Wor[dWar I Sketchbook of the Czar's Sister
About this book I had the privilege of meeting Grand Duchess Olga on various occasions when, as a teenager, I visited my Godfather Tihon Kulikovsky, Olga's eldest son. Tihon lived in Mississauga, a suburb of Toronto near her modest home in Cooksville, Ontario. I recall sifting in her living room that was dominated by a portrait of her father, Czar Alexander III, hanging over the fireplace mantle, watching her paint flowers and landscapes at Barrymede, the estate of James Rattray, a Canadian mining millionaire and patron of Olga's, and at the summer home of her Russian emigre friends on Lake Semcoe. She was always warm, modest and sympathetic. I heard Olga and Tihon talking about their lives, friends and her artwork but I didn't fully understand the fascinating story of her tumultuous life because of my youth. Her son Tihon and I exchanged scores of letters over the years and he helped me to understand much about the challenging life of his family before he died in 1993. I began collecting the appealing and charming artwork of Olga several years ago from members of her family, at a wonderful Russian antique shop in London and primarily at auction in Copenhagen (she lived and painted in Denmark from 1920 until 1948). I enjoyed her idyllic depictions of tea services with samovars, flowers and landscapes. I loaned a few of her paintings to a special Olga exhibition at the residence of the Russian Ambassador (the former Pullman mansion) in Washington, DC. In 2006 I had the privilege of participating in the state reburial of Olga's mother, Empress Marie Feodorovna (Dagmar), in St. Petersburg, Russia as a guest of Prince Andrew Andreevich Romanov, grandson of Olga's sister Grand Duchess Xenia. I was able to acquire Olga's beautiful and historic World War I sketchbook (1914-1916) at a special Olga sale at the Bruun Rasmussen Auction House in Copenhagen, Denmark in December, 2007. These sensitive portrayals of her life during the war have never before been seen by the public.
About the author Arthur J. Collingsworth is a retired United Nations official and international consultant with a keen interest in Imperial Russia and Finland. He earned his BA at the University of Michigan and his MA at Georgetown University. He served as a Presidential appointee on the National Security Education Board and has been awarded the Government of Finland's two highest decorations. He conceptualized the Millennium Technology Prize, the world's largest prize in this area, and has lectured on the Romanov family for over ten years for the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Arthur and his partner of thirty-two years split their time between San Diego, California and Prague, Czech Republic. Produced by Robert F. Taylor
Olga's Sketchbook The World War I Sketchbook of Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna (dated 1914-1916) consists of twenty-six watercolors and three pencil sketches. The themes are soldiers in uniform, soldiers in sickbeds, nurses, interiors, soldiers' graves with flowers and landscapes. Each sheet measures 33 x 19 cm. Grand Duchess Olga spent the first months of World War I in Rovno (Ukraine) where she was a volunteer nurse at a small hospital near the everchanging frontier between the Russian and Austro-Hungarian Empires. During free hours she made sketches. Her sketchbook is perhaps her best depiction of facial features with its sensitive portrayal of emotions (e.g. homesickness, sadness, uncertainty) of the soldier patients. She continued to sketch during the war in the Red Cross hospitals in Lvov, Proskurov and Kiev. The sketchbook was inherited by Olga's second son Guri and subsequently acquired from his second wife and widow. The sketchbook is in the collection of Arthur J. Collingsworth, Godson of Tihon Kulikovsky, eldest son of the Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna.