Miniatures of Nicholas II returned to Russia

PHOTO: Miniatures of Emperor Nicholas II 
Artist: Alexander Wegner

NOTE: this article was originally published on 19th August 2019, it has been updated with additional detail and photos – PG

In August 2019, the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Reserve acquired a collection of five miniatures that once adorned the brooches and pendants of the Empress Maria Feodorovna, wife of Emperor Alexander III, and mother of Emperor Nicholas II.

These unique items, had been kept in a private London collection shortly after the 1917 Revolution. The acquisition of these items was made possible thanks to financial support from the TransSoyuz Charitable Foundation.

In addition to miniatures depicting Emperor Alexander III [Nicholas II’s father] and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna [Nicholas II’s wife], are three miniatures of Emperor Nicholas II (in childhood, adolescence and adulthood), seen below:

PHOTO: Miniature of Tsesarevich Alexandrovich in childhood
Artist: Alexander Wegner

PHOTO: Miniature of Tsesarevich Alexandrovich in adolescence
Artist: Alexander Wegner

PHOTO: Miniature of Emperor Nicholas II in adulthood
Artist: Alexander Wegner

After the revolution, in 1919, Maria Feodorovna managed to take some of her jewellery, including these miniatures, with her when she left Russia and went into exile.

Following the death of the Dowager Empress in 1928, her daughter, Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna, inherited her mother’s jewellery. She sold part of them to the English company RG Hennel & Sons, as evidenced by an inventory dated 29th May 1929.

The miniatures were made by the Academician of the Imperial Academy of Arts Alexander Wegner. The smallest of them has a size of only 8 × 6 mm.

The miniatures are part of the Romanov family archive, most of which (over 200 items) the Museum purchased with sponsored funds in 2017. The miniatures are currently on display in the Alexander Palace, and are now part of the Collection of the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum.

© Paul Gilbert. 9 October 2021