The three eldest son of Emperor Alexander II and Empress Maria Alexandrovna : Tsesarevich Nicholas Alexandrovich who would die at 21, Grand Duke Alexander Alexandrovich later Emperor Alexander III and Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich.
Kokoshnik of Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia, also known as the Grand Duchess Vladimir as the wife of the third son of Alexander II of Russia, Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich of Russia. The sapphire & diamond kokoshnik is set with a cushion shaped sapphire of 137.20 carats flanked by six cabochon sapphires weighing 102.16 carats on circular-cut diamond mount. Commissioned by Miechen from Cartier in 1909. The sapphires could be removed from the tiara & worn as individual brooches.
“The air,” recalled Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich, “was heavy with incense, the Cathedral resplendent with the flash of golden vestments and the sparkling of precious stones.”
Metropolitan Palladi approached the emperor, bowed, and invited him to make his confession. Nicholas stood and confessed, after which he received absolution and recited the Nicene Creed. Assisted by his uncles Vladimir, Serge, and Paul Alexandrovich and his brother Michael Alexandrovich, Nicholas removed the small collar of the Order of St. Andrei from around his neck. The three metropolitans stepped forward, followed by general-adjutants holding the cushions on which rested the Imperial Regalia. They placed the Imperial Mantle of cloth-of-gold, lined and edged with ermine and embroidred with double-headed eagles, around Nicholas’s shoulders, fastening its diamond claspsover his collar and draping the Dimaond Chain of the Order of St. Andrei round his neck.
Nicholas then knelt before Metropolitan Palladi, who prayed for his health and for divine inspiration. His face, recalled Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich, “had an expression of piety and supplication; his whole countenance emanated majesty.”
Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna “the Elder” of Russia
A prominent hostess in St. Petersburg following her marriage to the Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich of Russia, she was known as the grandest of the grand duchesses and had an open rivalry with the Empress Maria Feodorovna. Marie had been engaged to someone else, but broke it off as soon as she
met Vladimir. It took three more years before they were permitted to
marry as she had been raised a Lutheran and refused to convert to the Russian Orthodox Church.
Maria remained Lutheran throughout most of her marriage, but converted
to Orthodoxy later in her marriage, some said to give her eldest son Grand Duke Cyril a
better chance at the throne.
In Russia, she lived at the Vladimir Palace situated on the Palace Embankment on the Neva River. Socially ambitious, Marie was personally at odds with Tsar Nicholas II and his wife Empress Alexandra Feodorovna.
It was widely speculated that along with her sons, she contemplated a
coup against the Tsar in the winter of 1916–17, that would force the
Tsar’s abdication and replacement by his son Tsesarevich Alexei, and her son, Cyril or Nicholas Nikolaevich, as regent. There is no documented evidence to support this, though she famously told the Duma president Mikhail Rodzianko that the Empress must be “annihilated”.
Tiara with diamond fountains, made in 1899, by Chaumet. Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna often travelled to Paris, was the earnest fan of Chaumet’s magical creations, and was his client till 1914. Total weight of diamonds in this fabulous piece of jewelry art is more than 75 carats. Presumably, this tiara was presented by Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich to his wife, Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna, on the occasion of their silver wedding anniversary.
Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna, wife of Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich, was a strong and highly ambitious woman. Not blessed with great beauty, she was nontheless armed with winning charm, impeccable social skills and cunning wit. During the reign of her nephew Tsar Nicholas II, she gained much influence and dominated St. Petersburg society due to her untiring efforts to entertain and gather every important person into her own social circle. Straightforward with her ambitions on behalf of her sons, she ultimately went as far as openly criticizing the Imperial couple and propagating their removal from power, until one of her guests had to say he would pretend, for her sake, he had heard nothing of the sort.
Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia, wife of Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich. When she first arrived in Russia, one of the American visitors to the city, Thomas W. Knox, summed up his views on this new addition to the Imperial family:
“Vladimir´s bride is good-looking, solid, well-formed, with plump and finely rounded shoulders; a neck neither long nor short; regularly formed features, with the exception of the nose, which has a slight tendency to pugginess … With her evening toilet, a coronet of diamonds, and a string of diamonds around her neck in which each stone appears as large as a walnut, she is prettier than when I saw her two weeks before at the frontier, where she arrived in a plain traveling dress of brown hollands. Say what you will, a princess appears more like a princess when dressed like ona than when attired like an English governess or a New York shop-girl. As I saw Vladimir´s bride at the frontier I don´t think many men would propose to her, but as she looks to-night at the opera she would not want for offers.”
By nature Nicholas was a gentle man, with a weak character, who frequently changed his decisions or ukases; he was an “irreprochable family man” who preferred the intimacy of family life and the company of his wife and children to affairs of state. He clearly regarded as burdensome his duties as a monarch. Moreover, many who knew him remarked that he was a fatalist and “submissive to fate in mystical fashion”. One of the most influential women at the court, the Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna, wife of his uncle Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich, said about Nicholas, “He is a fatalist. He is weak … Instead of taking some form of action when things go wrong, he persuades himself that God has willed it so, and he then proceeds to surrender to God´s will!”
A more graphic but rather harsh description was that of the malicious publisher, Alexei Suvorin: “Alexander III tamed a Russian mare. Nicholas II has harnessed an old nag. He moves, that´s for sure, but where? Where chance takes him!”
Galina Korneva in Nicholas and Alexandra: The Last Tsar and Tsarina
Queen Olga of the Hellenes nee Grand Duchess, Tsesarevich Nicholas later Nicholas II, Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich,
Duke Alexander Petrovich of Oldenburg, Empress Maria Feodorovna, Emperor Alexander III, Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich and Grand Duke Andrei Vladimirovich, 1892.
The portrait of Grand Duke Vladimir on the hunting
Vladimir Alexandrovich was the third son of Alexander II and the younger brother of Alexander III. He was patron of arts, supported many painters and gathered significant collection of paintings and old icons. For instance, he purchased Repin's Barge Haulers on the Volga or Burlaki.
Also he was found of theatre and financed Diaghilev’s tour Ballet Russes.
He built last imperial palace in Saint Petersburg - Vladimir Palace, decorated in eclectic historic styles.
Nevertheless he was one of the most influential reactionary of his time, together with Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich. With his younger brother he convinced Nicholas II to visit the ball of French ambassador after the Khodynka tragedy. Also being Military Governor of St Petersburg he was responsible for shooting peace demonstration of workers known as Bloody Sunday.
A rare Fabergé mother-of-pearl cigarette case with two color gold mounts, workmaster Michael Perchin, St.Petersburg circa 1890 in rococo taste, the lid applied with gold cipher WA for Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich, the whole overlaid with gold scrolls and flowers, the ends with trellis pattern, silver-gilt interior, struck with workmaster’s initials and Fabergé in Cyrillic.