ANDREI VLADIMIROVICH OF RUSSIA, GRAND DUKE (1879-1956) - AUTOGRAPH
Guestbook of the villa "Alam" in Cap d'Ail on the French Riviera. Bound in red leather, decorated with gold, spine with nerves, "Villa Alam" decorated on the back. Pages are numbered in pencil up to page 133 and contain text, thereafter the pages are blank. In-8, B.E. (slight traces of rubbing on the binding). Accompanied by its original wood and dark red leather case. As is (leather is missing from the back of the case, soiling). 29 x 6 x 21,5 cm.
Numerous autograph notes of the family's guests who came to the villa on different evenings between 27 February/12 March 1914 and 20 January 1929. An interruption of the notes from 2/15 May 1914 and to 12/25 March 1920 when the family was stuck in Russia because of the Russian Revolution. Grand Duke Andrei Vladimirovich will write in this book on March 12/25, 1920: "Return home, after a long absence, to the Villa Alam. Andrei, Malitchka, Vova".
After several holidays on the French Riviera, in 1913/1914 the famous ballerina Mathilde Kshessinska returned to Cap d'Ail where she bought a villa that she called "Alam" (anacyclic of her family nickname "Mala"). Together with her lover Grand Duke Andrei Vladimirovich of Russia, the ballerina spent her holidays in Cap d'Ail in 1914. The notes of the guests in the book stop in 1914 and resume only in 1920 when Grand Duke Andrei, Matilda and their son Vladimir decide to leave Russia and settle in France. In her memoirs, Mathilde will write: "Then, on Thursday, March 12, 1920, I returned to my dear villa "Alam". A new life began for me, the life of an emigrant. "In 1921, Andrei Vladimirovich will finally be able to marry Matilda and will spend the rest of his life with her. Until 1929, the villa remained the family's main residence in France. In 1921, they had to sell the villa to pay off their numerous debts and moved to Paris where Kshessinska opened a ballet school.
During these eight years, the villa "Alam" became the real home of the emigrating family. Numerous celebrations were organized there (New Year's Eve, Easter, birthdays) welcoming the greatest families of the Russian nobility in exile. Among them were the counts Dolgorukoff, Obolenski, Wolkonski, Tolstoy, Shuvaloff, Sheremetieff, Narishkin. Grand Duke Dmitry Pavlovich of Russia and Grand Duchess Anastasia Mecklenburg-Scwerin, the granddaughter of Nicholas I, often left their autographs among the guests of the villa. Writers such as Nikolai Obolensky or Aleksander Kazem-Bek, the sculptor Paolo Troubetskoy, Eugene Fabergé (the eldest son of the famous master goldsmith), and the painter Count Sergei Sherbatov also signed the guest book. For Easter 1926, the family welcomed their Russian ballet star friends Serge Lifar, Boris Kohno and Tamara Karsavina. Another ballet legend - Anna Pavlova (strongly supported by Mathilde since the beginning of her career) or the ballerina Vera Nemtchinova with her husband the dancer Nicolas Zverev often came for a coffee. The French librettist Henri Cain will leave a poem in the book to thank Mathilde for her welcome.
The guestbook presented at the auction is a precious testimony of Matilda Kshessinska's life in emigration, revealing her closest circle of friends and her importance in the life of Russia in exile.
Matilda Kshessinska and Grand Duke Andrei of Russia
Mathilde Kshessinska - star dancer of the Imperial Theatres of St. Petersburg from 1890 to 1917 (she obtained the status of star dancer in 1896).
After her final performance at the School of Dance, Matilda met Tsarevich Nicholas Alexandrovich (the future Emperor Nicholas II). Alexander III invited her to their table, saying, "Be the glory of our ballet. "That evening, the young tsarevich fell in love with the beautiful dancer. From that day on, Nicholas Alexandrovich did not miss any of Kshessinska's performances, he offered her a private hotel in St. Petersburg and remained in contact with the ballerina until the death of Alexander III. Later, Matilda will tell in her memoirs how the tsarevich danced parts of the ballet "Little Red Riding Hood" in the salon of her new home.
The romance ended with the death of Alexander III when Nicholas Alexandrovich had to take over the reign and announced his marriage to Alix of Hessen-Darmstadt (later Alexandra Feodorovna). Despite the break-up, they were able to maintain good relations and Matilda danced in the performances accompanying the coronation of Nicholas II.
Soon after, the ballerina became the mistress of Nicholas I's grandson - Grand Duke Sergei Mikhailovich. The great general never hid his love for Matilda and lived for more than a decade with her.