pavlovsk palace

The silver wedding anniversary of Grand Duke Constantine Constantinovich and Grand Duchess Elisabeth Mavrikievna, with their family at Pavlovsk Palace. 1909.

Group includes: Grand Duke Constantine Constantinovich and Grand Duchess Elisabeth Mavrikievna with their children and her brother Ernst II, Duke of Saxe-Altenburg. Grand Duchess Elisabeth is sitting at the front of the group wearing a lace dress and a small tiara. Princess Vera Constantinovna is standing beside her to the left and Prince George Constantinovich is lying on a cushion to the right. Grand Duke Constantine is standing behind his wife to the right with Ernst II beside him to the left and Princess Tatiana Constantinovna to the right. Around them from left to right are Prince Igor Constantinovich, Prince Gabriel Constantinovich, Prince John Constantinovich, Prince Constantine Constantinovich and Prince Oleg Constantinovich. 

Prince Vladimir Paley, morganatic son of Grand Duke Pavel Alexandrovich

The religious and mystical play was given in 1913 at the Theatre de l'Ermitage at Petrograd, and it was performed there many times. The whole Imperial Family, the Court, the Embassies, the high functionaries were all invited in turn to see it. The spectacle was produced magnificently, and the piece was acted by amateurs of talent; but the centre of general attention was the author himself, that is to say, the Grand Duke Constantine, who performed the part of Joseph of Arimathoea with much sincerity and piety. This play made a deep impression on Vladimir, and having taken a copy of the text with him to the trenches, he translated it into French in well-rhymed and sonorous verse. M. Paleologue and the Comte de Chambrun read some fragments of his rendering while they were in Russia, and had nothing but praise for the young translator.

The Grand Duke Constantine, already afflicted by the malady which was to carry him off in June, 1915, on learning that Vladimir had translated his drama, invited the Grand Duke Paul and me and our son to come to Pavlovsk to his palace so that he might hear the translation. We found there his sister, the Queen Dowager of Greece; the Grand Duchess Constantine, his wife; the Princess Jean de Russie, their daughterin-law; some of their children; and M. Bailly-Comte, Professor of French at Petrograd. The latter frequently stayed with the Grand Duke Constantine at Pavlovsk.

Being something of a physiognomist, I noticed a certain look of apprehension on the face of the author of the play, but Vladimir had not read more than a few lines when’ I saw the Grand Duke Constantine exchange a glance of astonishment with M. Bailly-Comte, and as the reading continued I observed signs of growing emotion on his sympathetic countenance, ravaged by suffering. On that day Vladimir read the first two acts, and he was overwhelmed with compliments and congratulations. We had to promise to return some days later to finish the reading of the last two acts. My son concluded with a Russian poem addressed to the Grand Duke concerning his work. When he had read it I saw the latter bend his head. Then, showing us his dear face bathed in tears, he said:

“I have had one of the greatest emotions of. my life - I owe it to Bodia ” (a diminutive which the family used for Vladimir and which he had given to himself as a child). “I cannot say any more. I am dying. I pass on to him my lyre. I bequeath to him my talent as a poet, as though he were my son. Then, turning towards M. Bailly-Comte: "I had asked you to find in France a translator for my poem. Be so good, if you please, as to send a telegram to Paris to make it known that I do not wish there to be any other translation. It is impossible to do better.”

Princess Olga Paley: Memories of Russia

Stormy Sea at Night, 1849, Pavlovsk Palace, Saint Petersburg


Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky (Russian: Ива́н Константи́нович Айвазо́вский; 29 July 1817 – 2 May 1900) was a Russian Romantic painter. He is considered one of the greatest marine artists in history.[3] Baptized as Hovhannes Aivazian, Aivazovsky was born into an Armenian family in the Black Sea port of Feodosia in Crimea and was mostly based there.