofty’ title. Unfortunately, Anatole miscalculated on the last point.

The Voyage of 1837 was a true scientific and exploratory expedition. As Anatole wrote in his diary, “the principle objective was to undertake an extensive minerological and geological survey of the new Russian lands”. It was the economic potential that most interested Anatole who expected to find new and rich sources of coal. It was during this period that coal steadily was replacing the use of wood as the combustible source to power heavy industry. Oil also was receiving attention as a generally untapped source of fuel.

For the expedition, Anatole recruited a group of twenty-two French experts from various scientific fields. Each were given blue uniforms to wear pertaining to the French, ‘L’Ecole Royale des Mines’. The first group left from St. Petersburg and was led by Paul Kolounoff. Their role was to explore rich seams of coal that were recently discovered in the territory of Don Cossacks. A second group would then join this group comprised of French engineers who would travel east by river. This group was led by Frederic Le Play, a professor of the Polytechnic in France, who also was in the service of his French sovereign.

A third goup was involved with the arts, natural history, and observations in general. This group embarked on the steamship, Francoise I, and, among others, included Auguste Raffet, Auguste de Sainson, and Anatole. Their voyage was more leisurely traveling along the Danube river east before finally reaching the Black Sea. It was Anatole who led this group and who was accompanied by his lady-friend, la comtesse Fanny de la Rochefoucauld.

Anatole took a particular interest to study the social systems encountered such as local prison practises. Capturing the natural beauty on the voyage was the talented artist, Auguste Raffet, who made numerous sketches of pictureseque scenes. It would be Auguste Raffet and Anatole who, at the end of voyage, would review the many images captured to agree on which would feature in their published chronicles of the voyage.

Anatole’s diary of the voyage, that included Raffet’s lithographs, published in a ‘large’ format, four-volume edition in France in 1840. One volume was dedicated entirely to one hundred of Raffet’s colourised lithographs. Smaller and single versions of the publication would then issue in forthcoming years in Great Britain, France, italy, and finally, in Russia.

The first of the four volumes was Anatole’s diary that included sections contributed by Jules Janin and Auguste de Sainson. Raffet contributed seventy-four charming lithographs to feature in the first volume. The second volume was dedicated to geography, geology, and climate. For the first time, detailed maps of these new Russian lands were presented. The third and fourth volumes focused on botany and zoology that also featured the noted hand-coloured lithographs.

In conclusion, as Anatole’s diary makes clear, this six-month voyage of exploration, had as its principle objective to secure economic benefits. Its second intention was to elicit a positive response fom the Tsar. Unfortunately, on this last point, the voyage failed. The Tsar considered the voyage to be a French initiative, led by Frenchmen, and with everyone dressed in French blue uniforms. The work published first in french and in France. It only published in Russia in 1853, so over ten years following its initial publication. In the eyes of the Tsar, it confirmed that Anatole did not deserve any special favour. For his efforts, Anatole received from the Tsar the modest title of ‘Councillor to the College’.

Nonetheless, regarding its first objective, the voyage proved a resounding economic and scientific success. In terms of energy production, starting from a slow start, by 1913, the extraction of coal from the Donetz region represented 87% of the entire coal production in Russia. In our modern day, coal, as well as oil, have grown to become our leading sources of energy that power our national economies. Of course, this success has gone too far with the excessive dependency on fossil fuels placing at risk the future of our planet. Alternatives are needed if we are to make our planet safe for future generations.

Nonetheless, in the late 1830’s, Anatole already was contemplating the future and seeing the use of new combustible fuels to power modern heavy industry. Anatole actively pursued its consideration, exploration, and exploitation that would help drive forward the economy of Russia as well as the Demidoff industrial empire. In this regard, he calculated correctly.

By Alexandre Tissot Demidoff 

Private Sale of Paintings by Elena Demidoff in 1890

Paul Durand-Ruel (1831-1922)
Paul Durand-Ruel (1831-1922)
Landscape with a Waterfall and Castle' by Jacob van Ruisdael, Dayton. 1670
Jacob van Ruisdael (1628/29-1682). Dutch Landscape with a Waterfall and Castle, c.1670. Oil on canvas. 27 ¾ x 21 ¾ inches (70.5 x 55.2 cm). Dayton Art Institute, Dayton, Ohio. Gift of the Arkaydia Foundation of the Rike-Kumler Com. From the Demidoff Collection
The Music Lesson by Gerard ter Borch. 1670
Gerard ter Borch. The Music Lesson, c. 1670, oil on canvas, 63.6 × 50.4 cm. Chicago, Art Institute of Chicago. CC0 Public Domain Designation. On display. From the Demidoff Collection.
Helena Leonora Sieveri by Anthony van Dyck. 1894
Attributed to Anthony van Dyck. Helena Tromper Du Bois, c. 1631, oil on canvas, 99.1 × 88.4 cm. Chicago, Art Institute of Chicago. CC0 Public Domain Designation. In storage. From the Demidoff Collection.
A Water Mill by Meindert Hobbema. 1664
Meindert Hobbema. The Watermill with the Great Red Roof, c.1665-1675, oil on canvas, 81.3 × 110 cm. Chicago, Art Institute of Chicago. CC0 Public Domain Designation. On display. From the Demidoff Collection.
Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn and Workshop. Young Woman at an Open Half-Door. 1645, oil on canvas, 102.5 × 85.1 cm. Chicago, Art Institute of Chicago. CC0 Public Domain Designation. On display. From the Demidoff Collection.
Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn and Workshop. Young Woman at an Open Half-Door. 1645, oil on canvas, 102.5 × 85.1 cm. Chicago, Art Institute of Chicago. CC0 Public Domain Designation. On display. From the Demidoff Collection.
Charles L. Hutchinson (1854-1924)
Charles L. Hutchinson (1854-1924)

It is generally believed that Paul Pavlovitch Demidoff, 2nd Prince of San Donato, disposed of the remaining ‘great’ paintings at his ‘Sale of the Century’ that took place at Villa di San Donato in 1880. Villa di San Donato, in fact, was a private museum with fourteen rooms each dedicated to the arts. The collections were dispersed in a sequence of public sales by Anatole Nikolaievitch that took place in Paris in 1863, 1868, and his final one in 1870. It was Paul Pavlovitch who organised the largest sale of Demidoff treasures at his public sale at Villa di San Donato in March,1880.

