Nicholas II, Queen Victoria Items
Up for Auction at Christie's


Four albums from the Russian imperial family, with photos from 1896 to 1901, will be auctioned Friday in London

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British royal heirlooms, including a portrait painted by Queen Victoria and four personal photo albums of the Russian imperial family, go on sale at Christie’s in London on Friday and are expected to fetch about £1 million ($1.7 million).

The auction of roughly 200 lots is from the collection of Prince George, Duke of Kent and a son of King George V, and his wife, Princess Marina, the last foreign-born princess to marry into the British royal family. The auction is being offered by surviving members of their families.

The couple married in 1934, and eight years later Prince George was killed when his plane crashed into a mountain in Scotland while he was serving for the Royal Air Force. His wife found herself needing to raise funds, and in 1947 Christie’s held a three-day auction of the prince’s property that raised £92,300 and generated considerable public interest.

Of special interest are four photo albums of the Russian imperial family made by the mother of Princess Marina, Grand Duchess Helen Vladimirovna, a granddaughter of Tsar Alexander II. She married Prince Nichols of Greece and Denmark, and died in Greece in 1957.

The albums, with handwritten captions, contain more than 1,150 photographs taken from 1896 to 1901, including informal pictures of the last tsar, Nicholas II, playing tennis and hunting.

They are expected to fetch between £2,000 to £3,000 and £4,000 and £6,000.

Christie’s will be hoping that it can replicate the success of another royal auction in 2006, when its sale of works from the collection of Princess Margaret fetched £13.7 million.

“People like the mystique of the royal family,” said Edward Clive, director of Christie’s. “Provenance is clearly important, and you can’t get a better provenance than a royal family.”

Another highlight is a portrait by Queen Victoria of her daughter Princess Louise as a young girl, which she copied from a painting by Franz Xavier Winterhalter. The 1851 work is expected to sell for £10,000 to £15,000.

Also among personal items being offered is a chromium-plated picnic set belonging to King George V containing a thermos flask, sandwich box and two teacups among other pieces and which doubled as a footrest.

A large item in the collection, estimated at £30,000 to £50,000, is a silver Bentley Jackson Special race car, known as “Mother Gun,” which was given by the British Institute of Motor Industry to Prince Michael, a son of Prince George who was president of the institute from 1978 to 1998, as a retirement gift. Revenue from the lot will be donated to the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association, for which Prince Michael serves as president of council.

Moscow Times
18 November, 2009