Artworks by Princess Marina Petrovna Romanoff

by Chris Devonshire-Ellis

August 25th, 2016

rom3I have just acquired at auction a hand drawn book of Russian Skazki (Fairy) tales by the Russian Princess Marina, a gifted artist. She wrote the book, in the French, and the drew the paintings in 1926, nine years after the assassination of the Tsar, her Great Grandfather.

She had escaped the purges of the Bolshevik Revolution by leaving Crimea on the British Battleship Marlborough, which managed to rescue the remnants of the Russian Royal Family not already murdered, in 1919. That escape is well described in the book “The Russian Court at Sea”.  with the voyage taking in Istanbul, then Malta before the Royal passengers were able to make their way to safety. Some ended up in Canada, Princess Marina, who had been born in Nice, made for France.

Her artistic development and childhood was spent mainly at the Znamenka Palace, which is now an hotel near Peterhof, in St.Petersburg, and attended art schools in both Yalta and St.Petersburg.


mar1The timing of this set of drawings is interesting, yet ultimately tragic, as in 1926 she was engaged to be married to Prince Alexander Golitsyn. The paintings display a love of tales, she would have been dreaming of having a family and reading her children stories. I have no doubt she would have been a fantastic Mother. However, it was not to be. In the rush to recreate a Russian Imperial Dynasty from the ashes of the Revolution, the Powers that be hadn’t done their homework properly. Princess Marina married Prince Golitsyn in 1927, however the marriage was never consummated. Golitsyn was homosexual.

This tendency for marriages to be arranged between the upper classes, and especially royalty during both the Imperial era and afterwards became a huge problem. Homosexuality was illegal, and it was unthinkable to senior royals born in the early 1800’s that their children and grandchildren would do anything but their duty between the sheets. Alas, Regal Bloodline pressure and sexual tendencies ruined a large number of marriages that should never have taken place had the truth been known.

Princess Marina was however very close to her Nephews and Nieces, and lived to a ripe old age, eventually passing away, aged 89, in France. It is an interesting, if sad footnote that the terrible things that fell upon the Romanoffs in the early part of the 20th century continued well beyond the assassinations at Ekerterinburg. Nonetheless, the stories written and paintings she made for this home made album remain charming. I’m sure she was a much-loved Lady.