However, what is little known is that Paul Pavlovitch was not pleased with some of the prices commanded for his collection of Old Master Dutch and Flemish paintings. His agent was instructed to ‘buy-in’, so to bid, on around thirty paintings that would remain in the collection of Paul Pavlovitch. Paul would wait for other opportunities to maximise the value of these paintings.

Unfortunately, with Paul’s premature passing in 1885, aged only forty-five, these paintings would remain in the ‘Demidoff Gallery’ at Villa Demidoff in Pratolino, Italy. Elena Petrovna, on Paul’s passing, had moved to Kyiv, and later Odessa, and would never to return to Villa Demidoff. This meant that these paintings, with some counting amongst the masterpieces by artists such as Rembrandt, van Ostade, Ruisdael, and Hobbema, were at risk of damage or theft.

To organise the sale of these paintings, Elena engaged the services of the eminent Paris-based Art Dealer, Paul Durand-Ruel. Both Paul Pavlovitch and his uncle, Anatole Nikolaievitch, had worked closely, and over decades, with Durand-Ruel. Since Elena Petrovna was in Kyiv she needed to grant ‘power-of-attorney’ to Anatole Jaunez-Sponville, to contract the sale as the seller, so on her behalf with Durand-Ruel. It is the name of Jaunez-Sponville that appears on the Durand-Ruel sale records in Paris. Anatole was the son of Octave Jaunez-Sponville, who had been a long-standing confidant and close friend of Anatole Nikolaievitch and spanning decades.

The Villa di San Donato sale of March, 1880 attracted strong interest and especially from across the Atlantic. For example, the Bostonian, Stanton Blake (1837-1889), acquired ten Dutch Old Master pictures at the sale that would eventually be displayed at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. Also interested in the Demidoff collection were the civic leaders of Chicago, led by Charles L. Hutchinson and Martin Ryerson. These gentlemen were keen to place Chicago, the country’s ‘second city’, on the ‘cultural map’. To do so, they would need to populate the newly constructed Art Institute of Chicago, located on the shores of Lake Michigan, with a world-class collection of art. For the collectors in the United States, this meant securing masterpieces of the Dutch ‘Golden Age’ and from a European collection. Hutchinson and Ryerson also were keen to build their own, private collection of paintings to hang in their stately mansions.

On a trip to Europe in March, 1889, Hutchinson and Ryerson met with Durand-Ruel who advised them that the Demdioff collection was available for purchase. Isaac R. Diller (1819-1891), the US Ambassador to Florence, was engaged to help secure access for Hutchinson and William French (1843–1914), the Art Institute’s first director, to view the Demidoff Gallery at Villa Demidoff. By April, 1890, Diller and Hutchinson were given approval by Princess Elena to view the Demidoff collection. Hutchinson and French journeyed from Rome to Florence, accompanied by Durand- Ruel, to view the paintings on the agreed date of 18 April 1890. Hutchinson took careful notes citing highlights in his diary of nineteen of the pictures. His diary can be found today at the archives of the Art Institute.

Durand-Ruel made the case to Hutchinson and Ryerson that his plan was to bring the paintings to Paris for public sale. Hutchinson and Ryerson understood that if they were to keep the collection intact and ‘off the market’, they would need to act fast and close a private sale. In an interview with the Chicago Tribune newspaper, that appeared on his return to Chicago on 3 July 1890, Hutchinson states that “I cabled the situation to Mr. Field, Mr. Armour, Mr, Kent, and a few others. I asked them to buy the pictures and to hold them until such time as the Art Institute was able to buy them or until generous men could be found to donate them. We secured 13 paintings for $200,000 US dollars…”. However, in this interview Hutchinson was understating both the number of pictures bought that pertained to the Demidoff collection as well as the purchase price. This is made clear on a review of the two Durand-Ruel sale invoices plus separate correspondence on additional pictures sold.

With the Demidoff Collection now safely taken ‘off the market’, Hutchinson and Ryerson were keen to build their private collections so, most likely, joined Durand-Ruel at the M.G. Rothan Sale of 29 May 1890 and at the M.E. May Sale of 4 June 1890. Durand-Ruel invoiced Charles Hutchinson on behalf of the Art Institute for the entire series of purchases made by Hutchinson and Ryerson including their private purchases. Each invoice was marked, ‘From the Demidoff Collection painted previous to 1700 and not subject to Custom house duties’. This was false on three counts: The invoices were for pictures also purchased at the Rothan and May sales, together with other private acquisitions. Some of the pictures were made after 1700. Lastly, around one-half of the pictures were destined for the private collections of Hutchinson and Ryerson in place of public display. However, what this billing presentation did accomplish was the avoidance of costly additional US tariff charges of 30%. The reason was that exempt from import duties were pictures destined for ‘societies and institutions devoted to the arts’.

On 18 July 1890, Durand-Ruel posted a letter to Charles Hutchinson advising that “the princess (Demidoff) has sent us all her remaing pictures”. These numbered ten but with three already sold to Rodolphe Kann, an important French collector. Hutchinson would take only two of these remaining pictures for the Art Institute. However, what is interesting is that Elena Petrovna did not send all of her remaining pictures. She retained, amongst possibly others, Johann Vermeer’s, ‘Officer and the Laughing Girl’. This painting would be sold in 1891 by Elena Petrovna to Samuel S. Joseph of London. It may be that she was not pleased with the delay in receiving monies owed from Hutchinson or felt that she could secure higher value for this masterpiece working with some other art dealer or selling the picture directly. This private sale of the Vermeer does merit further study.

Charles Hutchinson did struggle in finding financial backers for the Demidoff acquisition of paintings amongst the civic leaders in Chicago. Durand-Ruel needed to write to Hutchinson on 18 July 1890 to say, “We got yesterday 200,000 (french francs) from you… and your telegram announcing balance (payable?) in one day”. However, on 29 July 1890, Durand-Ruel needed to write again to explain that “(we) received letters of 15th and 16th enclosing drafts of 30,000 and 15,000.. which is not in accordance with our accounts, since the second affair with princess Demidoff amounts to 231,000, while your cable order was only of 200,000”.

