The Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow presents an exhibition of watercolours of the Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna. An amateur landscape artist, a nurse of charity, and a trustee of charitable foundations, Olga began painting in early childhood devoting every free minute to her favorite pastime.
The exhibition covers works by the Grand Duchess from 1898 to 1952 during her stay in Russia, Denmark and Canada.
Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna (1882-1960) was the youngest child and daughter of Emperor Alexander III and Empress Maria Feodorovna, and younger sister of Emperor Nicholas II. Her childhood passed in the Imperial Palace in Gatchina, where she began to draw, studying with the best art teachers K.V. Lemokha, V.E. Makovsky, S.Yu. Zhukovsky and S.A. Vinogradova. Alexander III approved and supported his daughter’s passion for painting.
The early watercolours of Olga Alexandrovna reflect the life of the Romanovs in Gatchina and the Alexander Palace at Tsarskoye Selo – they depict scenes in the ceremonial halls and the imperial family’s private apartments. During the celebrations of Christmas and Easter, the Grand Duchess loved to draw children playing games or still life of a festive holiday table. Postcards with reproductions of her watercolours, produced in large numbers in pre-revolutionary times, are also represented at the exhibition.
In the early 1900s, Olga Alexandrovna organized an exhibition of young artists in the palace. The money made from the sale of paintings and watercolours went to charity. The Grand Duchess patronized the Imperial Society of Russian Watercolourists and the Society of Artists named after A.I. Kuindzhi. During the First World War, Olga Alexandrovna at her own expense opened the First Evgenyivsky Hospital, in which she worked as a sister of mercy. Even at the front, the Grand Duchess devoted her free time to her watercolours, often painting scenes in the hospital and portraits of officers.
Olga’s paintings of her two little sons Tikhon (1917-1993) and Guri (1919-1984) were depicted with special lyricism. Tikhon was born in Ai-Todor in Crimea on 25 August 1917. After leaving her mother the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna in Crimea, Olga Alexandrovna and her husband Nikolai Kulikovsky (1916-1958) and their first-born son Tikhon, fled to the Kuban village of Novominskaya, where her second son, Guri, was born on 23 April 1919. Later, the family travelled to Rostov-on-Don, and then through Constantinople and Serbia before finally reaching Denmark in 1920.
In Denmark, Olga Alexandrovna and her family, along with the widowed Empress Maria Feodorovna, lived in the Amalienborg Palace in Copenhagen. After the death of the Dowager Empress in October 1928, the family of the Grand Duchess purchased a farm in Knudsminde near Copenhagen. In 1948, the Soviet Union presented Denmark with a note of protest in connection with the fact that Olga Alexandrovna was helping Russian prisoners of war and refugees, forcing the Kulikovskys to move to Canada. The Grand Duchess bought a house and a small farm in Campbellville near Toronto. In Canada, she continued to paint and successfully sold her paintings, which served as a source of income for her family.
The Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna passed away on November 24, 1960. She was buried in York Cemetery in the area of North York in Toronto next to her husband Nikolai Kulikovsky.
This exhibition in the Tretyakov Gallery is held in parallel with the Romanovs. Family Chronicles Exhibition. Both projects are timed to the anniversary of the death of the Imperial family.
The Watercolours of Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna Exhibition runs from 14th September to 28th October 2018, in the New Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow.
Click on the following links to read more about Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna and her paintings:
Paintings by Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna (8th March 2018)
FOR SALE: Painting by HIH Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna (18th May 2013)
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 14 September 2018