Anna Vyrubova Watercolour Donated
to the Alexander Palace

The watercolour of a romantic Finnish landscape, dedicated to Tsarina Alexandra, was hand painted by Vyrubova (right) in 1957

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Source: Государственный музей-заповедник Царское Cело. Language: Russian. Duration: 2 minutes, 27 seconds.

On May 17, 2012, our museum received a watercolor by Anna Vyrubova, lady-in-waiting to Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna, as a personal gift from Ms Amy Ballard of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.

Anna Vyrubova, née Taneyeva (1884–1964), was the Tsarina’s best friend and confidante. She suffered several imprisonments in 1917, and narrowly avoided execution by the Bolsheviks before she finally escaped to Finland in 1920 where she became a nun and lived until her death.

The nameless, 21.6 х27.9 cm watercolour of a romantic Finnish landscape, dedicated to Tsarina Alexandra, was hand painted by Vyrubova in 1957 for her friend Fru Gabriella Gadilius in Stockholm, Sweden. In 1957, Fru Gadilius presented it to Samuel E. Belk III, who served as a U.S. Army infantry captain during World War II and then as a CIA expert on Soviet external policy toward the Middle East and Africa and a senior officer in the State Department. After Mr Belk’s death in 2007, the watercolour was put up for sale as a ‘not-so-valuable’ item, which Amy Ballard was lucky to acquire.

Olga Vladislavovna Taratynova, the Director of the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Preserve with Ms Amy Ballard.

A longtime and passionate lover of Russian art and culture, Ms Ballard dreamed of a restored splendour of the Alexander Palace since she first saw it in the 1970s, admiring the then unattainable former tsar’s residence from the other side of the closed palace gate. Wishing to will Vyrobova’s work to Tsarskoye Selo, she was so happy to see the progressing restoration of the palace a few years ago that she made the decision to hand the watercolour over to the museum herself – as a sign of her deep and sincere gratitude to those who are bringing the home of the last Russian tsar’s family back to life.

The handover turned into a celebration in the royal grandeur of the Suite of State Rooms at the Alexander Palace which now gratefully embraces every single bit of its historical revival. Besides the watercolour, Amy Ballard also presented the last historical book by Ronald C. Moe, a renowned American political scientist, whose widow personally asked Ms Ballard to pass the book to the museum library.

The donated piece will grace the Tsarskoye Selo collection of watercolours which already counts several works by the persons that served at the court of Emperor Nicholas II, including physician Vladimir Derevenko who treated Nicholas’s son, Tsarevich Alexei.

Source & Copyright: Государственный музей-заповедник Царское Cело.
18 May, 2012