These challenges are not surprising given that the Art Institute was ‘new’, so with limited financial resources, that dwarfed their ambitions to rank ‘shoulder-to-shoulder’ amongst the three other leading US museums located in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia. In the end, these financial challenges persisted more than fifteen years after the original acquisition in 1890. By June, 1906, there were only five other civic leaders, besides Hutchinson and Ryerson, who stepped forward with monies to purchase the individual pictures at their original cost and to then ‘gift’ them to the Art Institute. In 1894, the Art Institute was forced to issue important and expensive debt in the amount of $127,000, with a ten year term, in order to clear monies owed to the original buyers, Hutchinson, Ryerson, and Field. This debt would be equivalent today to $4.4 million. This debt would continue to ‘roll-over’, so remain outstanding, late into 1906 and possibly beyond.

With the principle owners paid by 1894, twelve of the fifteen Demidoff pictures destined for the Art Institute, at long last, became the outright property of the Art Institute so could be properly displayed. The three others would need to wait until they became fully financed that, in some cases, would take decades.

In terms of the pictures with Demidoff provenance, Elena Petrovna and Durand-Ruel in 1890 offered to sale for Chicago twenty-eight pictures. The number with Demidoff provenance that actually shipped to Chicago numbered twenty with ten appearing on Invoice #1, eight on Invoice #2, and two on the separate correspondence dating to 18 July 1890. The number pertaining to the Rothan Sale numbered six, while there was only painting from the M. Ernest May sale. Hutchinson and Ryerson further acquired another five paintings for their own private collection but from sources unrelated to Durand-Ruel.

In the 1890 Art Institute of Chicago Catalogue, it shows only thirteen paintings displayed with Demidoff provenance. The other seven featured in the private collections of the two principle buyers, Charles Hutchinson and Martin Ryerson. As the difficult financial arrangements became resolved, more and more of these paintings began to appear on display at the Art Institute. However, this would take decades and with certain pictures never appearing. The pictures acquired at the Rothan and M.E. May sales also would come to be displayed at the Art Institute.

I do encourage the reader, who finds themselves in the city of Chicago, to visit the Art Institute of Chicago where they can view many of these masterpieces from the Demidoff collection that originally formed this art museum’s core Old Master collection.

By Alexandre Tissot Demidoff 

The Abamelek-Lazarev Palace in Saint Petersburg

By EDF Academic Member in Spain, Antonio Perez Caballero

There are four versions of the Abamelek-Lazarev Palace in Saint Petersburg, the last one pertaining to its last private owner, the legendary beauty, Moina, or Maria Pavlovna, née Demidoff, Princess of San Donato (1877-1955).   Maria was the second daughter of Princess Elena Petrovna (1853-1917) and Pavel Pavlovitch Demidoff, 2nd Prince of San Donato (1839-1885).  Maria, like her elder sister, Aurora, was born in Kyiv from the time that their father was twice-elected mayor of the city of Kyiv.
In 1897, Maria married the wealthy industrialist and archeologist, Prince Semyon Semyonovich Abamelek-Lazarev (1857-1916) who, at 40 years of age, was nearly twice her age.  However, despite their difference in ages, this was a close and loving marriage.  In 1904 Prince Abamelek-Lazarev bought the Palace on Millionnaya street 22 with the garden entrance overlooking the Moika Embarkment. The house number 22 had been built from 1735 to 1737 for Count F. A. Apraksin. 
Its appearance and internal structure have undergone significant changes over the centuries.  However, in the arrangement of the main facade, that faces towards Millionnaya Street, one can easily trace the traditional compositional scheme of Russian architecture of the first half of the 18th century.  In the 1770s, the house was rebuilt, during which time the outer portico in the center of the main façade was replaced by a portico of four Ionic columns carved from Siberian marble. In 18th century Saint Petersburg, this palace was considered the most elegant mansion in the entire city.
The building of the house overlooking the embankment of the Moika River was built from 1907 to 1909 according to the project of the architect E. S. Vorotilov.  Its facade replicates the appearance of the Armenian Church House (Nevsky Prospekt, 40) as well as the interior of several of its rooms, where the Abamelek-Lazarev couple had first lived. In 1911 Abamelek-Lazarev bought the house number 24 on Millionnaya street.  Part of the house facing the Moika was broken, and here the architect, I. A. Fomin, built a new one from 1913 to 1915.  The façade of the Moyka is spectacularly decorated with bas-reliefs and Corinthian pilasters, rising to the height of the three floors of the house.  The parapet is decorated with vases.  In interior decoration, Fomin used natural and artificial marble together with decorative sculptures and paintings.  It is worth noting that the corridors and their high ceilings are twice the height of the ceilings of the ‘old’ dining room and home theater. 
The dining room, almost square in plan, and with a semicircular niche, is finished with light green artificial marble.  Excellent typographic parquet and ornamental painting on the ceiling complete the decoration.  In the theater hall, the walls are finished with white artificial marble with yellow-pink pilasters and stucco.  The central part of the ceiling is decorated with a picturesque panel, “Apollo in a Chariot”, by the artist Yu. A. Bodaninsky.  When studying the floor plans of the final palace, one is faced with four different houses cleverly and magnificently interconnected with the grandest interiors sculpted by Fomin in a Russian neoclassical style.  One is immediately struck by his talent and unmistakable taste for solemn although sumptuous rooms.
In addition to these architectural marvels, the complex is full of ‘hidden jewels’ in the form of exquisite mouldings and painted ceilings reflected in intricate parquets of precious woods that have survived the last century. Not mentioned anywhere is the fact that, after the family left the palace, Princess Maria Pavlovna, like many other aristocrats realising the danger to their private homes, in 1917 asked the Spanish Ambassador, the Marquis of Villasinda, to occupy the enormous building.   It was from the celebrated facade, with its reddish walls and grey columns, that Villasinda was able to witness the assault on the Winter Palace only a few months later.  From the street, or the Moika side, it is impossible to imagine these four completely different facades to be the one and only Palace that it had become.  Part of the reason is because of the beautiful and imposing facades that rival each other in terms of style but, surprisingly, still creating a perfectly charming, harmonious, and natural adornment to the streets of the capital.

