Charming signed letter written from Denmark from Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna of Russia (1882 – 1960), dated 27th July / 9th August 1923 (Old Style and New Style), witten in French and addressed to her former tutor Ferdinand Thormeyer, discussing the travel arrangements of her mother the Dowager Empress, as well as mushroom collecting and her thoughts on Christian Science.
"August27 July / 9 August 1923.
My dear Siocha, what do you think of me? All this time I have wanted many a time to write but each time something xxx.
Since I wrote to you – Mother was to come for 2 months (xxx thus) and live here – but the day that she was due to leave London she found herself in a bad way – her nerves are completely damaged etc. And the whole journey has been postponed! She was due to come on a large boat of the Danish East Asiatic Company and a nephew even left from here to accompany her. We sorted the house, tidied the garden – everything was ready to welcome her – even the cold and damp weather changed just the day before she was due to arrive… Well, as they say: xxx. They say that perhaps she might be able to come in 2 – 3 weeks – since there will be another large boat that will pass coming from the West… And there, we xxx good weather and our freedom to take long walks in the woods with the infants, Emilia Ivanovna, Masha and her sister (who you have not met yet). The little ones can walk for 3 hours in a row – but they like to have some refreshment with them (buttered bread, some biscuits, etc). Once eaten – they can continue their walk! Now we are searching every day for mushrooms. How I enjoy it! But Siocha, the woods here are not as beautiful as in Russia… Much charm is missing from nature. The woods are not natural – planted straight like aisles, it is boring and then, it is so dark that nothing can grow below – and it is only on the xxx or in the clearing – that we find some mushrooms. Early tomorrow the Dames de l’Assomption have invited us to their garden to pick redcurrants and raspberries. They are all French ladies from good families – and they are truly good and nice. I especially like the Mother Superior. I speak in awful French with them – but they do not make fun of me – being religious!
We forget so quickly. Now I speak Danish – but quite badly – they understand me everywhere, all the same – in long, even philosophical conversations… And well, Siocha – I have not yet read the article on Christian Science because at heart that does not interest me so much – what do you think. I have an American acquaintance (in London) who always writes to me about it and sends me – for a year now – books on it. It interested me, it was new for me, but there you have something that seems entirely false to me: they say that there is no “Evil” in the world, that there is only good and that that is an idea that the world has. That then is entirely false – and against our religion. I know that that is false and that evil (the Devil, if we call it by a different name) exists as much as Good, and many other things. I liked it (reading about C.S.) and the idea that we might tell ourselves, or hypnotise ourselves, not to feel pain. That is remarkable. I know that during the war many injured soldiers and officers did not feel their injuries… Why? What joy to be able to hypnotise oneself like so – but is it hypnotisation? Well, to end this point I would say that every religion, every sect etc has produced great souls. The aim is the same, is it not? The weather here is hot, beautiful – and no wind at all these days. Delicious. The little ones are running barefoot in the garden. At last we have lots of raspberries this summer and we are friends with the young gardener… There was an old man of 83 years who had a hard and disagreeable character – he died at Easter. He lived here 46 years and believed that this garden belonged to him. It is true that he was here for a much longer time than us – but well… I am happy that there is the young man in his place! Nothing new- or interesting to write to you about. I am happy – yes, so happy in my small family Siocha!! The children are beginning to understand a little English that I am teaching them each day – but they have no other practice. Dear Siocha, farewell. May God watch over you. I love you with all my heart.
Your old Ольга. [Olga in Russian]
The dear old xxx is still alive!
[In pencil] Please send the photos back to me after you have looked at them."
Olga was the youngest child of Emperor Alexander III of Russia and younger sister of Tsar Nicholas II. It comes in its original heavy ormolu brass frame direct from the Kulikovsky family.
She was raised at the Gatchina Palace outside Saint Petersburg. Olga's relationship with her mother, Empress Marie, the daughter of King Christian IX of Denmark, was strained and distant from childhood. In contrast, she and her father were close. He died when she was 12, and her brother Nicholas became emperor.
In 1901, she married Duke Peter Alexandrovich of Oldenburg, who was privately believed by family and friends to be homosexual. Their marriage of 15 years remained unconsummated, and Peter at first refused Olga's request for a divorce. The couple led separate lives and their marriage was eventually annulled by the Emperor in October 1916. The following month Olga married cavalry officer Nikolai Kulikovsky, with whom she had fallen in love several years before. During the First World War, the Grand Duchess served as an army nurse at the front and was awarded a medal for personal gallantry. At the downfall of the Romanovs in the Russian Revolution of 1917, she fled to the Crimea with her husband and children, where they lived under the threat of assassination. Her brother and his family were shot by revolutionaries.
Olga escaped revolutionary Russia with her second husband and their two sons in February 1920. They joined her mother, the Dowager Empress, in Denmark. In exile, Olga acted as companion and secretary to her mother, and was often sought out by Romanov impostors who claimed to be her dead relatives. She met Anna Anderson, the best-known impostor, in Berlin in 1925. After the Dowager Empress's death in 1928, Olga and her husband purchased a dairy farm in Ballerup, near Copenhagen. She led a simple life: raising her two sons, working on the farm and painting. During her lifetime, she painted over 2,000 works of art, which provided extra income for both her family and the charitable causes she supported.
In 1948, feeling threatened by Joseph Stalin's regime, Olga emigrated with her immediate family to a farm in Ontario, Canada. With advancing age, Olga and her husband moved to a bungalow near Cooksville, Ontario. Colonel Kulikovsky died there in 1958. Two years later, as her health deteriorated, Olga moved with devoted friends to a small apartment in East Toronto. She died aged 78, seven months after her older sister, Xenia. At the end of her life and afterwards, Olga was widely labeled the last Grand Duchess of Imperial Russia.
Ferdinand Thormeyer – Siocha to his imperial correspondents – came from the Geneva district of Carouge, and was appointed French tutor to the children of Alexander III in 1886, when he was 28.
He stayed with them until 1899 and remained close to them, and to Russia, in spirit and through letters for the rest of his life. Even after returning to Switzerland in 1899, he remained strongly attached to Russia. During the First World War he was a Red Cross delegate, and visited Russian prisoners of war. He set up a “Russian corner” in his house with the souvenirs he had collected – gifts, postcards, photos, telegrams, the menus of imperial breakfasts, details of the timetable and composition of trains used by the tsar and his family. He died childless in 1944
Size: 20 x 12.5 cm approx