Tatiana and Olga 2010

Tatiana and Olga  2010

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tatiana Nikolaevna Romanova 2010

My portrait of Tatiana Nikolaevna is finished and so I have completed the OTMA 1914 series begun in May with Marie

Tatiana Nikolaevna Romanova is considered by many as one of history's great beauties . She was unusually looking , some say exotic. In the reference photo I choose for my painting , Tatiana's head is tiled at an angle which can alter the appears of a face's features. All this adds up to quite a challenge for an artist and she did give me a hard time at the start . But the only remedy is to keep painting and paint one's way out of trouble . It took awhile, but I got back on track...

As an artist painting Tatiana is made difficult not just for the challenges
I mentioned, but also because no one agrees on her description!

Buxhoeveden: - dark hair, light brown eyes
Dehn: - "dark chestnut" hair, "deep blue" eyes
Gilliard: - "auburn" hair
Vyrubova:- "rich brown" hair, eyes "so darkly grey" that they appeared "quite black" in the evening

Brown, blue, grey,...and I have even read they were amber! Generally I paint her eye dark in shadow and a light grey in sunlight

If one wants to paint from a photo, would say look at the photo almost more than your art work! Paint what the photo tells you to and it will make sense down the road. I have found that out more than once . Also look at features and shadows as shapes at first...and as you paint, you can begin to check if things are correct by lining them up with other features. Take a ruler to the photo and draw straight line from one point to another ... Does your art work correspond correctly with the photo ? I have found this of great help.

But even though I strictly adhere to the reference photo, I don't feel artistically limited.
A painting of a photograph is not a photo...the brush strokes ensure that. Really it feels like an expansion of the image and moment...turning still picture into film

Portraiture is a dance of exactness and magic . There are moments when one is painting and it's going well when it appears the subject is truly before you. When the brain is not sure for a long enough moment to create the sense of truly seeing them . These are golden moments in art and are magic.

Art truly is magic. There is no logical reason a group of daps or paint strokes should create the sense of seeing someone. But they can . Sometimes we see simply paint on canvas and are unmoved...other times, the picture strikes us forcibly and we "see" the subject

Painting is a fascinating mystery even as one does it...maybe especially then

Tatiana Nikolaevna Romanova was the second eldest daughter of the last Russian Tsar and known in the family as "The Governess" . Anastasia calls her so in a letter to their father and she is complaining of Titania's "bossiness" ! Tatiana liked lists, exactness, and things going as smoothly as possible.

Here is a charming example of Tatiana in action in a letter written by her sister Marie to their father, the Tsar

4 January 1916
My Golden Papa!

I am writing to you in the morning. Anastasia is sitting on the divan near the heater drawing something. We changed our rooms about completely - the beds are in the same place, but the screens are shifted to a different place, I can't explain it so clearly in writing how it all is - you'll see it yourself when you come home, which will be, I hope, very soon.

This morning we were at the Big Palace's hospital at 9 o'clock - we hadn't been there in an awfully long time. Yesterday we went to the Kokorevsky Hospital- three of your Yerevanians are being treated there.

In the evening , the day before yesterday, we laughed and laughed. Old aunt Olga rang our Olga, that one of the soldiers from her combined regiment had asked her to come and visit her wounded from that regiment. So then, Olga goes to ring the duty room where Kulyukin was on duty, and a duty guard answers and asks, "Who is on the phone?" She answers, "Olga Nikolaevna." "Which Olga Nikolaevna?" "You don't know Olga Nikolaevna? The one who lives above you?" "No idea what you are on about." "Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna - have you got it?!" and then she began laughing nervously when he got all offended and said, "Madame, this is an official telephone line and prank calls are not allowed!" and hung up. Olga stormed out. Within five minutes in comes Tatiana, she rings, the guard knows her, and she explained everything. Yesterday Kulyukin came to the Liturgy and asked Olga's forgiveness of Resin, as he didn't expect her to ring and thought someone was having a joke.

Since Mama's lying down in bed, we're having breakfast and dinner on our own.
Well, bye then. I have to go to breakfast now. I give you a great big hug with love,

Your Kazanets

Marie's sign off, "your Kazanets" means "your Kazan regiment member/officer" and is a reference to Marie's status as honorary commander of the 5th Kazansky Dragoons.

Of course Taiana Nikolaevna knew the guard!

" The Governess" indeed!