House in Povarskaya Street

Статья Екатерины Тихой-Тищенко, члена Европейского Демидовского Фонда в России

The Demidoff family has many ties and connections with important locations in and around Moscow, among them, the magnificent House in Povarskaya Street, a graded building, and one of the most beautiful aristocratic houses of Moscow.  The house belonged to the family of their close relatives, Count Alexey Vasilievich Olsoufieff (1831—1915) and his wife, Countess Alexandra Andreevna (1846—1929, née Miklashevsky).

Our interior design firm, E.S.S.E. Design & Decoration (Ekaterina Tihaya-Tischenko and Svetlana Shervarli), was honoured by the invitation to decorate the interiors of the House in Povarskaya Street and to bring it back to its glory in its new role as a restaurant and private members club.

The Demidoffs are related to the Counts Olsoufieff, the last owners of the House in Povarskaya, but prior the Russian Revolution, by two lineages.  The two daughters of Pavel Pavlovich Demidov, 2nd Prince of San Donato, Maria and Elena, were sisters-in-law of the two sons of the Counts Olsoufieff through their respective marriages. Maria was married to Prince Semyon Semyonovich Abamelek-Lazareff (1857—1916), whose sister, Elizaveta (1866—1934), was wife of the elder son, Andrey Alexeevich Olsoufieff (1870—1933). And Elena was married to Count Alexandre Pavlovich Shouvaloff (1881—1935), whose sister Olga (1882—1939), was wife of the younger son, Vasiliy Alexeevich Olsoufieff (1872—1924).

The House in Povarskaya was bought by Countess Alexandra Andreevna Olsoufieff in 1898, which marked the relocation of her family from St Petersburg to Moscow following her new role as the ‘Mistress of the Court’ to the Court of Grand Duchess Elizaveta Feodorovna, wife of Governor-General of Moscow, Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich (uncle of Tsar Nicholas II).   This was a role that she dutifully served, up to the dissolution of the Court in 1909, when Elizaveta Feodorovna founded the Convent of Saints Martha and Mary and became its abbess.

The House in Povarskaya was built in 1887 for Prince Boris Vladimirovich Światopełk-Czetwertyński, of the ancient Polish-Russian family that traces its roots back to Rurik, and for his wife Princess Vera Aleksandrovna (née Kazakoff) and her two teenage daughters Anastasiya and Sofiya Arapoff from her first marriage (Anastasiya later married Baron Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim).

The architect of the House, Pyotr Samoylovich Boytsov (1849 – after 1918), was very fashionable among the Russian aristocracy and millionaires of the time and especially in Moscow. The Embassy of Italy in Moscow is now located in the magnificent house built by Boytsov for a manufacturer and millionaire, Sergey Berg. The residence of the French Ambassador to Russia is located in the house formerly belonging to a textile manufacturer, Nikolay Igumnov, and includes Russian and Louis XV-XVI Revival interiors designed by Boytsov. And one of the estates, a châteauesque Meyendorff Castle, built by Boytsov near Moscow for Nadezhda Alexandrovna Kazakoff, sister of Princess Vera Aleksandrovna Światopełk-Czetwertyński, is now a country residence of the President of Russia that is used today for formal receptions.

Boytsov designed a French Renaissance Revival façade for the House of the Światopełk-Czetwertyńskis to compliment the fashionable aristocratic Povarskaya Street, while inside he recreated a strikingly different, mysterious atmosphere of Tudor England with wood panelings, grand fireplaces, heraldic lions and ‘coats of arms’. The revival style, that was popular among aristocrats to underline their ancient roots, was in sharp contrast to the Art Nouveau architecture that was fashionable among the rising “New Money.” The interiors designed and styled by Boytsov with revival furniture, beautiful lanterns, luxurious fabrics and family portraits can be seen in the two photos surviving from the time.

After their mother, Princess Vera Aleksandrovna Światopełk-Czetwertyński, died suddenly in 1890 and their stepfather, Prince Boris, left Russia never to return, in 1898, the two Arapoff sisters sold the House in Povarskaya to Countess Alexandra Andreevna Olsoufieff.

The House was meant to correspond to the high position of its new owners who were close to the Grand Duke and the Grand Duchess.  It was also to be a ‘cozy’ home for the large Olsoufieff family that included children, grandchildren, in-laws, relatives, and numerous friends. The younger son of Countess Alexandra Andreevna, colonel Vassily Alexeevich Olsoufieff, lived with his parents before and after his marriage to Countess Olga Pavlovna Shouvaloff.  This means that his sister-in-law, Elena Pavlovna Demidoff-Shouvaloff, was a frequent visitor and guest at Povarskaya.

The Olsoufieffs made some alterations to the interiors of the House bringing in new mahogany, walnut and Karelian birch furniture, antiques, family portraits, and Italian Renaissance drawings and paintings which they adored and collected. Two photos, presumably dating to the 1900s, show precious 16-17th century tapestries that had been installed. One of them, in the large Oak Hall over the stairs, featured the scene of ‘The Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary’ and covered the original wall mural.  The other tapestry, in the adjacent Sitting-Room, featured ‘Sophonisba Kneels before Masinissa, King of Numidia.’ Antique Chinese porcelain vases and decorative silver plates, Oriental rugs, marble sculptures and a large family library, fresh flowers, palm trees in pots, and even an antique trunk, all created an atmosphere of a home where lived those who could not live without art, heritage, and beauty.

Having spent their childhood surrounded by the precious objects in this house, it is no wonder that all four daughters of Count Vassily Alexeevich Olsoufieff and Olga Pavlovna Shouvaloff-Olsoufieff chose the arts or literature as their professional career and with outstanding achievements in due course.  On the other hand, their only son, Alexey, followed the path of all the men in the Olsoufieff family, and enlisted  in military service although as an  exile in Italy.  Unfortunately, he tragically died in 1941 when the Italian ship, where he served, was attacked by the British armed forces at the Cape Bon near Tunisia. He handed his own safety vest to a fellow sailor and then tried to swim alone but never reached the shore.

