Charming signed letter written from Denmark from Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna of Russia (1882 – 1960), dated 3rd / 16th September 1923 (Old Style and New Style), witten in French and addressed to her former tutor Ferdinand Thormeyer, discussing the deterioration in health of her mother the Dowager Empress, rumours of icons in Kiev illuminating and other famiy affairs.
"3/16 September 1923.
Dear Siocha, at last, here are all the papers that I am eager to send you [no longer present] – while asking forgiveness for bothering you again with my issues when you have your own. But what can I do – I am writing to you since you are in Geneva – the place where the Red Cross is 13 xxx. And you are kind! We have had some superb days here since Mother came. 13°C in the shade and not a lot of wind. She is thin – completely changed. Lifeless eyes, pale, sickly and xxx. On the boat here she took another sudden fall onto her back and tumbled onto a sharp corner of a huge sofa. She scarcely walks – and in addition, xxx there where she does not want to go. I believe the knock to her spine has hurt her head. Fortunately, it has somewhat passed already and she seems to be better – but she is not the same person who left here last year. Her entire back hurts – and she finds it painful to be seated for so long in the same place. Xenia and her Benjamin are here too. He has become a young man who shaves… In 2 days his tutor arrives - the same young man who has little hope that his pupil (Guri [her son] pushed me to show me something of little importance which seems highly exciting to him) will pass his exams in the month of October (in Paris once more).
The weather has been marvellous in these past days – like summer! (we are enjoying) every morning, and at a good hour – we leave with the children and our ladies to the woods – to look for mushrooms! How entertaining, beautiful it is in nature: from up close, I see squirrels, birds who are not scared of me, and continue to eat or play otherwise. There is now a lot of xxx once more – I believe that they like the hot days – the nights, rather – since they finish after the first cold spells (numerous).
I am sending a cheque for £10. I believe that the sum will suffice – because xxx only received xxx 300 Swiss fr. - enough. He often asks that money is transferred to his sister Nina in pounds or dollars since only £ or dollars are accepted in Russia now. This sum was sent to me by my cousin Victoria [Victoria Mountbatten, Marchioness of Milford Haven] – as a gift – as if she sent it just for that! How I love divine providence – when we see and understand – or rather, want to understand… What splendid things are happening in Kiev. I received some letters and we cry xxx – upon hearing that God shows himself to his faithful subjects – and even the unfaithful see his might. Many a church, many old icons, have become bright – as though a glow comes from them because the gold has been renewed on the icons] and on the paintwork on the old black icons – and that took two days – under the watch of a massive crowd… What a nightmare in Japan… There you have two manifestations of God – neither one nor the other is comprehensible for us vile little sinners… Well, dear Siocha, farewell – and I wish you good health and all the best. I think of you very often, and do not lose hope that I will see you one time…
Yes, I would very much like the photograph of Misha [her brother] and me in the gallery – I cannot remember her. My bedroom is full of flies who are dancing like fire under the lamp! In the month of July, I received a good letter from xxx! His/her son is serving on a boat – Xenia [her sister] saw him in London now… I painted all morning – from 8 to 10 by the seaside. Then we went to mother’s house and are with her in the garden where the sun warms us up. My husband sends you his best – as do I. Your old Ольга [Olga in Russian]"
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: 22 x 28.5 cm approx