Grand Duke & Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin Invitation to Soirée 1889 Villa Isola Bella in Cannes


Antique invitation written in French on stationery embossed with the Mecklenburg-Schwerin coat of arms, inviting Mr and Mrs Richard Winslow to a soiree at Villa Isola Bella in Cannes, dated 23rd February 1889. Writen on behalf of Grand Duke Friedrich Franz III of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (1851 – 1897), and his wife, Grand Duchess Anastasia Mikhailovna of Russia (1860-1922).

From the collection of Richard and Mary Winslow, English aristocrats who had the Villa Winslow in Cannes during the 1890s and were friends with aristocrats and royals from all over the world. Mary was a great beauty and had by family traditon once been a mistress of the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII.

Charles Bourgeois de Mercey built the villa in the neo-classical style comprising  of one central body and two wings in symmetry. He occupied it for some years, then rented it tout o different foreign personalities on holiday in Cannes. The villa had several successive owners until Baron van André acquired it in 1907. In 1957, the Villa Isola Bella is sadly replaced by an apartment building.

He was the penultimate Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, born in Schloss Ludwigslust the son of Friedrich Franz II, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, and his first wife Princess Augusta of Reuss-Köstritz.

From an early age Friedrich Franz suffered from asthma and severe breathing difficulties. He could not live in the north of Europe and lived instead on the shores of the Mediterranean, where the mild climate agreed with him. His homosexuality was an open secret.

Friedrich Franz's death in Cannes on 10 April 1897 is shrouded in mystery, as he was originally reported to have committed suicide by throwing himself off a parapet of a bridge. According to the official account of his death, however, he was in his garden when he experienced breathing difficulties and staggered around before falling over a low wall. He was succeeded by his son Friedrich Franz IV, who would be the last Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin.

Friedrich Franz married Grand Duchess Anastasia Mikhailovna of Russia in St Petersburg on 24 January 1879. The Grand Duchess never became used to her new country where she was unpopular and so they lived amongst other places at Villa Wenden in Cannes. Of neo classic style with a German touch, the building was constructed in 1889, and rises from a garden terrace sustained by a spectacular peripheral wall. She was a keen tennis player, with her own tennis court at the villa.The villa is remarkable and was the first residence in Cannes equipped with electricity and became the winter residence for the family. In 1914 the building was sequestrated and was later turned into luxury apartments and renamed Le Rouve.

Invitation Size: 20.5 x 15.5 cm approx

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