The fate of the tapestries, furniture and paintings of the House in Povarskaya after the Russian Revolution is unknown. The house was nationalised and inhabited by the poor. It was later transformed into separate apartments for government employees (luckily leaving the central halls intact).  Finally in 1932 it was handed over to the ‘Union of Writers of the USSR’ at the request of Maxim Gorky. From this point on the House in Povarskaya has been known until today by the abbreviation ‘CDL’, The Central House of Writers (Центральный дом литераторов).

In Soviet times, there was a restaurant at the CDL where only members of the Union of Writers were allowed, infusing it with an atmosphere of exclusivity and thus making it utterly desirable. It was frequented by Boris Pasternak, Sergey Mikhalkov, Andrey Voznesensky, Evgeny Evtushenko, Bella Akhmadulina among many other famous Russian writers and poets.

In post-Soviet times, the CDL Restaurant, now occupying the entire House, became one of the most fashionable restaurants in Moscow. Yet, its interiors underwent a number of redecorations that did not correspond fully to its historic and architectural heritage (the walls were even covered by plastic panelings at one point). Our design firm, E.S.S.E. Design & Decoration, was honoured by the invitation to recreate here the atmosphere of an aristocratic Belle Epoque salon in Moscow. We stripped the walls of the modern plastic decorations and invited a restoration firm to take care of the original wood panelings. The layers of Soviet-time ‘gloss lacquer’ were removed and the wood then covered with natural shellack so following exactly the same technology employed by the architect Boytsov in 1887.

In regards to décor, we tried to follow the photos of the interiors taken before the revolution. We covered the walls with Revival Style wallpaper, some of them with a textile effect, and brought in beautiful velvets and weave fabrics to dress the windows and to cover the soft furnishings. The carefully selected antique ‘Revival accents’, coming from France, Belgium and the Netherlands, complimented the restaurant chairs, sofas and tables that were all produced in oak by a local Russian manufacturer in accordance with our design. Antique Persian rugs, Oriental vases and bespoke floral arrangements are set beside ‘wall sconces’ and table lamps produced by St Petersburg bronze craftsmen according to historic designs pertaining to Russian palaces. We decided to keep the existing Soviet Neoclassical chandeliers in the halls to represent this historic layer of the building. We also took pains to provide the interiors with adequate lighting, as the House was notorious for its ‘duskiness’, even before the revolution.  To address this challenge, we invited a specialised lighting company to install technical lights, that are barely visible on the ceiling, but do cast beautiful glow onto the tables, prominent architectural features, and the antique décor accents.

We intended to fill the House with personal memories of its last owners, the Olsoufieffs. So in the former Bedroom of Count Alexey Vasilievich Olsoufieff (now a private dining room), we covered one wall with a series of prints depicting  mid-19th century Russian military uniforms.  This would correspond to the time when the Count served in the army.  The other wall is covered by prints of the Crimean War in which he took part. And finally, the other wall is dressed with prints of engravings that date back to the 16-18th century all depicting various libraries and bookshelves so in the memory of the Count’s true passion for philology. He was an avid reader and translated the poems of Ancient Roman poets from Latin into Russian.

All this is complimented by 19th century European paintings all around the House borrowed from the art gallery, Nashe Naslediye, in the former Dining Room and Buffet Room. This art gallery even managed to procure several antique portraits of Russian Emperors and Empresses that now adorn the walls of the House, a tribute that was customary in aristocratic Russia.

Probably the most important mission that we completed was setting up a museum in one of the halls dedicated to the history of the House in Povarskaya and the families of the Światopełk-Czetwertyńskis and the Olsoufieffs. We were extremely lucky to become acquainted with the descendants of the Olsoufieff family, living all around the world, who generously shared with us precious family photos and documents that we then exhibited. We were also greatly assisted by a team of art historians and an archivist who procured the historic plans of the building, which are also on display, among other very useful data.

We express our gratitude to Olga Rozet, interior designer, art historian, and artist, who trained us at the International Design School in Moscow, whom we invited to take part in the project.  She helped a great deal by openly sharing with us her vast knowledge and experience in working with colour and developing layouts.

We certainly express our gratitude to the owners of the CDL Restaurant and The Moscow Capital Club, who value the heritage of the House and who have secured the realisation of this important project that, as we hope, will become part of Moscow history. The CDL Restaurant is recommended in the Michelin Guide 2022 and is kept open to the general public and for excursions. The Moscow Capital Club, occupying the most luxurious upstairs rooms, is member of the International Associate Clubs (IAC) and became the only private club in Russia elected as member of Platinum Clubs® of the World.

Author of the article: Ekaterina Tihaya-Tischenko, E.S.S.E. Design & Decoration

Sources of images:

Aurora Demidova's Legacy in Finland

Статья профессора Jukka Aminoff FRSA (Финляндия)

Aurora Stjernvall Demidova Karamzin, for the Finnish people is known as Aurora Karamzin because of her second marriage.   She was a remarkable historical person in Finland. Schools, hospitals, children’s culture centres, chapels, parks, and streets all carry her name because of her pioneering philanthropic work. 
She was born, Aurora Stjernvall in 1808 in Ulvila, Finland. Aurora was born in the middle of a war between Sweden and Russia. Finland did not exist back then because Finland was Eastern Sweden. Russia was able to conquer Finland. The Grand Duchy of Finland in Imperial Russia was created a year later by the Emperor of Russia, Grand Duke of Finland, Alexander I. 

