Russian Grand Duchess's $398,585 Imperial Jewellery albums sell in London
Treasures of the Romanovs, belonging to Ksenia Aleksandrovna, will star in Bonhams' Russian sale
Paul Fraser Collectibles, Monday 24 October 2011
Two lavishly illustrated inventories of jewellery belonging to Ksenia Aleksandrovna, the Grand Duchess of Russia, are highlights of the Russian Sale, taking place on November 30 at Bonhams, New Bond Street.
As the daughter of Tsar Aleksander III and sister of Nicholas II, Grand Duchess Ksenia led a privileged life and the two volumes of almost 1,000 entries form an itemised record of jewellery she received from 1880-1912.
Estimated to sell for £150,000 - 250,000 ($398,585) they provide a fascinating insight into the private wealth of the Romanovs, their personal taste and family relationships.
The albums served her as a personal, visual diary and are almost completely unrelated to political circumstances, which the Grand Duchess elaborated upon in correspondence and personal accounts elsewhere.
Each birthday, name day, Christmas and Easter was marked with jewelled gifts from her inner circle comprising of her tutors, close friends and family. The modest pendants and lockets of the young girl are recorded, small gifts from the courtship of Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich ('Sandro') who was later to become her husband, and the simple rings marking the birth of her seven children.
Grand Duchess Ksenia's wedding celebrations marked one of the last times the Crown commissioned jewellery from the Treasury.
The exquisite emerald, ruby and sapphire jewellery sets gifted by her parents, as well as the diamond necklaces, tiara and the pear collier-de-chien, by the jewellery house Bolin, were all recorded and annotated by Kensia in the inventories offered by Bonhams. The notes simply read "from Mama and Papa for the wedding".
In the albums, there are notations of pieces given to her daughter Princess Irina, her sons and other family members. Alongside the extravagant wedding jewellery, emeralds and prize pearls and dozens of entries featuring enamel work are included.
As the entries progress, revival styles are recorded evolving into Art Nouveau and then Art Deco. The thirty two years of gifts recorded in Grand Duchess Ksenia's inventories spanned huge changes in the customs and fashions of jewellery.
The Grand Duchess' personal circumstances also altered drastically throughout the history of the inventories, as she lived through her father's and brother's reigns, the Revolution and two world wars, ending her days in an apartment in Hampton Court Palace, England where she died in 1960.
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