Social Victorians/People/Grand Duke Michael of Russia

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Also Known As[edit | edit source]

Grand Duke Michael[edit | edit source]

  • Grand Duke Michael Mikhailovich of Russia
  • Michael Mikhailovich, Grand Duke of Russia

Countess de Torby[edit | edit source]

  • Sophie of Merenberg
  • Sophia Nicholaievna, Countess de Torby
  • Countess Torbi
  • Countess Torbay

Demographics[edit | edit source]

  • Nationality: Russian

Residences[edit | edit source]

  • Kazbek Villa, Cannes (1899)[1]
  • Keele Hall, Staffordshire (from 1900)[1]
  • Kenwood House, Hampstead (from 1909)[1]

Family[edit | edit source]

  • Grand Duke Michael Mikhailovich of Russia (16 October 1861 – 26 April 1929)[1]
  • Countess Sophie Nikolaievna of Merenberg, Countess de Torby (1 June 1868 – 14 September 1927)[2]
  1. Countess "Zia" Anastasia Mikhailovna de Torby (9 September 1892 – 7 December 1977)
  2. Countess "Nada" Nadejda Mikhailovna de Torby (28 March 1896 – January 1963)
  3. Count Michael Mikhailovich de Torby (8 October 1898 – 8 May 1959)

Acquaintances, Friends and Enemies[edit | edit source]

Organizations[edit | edit source]

Timeline[edit | edit source]

1891 February 26, Michael Mikhailovich and Sophie Nikolaievna of Merenberg married morganatically, to the extreme disapproval of his family in Russia.[2]

1891, Sophie Nikolaievna of Merenberg was created Countess Torby by her uncle, Adolphe, Grand Duke of Luxembourg.[2]

1897 July 2, Michael Mikhailovich, Grand Duke of Russia and Sophia Nicholaievna, Countess de Torby attended the Duchess of Devonshire's fancy-dress ball at Devonshire House.

1902, Sophie Countess Torby's portrait appeared in the Book of Beauties commemorating some of the women at the coronation of Edward VII.

Costume at the Duchess of Devonshire's 2 July 1897 Fancy-dress Ball[edit | edit source]

At the Duchess of Devonshire's 2 July 1897 fancy-dress ball, the Grand Duke Michael of Russia (at 8) sat at Table 7 at the first supper seating. Except for the Guernsey Star, all newspaper stories say he was dressed as Henry IV. The Gentlewoman has the same description for the costume but misidentifies, probably, him as the Grand Duke Serge of Russia rather than the Grand Duke Michael of Russia.[3]:34, Col. 1c In every other way, the descriptions align. The Guernsey Star says that "Among the many other Royal personages present was the Grand Duke Cyril of Russia, who appeared in a telling costume of Henry VI., mainly in black and gold,"[4] but nobody else lists the Grand Duke Cyril, and perhaps somebody confused Henry VI and Henry IV; both are described as wearing black and gold.

The costume is described consistently:

  • "Henry IV. [in a] costume in black and gold, puffed with white satin and gold embroidered straps; the cape lined with white and trimmed with gold cord and tassels, white ruff; black hat ornamented with gold braid and blue silk band with Order."[5]:7, Col. 6C
  • "The Grand Duke Michael of Russia in a Henry IV. costume in black and gold, puffed with white satin and gold embroidered straps. The cape lined with white and trimmed with gold cord and tassels. White ruff. Black hat ornamented with gold braid; and blue silk band with Order."[6]
  • "His Imperial Highness the Grand Duke Serge of Russia (Henry the Fourth), black and gold."[3]:34, Col. 1c
  • He "was in a black and gold Henry IV. suit."[7]:5, Col. 6C.
  • "The Grand Duke Michael of Russia was in a black and gold Henry IV. suit."[8]:5, Col. 9C
  • "The Grand Duke Michael of Russia was in a black and gold Henri IV. dress."[9]:Col. 1
  • His costume was "made by Mr. W. Clarkson, of Wellington-street."[5]:8, Col. 2A

Sophie, Countess de Torby (at 184) was also present.

Lafayette's portrait of Michael Mikhailovich, Grand Duke of Russia as Henri IV and Sophia Nicholaievna, Countess de Torby as Gabrielle d'Estray in costume was included in the album presented to the Duchess of Devonshire and now in the National Portrait Gallery.[10] The printing on the portrait says, "H.T.H. The Grand Duke Michael of Russia as Henri IV. The Countess Torby as Gabrielle d'Estray," with a Long S in Russia and Countess.[11] Although these two are not mentioned together in newspaper reports, they were married and were photographed together by Lafayette.

Questions and Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. Grand Duke Michael Mikhailovich of Russia was born 16 October 1861, Old Style 4 October 1861.

Footnotes[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "Grand Duke Michael Mikhailovich of Russia". Wikipedia. 2020-07-28. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Grand_Duke_Michael_Mikhailovich_of_Russia&oldid=969998489. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Sophie of Merenberg". Wikipedia. 2020-07-01. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Sophie_of_Merenberg&oldid=965475718. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 “The Duchess of Devonshire’s Ball.” The Gentlewoman 10 July 1897 Saturday: 32–42 [of 76], Cols. 1a–3c [of 3]. British Newspaper Archive https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0003340/18970710/155/0032.
  4. "Duchess of Devonshire's Fancy-Dress Ball. Brilliant Spectacle." The [Guernsey] Star 6 July 1897, Tuesday: 1 [of 4], Col. 1–2. British Newspaper Archive http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0000184/18970706/003/0001.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Fancy Dress Ball at Devonshire House." Morning Post Saturday 3 July 1897: 7 [of 12], Col. 4A–8 Col. 2B. British Newspaper Archive https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0000174/18970703/054/0007.
  6. "Ball at Devonshire House." The Times Saturday 3 July 1897: 12, Cols. 1A–4C The Times Digital Archive. Web. 28 Nov. 2015.
  7. "Duchess of Devonshire's Fancy Ball. A Brilliant Spectacle. Some of the Dresses." London Daily News Saturday 3 July 1897: 5 [of 10], Col. 6A–6, Col. 1B. British Newspaper Archive http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0000051/18970703/024/0005 and http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/BL/0000051/18970703/024/0006.
  8. "The Duchess of Devonshire's Fancy Dress Ball. Special Telegram." Belfast News-Letter Saturday 03 July 1897: 5 [of 8], Col. 9 [of 9]. British Newspaper Archive https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/BL/0000038/18970703/015/0005.
  9. “The Duchess’s Costume Ball.” Westminster Gazette 03 July 1897 Saturday: 5 [of 8], Cols. 1a–3b [of 3]. British Newspaper Archive https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0002947/18970703/035/0005.
  10. "Devonshire House Fancy Dress Ball (1897): photogravures by Walker & Boutall after various photographers." 1899. National Portrait Gallery https://www.npg.org.uk/collections/search/portrait-list.php?set=515.
  11. "Michael Mikhailovich, Grand Duke of Russia as Henri IV and Sophia Nicholaievna, Countess de Torby as Gabrielle d'Estray." Devonshire House Fancy Dress Ball Album. National Portrait Gallery https://www.npg.org.uk/collections/search/portrait/mw158370/Michael-Mikhailovich-Grand-Duke-of-Russia-as-Henri-IV-and-Sophia-Nicholaievna-Countess-de-Torby-as-Gabrielle-dEstray.