Imperial Court and Marriage

The Sterjnvall’s rose to significant positions in the new grand duchy. Through high-ranking positions and upper-class marriages, the Sterjnvall’s became members of the imperial elite in St Petersburg, the capital of Imperial Russia. 
Aurora became the maid-of-honour for Her Majesty, the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, the spouse of the Emperor of Russia, Grand Duke of Finland, Nicholas I. The Empress’s Stone, a granite monument at Market Square, Helsinki, was erected in 1835.  
Aurora married Pavel Nikolaievich Demidov in 1836. He was the son of Nikolai Nikitich Demidov and Baroness Elizaveta Alexandrovna Demidova (née Stroganova). 
Pavel Nikolaievich Demidov was a descendant of two powerful Russian aristocratic dynasties: The Demidovs and Stroganovs who had shaped Russian industry and commerce for centuries.  
Pavel Nikolaievich Demidov was one of the wealthiest men in Russia. Through Demidov’s immense wealth, Aurora could afford a lavish lifestyle. The couple had a son, Pavel Pavlovich Demidov, the 2nd Prince of Donato. 

Grand Duchy of Finland

Aurora had a private palace in St Petersburg that her husband had purchased shortly before their marriage.  However, she retained a strong connection with the Grand Duchy of Finland. She would spend winters in St Petersburg and summer holidays in the Finnish countryside. 
What sort of visible cultural heritage did Aurora leave in Finland?
Two buildings in the city of Helsinki and Espoo remind us of her prosperity and legacy. Villa Hakasalmi in Helsinki and Träskända Manor in Espoo. 

Träskända Manor and the Imperial Visit

In 1840, Aurora bought the Träskända Manor in Espoo from her stepfather, Privy Councillor Carl Johan Walleen. 
Träskända Manor had a special place in Aurora’s heart. Träskända Manor was a summer place, and Aurora had great memories from her childhood. 
Träskända became the centre of her social life in Finland. 
In 1863, the Grand Duchy of Finland arranged the first Diet since 1809. The Diet of Finland was the highest legislative assembly in Finland. All four estates, the nobility, clergy, bourgeoisie, and peasants joined the Diet. 
The primary guest of the Diet was the Grand Duke of Finland, Emperor of Russia, Alexander II. 
Aurora invited Alexander II to visit Träskända Manor. The distance between the Imperial Palace in Helsinki and Träskända Manor in Espoo was roughly 19 kilometres to the northwest. 
Alexander II joined a hunting trip. The Emperor shot a German deer. The hunting trip alone was worth the visit. 
Four lakes surround the Träskändä Manor. The air is dry and fresh. Pinewood smells in the air, but the area has mixed forests. The rich soil is perfect for planting trees, bushes, flowers, and grass. Trees were brought and planted from the Demidov Ural estates. French and German gardeners designed the garden. 
The manor has an English landscape garden, an example of Anglophilia in Imperial Russia. Architect Carl Ludvig Engel’s ‘Diana Temple’, a gazebo, was erected in the 1830s.
Statues, fountains, and urns gave a final touch to the garden in the 19th century. Outside stairs invited people in from the garden. 
Träskändä Manor was a wooden mansion. The two-floor building had plenty of rich details and carvings.
The Russian manor life landed in Finland. Träskändä Manor and other manors created the example. 
The grandiose totality created a beautiful sight. 
Before the visit of Emperor Alexander II in 1863 – special arrangements had to be put in place. 
Aurora ordered Architect Georg Theodor Policron Chiewitz to create a deluxe lavatory for the Emperor. Architect Chiewitz designed a six-corner building out of logs. The building has survived until this day. 
Architect Chiewitz designed the House of Nobility in Helsinki. The building became open in 1862 for the Diet. My fourth great-grandfather, a veteran of the Crimean War, Colonel Berndt Adolf Carl Gregori Aminoff, was a Board Member at the House of Nobility when the construction work began. 
Dancing and dining required temporary structures. 
Aurora arranged a ball at the manor for the Emperor and his entourage. Guests enjoyed an eleven-course meal served on Jean-Baptiste-Claude Odiot’s, Service de Nicolas Demidoff.
Alexander II’s visit was a momentous event. It became a special milestone in the history of the mansion. 
The Emperor planted an oak tree. The tree is called the Emperor’s Tree. 
The Grand Duchy became coated with splendour and spectacle.
The mansion was destroyed in a fire in 1888. Years later in 1895, Aurora sold the estate to her relative. 
A new building saw daylight. However, the new building had to be demolished because it was too small. 
The municipality of Espoo bought the estate in the 1920s. The current building was completed in 1921. It represents Swedish Baroque Revival architecture. 
Träskända was a rest home until 2006. Nowadays, the building is empty. For years, the City of Espoo and its residents have searched for intended uses for the manor, but without results. The estate can be bought or rented. 
The English landscape garden and the grove are preserved and protected under Finnish law. 
In 2022, the manor was under renovation. 

Villa Hakasalmi

Villa Hakasalmi in Helsinki was built by her stepfather Carl Johan Walleen in 1843-1846. It became a summer residence. The two-floor building became a landmark next to Mannerheim Street. 
The house represents the Empire style, and it has beautiful drawing rooms. 
The estate had an English landscape garden. The house is next to Töölönlahti, a peaceful bay full of tranquillity and nature. 
Töölönlahti became surrounded by beautiful villas during the 19th century. A place for wealthy noble and merchant families. It was a private paradise. 
The villa is northwest of the centre of Helsinki. Villa Hakasalmi is situated 1,5 kilometres distance from Senate Square. 
The idyllic environment became distorted by the new railway route between Helsinki and Hämeenlinna. The construction work happened from 1857-1862. Suddenly the villa was in the middle of the industrial revolution. Railway tracks were 350 metres away from the house. 
Walleen passed away in 1867. Aurora became the owner of the estate. 
Aurora sold the Demidov Palace in St Petersburg and moved to Villa Hakasalmi in 1875. She was 68 years old. 
Villa Hakasalmi did not become a centre of lavish parties. Instead, it became the centre for social change influencers. Aurora became increasingly spiritual and religious, which guided her social work – compassion for the underprivileged. 
Aurora died in 1902 at the age of 93. Years earlier, she had sold the estate to the City of Helsinki. 
Villa Hakasalmi was transformed into a museum. Helsinki City Museum has operated the building ever since. 