With the coming of war, the Empress and her two eldest daughters studied and passed tests to become Red Cross nurses. Tatiana had a quite talent for the this vocation. Here we see her love of exactness and order being given great scope. She also greatly enjoyed meeting new people, many she would never would have known but for her hospital work

The war years were very busy for the Grand Duchesses. Tatiana and Olga headed relief committees and fulfilled their usual royal duties as well spending many houses at the hospital ...and they were was no figure heads for their committees . Tatiana's committee was for refugees . Young as she was, she attended meetings and over its saw operations.

Tatiana wrote:

I am at the head of a committee for refugees and have presided two sittings. I felt very grand but wanted to dive under the table from fright as I have got a very stiff and pompous gentleman who is under me

It's to be remembered Taitana was 17 when the war broke out and the girls were not used to be addressed by their full titles . I imagine the gentleman addressed Tatiana as " Your Imperial Highness" many times over the course of a meeting!

After the Revolution, increasingly Tatiana because the point person between the family and their captors. Before the Revolution she was the one the others turned to to ask Alexandra for favors and she then segwayed right into the position of being the one to ask their jailers for concessions... On the last day of their lives, she was the one who asked why was the kitchen boy sent away.

Her tutor Gillard on Tatiana's character :

"Tatiana Nicolaievna was rather reserved, essentially well-balanced, and had a will of her own, though she was less frank and spontaneous than her elder sister. She was not so gifted, either, but this inferiority was compensated by more perseverance and balance. She was very pretty, though she had not quite Olga Nicolaievna's charm.

If the Tsarina made any difference between her children, Tatiana Nicolaievna was her favorite. It was not that her sisters loved their mother any less, but Tatiana knew how to surround her with unwearying attentions and never gave way to her own capricious impulses. Through her good looks and her art of self-assertion she put her sister in the shade in public, as the latter, thoughtless about herself, seemed to take a back seat. Yet the two sisters were passionately devoted to each other. There was only eighteen months between them, and that in itself was a bond of union."

Indeed. Tatiana and Olga, the eldest, were called "The Big Pair." They were some what opposite in their approach to life. But as Gillard mentions were devoted to each other, drew on each other's strengths for support and indeed met their deaths in each others arms. The two youngest sisters, Marie and Anastasia , known as "The Small Pair" , depended on each other as well. Anastasia wrote her sister Marie a touching letter when the family was separated in 1918 and stated "when the sisters sit together in the evening , you are missed. "

But Here is a delightful annotate from Tatiana's younger years

........The girls were very fond of the people who took care of them, one of them being naturally their nurse Margaret Eagar. One day Tatiana was being made ready to go out and Miss Eagar went to get her coat. But when she returned, she saw the other nurse shaking the girl " How dare you shake Tatiana?" Eagar exclaimed. "You are paid to take care of her, not to correct her!" The child turned her eyes to Eagar and asked, obviously surprised: "She is paid?" "Yes," replied the governess. " She is paid and I, also, am paid."

Hearing that, little Tatiana put her head on her nurses shoulder and wept bitterly. Miss Eagar was flummoxed. "You have seen me get my money every month," she tried to figure out what was actually wrong. But Grand Duchess Tatiana stated: "I always thought it was a gift to you!" A long explanation followed where Tatiana was told it was necessary the governess was paid, as she had no money of her own and her way of earning her living and money was to look after the children.

The next morning Miss Eagar awoke and Tatiana was standing by her bed. "May I get into your bed?" the child pleaded. And as she cuddled down in the arms of the governess she exclaimed: "Anyway, you don't get paid for this."
LOL! How true!


This is a telling anecdote from so much later told by Lili Dehn in her book "The Real Tsaritsa" :This was the when Lili Dehn was ordered to leave the family while she was staying with them at Alexander Palace in 1917.

"Zanoty had packed my suitcase, and the Empress now sent her to fetch a sacred medal, which she hung round my neck, blessing me as she did so. At the last moment, Tatiana ran out of the room, and returned with a little leather case containing portraits of the Emperor and Empress which had stood on her special table ever since she was a tiny child.

"Lili," she cried, "if Kerensky is going to take you away from us, you shall at least have Papa and Mama to console you". We walked slowly towards the head of the great staircase…the moment for saying farewell had arrived…I tried to be brave… the silence was unbroken save by Tatiana’s stifled sobbing. Olga and the Empress were quite calm, but Tatiana, who has been described by most contemporary historians as proud and reserved, made no secret of her grief."
Sometimes those famous for their reserve show us their manner stems not from a lack of feeling...but from an abundance.

