“Forget me now, Father,” I said. “Forget me, as if the monks had sent me away. But remember this, on account of you, I shall never be buried in the muddy graves of the Monastery. No, other things may befall me. But that, I won’t suffer. Because of you, that you wouldn’t have it, that you came that day and demanded I ride out with you, that I be your son.”
I turned to go. He shot forward, clasping the bottle by the neck in his left hand and clamping his powerful right hand over my wrist. He pulled me down to him, as if I were a mere mortal, with his old strength and he pressed his lips against my bowed head.
"Andrei, my angel child, my gifted and golden son!“
Watercolor painting in progress, April 19, 2017. This is painted on a sheet of Saint-Armand Dominion watercolor, 150 lb., handmade in Montreal. It is very bright white, 75 percent cotton and 25 percent linen, and has a very interesting surface texture, which can be seen here in raking light. My pigments handle a little differently on this paper, but I find it pleasing to work on.
Can you, Master? Can you understand how love and love alone could mean so very much, and all the world be made of it? The very blades of grass, the leaves of trees, the fingers of this hand that reaches for you? Love, Master. Love. And who will believe such simple and immense things when there are dexterous and labyrinthian creeds and philosophies of manmade and ever seductive complexity? Love. I heard the sound of it. I saw it. Were these the delusions of a feverish mind, a mind afraid of death?
Prince Vladimir Pavlovich Paley, morganatic son of Grand Duke Pavel, and one of the Romanovs to be murdered by the Bosheviks in 1918
The Tsarskoe trains had become few, we had to start by the train of three o'clock, although that which Vladimir was to take from Petrograd was not to leave until seven o'clock, we had, therefore, three and a half hours to spend in town. I went straight to Marianne who was living in a pretty little flat in the Morskaya, 59, in the house of my son Alexander. Vladimir went to say good-bye to his sister, the Grand Duchess Marie, Princess Pontiatine, who was expecting a child in three months’ time and who could not accompany him to the station. Then he came back to Marianne’s where some friends had met to take farewell of him. Alexandre Polovtseff and his wife, Princess Sophy Dolgorouky (who had since become Princess Wolkonsky), the Comte de Saint-Sauvuer, his brother officer, Maltzoff, M. Roumanoff, his publisher, etc. To accompany my son into exile I had got hold of a young Polish servant named Tscheslav Kronkovsky, who looked after him admirably and to whom Vladimir was to give the highest praise in his letters.
The hour of departure was drawing near. The young Pole went on with the luggage and heaps of all kinds of provisions which I entrusted to him for my boy. That good Armand de Saint-Sauveur took us all in his automobile to the Gare Nicholas, where we arrived at about half-past six. After countless difficulties and showing all kinds of permits we reached the platform. We found there, also ready to start, the Grand Duke Serge Michallovitch, Chief of the Artillery during the war, a man of remarkable intelligence. I had not seen him for more than a year, and I scarcely recognised him so greatly he had changed. The Princes John, Constantine, and Igor were also there as well as Princess John, daughter of King Peter of Serbia, a woman of brave and noble heart, who did not hesitate to. follow her husband into exile. Seeing my grief, she promised to look after my son, and in all his letters Vladimir spoke of her with admiration and enthusiasm. Since then the terrible trouble which wrecked her life and mine has brought us still closer together and I cherish and venerate her among the friends I love most tenderly.
The moment of the departure had come. Clasping my child to my heart, I covered him with tears and kisses. The fatal bell rang out, the engine whistled, the train began to move away slowly, and my adored son disappeared for ever… .
Sunk down in a corner of Saint-Sauveur’s automobile, I sobbed. All the others kept silence in the presence of my grief as a mother who felt that her child was lost to her. I went back to Tsarskoe by the last train, and my husband, who was anxiously awaiting my return, saw from my reddened and tear-swollen eyes what emotions I had gone through. He took me in his arms and the two of us wept for this son whom God had given us, this son who was our bond, our hope and the symbol of happiness and fidelity in love.
While staying at the asylum in Saint-Rémy six months after cutting off his ear, Vincent van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo, “If I throw myself fully into my work again, very good, but I shall always be cracked.”
We’re welcoming back two of our Van Gogh paintings that have been on loan for the past few months!
Vincent van Gogh, “Hospital at Saint-Rémy,” 1889. Oil on canvas. 36 5/16 x 28 7/8 in. (92.2 x 73.4 cm). The Armand Hammer Collection, Gift of the Armand Hammer Foundation. Hammer Museum, Los Angeles.