As a young female, Aurora was a superstar of refinement. Her taste and style uplifted the Finnish manor life. 
Count, State Councillor, Pavel Nikolaievich Demidov, the first husband of Aurora, died pematurely in 1840. Her second husband, Colonel Andrei Nikolaevich Karamzin, fell in the Crimean War in 1854. Aurora became a grieving widow for the second time. 
Later pictures of Aurora have similarities with the Queen of Britain, Victoria. Both of them wore black dresses and shawls. 
Because of extensive philanthropic work to support educational and social initiatives, she became a warm and caring grandmother to people living in Finland. Her legacy continues. 
Article by Professor Jukka Aminoff FRSA. The Author of Finland’s Sweden and Russia – Finland in the Midst of Changing World Orders (, 2021). Aminoff is an Academic Member of the European Demidoff Foundation. 

Aurora Pavlovna Demidoff, Princess of San Donato (1873-1904)

Aurora Pavlovna

Статья Alexandre Tissot Demidoff, прямого потомка рода Демидовых

On 19 November 2022, the Orthodox Church of Saints Sergio, Seraphim and Vincent Martire, who are based in Milan, Italy, organised a religous service of remembrance for the author’s great-grandmother, Aurora Pavlovna, who is buried at Cemetery Monumentale in Milan. Aurora Pavlovna, died too young, aged only 31, at her Villa Bria, a palace located in Bussolino, Gassino Torinese, in Italy, from an infection in her leg caused by a sting from a rose bush. Her long-standing and painful ailment was discussed at length in correspondence found at the Demidov Archives in Florence.
It was Aurora’s mother, Princess Elena Petrovna Demidova, living in Odessa, who in April, 1905, purchased a plot at Cemetery Monumentale and ordered the construction of the Demidoff mausoleum for her deceased daughter. In the following decades, the Demidoff mausoleum in Milan would include Aurora’s son, Alberto Noghera (1896-1971), together with Alberto’s daughter, Italia Noghera (1916-1991).
Unfortunately, by the 1970’s, the daily exposure to the natural elements caused serious structural decay and damage to the Demidoff Mausoleum. The management of the cemetery decided to demolish the original mausoleum and to move the bodily remains of the three interred family members to a wall located within the cemetery’s main structure.
It is here where the religious ceremony took place on 19 November and performed by Father Siluan of the Orthodox Church.
However, it was noticed that the engraving on the wall of the new tombstone for Aurora Pavlovna contains spelling errors and is incomplete. The name is mis-spelt and incomplete and the year of birth is omitted. There is also no image of Aurora.
It was agreed that it would be a worthwhile project for the European Demidoff Foundation to assume responsibility to address these faults. We were fortunate to know Liliya Sitdikova, a long-standing member of the Orthodox Church in Milan, who also is a talented, professional, restoration expert. Liliya is originally from the Republic of Bashkiria (Ural Mountains of Russia) and in 1988 graduated from the ‘Academy of Fine Arts’ in Ufa, the capital of Bashkiria. 
Liliya promptly agreed to contact the management of the cemetery to secure permission to undertake the restoration work. The work will involve adding a photograph of Aurora under protected plexiglass that is resistant to light and the other natural elements. Liliya will also make the corrections to the name and the date but without engraving on the marble. Instead she will use a special paint that is suitable for stone. We are enternally grateful to Liliya for agreeing to undertake this work and do look forward to seeing its completion.
Following the religious ceremony, the group returned to the Orthodox Church where I was delighted to present on ‘Anatole Demidoff and his Journey in 1837 through southern Russia’. The presentation generated much interest among the members of the public in attendance, as the ‘question and answer’ section lasted twice as long as the original presentation. This was a most moving and special day that was made possible by the historian, Michail Talalay, and Father Siluan.


19 November 2022

The Demidovs in Saint Petersburg

Статья Antonio Perez Caballero, члена Европейского Демидовского Фонда в Испании

Number 74 is the last house of the aristocratic English Embarkment in Saint Petersburg.  In the early years of life of the young capital of the Russian Empire, the first Embarkment, and the center of the sophisticated court, was the English one.   Even in these early years, various artists were attracted to depict in paintings the austere and dignified beauty of the palaces rising, one after the other, upon the powerful, Neva River. 
It would appear at first that the third son of the Demidov family founder, the well-known manufacturer, Nikita Nikitich Demidov (1688-1758), brother to Akinfy, was not at all ready to settle in Peter the Great’s dreamed capital.   According to a decree of the Emperor, the plot of land corresponding to House Number 10 was allotted to Nikita Nikitich. He attempted several ways to delay the construction until in 1736 Anna Ivanovna issued an especial edict summoning him from the Ural Mountains to finally erect his palace.
Demidov did come, only to request that he be allowed to return to his factories. The Empress consented to let him go provided that he would leave his executor to finalise the task. During his absence Anna Ivanovna changed her mind, offering him a different plot, this time located in the confluence of the Neva and the New Admiralty Canal. The executor, not daring to proceed without his master’s order, did nothing and so was subsequently arrested by the police office. The action seemed useless and the plot remained empty.
By that stage, the cabinet ministers in charge of the building progress of the English Embarkment had had enough, and so decided to put under arrest not the executor but the very owner himself. That did rapidly resolve the matter and Nikita Nikitich immediately gave order that a building be erected at his new plot.  The architect of choice was the famous, M. G. Zemtsov, and It all seems to have progressed well as by 1738 the main house overlooking the Neva and three out-buildings to mark the territory along Galernaya street and the New Admiralty Canal were already finished. 

Now the celebrated industrialist, owner and founder of many iron mining manufactures and factories in the Ural Mountains had his own stone residence in Saint Petersburg. After his death, the heirs divided the plot: the eldest son, Evdokim Nikitich (1713-1782), received the house on the Neva with 17 bed chambers, and his brother, Nikita (1728-1804), who, in 1769, sold it to Evdokim, received the house on Galernaya with ten bed chambers.