Tatiana Nikolaevna cared deeply about how things went for her family and her county. I sometimes think she was the most sensitive of the Tsar children .

 and now some letters by Tatiana Nikolaevna in captivity
From Tatiana Nikolaevna to ZS Tolstoya

Tsarskoe Selo, 23 June 1917

Dearest ZS,

I am terrible ashamed that I still have not thanked you for your letter on the 29th of May and the lovely embroidered bags. I took the bluish one with multicolored flowers, Olga-blue with yellow roses, Anastasia- pink, and Maria- all yellow. They are very useful and those always remind us of you. Mom always takes her bag to the garden with a book or something else.

The weather here is warm all the time, then comes heavy rain and it became much lighter. But, we need the rain more as it’s very dry around us. How are you all? Does your husband read aloud to you while you work? In the evenings after we have our dinner, we all work too while Papa reads to us. We are now finishing the sixth volume of the book "Le Comte de Monte Cristo" by Alexandre Dumas. Do you know it? It is extremely interesting. Earlier, we have read about different detectives which are also interesting.

Well, goodbye, dear ZS. I will wait for your letters. I strongly kiss you and also Dalechka. Greetings to your husband and Sergei. Remove the sticker and send me your card. I will be very glad to have it.


Tobolsk, home of the Governor, on October 2, 1917,

addressed to Zénaïde Sergïévna Tolstoy

My dear and kind Zénaïda Sergïévna, I am so ashamed of you just write today to thank you wholeheartedly for your nice letter of 30 VIII and I have already received here. Thank you very much Dalitchka [nickname Nathalie Petrovna Tolstoy] and I write him another time. We often think you and hope you are in good health. Basically, in general, we have setlled. The house was not large but comfortable [it is the governor's house to Tobolsk, where was the imperial family prisoner in August 1917 in the spring of 1918]. There is a balcony where we sit often. The weather here is almost every day magnificent. It is very hot, but the leaves fall hard. Behind the kitchen is a small garden with a vegetable garden in the middle. You can visit without any exaggeration, in three minutes. After we closed a portion of the order in front of the house, where we walk, that is backwards and forwards -120 not long. Here, the streets are covered by wooden boards. In many places there are big holes, but everyone runs well. Our windows overlook the street. Watching passers is about our only distraction. We went three times to the church-it was such a great consolation and joy! On Saturdays and other times, we had the typical and vigils here in a room. Of course, it's good, but can not replace a church. There are already a half years that we are no longer went to a true church, because Tsarskoïé Selo we had a church on rounds.

From our windows we have a splendid view over the mountain, the high city and the cathedral. Too bad we can not see the river. Time passes quickly in a monotone. We work, read, play the piano, interspersed with walks and lessons. That's it. How are you, and you spend your time? This winter resterez-vous locally or partirez-vous to Tsarskoïé? I heard that the husband OK Lives in S., not far from home. I do not know if it is there, and I do not know his address. I would be grateful if you hold me to procuriez. If you see Moussia, please tell him that I thank him for his letter and I kiss him. Write directly to my address here or on behalf of the Commissioner Pankratov [Vassily Séménovitch Pakratov responsible for the supervision of captives], through which all correspondence. So, goodbye, my dear and kind Zénaïda Sergïévna. I often think of you. Your bags are with us. I embrace you very much, and Dalia. Greetings to your husband and Seriocha [nickname Serge Tolstoy]. When a finger touches the small leaf, it smells good. I think that is it named geranium


This next letter is to V.I. Chebotareva , a young married woman and fellow nurse who befriended the Grand Duchesses, particularly Tatiana, during the war.

Tatiana Nikolaevna to V. I Chebotareva- 9 December 1917

We’re like living in a faraway place and that we get to another world. Many stupid rumors are written in the newspapers that you probably read but all of them are untrue. We even have a newspaper clipping which said of my escape to America!
I hope that you will not believe it. I wonder who made these silly inventions…


 In this next letter Tatiana speaks of the theatrical plays the family put on while in Tobolsk. It's amazing to think Nicholas and Olga acted in Chekhov's play "The Bear" but they did. It's a very funny play and it's made even funnier when one thinks of them speaking its words to each other....that is but one play of the number of plays the group put on . Pyotr Petrov had been her teacher since childhood


Tatiana Nikolaevna to Pyotr Petrov, 26 January 1918

Hello, sweet Pyotr Vasilievich,

Thank you very much for your two letters. I was verytouched that you wrote so much. We are in complete health, thank God, live quietly as before, and strangely enough, so far none among us has fought with anyone else. In the morning we have lessons for two hours, from 9 to 11, walk for an hour, and study for another hour. After lunch we walk again-- usually until 4, and if it's really good weather, then for

Before tea, we work or occupy ourselves for a while with something. After tea and before supper there are often rehearsals of some play. We have already put on three. All the same, we're still practicing another little diversion, and it's good for conversation.