From the heirs of Nikita Nikitich (1728-1804), the corner mansion in 1809 passed by purchase deed to the life physician Yakov Vasilyevich Willie (1765 – 1854), director of the Military Medical Department.  In the late 1820s, Willie took care of the external and internal reconstruction of the building in the Empire style.  From that time, a hall with pilasters and a vaulted room have been preserved in the interior.  Willie rented apartments in the outbuildings.  In one of them, in February 1835, the head physician Alexander Dmitrievich Blank had a daughter, Maria, the future mother of Lenin, on the second floor of the western wing.  She was baptized at St. Isaac’s Cathedral, as her father converted from Judaism to Orthodoxy in order to enter the Medico-Surgical Academy.   Fate wanted that in 1876 after several additional owners, another celebrated, Imperial Physician to Alexander II and Alexander III, lived in the Galernaya street building: Sergey Petrovich Botkin, whose son Evgeniy Sergeevich, also a physician to the last Tsar Nicholas II, died along the rest of the Imperial Family and servants in Ekaterinburg in July 1918.

Located just across a bridge towards the New Admiralty, only a few metres from the Demidov home, it was consecrated the 31st of July 1911 a charming old style cathedral, Spas-na-Vodakh, in remembrance of those victims of the Ruso-Japanese war of 1905. Since that day the priest, Vladimir Alexandrovich Rybakov (1870 – 1934), rector of the Church of the Savior on the Waters, lived in the western wing.  He greatly mourned the demolition in 1932 of the temple, which was visible from the windows of his apartment.
Nowadays the elegant, classical mansion is restored. Owned by a security company, its big plate glass windows shine pristine on the freshly painted walls. However, I do not believe that it could equal in beauty and melancholy grandeur, the old dusty ‘Belle au Bois Dormant’ that I fell in love with during a sunset stroll in this enchanting part or St Petersburg in the 1990s.


Испанец Антонио Перес Кабальеро – многолетний друг нашего музея – передал в дар фрагменты подлинных предметов и исторической отделки интерьеров, а также 205 открыток, фотографий и негативов, посвященных императорской семье и пригородным дворцам Санкт-Петербурга. Эти раритеты меценат приобретал на аукционах и собирал на протяжении долгого времени, а также хранил в личном архиве. Предметы доставлены в Царское Село при поддержке российских дипломатов. На специальном приеме в Посольстве России в Испании (Мадрид) дарителю вручили почетный диплом за содействие культурному сотрудничеству между нашими странами.

– Антонио Перес Кабальеро увлечен изучением истории, особенно его интересует жизнь и судьба Николая II и его семьи. Даритель внимательно следит за музейными событиями и реставрацией Александровского дворца, – говорит заместитель директора по научной работе ГМЗ «Царское Село» Ираида Ботт.

Открытки, выполненные в начале XX века, дополнят уже существующую в музее коллекцию почтовых карточек.

Напомним, что в 2013 году Антонио Перес Кабальеро предоставил музею право на электронные копии трех десятков фотографий периода Великой Отечественной войны. Сейчас он передал эти снимки и негативы других сюжетов в музей.

Автором всех снимков был дед господина Переса Кабальеро, Антонио Перес Хуарес, служивший в сороковые годы прошлого века в испанской Голубой дивизии. Внук хранил не только альбом с фотографиями деда, но и негативы этих снимков. На них – пригороды Ленинграда: Пушкин, Петергоф, Гатчина, Ропша. Снимки сделаны в 1943 году.

– Любительские снимки оккупированного города Пушкин представляют для нас особую ценность. На них – фасады Екатерининского дворца, солдаты и офицеры в дворцовых залах и парковых павильонах, часть интерьера дворцовой церкви, Большой зал, уже утративший треть перекрытия с плафоном. Эти фотографии, с одной стороны, – документальные свидетельства разрушений царскосельских дворцов и парков, но в то же время – подвига музейщиков и ленинградских реставраторов, возродивших красоту дворцово-паркового ансамбля, – объясняет хранитель фотонегатеки ГМЗ «Царское Село» Виктория Плауде.

Подаренные господином Пересом Кабальеро предметы будут храниться в фондах музея и участвовать во временных выставках.


Информация с официального сайта Царского села


Mr Antonio Pérez Caballero, a long-time friend of our Museum from Spain and now a member of our Friends Society, made a generous donation of original interior objects and decorative fragments from our palaces, as well as 205 iconographic artefacts including postcards of Russia’s last imperial family and wartime photographs and film negatives of the suburban palaces of St Petersburg.

The Spanish philanthropist has been collecting artefacts related to Tsarskoe Selo for a long time. The donated items either came from his private archive or had been obtained from antiquity dealers and auctions. The items were delivered to Tsarskoe Selo thanks to the diplomatic support of the Russian Embassy in Madrid, where Mr Pérez Caballero had a lunch in his honour and was rewarded an honorary diploma for contributing to cultural cooperation between our countries.

According to Dr Iraida K. Bott, Tsarskoe Selo deputy director for research and education, “as an avid history researcher especially interested in the life and fate of Emperor Nicholas II and his family, Mr Pérez Caballero closely follows the Museum’s events and the restoration of the Alexander Palace.”

The donated postcards of the early 20th century are a great addition to our postcard collection.

Back in 2013, Mr Pérez Caballero already granted us the right to use the digital copies of 30 wartime photographs of Leningrad suburbs taken in 1943 by his grandfather, Antonio Pérez Juarez, who served in the Spanish Volunteer Division (a.k.a. the Blue Division). Those and other photographs of Pushkin, Pavlovsk, Peterhof, Gatchina and Ropsha, as well as their film negatives, came in the donation together with several photographs from a German war archive.

As Ms Victoria Plaude, Tsarskoe Selo photographs and negatives collection curator explains, “The photos of Pushkin town during the Nazi occupation are of great value to the Museum. They show the façades of the Catherine Palace, the occupiers in the palace halls and park pavilions, a part of the Palace Chapel’s interior, and the palace’s Great Hall already devoid of one third of its ceiling together with painting. These photographs are documentary evidence of both the destruction of Tsarskoe Selo and the feats of its museum workers and restorers who revived the beauty of the palace-and-park ensemble.”

The artefacts donated by Mr Pérez Caballero have enriched the Museum’s reserve collection and will be displayed at our future exhibitions.


Tsarskoe Selo State Museum official website –