A small [snow and ice] hill has been built in our yard. When we get bored with walking back and forth, then we slide down it, and often we take very funny falls. Once Zhilik ( Gilliard ) ended up sitting on my head. I begged him to get up, but he couldn't because he had sprained his ankle and it hurt. Somehow I crawled out.

It was terribly silly and funny, but he still had to lie down for a few days because of his ankle. Another time I was going down the hill backwards and banged the back of my head really hard against the ice. I thought nothing would be left of the hill, but it turned out that neither I nor my head burst, and my head didn't even hurt. I've got a hard head, don't I? Eh?

We also had very cold weather with a particularlystrong wind-- it sliced terribly at my face. It was very cold in the rooms. In the hall it was 5 30/4degrees [42 degrees Farenheit]. Not far from Mr. Conrad's. Please console him at least a little bit.Does he get letters from his wife? How can it be that you still haven't gone to the show in the Chinese theater? Oh! What famous things you are missing!

Did Yury Petrovich get my postcard? All the best. We
send greetings to his sister, too.

Be well. We send everyone heartfelt regards.



To Princess Nadezhda Orlova née Petrovna (daughter of Pyotr Petrov, tutor of the Grand Duchesses)

2 October 1917 - Tobolsk
All of us are here and everything is in order. The house was small but cozy. It has a balcony where we sit on much. Almost everyday, the weather is wonderful, very warm but many leaves fall. We get much air here. There also is small garden behind the kitchen.

We walk around the garden for only three minutes. A part of the street we walk on in front of the house was fenced. We walk to and fro - about 120 steps long. The streets here are all covered with wooden planks, and in many places, there are big holes, but one can drive safely. Our windows look out onto the street, so we have fun looking at the passers-by. Thrice we went to church - it was such a comfort and joy! On Saturdays and other days, we have vespers and obednitsa. Certainly, those are good but still, it cannot replace a true church. Time passes quickly and monotonously. We work, read, play the piano, walk, and have lessons. Those are all for now. Directly address your letter to me, or in the name of Commissioner Pankratov, through whom all letters go firstly…


From Tatiana Nikolaevna to VI Chebotareva)
Tobolsk, 1 / 14 May 1918

Tobolsk 1/14 May 1918
Dear Valentina,

How long had it been since I sent you a letter? How are you now? Have you received the parcel

I sent you? How did you spend your holidays? They were sad for us since we were without Papa and Mama. You have probably already heard they were taken away from us. It was so sad to separate ourselves from them. You are sure to understand. Maria went with them and we stayed with my brother, who is sick. Of course, we were not told where to and for what purpose they were being taken, neither they knew anything. Almost a week after their departure, we learned that they had arrived at Ekaterinburg. We receive letters from them. It is such a joy for us. Mama’s heart is hurting very much as a consequence of the awful road to Tyumen – they had to travel over 200 versts by horses along a horrible road. They spent nights in villages. Now they live in three rooms. Before their windows is a huge fence, so one sees only the top of a church. We are now expecting to leave shortly as soon as brother fully recovers.

Do you have news from your husband (Lieutenant General AP Chebotarev)? Where is Grisha( V's son) – what is he doing now? We have no news from Bibi, perhaps her letters to us have not arrived yet. I hope you are all healthy. I worried a lot about you for it has been a long time since we wrote each other. Is O.P (?) with her husband? Did you see them? I would be very glad if you write back and would send it directly to me. Olga kisses you. We had warm weather almost everyday and we still wear the same dresses, but on holidays, it was cold and the snow fell. Now again, it gradually becomes warmer. Where are L.F. (?) and her husband (Lieutenant General Krasnov)? Think of it– Onoshko surprisingly wrote us twice nice letters. Honestly, I never ever expected something from him, my dear boy. Well, goodbye for now, my dear Valentina Ivanovna. I remember the hospital and all of you often. Good luck and God bless you. How (…)? I firmly and gently kiss you. Send my greetings to everyone who remembers me.

Your Tatyana.

" Send my greetings to everyone who remembers me. "

Tatiana Nikolaevna

She is not fogotten

I also include Tatiana's video showing how her painting was made

My next Romanov painting is of Marie , Olga and Tatiana when they were about to attend the last state funeral of Imperial Russia in 1915. It's been an adventure already!